No. 1 Star: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Montreal eliminated the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 thanks to a 2-0 win Sunday night. Price made 43 stops, including 9 in the final 3:14, for his first shutout of the playoffs. He’s currently second among goaltenders with a .957 even-strength save-percentage through the first round.

No. 2 Star: Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild

Parise scored the opening goal and the insurance marker as the Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 to advance to Round 2. His first goal came shorthanded and from a tough angle, beating Jake Allen to open the scoring: 

No. 3 Star: Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild

Dubnyk continued his amazing run since January by stopping 30 shots in Game 6 and 67 total in the final two games of the series. Minnesota will now face the Chicago Blackhawks for the third straight year.

Honorable Mention: Mikko Koivu won 20 of 32 face-offs … Minnesota blocked 23 shots to St. Louis’ six … The Parise/Jason Pominville/Mikael Granlund line combined for 4 goals and 12 points at even strength in the series … Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring for the Canadiens 13:26 into the first period:

Montreal’s empty-net goal with 0.3 seconds left to give them a 2-0 lead was their first two-goal lead of the series. 

Did You Know? "This was the first time in three years that none of the Western Conference series in the first round went to seven games." (AP)

Dishonorable Mention: St. Louis has been knocked out the playoffs in the first round three straight years … The Blues have lost 10 straight playoff games when facing elimination … A quick whistle cost Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ottawa the tying goal in the second period … The Senators failed on four power play opportunities, including one with 3:14 left in the third period.

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 27, 2015, 1:37 am

Only one team during the 2014-15 NHL regular season and playoffs had avoided being shutout before Sunday. The Montreal Canadiens made sure to finally add the Ottawa Senators to that list. 

The Canadiens advanced to the second round after a 2-0 win in Game 6 against the Senators Sunday night. Montreal now waits to play the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Detroit Red Wings series.

After storming out to a 3-0 series lead, the Canadiens failed to close out Ottawa in Games 4 and 5, thanks to some stellar netminding from Craig Anderson. In Game 6, Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring 13:26 into first period and never looked back:

Once the Canadiens grabbed the lead, they sat on it. Over the game’s final 40 minutes, Montreal recorded only six shots, while the Senators pressed for an equalizer, throwing 30 at Carey Price, who stopped them all and finished with 43 saves.

The even strength scoring chances differed by a wide margin beginning in the second period. Here’s what it looked like in graph form, via War on Ice:

War on Ice

As they had done during the regular season, the Senators didn’t quit and the fans inside Canadian Tire Centre were sure a tying goal was coming. Ottawa had shown a knack for finding some magic when they needed it most, which is how they played their way into the postseason over the last two months. 

So when Montreal's Jacob de la Rose took a penalty with 3:14 left in the third period, the Senators had their opportunity. But, as he was all game, Price was there to deny Ottawa a goal, making nine stops and preserving the victory. Montreal would add an empty-net goal with 0.3 seconds left, the only time in the series they led by more than a goal. 

The one moment that the Senators will be unable to forget was the quick whistle in the second period which cost Jean-Gabriel Pageau the tying goal. Referee Chris Lee, stationed to Price’s left, thought the Canadiens netminder had frozen the puck after a Mark Borowiecki shot and blew the play dead. Replays showed Price never had possession, but from Lee’s angle he couldn’t see the loose puck.

It was a tough break for Ottawa, but it was also an MVP performance by Price.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 27, 2015, 1:19 am

The Ottawa Senators are playing for their season in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens. Down 1-0 in the second period, Jean-Gabriel Pageau thought he had tied the game after pouncing on a loose puck in front of Carey Price, but a quick whistle cost them a goal:

That’s a bad call, for sure, and referee Chris Lee knew it. He was in a tough position to spot the puck squirting out, and Lee was already raising his arm to blow the whistle as soon as Mark Borowiecki’s shot hit Price.

The blown call would cost Ottawa as they fell 2-0 to Montreal, ending their season in six games.

"I think the referee there just had bad puck luck," said Senators coach Dave Cameron afterward.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 26, 2015, 11:57 pm

Zach Parise scored twice and Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots as the Minnesota Wild eliminated the St. Louis after a 4-1 win in Game 6. 

The Wild now move on to Round 2 where they’ll face the Chicago Blackhawks for the third consecutive postseason. 

The backbreaking goal was Parise’s first of the game, which came shorthanded 7:56 into the opening period. Blues goalie Jake Allen didn’t look comfortable from the start and Parise’s goal was evident of that. 

Those are the kind of road goals that can turn a game, and it certainly didn't help the Blues.

While Allen recovered and the Blues kept scraping away to get back into the game, St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock did a bench interview with NBC’s Brian Engblom during the second period. When asked if he thought about pulling Allen after that Parise goal, Hitchcock replied, "No. He's a young guy. He's learning. Gotta stick with him.”

Thirty-one real-time seconds later Justin Fontaine doubled Minnesota’s lead: 

That was enough for Hitchcock to change his mind and bring on Brian Elliott to finish the game.

T.J. Oshie cut the Minnesota lead to 2-1 with a sharp-angle goal with 1.8 seconds left in the second period. But any hope of a Blues comeback was ended early in the final period when Parise netted his second of the afternoon 1:01 into the third after a perfectly executed Wild breakout created a rebound opportunity for the Minnesota forward:

“You know, it just feels right," said Dubnyk to Engblom afterward. "I kind of said that before. This is how I know we’re ready for it, I’m ready for it. This feels like where we’re supposed to be. Same with the game tonight. I just had a great feeling we were going to come out and respond. It was incredible to play behind these guys.”

The postseason struggles continue for St. Louis. Since the 2001-02 season, the Blues have advanced out of the first round only once (2012), and given the high expectations this season for Ken Hitchcock and his squad, there’s a good chance there will be some major overhauling done in the summer.

The list of unemployed NHL head coaches is already pretty loaded with the likes of Todd McLellan and Dan Bylsma looking for new gigs, and the potential of Claude Julien, Dave Tippett and, of course, Mike Babcock being available. How long until we add Hitchcock’s name to the list?

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 26, 2015, 10:10 pm
Photo via <a target=

We expect this type of treatment from Los Angeles area network television affiliates but New York City? Come on guys. It’s not like the Islanders are a novelty.

Check out the above picture (thank you @TomLiodice), and below link, of NBC’s New York affiliate saying if the Islanders beat the Capitals in Game 7, then hello ... Game 8 (S/t Deadspin). Also, there's a bit of a typo at the beginning. Hey we're all human. 

And ... there’s a few Islanders fan interviews in there! Which is great, but sadly they're way more vanilla than the face of Islanders fandom:

I'm going to miss the Coliseum, just because most Brooklyn (the Islanders are moving to the Barclays Center next year) fans will probably wear skinny jeans, drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and have foreign accents. The crowd entertainment value will not be nearly as high. Sad face. 

From a factual perspective, if the Islanders beat the Capitals in Game 7 on Monday, Game 1 of the next round will be held at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers and the game numbers will reset. So the impossible dream of an official Game 8 will never happen. Though if the Islanders go far enough in the playoffs, they will play eight total games or more at Nassau Coliseum.

New York, you’ve had the NHL in your city since early last century! You’re a “traditional” market. Media has no excuse for this type of behavior! But the more shots/videos we can get of Islanders fans, the better, so NBC New York still deserves a stick tap. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:44 pm

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Saturday that he’s headed to the IIHF world championships in Prague. 

It’s a bit of a surprise, given that Crosby hasn’t appeared in one since 2006 and given that Team Canada has said it wanted to go younger. But, um, we imagine they’ll make an exception here.

Here are some winners and losers in this rather momentous decision for Sid…

WINNER: The IIHF world championships

This tournament means a whole lot to the rest of the world but doesn’t resonate in North America. It’s like the NIT to the Stanley Cup’s March Madness. But having Sidney Crosby in this tournament for the first time since 2006 – when he posted 16 points in nine games – gives this thing a jolt for Canadian and American fans that it otherwise wouldn't have gotten. And by that we mean American fans might try to actually find the games on their cable systems. 

LOSER: NHL’s World Cup Of Hockey

One of the novelties of the World Cup was seeing Crosby do something he rarely does: Play in all-star games and tournaments. One year before the World Cup, Sid will skate with some of Canada’s best and brightest in a tournament the NHL is trying to usurp with its own international ventures. (And let’s not forget that, come Monday, we could have Crosby AND Alex Ovechkin in the IIHF world championships. You think a few people might tune in for that Canada vs. Russia game?)

WINNER: TSN

Pierre LeBrun was super happy for Crosby’s decision, which we’re sure has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that TSN can now promote the face of the NHL as the face if its IIHF world championship coverage, which begins on Friday against Latvia and can be seen live on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5 starting at 10am et/7am pt. Not a bad little consolation prize for TSN’s first postseason without the NHL after the Rogers deal.

LOSER: Sportsnet

Not only do they not have Crosby and the Penguins in the postseason any longer, but it’s not like they can ignore a Crosby-led Team Canada team that can only be seen on a rival network.

WINNER: Sidney Crosby

There are 25 players who have won “triple gold” in hockey, i.e. an Olympic gold, a Stanley Cup and an IIHF world championship. Sid has two of those checked off but didn’t win gold back in 2006 (that was Sweden). Considering the Penguins don’t make it a habit of leaving the playoffs this early, his chances at this don’t come annually. So now Sid has a shot at joining contemporaries like Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal and Jonathan Toews as triple-gold Canadians.

LOSER: City of Columbus

Just a reminder that Crosby couldn’t travel from Pittsburgh to Columbus for a non-skating cameo appearance for the fans at an all-star game to which he was selected, but will fly to Prague after 87 games this season to play in an exhibition tournament. 

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Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 26, 2015, 4:46 pm

Each postseason, there are players who have never lifted the Stanley Cup that you quietly hope get a chance to do so. 

Some of them are veteran players that have toiled on bad teams during their careers, and finally are in a position to contribute to a championship. Some of them are players who have suffered through injury and tragedy. And some of them are players that, frankly, just need to get that non-championship monkey off their backs.

This week’s edition of the Wysh List, featuring Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski, looks a five (OK, six) players that he’d like to see potentially win their first Cups this postseason.

Who are the players you’re pulling this year to finally get a chance to kiss Lord Stanley?

 

 

 

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 26, 2015, 3:55 pm

When Andrew Hammond grabbed the Ottawa Senators’ starting goaltender job, Craig Anderson couldn’t grab a stick. 

His right hand had a deep bone bruise, keeping him out of the lineup. With Robin Lehner injured as well, Hammond was given his shot as a 27-year-old rookie on Feb. 18. He would go on to finish the regular season with a 20-1-2 record, going 14 straight starts without a regulation loss.

Anderson became a forgotten man, a footnote to a folk hero. He wanted to take part in this Senators’ resurgence, but he physically couldn’t; at one point, he was teary-eyed in front of reporters in discussing how the situation was “killing” him.

Yet there was also the inescapable notion that the rally might not be happening were it not for Hammond. No one was throwing fast food on the ice in celebration of Anderson’s wins. This was a fresh, new vibe; Anderson was the oft-injured veteran who seemed to be a placeholder for the Next Big Thing – signing a three-year contract last summer right after Lehner did, a clear indication they wanted Anderson around but just until they could trust the younger model.

To that end, he was an insurance policy, much like he was when the Senators began their series with the Montreal Canadiens with Hammond between the pipes. By Game 3, Ottawa cashed in the policy, yanking their folk hero and turning back to their former starter.

All he’s done since then is stop 120 of 123 shots, posting two wins with a .976 save percentage.

"We've been focusing on the right things. We've been in situations where we're not where we want to be and we've found ways to dig ourselves out of the hole," said Anderson after the Game 5 win over Montreal, forcing Sunday’s Game 6. "We're in that situation right now where we're still in the hole and we're still digging. We're not out of it yet. We still need to continue to win but we're kind of in the moment of just coming together as a group, sticking together, and just winning one game at time."

You can see the Senators finding that swagger, that chemistry, that momentum that carried them from over a dozen points out of the playoffs to a wild card. It’s been missing all series, and some of that can be attributed to Hammond turning into a pumpkin at midnight. A team can play with reckless abandon when it knows its backend is covered. But that security they had in the regular season was lost in the first two games of the postseason, until Anderson started saving everything he saw.

He’s helped restore their confidence, helped them find their fight. Look no further than the stickwork he had with Brandon Prust in Game 5 to see his compete level; said Anderson, “I got the stick in the gut and then I started hacking and whacking. It was a battle of emotions.”

Beating Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens four straight times is unlikely. The Habs still have two chances to close out their series.

But we’ve seen Anderson do this before – get locked in, save 50 pucks a game, save his team’s bacon in close wins, and have it continue for several games. In a League where you’re only as good as your goalie, Anderson can make teams look quite good in stretches.

And we’ve seen Ottawa do this before: Thrive when counted out, defy the odds and make believers out of the logical and the cynical. This isn’t to say Anderson and the Senators have another miracle comeback left in them; but who among us had this thing tabbed for a Game 6 last week?

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 26, 2015, 3:30 pm

After the Penguins were eliminated by the New York Rangers on Friday night, Evgeni Malkin held court with reporters and Mike Johnston spoke at the podium. In both case, for whatever reason, my mindset was the same: Is this the last time I’m seeing these guys with Pittsburgh? 

Johnston was brought in to make the Penguins a better playoff team; instead, they existed more quickly than they ever did under Dan Bylsma. Malkin went pointless in the Rangers series, and if the Penguins were really going to shake up the team, it might have been the end of an era for him.

But David Morehouse, CEO and president of the Penguins, said Johnston and Malkin are safe. So is Sidney Crosby, quelling any of that bizarre speculation. And above all, GM Jim Rutherford, the Band-Aid applied to the team after Ray Shero was fired last summer, is back as well.

From Jason Mackey of the Tribune-Review:

“I know there's been a lot of speculation out there, but (co-owners) Ron (Burkle) and Mario (Lemieux) never once considered a change,” Morehouse said. “Jim Rutherford's our general manager, and Mike Johnston's our coach.”

Morehouse also quashed trade talk surrounding franchise centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“We're not looking at major changes,” Morehouse said. “Jim and ownership believe the core players we have are the core players to build around. That's what we're going to try to do.”

So there you go.

Obviously, Morehouse and ownership feel the three key loses on defense – Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff to concussions, and Olli Maata to a shoulder injury – contributed mightily to their playoff flop. From Morehouse:

“We had a new coach who almost never had a chance to coach his full team because of injuries. I don't know if there's a team in the league that could have succeeded in the playoffs without three of its top four defensemen. That's the situation we faced.”

(This is where we note that Bylsma’s calling card was his ability to shepherd the Penguins through massive man-games-lost in the regular season to the top of the division.)

Surprised? A bit. With the quality of coaches that might be available in the offseason, it’s interesting to hear a hasty endorsement of Johnston.

Rutherford, however, is more complicated. There’s no way the Penguins would fire him – too much respect for a hockey lifer. There might still be a chance he wants to step away after a challenging season; heck, he’s only going to be there 2-3 years anyway.

Consistency can breed success; there were times when teams like Claude Julien’s Bruins looked like they would have been imploded before they eventually won the Cup. The question is whether this mix of Penguin still have a window in which to win, or if the team would be better off transitioning into something different.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 26, 2015, 2:44 pm

No. 1 Star: Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames

The Flames forward was a dynamo against the Canucks in Calgary’s 7-4 come-from-behind series clinching win. He scored two goals and added two assists to help Calgary make the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04. That season the Flames went to the Stanley Cup Final.

No. 2 Star, Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

The star blueliner notched his second game winning goal of the Chicago’s series against Nashville, which sent the Blackhawks into the second round in a deciding 4-3 Game 6 win over the Predators. Keith also played 28:00 and was a plus-2. His goal came at the 16:12 mark of the third period. Check out this sweet goal celebration to the tune of “Chelsea Dagger” by the Fratellis. Maybe you’ve heard of that song a few times most recent springs.

No. 3. Star: Peter Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings rookie goaltender stopped 28 of 28 Tampa shots on goal in a 4-0 shutout of the Lightning. The victory put the Wings up 3-2 in its series at it heads to Detroit for Game 6. It also offered a little redemption for Mrazek after Detroit blew a two-goal third period lead in Game 4 

Honorable Mention: New York defenseman Nick Leddy notched two assists and was a plus-3 in the Islanders' 3-1 win over Washington … Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 38 of 39 Caps shots on goal …  The victory forced a Game 7 … Detroit forwards Riley Sheahan, Drew Miller and Pavel Dastsyuk each scored a goal … Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson notched two assists … Chicago forward Jonathan Toews scored a goal and added two assists in the win over Nashville … Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored a goal and added an assist … Calgary forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau each scored a goal and added two assists … Calgary’s David Jones (three assists), Matt Stajan (one goal and two assists) and Michael Ferland (two goals and one assists) also had three points for the Flames ... Watch Islanders forward John Tavares take a massive hit by Alex Ovechkin to set up the game winner. 

Did You Know?: Mike Babcock’s 82nd playoff win tied him with Toe Blake for ninth all time in NHL history. He is 82-60 in the playoffs.    

Dishonorable Mention: Ovechkin was a minus-3 … Tampa forward Steven Stamkos was held pointless and has just two assists in five games for the Lightning …  Chicago’s Scott Darling was yanked after allowing three goals in 12 shots on goal in the Hawks’ series clinching win over Nashville … The Predators held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the loss … Nashville’s Pekka Rinne stopped 28 of 32 shots on goal in the loss … Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 26 of 31 shots on goal against the Flames … Calgary netminder Jonas Hiller was also yanked after stopping one of three shots on goal.  

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:20 am

Just as everyone predicted, Karri Ramo was the change the Calgary Flames needed to push them over the edge and into the second round.

Wait. What?

Just 7:32 into the game, Bob Hartley made a decision. A decision that could have very easily blown up in his face. He decided to pull starter Jonas Hiller after 2 goals against, and replace him with backup Karri Ramo. The only playoff action Ramo had seen as of late was for five minutes of garbage time of Game 2 when the game was out of hand.

About two minutes after entering the game, Ramo gave up a power play goal to Radim Vrbata, extending the Canucks lead to 3-0.

From the beginning to the series to now, Calgary rookie Michael Ferland had gone from virtual unknown to that guy in the office who talks too loud on his phone (i.e. annoying) to the Canucks. So much so, the always cordial Kevin Bieksa made a comment about him after Game 2:

From Sportsnet:

"That Ferkland, or whatever his name is," Bieksa said, "was running around trying to get something going. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that in playoffs. We’ve played against Ben Eager and some other dumb-dumbs like that before. We know how to handle that."

And handle him they did. That is, until Saturday night.

Kept off the score sheet since Game 1, Ferland started the scoring for Calgary with his first playoff goal towards the end of the period. 

 

Energized by the Ferland goal, or the crowd, or possibly an intermission untied-tie lashing by team president Brian Burke, Calgary's top line of Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler, and Johnny Gaudreau took over offensive responsibilities in the second.

It started with a goal just 1:02 into the period. Dennis Wideman sent a slapshot on net that bounced off Ryan Miller. Hudler corralled the rebound and tried a wrist shot. No go. Both incredible saves by Miller, until Sean Monahan grabbed the puck on his backhand and scored. Calgary now down 3-2.

The Flames game plan for scoring on Ryan Miller has been the same since he entered the series. Get him moving from side-to-side, put as much pressure on that iffy knee as possible. Following a similar pattern to the Monahan, boy-wonder Johnny Gaudreau received a quick shot-pass from linemate Hudler on the far post and tipped it in past Miller. Game tied 3-3.

The tie would be short lived. Midway through the period, much maligned Vancouver defenseman Luca Sbisa scored his first playoff goal, putting the Canucks back up by one. The score would stay 4-3 Canucks through the end of the second.

All season, the third period had been where the Flames had earned their money. In the regular season, Calgary tied with Tampa Bay for the most third period goals at 99. They were third in the league with 10 wins when trailing after two periods.

Calgary emerged from the locker room with that third period magic at full power. And once again, it was the top line of Hudler, Gaudreau, and Monahan who took over. 

Vancouver forward Brandon MacMillan was whistled for a goaltending interference penalty at 14:35. He and the Canucks faithful were not happy about it, and they might have a point.

Judge for yourself. From Steph:

this was the penalty that lead to Hudler's game tying PPG. goalie interference pic.twitter.com/flpzOpcJ7c

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 26, 2015

Less than a minute after the power play started. Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler strike on a tic-tac-toe power play goal. Flames and Canucks tied, for a second time in the game.

The play was back and forth for a majority of the period. Both Miller and Ramo played one helluva game. Ultimately it would be upstart Flames who would emerge victorious.

With 4:17 to go in the third, Matt Stajan nabbed his first playoff goal, and it was a HUGE one. (That's what she said.) Initially, Miller makes two incredible saves, but he couldn't get to Stajan's wrist shot out in front. Stajan waited just long enough to have a clear lane to Miller's glove side.

For the first time in the entire game, the Flames were leading the game.

Up 5-4, Calgary did not stop pressuring. As desperation time set in, Willie Desjardins pulled Miller for the extra attacker. The Flames went on to score two empty net goals. Hudler hit the first for his second goal of the game, and fourth point of the night. Ferland netted the next for his second goal.

Flames win 7-4.

For their troubles, they're GOING TO DISNEYLAND! Maybe not literally, but they'll be down the street from it at Honda Center as they take on the Ducks. Anaheim has been resting defeating the Jets this past Wednesday.

Should be an interesting series. Brian Burke and Jonas Hiller versus their old club. Has to mean a little more to Hiller given the way his former coach handled the goaltending situation in last season's playoffs. We'll have more on the series as it draws near.

Until then, enjoy the Ryan Miller vs. Eddie Lack 'what-if' scenarios bound to come about in Vancouver.

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:13 am

The story of Chicago’s series win over Nashville was simple. The Blackhawks had Duncan Keith and the Predators didn't. In the series, Keith, a former Norris Trophy winner, put on a virtuoso performance.

He notched two game-winners – one in overtime in Game 1, and the eventual series winner at the 16:12 mark of the third period of Saturday’s Game 6, a 4-3 Chicago win. He had a goal and two assists in the clincher.

Via NHL.com

"If you want to get anywhere at this level, I think your best players have to be your best players," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had a goal and two assists. "Those are the guys you need to be your best players, and I think they want that more than anything. That's a huge reason why this team's had success in the last number of years."

Here is Keith’s score:

Said Keith

"It was the end of their shift and we'd had some chances before, so they were kind of reeling a little bit," Keith said. "I just wanted to make it count."

Overall the series saw lack of consistency in Chicago’s goaltending between starter Corey Crawford and backup Scott Darling. Crawford was yanked the first game, and allowed six goals in Game 2 while Darling won three of the contests, before he was pulled in the first period Game 6. Crawford closed out Nashville with 13 saves on 13 Predators shots on goal.

Nashville withstood the Blackhawks the best they could without captain Shea Weber who was sidelined in Game 2 with a lower body injury. The Predators were up 2-0 and 3-1 in this game, but could not close out the Hawks and send the series back to Nashville for Game 7.

As for the Hawks, they look good as ever. And with Keith (seven points in six games and an average of 32:03 of ice-time) playing this well and Patrick Kane having a few days to rest his healing broken clavicle (though he was solid with two goals and five assists) Chicago looks like a legit Stanley Cup contender. But Crawford is going to have to play more consistently to not be Chicago’s version of Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury circa 2013.

And the Predators? They were in this series the whole way, lost two overtime games, and had leads in Game 6. Rookie Filip Forsberg notched a hat trick in Game 5. Sophomore Seth Jones averaged 28:02 of ice-time in his first playoffs after he was thrust onto the top pairing following Weber’s injury.

Again, per NHL.com ...

 

"I think everyone left it out there," Jones said. "Every game this season, regular season and playoffs, we played as hard as we could. We're not out of the playoffs right now because of lack of effort, and that's all that we can ask of each other."

The future is becoming now … but it’ll take all summer to see it realized next season.  

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 26, 2015, 4:20 am

Detroit’s series against the Tampa Bay Lightning feels like some weird referendum on Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek and coach Mike Babcock's decision to start the rookie. Will it be good Mrazek who shows up, or bad Mrazek? The solid version of the netminder arrived in a 4-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Mrazek stopped 28 of 28 shots on goal to help give Detroit the victory and a 3-2 series lead against Tampa going into Monday’s Game 6. 

Via the Detroit Free-Press:

"I think maybe Tampa got their first shot after 10 minutes," Mrazek said. "We had good pressure on their D and in their zone, and they couldn't get to our zone."

Babcock could have gone back to Jimmy Howard after Mrazek allowed two late goals to lose Game 4 against Tampa. Instead, he stuck with Mrazek who continued his strange stretch of following up not as prolific starts with excellent starts. After allowing four goals in Game 2, he shut out the Lightning in Game 3. So I guess we're headed for seven games if the pattern continues in Game 6?

Tampa's Valtteri Filppula seems to get this notion that every playoff game is its own separate organism per the Tampa Tribune.

“I believe in momentum inside the game, but during the playoffs, I feel like every game is separate,” Filppula said. “We came in off a great road victory, but we weren’t good enough tonight. We’ll forget about this quick and focus on the next one. We have to. And we need to bring a little extra desperation since it’s a must-win for us.”

Drew Miller and Riley Sheahan both scored for Detroit, who will have a chance to win at home. Jonathan Ericsson had two assists. Missing in action again for Tampa was Steven Stamkos who had just two assists in four games played.

Said Stamkos via NHL.com

"I’m working hard and competing but it’s just not going my way," Stamkos said. "I have to do better. No one said it was going to be easy. We need to find a way to do what we did last time at their rink and bring it back here. There's nothing else to do but work hard and try to win."

Also, Jon Cooper is supposed to be some sort of coaching genius. If he gets beaten by Babcock and the Wings, that'll be two staight playoffs he couldn't get out of the first round with an uber-talented team. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 26, 2015, 1:11 am

UNIONDALE, N.Y. —New York Islanders fans left Nassau Coliseum Saturday afternoon unsure if they’d be back, but happy they could hold their goodbyes for now.

The Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 Monday night at Verizon Center.

A loss would have meant not only the end of the Islanders’ season, but also Nassau Coliseum, their home for the past 43 years. Beginning with the 2015-16 season, New York will play their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After both teams scored in the first period, the red light remained off until midway through the third when a wild sequence that began between the benches ended with what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Capitals and Islanders players started a scrum during a line change and it appeared as if the officials would stop play to sort things out. They didn’t, and Islanders captain John Tavares raced the puck into the Washington zone on a 2-on-3 with Nick Leddy.  

“It was a war zone in front of the bench there,” said Tavares. “[I] just realized I had a lot of room and there was a lot more ice because of what was going on.”

As Tavares tried to deke around Karl Alzner, the puck squirted to the corner where he was then drilled by Alex Ovechkin into the boards. Tavares laid hunched over on the ice as the puck rolled to Leddy on the sidewall. With the exchanging of pleasantries by the benches having ended, Nikolay Kulemin hopped on the ice during the change and went unmarked in the slot as Leddy made a heads-up pass:

If you’re Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, this is not the type of defensive zone coverage you want to see in the third period of a tie game:

“I don’t pay attention to it,” said Kulemin regarding the action near the benches. “I see Johnny getting hit bad, but I saw the open space and had a chance to score, so I just take it away and shot it.”

“If our forward would have made the right read we probably wouldn’t have been in a situation where we were one-on-one with the goalie,” Trotz said of the defensive zone breakdown.

It was another game where Tavares stepped up for the Islanders. After netting the winner 15 seconds into overtime of Game 3, he opened the scoring 6:56 into the first period, the fifth time New York has done so in the series.  

“This is where you need big-time players,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano. “You need to be a difference-maker, and that’s what we talked about. 

“At the end of the day, if you have a chance to succeed and win a Stanley Cup, your best players have to be your best players. Johnny’s been there for us all year long.” 

While Tavares stepped up offensively, Jaroslav Halak was fantastic again in goal making 38 stops. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the netminder is now 6-1 in his career in elimination games with a .956 save-percentage.

The win gives hope that Saturday wasn’t the last game at Nassau Coliseum. If the Islanders do come-from-behind to win the series, they’ll advance to meet the New York Rangers in Round 2, which would be fitting in the arena’s final season.

It will be a nervy 48 hours now for Islanders fans as they wait for Monday night and Game 7 to arrive, which will determine whether the NHL’s second-oldest building has seen its last great Islanders moment.

“It really won’t be open if we don’t win the next one,” said Matt Martin. “It was great to win in this building. We don’t want it to be the last one.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 25, 2015, 11:55 pm

Since the first year Alex Ovechkin made the playoffs with the Washington Capitals, they’ve played in nine playoff series. Seven of them have gone seven games; the only two that didn’t came in the same 2010-11 season, a five-game win over the Rangers and a sweep at the hands of the Lightning. 

So, chin up, New York Islanders fans: These things tend to go the distance for the Capitals, even if they’re up 3-2 in the series.

But this isn’t a Capitals team about tendencies, or the past. This is a Capitals team desperately trying to prove that this postseason, and this mix of players, is different.

Do they actually have a killer instinct this time?

Said Troy Brouwer to CSN Washington:

“We have to find a way where we can close teams out,” Brouwer said. “I like the pedigree of our team. I like how we’re embracing the situation right now. We know tomorrow night’s going to be our toughest game in a long time because that elimination game is extremely hard to win because the other team is extremely desperate. We have that same attitude as well, because we know what it’s like to exit the playoffs early and we don’t want to be doing that again this year.”

Barry Trotz said he wants the Capitals to use the past to thrive in the present:

“I think you have to go through a lot of stuff and you do remember. You don’t get any experience until you go through it. Sometimes having no experience is a good thing because you’re naive to the magnitude of stuff. But I think when you put everything in perspective and you know what’s coming, the guys that have gone through it.”

This group has been through a lot, even in this series, when they looked zombified in Game 1. But Tom Wilson’s hit on Lubomir Visnosvky changed the trajectory of the series. Let’s see if the Islanders can change it again in Game 6, and maybe add a few doubts to the minds of Caps players thinking it’s different this time.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 25, 2015, 4:36 pm

No. 1 Star: Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild 

The Minnesota goalie had yet another great bounce-back game, stopping 36 shots in the Wild’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5. He made 19 saves in the third period alone. 

No. 2 Star: Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers

The forward’s second goal of the playoffs turned out to be the series clincher, as his leaping tally past Marc-Andre Fleury gave the Rangers a 2-1 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5. 

No. 3 Star: Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

The starter who became a backup and is now a starter again made 45 saves in the Sens’ 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, including 19 in the third period. Montreal now leads 3-2 in the series.

Honorable Mention: Marco Scandella and Nino Niederreiter scored their second of the playoffs. … Vladimir Tarasenko scored his sixth. … Bobby Ryan scored two goals, breaking a long slump. … Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad had two assists each. … Fleury made 34 saves, while Lundqvist made 37. 

Did You Know? The Penguins scored eight goals on 132 shots against Lundqvist.

Dishonorable Mention: Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny, Alex Pietangelo and T.J. Oshie were a minus-2. … Brandon Prust, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn were a minus-2. … Prust got into it with Anderson:

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 25, 2015, 7:03 am

The St. Louis Blues, darling pick by many to win the Stanley Cup – or at very least make it out of the Western Conference playoffs – are in trouble. A ton of trouble after losing 4-1 in Game 5 to Minnesota on Friday.

The Wild took a 3-2 series advantage and a chance to win at home Sunday. Ouch.

While Minnesota has out-maneuvered the Blues this series and should indeed be lauded fort the clinching scenario, the Blues are choking … again. This team has never gone past the second round of the playoffs with Ken Hitchcock as the head coach. And it appears the Blues may again find themselves going into yet another offseason asking whether this group assembled, coached by Hitch, can't make a dent in the postseason. The Blues had so many glorious chances in this game, but couldn't convert. 

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"They were opportunistic," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The first period, until they scored their goal, was the best we'd played in the whole series. We kind of flattened out a little bit when they scored their (first) goal, and then had all the chances in the second (period).

"We did so many good things today. We had a little bit of a lull. I didn't think we responded as hard as we could have when they scored their first goal. That gave them a little bit of wind. But just did so many good things, you're disappointed for the guys. We'll rebound and get ready for the next game."

The Blues blasted the Wild 6-1 in Game 4, and there was some wonder as to how Minnesota would bounce back. The Wild leaned heavily on goaltender Devan Dubnyk. 

After Vladimir Tarasenko made it 1-0 Blues at the 8:04 mark  of the first period, the Wild scored four unanswered goals to give them the win. Dubnyk stopped 36 of 37 St. Louis shots on goal while Jake Allen stopped 15 of 19 Wild shots on goal. 

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t approaching it like I had to go get a shutout after last game,” Dubnyk said. “I just wanted to get back to finding pucks and being set and feeling good about what I was doing.”

Even strength, the Blues beat the Wild in puck possession. Sigh,

So if you’re Hitchcock, going into Game 6, do you stick with Allen or go to veteran Brian Elliott? If the Blues lose, it could be one of his last decisions as the team’s head coach. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 25, 2015, 4:51 am

NEW YORK – The ultimate reaction to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs will come in the weeks and months following Friday's Game 5 loss to the New York Rangers.

Players will be jettisoned. Perhaps a coach. Perhaps a GM. Perhaps even a foundational star whose departure fundamentally changes the team’s identity. 

But in the short term, the Penguins sat in their dressing room at Madison Square Garden – their coach, Mike Johnston, opted not to speak to them after the game – and reflected on a tightly played but brief series, and the rocky road that led there.

“We’re missing some guys. All year. It’s tough to get your rhythm as far as team identity. I’m not using that as an excuse by any means. We still found a way to get ourselves into the playoffs,” said captain Sidney Crosby.

“We lost our two best defensemen. That’s tough for team,” said Evgeni Malkin of Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff, the team’s best puck-moving defensemen, who missed the entire series due to injury.

There was talk that Malkin himself was injured, being that the star center failed to tally a point against the Rangers and was a minus-6; in total, Malkin didn’t score a goal in his last 10 games of the season. But he denied any ailment was holding him back.

"If I step on the ice, it’s healthy. I have a couple small injuries, but not big one,” he said.

Malkin said he just didn’t get it done.

"I want to say sorry to fans, to my teammates. I know I’m a leader on this team,” said Malkin.

“Each game is tough. Two-one, two-one, two-one … one-goal games. Rangers just play a little bit, one goal better.”

The Rangers won each game of the series by a 2-1 score. Game 5 was a goaltending duel between Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist that needed overtime to finish, as Carl Hagelin’s goal at 10:52 ended the series.

Fleury held the Penguins in the game; and according to his teammates, he held them together in the series and the season.

“Flower made some great saves. Crossbar for each team. That’s inches,” said Crosby, who added that any lingering criticism of Fleury’s postseason performances in previous seasons doesn’t resonate in their dressing room. “He’s proven, for a long time, that that’s in the past. He doesn’t have to prove anything to us.”

Fleury was emotional after the game. “We kept it close, but at the end of the day, we still lost,” he said, quietly.

He was the best player in the series for the Penguins, and the least of their worries.

Now comes the hard part: Figuring out who stays, who goes, and what the right configuration on the ice and in management might be to return this franchise to championship contention.

Because according to Malkin, they’re not there at the moment.

“[When] people lose, we’re not a championship team. It’s not good enough,” he said.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 25, 2015, 3:38 am

Man, ever since game 3, Subban has completely disappeared.. pic.twitter.com/KtkJ80mHrC

— Callum Fraser (@CallumFraser18) April 25, 2015

"[We're] not dead" - Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Also (possibly) said by the Ottawa Senators. 

Today just so happens to be the 40th anniversary of one of the best movies of all time. As a tribute to the classic line in the film, the Senators kept their playoff run on life support by forcing a Game 6 with a 5-1 over Montreal.

You saw that right. 5 goals scored by Ottawa. Every single one of them was on Vezina nominee Carey Price. At home.

It started midway through the first with a goal from the guy who needed to score in this series to stop the millions of questions as to why he hadn't scored yet: Bobby Ryan. Ryan sent a wrist shot on net that hit Price and dribbled backwards into the net. 

Looking back, it was a pretty good indication of the night ahead for Price and the Habs.

About five minutes later, Price was left helpless as he was screened by almost everybody in red and in white. Patrick Wiercioch's wrister from near the blueline went over Price's shoulder and in the net. It would stand as the game winning goal.

Erik Karlsson scored on the power play in the second period to put the game close to out of reach for the Canadiens at 3-0. What do you think about that Mr. Karlsson? From Steph:

GIF: much-requested Karlsson wink pic.twitter.com/eHabjSkvBR

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 25, 2015

Montreal brought hope back to life just 1:44 into the third period. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, annoyed by Dale Weise for invading his crease, gives the Habs forward a nice whack in the back of the knees for his troubles. Anderson's preoccupation with Weise left him unprepared for a Tom Gibert slapshot. 

Despite cutting into Ottawa's lead, it would be too much for the Canadiens to overcome. 

Erik Condra scored on a breakaway to put the Sens back up by three goals. Bobby Ryan scored his second of the game on the power play to ice it at 5-1.

In between Condra and Ryan's second goal, there was a general 'game is out of hand' meltdown by the Habs. 

It started with Brandon Prust taking a nasty whack at Anderson and the goaltender stood his ground. Again, from Steph:

GIF: ugly exchange between Anderson and Prust at the end of the game included Prust spearing Anderson pic.twitter.com/rsEAGG7kjX

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 25, 2015

Prust then got into it with Wiercioch, earning both gentlemen a trip to the box for roughing. Away from the action, PK Subban and Eric Gryba had a wrestling match resulting in the literal turtling of Subban in his gear (shown above). Both guys received game misconducts and were yapping at each other, and the other's benches, as they left the ice.

Afterward, Senators coach David Cameron had some choice words for Montreal and their behavior after the game. From John Lu of TSN Montreal, "A sure sign of frustration is when they take cheap shots at your goalie ... I've known Prust for a long time and what he did was cheap."

Cameron also noted that Clark MacArthur and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are day-to-day with lower body injuries. MacArthur did not come out to play the third. Pageau was visually hobbled as he blocked a Subban shot on the penalty kill. 

Not one to mince words, Subban spoke to Pageau's possible injury in the post-game:

"My shots are only going to get harder as the series go on. I wish (Pageau) the best of luck." P.K. Subban #Sens

— Sylvain St-Laurent (@Syl_St_Laurent) April 25, 2015

Could that be more of a line straight out of the WWE or what...

Anyway, closing the gap in the series to 3-2, the Sens aren't dead yet. However, it remains to be seen if the Habs can follow-up with another classic line delivered later in the scene, "Well, [they] will be soon..."

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 25, 2015, 3:13 am

NEW YORK – Carl Hagelin scored with 9:08 remaining in the first overtime to send the New York Rangers to the second round and eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games on Friday night, 2-1.

A hard-working shift from Dominic Moore dug the puck out to Hagelin, who put it past Marc-Andre Fleury while falling to the ice. 

"I don't remember it at all, to be honest," said Hagelin. "I didn't do much on that shift until I saw Dom was in trouble behind the net. I went behind there to pick up the puck and then I just skated around the circle and I took a shot. Somehow, it went in."

Hagelin said the goal was "one of the happiest moments of my life."

The game was an outstanding goaltending battle between Henrik Lundqvist (37 saves) and Marc-Andre Fleury (34 saves), as both netminders kept the score close with clutch saves in each period.

"I thought both goaltenders were good tonight," said Penguins coach Mike Johnston. "Unfortunately, it was another 2-1 game in their favor."

The Rangers struck at 4 minutes, 23 seconds of the first period after a Nick Spaling tripping penalty.

A high fluttering shot from Dan Boyle at the point hit Marc-Andre Fleury in the sternum. The puck dropped in front of the left skate of Derek Stepan, who kicked it over to his stick and shot it behind Fleury in one motion, before the two Penguin defenders flanking him – Rob Scuderi and Ben Lovejoy – could make a move.

(Not the best shift for Lovejoy, who started the play by failing to clear the puck.)

Both goalies had stellar moments in the second period, with Marc-Andre Fleury stopping multiple Rangers’ chances in close and Lundqvist stopping Patric Hornqvist with his left pad at point-blank range 

The Penguins tied the game with 2:37 left in the second on a funky deflection off Spaling. Sidney Crosby sent a pass through the crease that deflected off Lundqvist and then off Steve Downie’s stick before it hit Spaling’s arm and fell into the corner of the goal as he tumbled on top of Lundqvist.

As the NHL’s situation room explained, via Rule 78.4: "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed.”

The intensity in the game was turned up significantly in the third period, when Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi tripped held Crosby’s stick and then reached out with his arm to grab his leg. Crosby tumbled to the ice, earning a tripping call.

The sequence of events sparked the MSG crowd, and one of the loudest “Crosby Sucks” chants of the series.

But Lundqvist was up to the task, stopping two shots during the man advantage and then two more right after it ended.

Both teams had chances in the third, as the Penguins’ line of Evgeni Malkin/Brandon Sutter/Blake Comeau buzzed the Rangers zone – Malkin had his best game of the series, for whatever that’s worth – while Boyle had a golden chance with an open net put couldn’t handle the pass.

The game went to overtime. And that's where Hagelin ended it. 

 

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 25, 2015, 2:16 am

GIF Lapierre: literally the worst pic.twitter.com/W105dVRdVK

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 25, 2015

Max Lapierre of the Pittsburgh Penguins is one of the most anything goes pests in the NHL, whether it’s faking an injury to earn a penalty or making light of Patrice Bergeron getting bitten by Alex Burrows.

He’s been an absolute miscreant in the Penguins’ series against the New York Rangers, and that continued in Game 5 on Friday night, when he taunted Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle by acting like a chicken. Which is the universal symbol for “you’re a coward,” last time we checked.

Speaking of checks, you might remember Lapierre and Boyle have a little history.

Lapierre was suspended five games for that hit, which put Boyle on a stretcher.

Said Boyle, 11 days after the hit: “I don't think he thought he was going to put me in the hospital with the hit, so I agree with him that wasn't his intention. At the same time, we're told since we were five years old not to hit a guy when you see numbers and it's pretty clear he saw my numbers and he decided to hit anyway. That's just lack of respect is what I think.”

The true measure of respect, of course, being doing the chicken wings to a guy you put on a stretcher. 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 25, 2015, 1:16 am

The NHL announced on Friday that Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position,” as voted on by the League’s 30 general managers. 

(Photo by Charles Laberge /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) 

Please note the finalists are presented in alphabetical order; were they properly presented as “Vezina winner Carey Price and two guys who will watch Carey Price win the Vezina,” it would drain the award of much of the mystery that literally has hundreds of people tuning in for the NHL Awards in June. 

That said …

Why Devan Dubnyk Deserves The Vezina

The NHL says:

Eight points outside of a playoff spot when he made his team debut on Jan. 15, Dubnyk backstopped the Wild to their third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dubnyk, who set a franchise record with 38 straight starts following his acquisition from Arizona, went 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts after joining the Wild. He was the winning goaltender in 11 of the Wild's 12 consecutive road wins (Feb. 18 - Apr. 9) that tied the 2005-06 Red Wings for the longest such run in League history. Overall, the first-time Vezina finalist finished the season second in the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He also ranked in the top 10 in shutouts (t-4th, 6) and wins (t-6th; 36).

The phrase “it’s an honor to be nominated” gets tossed around a lot, but seriously: Dubnyk went from the “never-was” journeyman scrap heap to quasi-starter in Arizona to starter in Minnesota, carrying the Wild to the playoffs and basically matching Price’s numbers during that roll. He doesn’t have the stats or the body of work to win the Vezina – truth be told, he’s a better Hart nominee – but what a story. 

Why Carey Price Deserves The Vezina

The NHL says:

Price led the NHL in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933), becoming the first goaltender to pace the League in all lthree categories since Ed Belfour accomplished that feat with the Blackhawks in 1990-91. In doing so, the first-time Vezina finalist surpassed a 59-year-old franchise record for wins in one season. Jacques Plante set the former mark of 42 in 1955-56 and equaled the number in1961-62, while Ken Dryden also reached the milestone in 1975-76. Price’s save percentage was the third-highest in a single season since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1976-77. He also tied for second in the NHL and set a career high with nine shutouts, the most by a Canadiens goaltender since 1976-77 (Dryden: 10).

Insane numbers, especially when coupled with the fact the Canadiens’ offensive was straight up crap for most of the season. This performance was Hasekian in its effectiveness and importance.

Why Pekka Rinne Deserves The Vezina

The NHL says:

Rinne, who missed 51 games during the 2013-14 season due to hip surgery and a subsequent bacterial infection, returned to the ice this season and backstopped the Predators to their fifth 100-point season in franchise history and first playoff berth since 2012. He helped Nashville stay in the Central Division title race all season by going 34-7-2 in his first 43 decisions, including a 15-1-1 run from Dec. 16 - Feb. 17, and finished the campaign with a 41-17-6 record in 64 appearances. He tied for second in the NHL in wins, ranked third in goals-against average (2.18) and was seventh in save percentage (.923). A Vezina finalist for the third time, Rinne finished second in voting in 2011 and third in 2012.

Rinne’s even-strength save percentage was .932, which puts him right there with Dubnyk. His shorthanded save percentage was .862, which is why he was seventh in the NHL in the category overall. Much like Filip Forsberg, he helped Nashville establish an impressive lead in the Central from Nov.-Jan.; unlike Forsberg, he gets an award nomination out of it.

Who Wins The Vezina?

Price, and the only question left is if it ends up being unanimous. Keep in mind that even in Dominik Hasek’s best season, it wasn’t unanimous.

Who Should Win The Vezina?

Mike Smith of the Coyotes. Jokes! Totally Carey Price. 

Cases could be made for other potential finalists – Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils – but none of them were beating Price anyway.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 24, 2015, 11:32 pm
Photo texted from Patten Fuqua 

Hello everyone, and welcome to your weekly update of our favorite jersey fouls from the past seven days. Well, now it’s going to be weekly, starting today.

In case you didn’t know, we’ve been posting a steady stream of fouls to our Tumblr page. You can go there for the ones that didn’t make the cut on this week’s list of absurdity.

In this blog, we give you the three ‘best of the best’ from the week that was, which – even by typical j-foul standards was pretty awesome since last Friday. The playoffs are fertile ground for such photos. How good are these fouls? The one up top of the mustard Stu Grimson Preds McLovin jersey didn't make the official cut. But it was so good we had to give it props anyway. 

If you want to submit, make sure to email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or tweet to the hashtag #jerseyfoul. We’ll pick them up, and try to make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Without further disruption here are the top three fouls of the week.

3. Is this Michael Keaton Vatman or Christian Bale Vatman? (@anaheimducks

This foul It would have been glorious without the actual cape and Batman hat type thing. But that made it so much better.

Photo via @anaheim ducks

2. Jason Arnott, Capitals legend

OK, so we dipped into a the t-shirt jersey foul category for this spectacular piece. There are many reasons why it is so wonderful. 1. Jason Arnott played 11 games in Washington. 2. During this stint, the Caps made a t-shirt for him. 3. This guy bought the t-shirt jersey. Forget the cover up. It's a foul because it exists and someone still wears it. 

Arnott

1. Crosby almighty (@elwoodjparker)

As we noted on the Tumblr page, this jersey must have been bought circa 2009 when Crosby was loved and revered. Now he’s a disappointment in spite of a Stanley Cup, two Hart Trophies and two gold medals? Regardless, no hockey player is a savior – not even Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Oh how the mighty have fallen, but not really far given the fact he was still one of the NHL’s best players this year. 

Photo via @elwoodjparker

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 24, 2015, 10:04 pm

Peter Chiarelli was cautious in his introductory news conference as president of hockey operations and general manager with the Edmonton Oilers.The only real dig he took at the current team was its effort level. 

“There’s a lot of good things here and exciting things, a lot of young legs,” he said. “They play fast, I’d like to see them play a little harder.”

 While management has been the major issue with the Oilers, that sounded more like a shot at the coaching staff and interim boss Todd Nelson.

Whatever, it’s a tough line to walk when you come into an organization with a fanboy owner that probably still reveres now former general manager Craig MacTavish and team vice chair Kevin Lowe, whose role will transition out of hockey ops.

While fans may be dancing on their proverbial Oilers graves, Chiarelli didn’t make any real big statements about the obvious mismanagement of the team under Lowe, or MacTavish. Team CEO Bob Nicholson noted he himself will still work with Lowe at some capacity. It’s up to Chiarelli, who was recently fired by Boston as its general manager, to decide how he will use MacTavish

“I’ve seen the progression here in past years and talking to MacT, they’ve been trying to get bigger and heavier,” Chiarelli said, “That’s certainly an area where I’d like to improve.”

Chiarelli used some variation of the word “heavy” or “heavier” a lot in the news conference. Maybe he recently watched Back to the Future and is channeling his inner Marty McFly. Or he believes the Oilers need to add a little more poundage to their game, a la the Boston Bruins, his former team and one of the strongest groups (size wise) around. Chiarelli noted that you could be heavy with stick work or other areas of the game. While that point was a little confusing, it’s clear that Chiarelli wants the Oilers to be a tougher team to play against. Gone are the grand nostalgic designs of the run n’ gun teams of the 80s. Time to close that era for good. So the Oilers will select a defenseman with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Draft, right? Noooo, but that would be hysterical. 

Both Nicholson (Providence) and Chiarelli (Harvard) have higher education degrees. This isn’t the end-all-be-all of the world, but when you’re running a multi-million dollar franchise it helps to be educated in the classroom and not at a hockey rink like say Lowe, for example, who at the end of the day, we can say really wasn’t qualified for the job at all. Maybe as a coach, but not as a general manager or team president.

While Chiarelli didn’t put any players on notice, he did say, when asked about his penchant for dealing talented young forwards, “that’s something I won’t shy away from.”

And the Oilers have a ton of these – maybe one or two that need to be dealt as the team prepares for the upcoming NHL Draft. Chiarelli, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, said the Oilers reminded him of the Ottawa Senators, where he oversaw a team turnaround to contender from the early-to-late 2000s.

With this move, for the first time in a long time, it feels like the Oilers organization is making progress. The timing couldn’t be better with Edmonton holding the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and the right to pick Canadian wunderkind Connor McDavid.  

Nicholson identified a smart hockey mind to run the franchise, and the Oilers finally moved their 80s old boys network to the side. You go Bob! 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 24, 2015, 8:59 pm

(Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here is Jared Dobias of Battle of California, an Anaheim Ducks blogger, on the 2014-15 Winnipeg Jets. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)

By Jared Dobias/Battle of California Managing Editor & Ducks Blogger

Hello, esteemed Yahoo! readers. I’ll try to use small words to make this easier on you.

Let’s take some time to say goodbye to the 2014-15 Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets, a franchise that has yet to win a single playoff game in their storied history dating all the way back to 1999. I’m as surprised as anyone that a team backstopped by goaltending elite Ondrej Pavelec got swept out of the first round!

There’s been a lot of talk in hockey media these past few days about the Jets’ passionate fanbase, and I for one am happy that fans of southern expansion teams are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

It’s not easy drudging up enough delusion day after day to support a lackluster team and to make a building with poor acoustics sound really loud. Impressive! Of course, they’ve wasted no time channeling that passion into scapegoating Dustin Byfuglien, for no other reason than his poor play, I’m sure (isn’t that right, Evander Kane?).

Speaking of the fanbase, there was some talk early on about a shared camaraderie among the Anaheim Ducks’ and Jets’ fanbases, bonded by their mutual respect for Teemu Selanne. But let’s get one thing clear: Teemu Selanne has nothing to with today’s faux Winnipeg Jets.

Teemu Selanne does not care about Winnipeg.

Being traded to Anaheim and out of the Manitoban hellscape was, in his own words, “the best thing to ever happen” him.

Of course it was the best thing to ever happen to him! Who wouldn’t prefer Southern California to Winnipeg? I’m not even saying this as a compliment to Southern California, because even a toilet bowl is preferable to Winnipeg.

Jets

Selanne has put down roots in Anaheim, and he has never looked backwards toward Winnipeg. The actual Winnipeg Jets franchise and rightful owners of Selanne’s rookie legacy, the Arizona Coyotes, surely are much less of an embarrassment to Teemu than modern day Winnipeg. Number 8 (and historically number 13, for you Thrashers fans whose hockey history doesn’t go back that far) is in no way sentimental about your team, your city, or the Winnipeg mole-people themselves.

The real former All-Star and power-play sniper who connects these two franchises is Dany Heatley, not Selanne.

Way to go, Faux Jets, Dany Heatley is your legacy.

Enough about proud Southern-Californian Teemu Selanne, let’s talk about Winnipeggers. I know it’s poor form to take potshots at the fans as opposed to the team, but as the third star of Wednesday night’s game, I figure you’re all fair game now considering you’re apparently a part of the team (and perhaps management can trade all of you idiots for some actual on-ice talent).

“Fans, thank you for overpaying to show up to a game in a city with nothing else at all going on, ever… We appreciate your ability to get drunk and be loud. As a token of our appreciation, please accept this third star.”

Congratulations on your participation trophy, Jets fans, but that’s not really how this works. In fact, every person who has attended a Ducks game over the past 22 years is a considerably better fan than any of you are, simply because Anaheim is a non-hockey market with actual competing entertainment options.

Look at it this way: If a dude is trapped on a deserted island with nothing but moss slime and dirt to eat, you wouldn’t congratulate him on his healthy vegetarian diet. You would rightly pity him. This also holds true for the fool who hasn’t found a way out of Winnipeg yet who decides to watch a Jets game, their only source of temporary escape from a soul-crushing existence (how sad it is, then, that the team also decides to crush their weathered souls with its lousy performance).

But let’s get back on track… Aside from not knowing the game well enough to tell the difference between former league MVP Corey Perry and pop star Katy Perry, and despite their lack of other entertainment options as mentioned above, it appears that Winnipeggers are not really big fans of the sport, anyway.

According to ESPN, the team is ranked 27th in attendance this season, which is more than just a little embarrassing in a Canadian market:

ESPN

Oh, I know what you're going to say: "They filled the building to capacity." Well a REAL hockey city would have found ways to add more seats, like maybe setting up lawn chairs that would otherwise never serve a purpose in Winnipeg in the aisles ...

Even Anaheim, a city with about half the population of Winnipeg, without a long history of or national identity built on hockey culture, manages to get more folks watching live hockey. And as I’ve pointed out, Anaheim hockey actually has a much richer entertainment scene in the area to compete with than the frozen tundra-misery of Winnipeg. There’s absolutely nothing to do in Winnipeg (they’re certainly not visiting any parks), and yet they can’t show up for a hockey game or two?

This is not a new phenomenon in Winnipeg. In fact, that’s why the Real Jets left town in the first place for greener pastures in Arizona. In Phoenix, the Real Jets found a much more appreciative fanbase than Winnipeg ever provided (of course, until mismanagement ran the poor Coyotes right into the ground…)

Jets

At any rate, the honeymoon period with this Faux Jets team will surely wear off soon, and attendance will decline even further. But in the meantime, before this franchise is moved to Las Vegas or granted to Florida as their third team, maybe the locals should at least pretend they care.

You know something Winnipeggers do care about? 7-Eleven Slurpees. The gluttonous, diabetic pig-people of Winnipeg average 188,833 Slurpee sells per month (compared to 179,700 for the rest of Canada combined). Obviously, this is a very smart thing to do in a town that hasn’t seen sunlight in over a decade.

If you’re looking to get a glimpse of just how insufferable Winnipeggers are as a fanbase however, consider this – In the waning days of the series, almost the entire hockey world began to rally behind the Ducks, hoping for a Jets elimination (you’re welcome hockey world, but you can go back to hating us now).

Convincing outside fanbases to cheer for a team with both Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry on the roster seems an almost insurmountable task. That is, until you expose those other folks to the entitled, petulant children who call the Jets their own.  It was pretty cute how they thought stealing the Arizona Coyotes’ “Whiteout” tradition might win them a playoff series, though.

Now, fans of the Faux Jets, regardless of how underserving your town and your team were of any true success, I know this elimination is heartbreaking. But as long as you stick together, you’ll be alright. Focus on the positives, like those three Avco World Trophy championships (that’s a little thing that the Real Jets brought to your town back in the day; I don’t expect fans of a southern expansion team to know this though).

And sure, Teemu Selanne wants nothing to do you with all of you, but what about goaltending great and best color-analyst in the business Brian Hayward?

Oh, right. He left you for Anaheim as well.

Ouch.

To bring this all to a conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Fake Jets on getting a taste of playoff hockey, the real game, and hope to see you back in the mix when you’re actually ready to try and compete in a more serious manner, in a few more years after the franchise has been moved to a more deserving Sun Belt market.

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Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 24, 2015, 8:25 pm

Predators defenseman Shea Weber is out for the remainder of the team’s first round series with what the team continues to call a “lower body” injury, after NBC Sports/TSN anchor Gord Miller noted Weber tore his ACL on Thursday night’s Nashville/Chicago broadcast.

The Predators wrote a strongly worded statement that basically bashed “erroneous” reports on Weber’s injury.

From the Perds, I mean Preds:

The Nashville Predators announced Friday that Captain Shea Weber will miss the remainder of the club’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks due to a lower-body injury the defenseman suffered in Game Two of the series. However, contrary to erroneous broadcast and media reports over the last 24 hours, he did not suffer an ACL injury. Further updates will be provided as they become available. 

So, he went from ‘day-to-day’ to now being out for the rest of the series – though granted it’s the same thing when there’s only two games left in the entire series. Chicago leads Nashville 3-2. 

And The Tennessean’s John Glennon even went to Miller to ask, basically ‘hey dude, what’s up with that report?’ Such a situation is essentially beat reporter hell. 

Just talked to NBCSN's Gord Miller, who clarified Weber report. He said only that he'd heard local discussion of ACL, not that it was a fact

— John Glennon (@glennonsports) April 24, 2015

It doesn’t really change anything for Nashville. Weber’s injury didn’t look great. If he was anywhere near returning, he’d be doing some sort of skating activity – which at least hasn’t been reported yet by any sources around the team. Also, where there's smoke, there's fire, and Miller wouldn't just throw out a random body part on a national TV broadcast without getting some semblance of fact behind it. The location may be correct, but the details may be off.  

Then again we’ve heard many different conjectures on Weber, between his ankle, his Achilles and his knee. But hey it's the playoffs, so lower body injury will just suffice for now, until the Predators get ousted -- or go all the way -- and then such CIA-level secrets will be revealed. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 24, 2015, 7:06 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Getty Images

• Ahh, now we know why Eddie Lack's play was impacted - he was in love. Now this lovely lady tries her black magic on Ryan Miller. [Getty]

• Women's hockey legend Haley Wickenheiser pays tribute to Steve Montador, and brings to light the depression and anxiety experienced by many pro athletes. [The Players Tribune]

• Maple Leafs' former GM Dave Nonis looks back at time with team in first interview after firing. [Toronto Sun]

• Nanny for Pittsburgh Penguins player Chris Kunitz accused of stealing jewelry from home. This lady is a trip. [WPXI]

• Hasso Plattner is not a German delicacy. He's actually the owner of the San Jose Sharks. He wrote a letter to season ticket holders reaffirming his commitment to GM Doug Wilson. [Mercury News]

• Commissioner Bettman believes the Islanders won't return to Nassau anytime soon. [Islanders Point Blank]

• The NWHL officially launched last week. There is cautious optimism around the women's hockey community as to it's viability as it works to live up to lofty goals. [USCHO]

• interview with Doug Cifu (Vice Chairman, Partner & Alternate Governor of the Florida Panthers). Some of the topics discussed: his roots in hockey, the growth of the Florida Panthers, and foreshadowing on future jerseys. [The Sunshine Skate]

• Legal vs. Illegal hits in the NHL - The inconsistency of the Department of Player Safety. [Undisclosed Injury]

• Announcer Ralph Strangis on Thursday announced he will be leaving the Stars organization to pursue new challenges, ending a career that spanned 25 years and more than 2,000 games. [Dallas Morning News]

• Jim Rutherford’s future and 12 final Penguins thoughts. [The Hockey Writers]

• Trick-Fil-A: Forsberg’s three goals keep Predators alive. [Rinkside Report]

•  Flyers coaching search: Dave Tippett's long-view mentality could be perfect fit in Philly. [Broad Street Hockey]

• Patrice Bergeron has 'full confidence' in Bruins' plan. (Milan Lucic on the other hand...) [Boston Herald]

• Jack Eichel's college hockey linemate Evan Rodrigues sees himself fitting in well in Buffalo, after signing a contract with the team earlier this week. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

• "The Winnipeg Jets and their last dyin’ day" [The Most Basic Cable] 

• Prime Minister Stephen Harper explains his missing Jets jersey. [Globe & Mail]

• A look at "the immaturity of the Minnesota Wild." [Hockey Wilderness]

• One would expect this from an America ad talking about hockey, not a Canadian one: "Scotiabank goofs in 'first goal' ad, putting boy on Belleville Bearcats female team." [Buzzing the Net]

• The Tampa Bay Lightning received support from an unexpected source earlier this week when basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley gave the team and head coach Jon Cooper a shout-out during coverage of the NBA playoffs on Tuesday. [TBO]

• Fantasy pro-tip: Expanding dynasty leagues can be a precarious situation. Here's how to do it seamlessly. [Dobber Hockey]

• "The crowd at Wednesday night’s Senators victory gave Russell’s Jonathan Pitre a standing ovation when his image flashed on the scoreboard. Pitre, 14, usually wears a Sens sweater to the game, but on Wednesday he was decked out in a spiffy suit and tie — a gift from Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby." [Ottawa Citizen]

• Finally, the Latvians are at it again. U18 goalie Denijs Romanovskis makes an incredible leaping/diving save against Canada. VIVA LATVIA! [Youtube]

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 24, 2015, 6:52 pm

For those of us who like massive trainwreck disaster shows, then Randy Carlyle receiving permission from Toronto to talk to the Sharks about their vacant head coaching job is maybe the greatest thing ever. 

For those who are Sharks fans and want to see their team win hockey games? Goo …

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Carlyle had indeed received permission to talk to the Sharks. San Jose and Todd McLellan “mutually” agreed to part ways Monday.

As Fear the Fin notes, this would be just flat out horrible:

Under Carlyle, the Leafs literally set records for defensive futility. He routinely coached his defensemen to passively cede the blueline at even-strength, was clueless on how to execute an effective breakout with control of the puck and employed a comical positioning scheme in the defensive zone. For a GM who publicly stated just four days ago that he's looking to build a puck possession team, Wilson even giving Carlyle an interview for the head coaching job just doesn't make sense.

But the story also says Wilson interviewed over 20 candidates for the head coaching job in 2008, that eventually landed McLellan – who was an excellent coach during his tenure with the Sharks. So maybe this is smoke and mirrors by Wilson to head people off while he interviews the Sharks’ “real” head coaching candidate.

Could this be Wilson’s version of Dean Lombardi hiring Darryl Sutter in spite of some saying “no, no, don’t do it” and then laughing away a Stanley Cup championship?

There are worse candidates than guys who have won Cups before, but as Fear the Fin points out again, a blueline with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger was Carlyle’s end-all-be-all in Anaheim in 2007. Think of him like Eric Spoelstra with the early 'Big Three' in Miami. Put me out there with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and only an unconscious Dirk Nowitzki could beat us. 

You look really good as a coach when you have the right type of personnel. Unless you're Barry Trotz and can milk 99 points out of a first line that included Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn -- another story for another time though. 

After he was fired by the Ducks, Anaheim has made the playoffs three straight full seasons under Bruce Boudreau and won two division titles. A lot of the main players are similar to what Carlyle had by the end of his time with the Ducks. 

Plus, some players seem to chafe under Carlyle. If you thought Joe Thornton vs. McLellan vs. Wilson was rough, try replacing McLellan with the no-nonsense Carlyle. Oye. We'd go from "Highlander" to the battle for Middle Earth real fast. 

Add the fact that his systems aren't exactly favorable to puck possession and, yeah I'm calling a bluff here. There are lots of qualified candidates for San Jose like say that Dan Bylsma guy. Carlyle will end up somewhere in some capacity. He's a hockey lifer, and still scouts games for Toronto. he was at Games 1 and 2 of Anaheim's first round series against Winnipeg. But again, this smells like something to throw people off Wilson's scent. I wonder what that smells like. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 24, 2015, 6:25 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: Eliotte Friedman of Sportsnet!

• The Stanley Cup Playoffs! 

• The Calder!

• Game Show Friday!

• Hockey News and Views

Question of the Day: Ask us anything. Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarekClick here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast viaiTunes or Feedburner.

***

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 24, 2015, 6:04 pm
(Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

The NHL has a “Katy Perry” problem.

Well, at least now they do. When Winnipeg Jets fans serenaded Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks with a “Katy Perry” chant during Game 3 of their playoff series, it was treated by some as another comedic gem by the previously infallible crowd, and by others as a more problematic trend in the NHL and the way the League, the media and fans alienate women.

So Jesse Spector of The Sporting News asked Bettman about that problematic trend at a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors on Friday, and Bettman’s response was unsatisfactory to the point of rage-inducing:

From the Wall Street Journal:

A reporter asked Bettman whether he feared chants of “Katy Perry” directed at Anaheim Ducks star Corey Perry might be off putting to female fans.

Incredulous, Bettman fired back: “You think that’s sexist? Taunting chants aren’t intended to be sexist.”

[Ed Note: Bettman? Incredulous? THE DEVIL YOU SAY.]

Bettman said the NHL has a track record of “diversity, inclusiveness and doing the right thing.” He noted the league has a bigger female fan base compared to other professional leagues.

He likened the “Katy Perry” insult to calling a goalie a “sieve.”

Another reporter, a woman, noted that “sieves don’t have feelings.”

“You don’t see how taunting a player by calling them a woman could be sexist?,” she said.

“I see the point but I don’t think it’s overly literal. Short of gagging everyone who comes to a game I’m not sure we can stifle that,” he said.

And the price of ball-gags grows forever higher! What is the League to do?!

Here’s an idea: Acknowledge the problem.

Look, I was in public relations. I know the last thing you want to do is actually acknowledge that calling Corey Perry “Katy Perry” might be offensive to a large portion of your paying consumer base. Because then you validate those concerns about sexism in the NHL; and once you validate the concerns, then the heavy lifting starts, which is trying to find ways to assuage them.

It didn't offend me in the least -- I thought it was commentary on facile celebrity rather than challenging Perry's "manhood." But when you toss on the pile with everything else ... 

What Bettman and the NHL don’t understand is that this joke doesn’t exist in isolation. Maybe if it did, it’s as frivolous as the rest of the Jets’ taunts.  But it doesn’t.

This exists in a landscape of the Sedin Sisters and Cindy Crosby, of ice girls and cheerleaders eye candy but no male counterparts, of players apologizing for sexist gaffes, of ridiculous items sold at the NHL Store allegedly with women in mind, of Slava Voynov and Semyon Varlamov, of abuse at arenas that’s met with apathy from team and facility employees. 

It exists in a landscape of the media’s making. Of Mike Milbury calling the Swedish twins “Thelma and Louise”, of this recent idiocy from CBS Detroit that ranked the Detroit Red Wings’ girlfriends (stalker much?), of the Chicago Tribune’s “Chrissy Pronger” poster. Of generally making the “men strong, women weak” thing as much a sports cliché as “giving 110%.” Of having white, male on-air presences as commonplace on broadcasts as corny theme music.  

It mostly, and most sadly, exists among fans that don’t stick up for each other when someone’s being treated like crap because of their gender or sexual identity, or when that person might feel alienated because the rube next to you is asking Claude Giroux where his purse is. We all pick and choose our spots, and we all need to be better with it. (Especially when it comes to making fans new to hockey feel like they’re not invited to the party.)

So “Katy Perry” does not exist in a vacuum. Although if she did, it would no doubt be a vacuum that shoots whipped cream, looks like an episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba” and that worked better when Sara Bareilles existed there first …

(See, Katy Perry can be funny, within context!)

You know who Bettman should speak to?

Ken King of the Calgary Flames.

The Calgary Flames have a Red Mile problem. That’s the 17th Ave. party that rages during Flames games, and that has become infamous for debauchery, mostly because of the topless women that have been an part of that tradition in previous postseasons.

(To wit, there have been posters seen that read “Show Your Cans for Monahan” this season.)

So the Flames got proactive this week, with King and team president Brian Burke asked Calgarians to knock it off:

“Our view is that if you’re a true Flames fan, you are not engaging in this kind of behaviour,” CEO King told the Herald Thursday just before leaving for Vancouver for Game 5 in the playoff series.

“We want to make it clear, do not do this stuff, ever. And for goodness sake don’t do it in our name because that’s not our culture, that’s not our organization." 

Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke added: “This kind of behaviour has nothing to do with us, nothing to do with hockey. This is no way to treat women. I ask that everyone keeps their red on, and treat each other with respect.”

I don’t know how the Flames were able to make this plea for their fans to stop being misogynistic, harassing creeps without the use of official NHL fan gags, but somehow they pulled it off.

Unlike the Flames, perhaps Bettman feels all of this is systemic in society, and not an NHL problem. That it’s not his place to step up and say anything about it. 

Look, I agree Bettman: It’s impossible for the NHL to police everything said or done by fans, be it in arenas or online.

But I also don’t think anyone’s asking for that. 

I guess what we’re asking for is that the face of the League be as quick to sympathize with women who see the “Katy Perry” thing as another tire on the fire as he is when, say, an owner cries poverty. That the guy running the NHL take a step back and understand the bigger picture here for his female fan base rather than doing what he always does, which is dismiss valid criticisms of the League as being inconsequential.

Like, you know, the last time he was asked about sexism. 

Bettman can be a reasonable guy, and he certainly takes action when it makes the NHL look good (see: Voynov, Sean Avery).

Maybe we can start with baby steps, and no longer equate the comparison of Corey Perry to a woman with a goalie to an inanimate object.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 24, 2015, 5:00 pm

Prospective NHL Las Vegas owner Bill Foley held a meet and greet with hockey fans earlier this week and while he didn’t reveal much, his confidence about getting a team remained high. 

“The league has been supportive and positive with our efforts,” he said. “We feel like we're on the 1-yard line with this thing.”

On Monday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside reported that the Las Vegas ticket drive had surpassed the 11,000 sold mark, an impressive feat considering there's no guarantee that the NHL will be coming.

"I'm not prepared to say how many tickets we've sold,” Foley said, “but it's been awesome in terms of response from the market.”

If the league does put a team in Las Vegas, Burnside reports it’s not expected to happen until the 2017-18 season.

There was one little nugget of news regarding the Las Vegas Whatevers during the meet and greet. Foley said the team’s colors will be black, gold and gray, which matches with the color scheme of the United States Military Academy, whose sports teams are known as the Black Knights, the Vegas billionaire’s initial favorite for the team's name.

Foley did say, however, there will be a “Name the Team” contest with season-ticket holders where the field will be narrowed down to 10 finalists. So for those of you who support "Las Vegas Aces" option, there's still hope.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Monday that he’ll give a report on the Las Vegas drive to the Board of Governors when they meet in June and, according to our Nick Cotsonika, a formal expansion process could begin if they decided to go forward.

Stick-tap Icethetics

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 24, 2015, 4:06 pm

Getting talented hockey people to come to Edmonton has always been a challenge. The Oilers have to overpay or overpromise, and then that individual would have to overcome his apprehensions over geography and the direction of the franchise (which has been in a downward death sprial, lately). 

Funny how winning the rights to a once-in-a-generation hockey talent can change things …

Peter Chiarelli, the general manager who built a Stanley Cup champion with the Boston Bruins before his dismissal last week, was named the new president of hockey operations AND general manager for the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, according to the team.

"I am honoured to join such a great organization with a long history of success. I hope to bring it to the next level," he said. 

Patrick LaForge has stepped down as President and Chief Operating Officer of Oilers Entertainment Group as well.

There aren’t many general managers that one can honestly say built a champion. Chiarelli didn’t inherent the framework of a championship team and then colored in the edges – he built the Boston Bruins club that won the Cup in 2011.

While he wasn’t formally the GM yet – Eugene Melnyk, forever charming, wouldn’t let Chiarelli officially join the Bruins in 2006 until free agency – it’s no coincidence that the Bruins had a great draft (Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand) followed by Chiarelli’s old hand from Ottawa coming to Boston in Zdeno Chara and getting Marc Savard via free agency. That was also the summer the Bruins made the Tuukka Rask trade.

From there he built a team in the Bruins’ tradition of blue-collar, rough around the edges types augmenting skills.

What should have Oilers fans salivating: His greatest achievement in Boston was building from the goal out. Imagine that: Solidifying your back end first. Yes, it’s easier when you have Zdeno Chara to build around. But Chiarelli added Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and others. (That he also hired a coach whose systems trend defensively is also a good thing.)

The other thing that Chiarelli brings is boldness. We’ve heard a lot from MacTavish about the core and what to do with it. The addition of McDavid means someone – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Leon Draisaitl? – could be on the way out. Chiarelli made the Phil Kessel trade, and the Tyler Seguin trade. He can be quite the aggressive one.

Of course, both of those deals had their own circumstances – money and attitude with Kessel, an organizational decision to move off Seguin – and both trades have taken on new light over the years. But for an organization in stasis like the Oilers, having Chiarelli come in with a clear mind and no strings attached to the roster is brilliant.

Chiarelli was a victim of his own success in Boston. He handed out a series of long-term deals to keep the core in place, and in the process blew out the cap, which led to the lamentable Boychuk trade that could have been the difference between making and missing the playoffs considering their injures on the back end.

He’s had hits and misses, as any GM does, and in the end the roster he built had increasing salary and diminishing returns. It was time for him to go in Boston … but what a run.

And now he runs to Edmonton. Lowetide has some great analysis here.

Bob Nicholson running the whole thing. Peter Chiarelli running hockey ops, with Kevin Lowe doing meet-and-greets with season ticket holders. A new coach, probably of some renown, ready to coach Connor McDavid.

(And look, we’re not trying to get your hopes up Edmonton, but Chiarelli and Nicholson MIGHT have a few Olympic ties to Mike “Double Gold” Babcock.)

So here we were waiting for the Oilers to dramatically reshape their roster, and instead it’s the front office that gets the dramatic makeover.

Are they actually – gulp – figuring out this whole “how to build a winning hockey team” thing?

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:50 pm

On Sunday, Corey Crawford had the ignominious job of sitting there with a cap on and maybe sometimes opening the door for his teammates, while a relative unknown got the start and the win for Chicago to push the team to a 2-1 series lead over Nashville. Then he had it again Tuesday. Then last night as well.

Not an ideal turn of events, to be sure, but one you might have seen coming for a while here.

This is very much Joel Quenneville making a decision based on recent play, but rather than going with the “hot hand” as they say, he's simply going with the not-cold one. And look, he's been 100 percent awful in the two games he started, allowing nine goals on 47 shots (.809) which is and should be good enough for a coach of Quenneville's quality to go to the bullpen.

This is, as noted by James Mirtle, part of a trend this year. Cheaper, less experienced backups are supplanting the highly paid playoff veterans with plenty of success in their playoff pasts. Maybe you could expect that, statistically speaking, because the difference between good and bad goaltending at this level is so small to begin with (the average elite goaltender will only allow about 15 or 20 fewer goals on a few thousand shots versus one who's abjectly poor), and because in the playoffs you deal with such a small sample to begin with. Especially when you're losing.

Ahead of last night's games, 23 goalies had played postseason minutes for the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs. The teams that have used two goalies are Washington (Braden Holtby was sick, not pulled; a .943 save percentage is worth keeping around), Ottawa (the wheels inevitably coming off for Andrew Hammond), Calgary (Karri Ramo got mop-up duty in Game 2), Vancouver (Eddie Lack was Eddie Lacking), Detroit (Jimmy Howard flat-out lost his job), Minnesota (Devan Dubnyk crashing back to earth), and obviously Chicago.

What's interesting to me about Crawford, though, is that he is a slightly above-average goaltender in this league, demonstrably so, over a period of about five years. Career .917 in the regular season, career .917 in the postseason. That's reliability to some extent. He saves a lot of goals versus the league average, and yet he has a reputation as a not-great goaltender. It's a view I share, but there's not a lot of fact-based evidence to support the argument, so I found myself wondering why this is.

What has Crawford done that was so bad to warrant a lot of people thinking, “Well this is a waste of $6 million a year,” other than play on a good team? After thinking about it for a bit, it seemed to me that it's a similar problem which plagued Antti Niemi both in Chicago and San Jose. Here we have a goaltender who is consistently very good in the postseason (career .917, just like Crawford) and at least in Niemi's case there's the .907 postseason number to give you doubts. Not so with Crawford.

Here is a chart of his regular-season save percentage versus the approximate league average over the course of his career.

Crawford

 

That looks to me like a pretty good goaltender who had a rough go of things a few years ago but has mostly spent the majority of his career well above water. Chicago may be good and everything, but for me in the regular season he's in a tier not too far below the league's best.

Put another way: He'd have to turn in a great season by his standards to even warrant Vezina consideration (it's not out of the question but it would take some serious work), but this is a guy who, by this merit, should be worth about $6 million annually.

But then the playoffs roll around, and things are a little less rosy. Part of the reason for that is that in the postseason, there are fewer bad goaltenders, and thus the league average rises sharply. Guys like Crawford who are perfectly good in the regular season quickly become a little below-average.

Crawford

Okay that's a lot more worrisome. 

Now, I'd argue he's still spending most of his time north of that line, of course. And the season in which Chicago won the Cup, Crawford went an incredible .932 in 23 games. That alone earned him his current contract (by making his bosses so enamored of his play in much the same way Marc-Andre Fleury did so many years ago for the Penguins). Besides that, though, the performances have been less impressive, with only one postseason breaking .915, and it was a series in which he went .927 but Chicago was eliminated in the first round in 2010-11.

The quote-unquote Book On Crawford is that his glove hand is weak, but if you shoot high glove most goaltenders are going to give up goals. If the Book On Crawford was to shoot low, that would be a different story entirely, because goalies who give up low goals in addition to high goals are just flat-out bad, but it's not, so that's not an issue.

What you have to also keep in mind is that Crawford has played just 58 playoff games, compared to 268 in the regular season, and so when he's bad, which any goalie occasionally is, it stands out more. If you have trouble for a few days and try to play through it, you might blow two games, and all of a sudden you're down 2-1 in the series and someone else has your job.

A stat I think is interesting is Rob Vollman's RBS —Really Bad Starts — which looks at the, like, truly and deeply bad starts goaltenders churn out. To qualify for such an awful stat, you need to have an individual game save percentage of .850 or less. Crawford has suffered 30 of them in his NHL regular-season career (almost half of which came in his disastrous post-Cup season; 13 RBS in 57 games). That's 30 out of 268 (11.2 percent), about 1 every 9 starts. By contrast, Henrik Lundqvist's career number is 56 in 620 games (9 percent) or 1 in every 11 starts. This is, again, what separates elite middling in this league.

But again, once the playoffs roll around, Crawford has difficulties, perhaps due to improved quality of competition, or something else. His RBS rate jumps to 9 in 57 (15.7 percent), or 1 per 6.5 starts or so. But Lundqvist's, too, goes up, to 10 in 83 (12 percent), or about 1 in 8.

Goalies are going to have bad starts, and apparently at increased rates in the playoffs. It's inevitable. The big newsflash here is that Scott Darling isn't a .940 goaltender. The numbers he's posting here and now dramatically outstrip his career highs at almost any level in his career. And you have to wonder if this is just a case of Chicago not being able to pick up Crawford when he stumbles as they have in the past.

Building on the RBS stat, I also went back and looked at times when he posted save percentages of .900 or less but Chicago still won (Kinda Bad Starts?). It's happened 23 times out of 92 in the regular season (25 percent), and just 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) in the playoffs. Again, I'd relate that back to quality of opponent more than anything else — it's harder to overcome bad goaltending against good teams — but you have to do it if you want to win the Cup.

Here's what you can expect from Crawford in any given game — regular-season or playoffs — across his career. As you can see, he gives you roughly league-average to stellar play more than half the time. Factoring in the nights when he's a little bit bad, you're looking at two-thirds of every appearance. You might even get some winnable games in that orange “Kinda Bad” range. Only about 1 in 7 starts is truly and deeply awful.

In the playoffs, things are a little different. The percentages of red and orange games actually shrinks overall, to 29.3 percent (based on 15.5 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively) from 33 percent. And for the record, another 13.8 percent each are in the meh-but-winnable yellow and good green categories, leaving — hey, whaddaya know? — 41.4 percent for the blue games in which he's great.

The point of this is not to excuse Crawford, because his his play has been inexcusably poor this postseason. He earned the benching he got this year. But relying on Darling as any sort of goalie of the future is foolish, and you'd be much wiser to play Crawford for the balance of his contract than try your hand with Darling, who's getting the Andrew Hammond love-in treatment right now. (And who gave up four goals last night for a .857 save percentage -- not a Really Bad Start, but a bad one.)

If Darling wins them a series or two, that's great. But Crawford generally gives them a better chance to win a lot more than that over the next few years. Gotta play the odds there.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: April 24, 2015, 1:53 pm

No. 1 Star: Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning looked like they were headed straight for a 3-1 series deficit when their offense finally kicked in. Johnson got the rally going with 5:26 to go, and Ondrej Palat scored the tying goal just 1:17 later. Having played a mere 2:25 in OT, Johnson was the hero sending the winner past Petr Mrazek. The series shifts back to Tampa tied 2-2. 

No. 2 Star: Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators

No nomination for the Calder? No problem. Forsberg scored goals when the Predators needed them the most - in an elimination game. The rookie forward picked up a hat-trick in Nashville's 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. The Preds will be playing for their playoff lives again on Saturday in Chicago.

No. 3 Star: Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

Miller was given the honor of saving the Canucks (Canadian) bacon as they went into an elimination game against the Calgary Flames. Playing on home-turf, the goalie made 20 saves in the 2-1 win. It doesn't seem like much, but the Flames game plan was pretty clear - get Miller moving side-to-side to test that bad knee. He held up and the Canucks are headed to Calgary for Game 5.

Honorable Mention: Gustav Nyquist set up his own goal by getting the puck to the offensive zone. Justin Abdelkader grabbed the puck and fired a pass over to Henrik Zetterberg who in turn sent the puck to Nyquist for the goal. Too beautiful of a play to put into words:

... Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie played over 27-minutes on the ice against Vancouver ... Capitals youngster Evgeny Kuznetsov notched his first and second ever playoff goals in Washington's 5-2 victory against the Islanders. With the win, the Caps pull ahead in the series 3-2. The Isles could find themselves playing their last game at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday ... Unfortunately for other playoff teams, it appears that Patrick Kane is back to his inhuman hockey self. Check out this tremendous pass to Kris Versteeg:

Not to be out done, James Neal had some showing off to do on his own:

Did You Know? Forsberg's hatty is the first in Predators playoff history.

Dishonorable Mention: Not the best moment for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop as he bats the puck off the cross bar and into his own net. Luckily his team would bail him out later. Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm were on the ice for all Tampa Bay goals ... Lubomir Visnovsky did not play in Game 5 after a vicious check from Tom Wilson in Game 4. After giving up 5 goals, Jaroslav Halak was pulled in favor of Michael Neuvirth for the final 11-minutes of the game ... Andrew Shaw received a double minor for roughing Paul Gaustad and an unsuspecting Seth Jones, plus a game misconduct. Given the way discipline is being handled right now, it's highly unlikely anything will come of it.

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 24, 2015, 7:39 am

“I knew they're not just going to give their game away and go on vacation. We knew they would be coming. I knew I would face a few shots. I thought I was able to stop quite a few good ones early and help the team to stay in it, but you can't just sit back and wait to get scored on.” 

That's Jonas Hiller, goaltender for the Calgary Flames, aptly describing Game 5 between his team and the Vancouver Canucks to The Calgary Sun

Coming into Thursday's game, the Flames had the opportunity to end the Canucks season, and they just didn't play like it. Calgary lacked the cliche "killer instinct" to stomp on the hearts of Vancouver in front of their home crowd, and lost 2-1.

The game started well for the Flames as they scored 2:25 into the first. Alexander Edler and Matt Stajan chopped at a puck sent up the boards, and David Jones caught it right in front of the Canucks goaltender. Jones set the puck down on the ice and fired a wrist shot past Ryan Miller.

 

And that's about where the Flames lost their mojo.

The Canucks controlled a majority of the play, showering Hiller with 43 shots on goal. In comparison, Miller, selected as the starter to save Vancouver's season, was met with only 21 shots.

Vancouver got on the board in the second when Nick Bonino sent a snipe top-shelf on his former teammate Hiller.

When the third period rolled around, it was time for some twin magic. Just 1:47 into the frame, Henrik Sedin won the face-off and got the puck to Dan Hamuis. Hamuis fired a rolling pass through traffic, and somehow Daniel Sedin buries it by Hiller.

The rest of the period was controlled by Vancouver. Even when Henrik was called for hooking child up past his bedtime Johnny Gaudreau with less than five minutes to go, the Flames just didn't have their usual third period magic. The power play was unsuccessful and the Canucks have lived to play another game. 

As for that other game, Mikael Backlund is old enough to know better than to create 'bulletin board material' for the Canucks. While talking to reporters in the post game, Backlund, 26, was frank"There's no way we're losing at home."

Sounds like a guarantee. They'd better hope the Flames from earlier in the series show up to make sure it happens.

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 24, 2015, 7:05 am

Unfortunately for Predators rookie Filip Forsberg, his hat-trick against the Chicago Blackhawks came too late to help his Calder Trophy candidacy. But he’d probably take a playoff win over being a finalist for the award given to the league’s top rookie.

Forsberg scored three times in a 5-2 win over Chicago in Game 5 to push Nashville’s first round series with the Blackhawks to a sixth game in Chicago. The Blackhawks lead the Predators 3-2 overall in the series.

Finalists for the Calder were announced Thursday, and Forsberg was not one of them. Did he use the news as motivation? Doubtful for the young Swede. But that’s the regular season. This is the playoffs where there is only one award that matters – unless you have a Conn Smythe Trophy bonus clause in your contract.

"Obviously, it’s always special to get a hat-trick, but the most important thing is that we got the win," Forsberg said in quotes provided by Nashville's media website. "We had to win this game and had to take this series back a little bit with home advantage, and now we’re going back into Chicago. There is going to be a lot of pressure when we play there." 

Chicago scored first, a goal by Brad Richards at the 13:27 mark of the first. Then Forsberg answered quickly to tie the score at 1-1 before the end of the first frame.

That was the first of four straight unanswered scores for the Predators. Nashville also notched four goals in the third period to take the lead and pull away from the Blackhawks.

 Game 6 is Saturday in Chicago. And Nashville’s chances of a comeback in this series remain slim, because All-Star defenseman Shea Weber remains out. But because of the rook, they still have an opportunity.  

Will Chicago switch back to goaltender Corey Crawford from Scott Darling to start Game 6?

Following the backup’s performance, where he allowed four goals on 28 shots on goal, coach Joel Quenneville was mum. 

Per the Sun-Times:

Quenneville did not name his Game 6 starter in goal, but absolved Darling.

“I’m not blaming the goalie,” he said. “We’ll talk about it, but he did everything right. He was fine.” 

And Patrick Kane:

“He’s played great since he’s been called upon. You see their goals tonight, I don’t know if he had a chance on many of them. Whoever’s in net, we have a lot of confidence in.”

Our guess? Darling for Game 6. But if Chicago loses and he doesn’t look great – then it would be a tough choice for Quenneville in a Game 7 between Darling or Crawford. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 24, 2015, 5:27 am

Tyler Johnson needed only 2:25 of overtime to complete the Tampa Bay Lightning comeback in their 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4.

When Joakim Andersson scored a fluky goal on Ben Bishop late in the second period to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead, it just seemed like we were on our way to a 3-1 series lead for Detroit. Andersson’s first of the playoffs only came thanks to Bishop’s bad luck batting the puck away:

But a funny thing happened in the third period. In the span of 1:17, the game was tied, thanks to Johnson’s first of the night and Ondrej Palat’s tying goal. Suddenly, Tampa had life.

"As soon as we got that first one, we grew a couple inches on the bench," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

In overtime, Johnson sent the fans inside Joe Louis Arena home unhappy when his tough angle shot found a wide-open net to win the game. 

What a great little set up by Victor Hedman. 

Detroit lost control of the game and lost forward Luke Glendening with an injured hand during a third period group scrum that happened before both Lightning goals. Glendening told reporters it was his thumb that was hurt and he’ll be back for Game 5 on Saturday. 

Aside from his two goals, Johnson also assisted on Palat's tally in the second period. He's now second in goals in the playoffs with four and tied for third in points with five. If the Lightning make a deep run this spring, look for the diminutive center to get lots of Conn Smythe Trophy love.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:29 am

The Washington Capitals took a 3-2 series lead on the New York Islanders Thursday night after a decisive 5-1 victory in Game 5. This sets up an interesting Game 6 on Saturday where a Washington win would not only eliminate the Islanders, but also close out Nassau Coliseum for good.

For the fourth time in the series, the Islanders struck first when Josh Bailey beat Braden Holtby 5:48 into the opening period. But that would be the only highlight for New York’s offense. While Jaroslav Halak (30 saves) did all he could, the Capitals’ push was too great and Washington woud score five unanswered goals, including a pair from rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov.

With the Capitals holding a 3-1 lead early in the third period, Kuznetsov put the game out of reach with his second on the night after a lovely backhand: 

Washington’s fifth and final goal from Jason Chimera just summed up the entire night for the Islanders and was the the final bit of action for Halak:

In the aftermath of Tom Wilson's big hit on Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4 that knocked the Islanders' defenseman out indefinitely, the two sides each had their takes on the play. And in the first period, Anders Lee dropped the gloves with Wilson. Later, when the game became out of reach, things got testy.

Midway through the third, two seconds after Matt Martin was tossed, Cal Clutterbuck was given a minor and 10-minute misconduct after this slash on Brooks Laich:

Via Steph:

GIF Clutterbuck slash pic.twitter.com/9eDBvhYbLT

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 24, 2015

Casey Cizikas got his own little bit of revenge on Wilson with this stick adjustment:

Again, via Steph:

GIF Cizikas spears Wilson in the crotch pic.twitter.com/RpwW4TCzyn

— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 24, 2015

The series now shifts back to Long Island for Game 6 on Saturday. What was a raucous atmosphere in Games 3 and 4 at Nassau Coliseum could turn into a building full of nervous energy with the Islanders a loss away from being eliminated and saying goodbye forever to their 43-year old arena.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 24, 2015, 1:53 am

Anyone know if the Tampa Bay Rays are looking for a designated hitter? If so, we've got someone great in mind, and he's probably going to be available soon.

Who is this person, you ask? None other than Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop.

Detroit's Joakim Andersson fired the puck in on net just after crossing the blueline. The shot hit Bishop, bounced up in the air, and the goalie batted the puck backwards. The puck hits the crossbar, drops down to the ice and slides into the corner. Both Bishop and defenseman Jason Garrison wave at the puck as it glides completely over the line. Take a look:

The goal put the Red Wings up 2-0, inching Detroit ever closer to the 3-1 series lead. But the Lightning scored twice in the third period to force overtime.

All of the Lightning's struggles can't be pinned on Bishop. He's done what he could, but the team in front of him - the highest scoring team in the regular season - hasn't provided him with the run support he's needed to close out a game. 

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

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Author: Jen Neale
Posted: April 24, 2015, 1:31 am

Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa are the three finalists for the 2014-15 Calder Memorial Trophy which is “given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced on Thursday.

All finalists are definitely deserving in different ways, and you could make a case for all of them.

The glaring omission here is Nashville’s Filip Forsberg, who seemed like the slam dunk winner of this award for most of the season, until he fell off down the stretch. From March 4 until March 28, Forsberg had just four points and one goal. Meanwhile, Gaudreau had 16 points in March and four in four games in April. Stone had 35 points in his final 31 games played. Ekblad continued his solid man-child type play all season, crunching upwards of 20 minutes as an 18/19-year-old. The issue is whether the voting populous of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association awarded Ekblad for just being uncommonly good at such a young age, or if he was indeed a better rookie than at least Forsberg and John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars – another snub not getting near the attention of Forsberg at least in the early social media outrage. Oh well, there were just a lot of good options this year.

Anyway, here are your finalists and why they deserve this award...

Why Aaron Ekblad Deserves The Calder

From the NHL:

Ekblad, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, set club records for goals (12), assists (27) and points (39) by a rookie defenseman. His 39 points were two shy of the NHL record for an 18-year-old defenseman (at the start of the season), set by Bobby Orr in 1966-67 (13-28—41). Ekblad led the Panthers in plus-minus (+12) and was on the ice for 88 Florida goals scored, the most of any player on the roster. The Windsor, Ont., native is aiming to become the second Panthers player to capture the Calder in three years, following Jonathan Huberdeau's win in 2013.

So you’re comparing Ekblad to Bobby Orr? Give him the Calder, just due to proximity of reference. You can’t judge defense the same as forward. But whether Ekblad was 18, or 22, he was an excellent rookie for the Panthers this season. His 21:48 of ice-time per-game was most amongst rookies who played over 80 games. Also, Ekblad’s shot attempts differential was a plus-184, second to Forsberg.

Why Johnny Gaudreau Deserves The Calder

From the NHL:

A fourth-round selection (104th overall) by the Flames in the 2011 NHL Draft, Gaudreau recorded 24-40—64 to finish in a tie in points with Stone atop the rookie scoring list. He ranked first among all rookies in assists (40) and power-play goals (eight), and topped rookie forwards in average ice time per game (17:43). The 21-year-old Salem, N.J., native recorded his first career hat trick on Dec. 22, becoming the youngest Flames player to do so since Dec. 28, 1987 (Joe Nieuwendyk). Gaudreau is vying to become the first Flames player to earn Calder Trophy honors since Sergei Makarov in 1990.

Um, why did the NHL not include Gaudreau’s desire to light his stick on fire during the All-Star skills competition? Gaudreau was a major reason why the Flames made the playoffs. After captain Mark Giordano went down in early March, Gaudreau turned into a point-per-game player for Calgary. Even though his advanced stats, like the rest of Calgary, were not great with a minus-152 SAT differential. The Flames kept winning and he kept scoring.

Why Mark Stone Deserves The Calder?

From the NHL:

Stone, a sixth-round selection (178th overall) by Ottawa in 2010, recorded 26-38—64 to finish first in the rookie scoring race. That featured 14-21—35 dating to Feb. 10 (31 GP), including a rookie club record nine-game point streak to end the season (8-5—13). Stone capped his performance with two goals in the season finale to help the team complete its successful playoff drive. He also led all rookies in plus-minus (+21) and shared first in the League in takeaways (98). The 22-year-old Winnipeg native would become the second player in franchise history to win the Calder, joining Daniel Alfredsson in 1996.

This would be mostly based on Stone’s epic run at the end of the regular season. With the exception of Erik Karlsson, he was probably Ottawa’s top offensive player. Plus, being the highest-scoring rookie in the NHL counts for a lot when it comes to the Calder.

Who Wins The Calder?

Stone

He plays in an Eastern Canadian market with greater visibility than the other two. He went on an incredible run at the end of the season to win the rookie scoring title. The Senators probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs without his end-of-season play. Plus, there are probably some voters who saw his name on the top of the scoresheet and picked him automatically because of this fact. He will definitely be deserving if he wins it, but also a lot plays in his favor.

Our Top Choice

Ekblad

Defensemen have to be judged differently in awards where they compete against forwards. His numbers aren’t as sexy as Stone’s or Gaudreau’s, but he was just solid for Florida all season long. He played big minutes, had really good puck possession numbers, and put up points and goals. Ekblad wasn’t just good for an 18-year-old. He was the best player of the three. Again, all three are deserving, but Ekblad, to us, was the best rookie this year.  

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 11:53 pm

Steven Stamkos has two assists in three games for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings thus far in their Atlantic Division semifinal, but no goals.

While Stamkos went seven games without a goal in March, but otherwise didn’t have a stretch of more than three games in which he didn’t tally a goal. So, in theory, he’s due on Thursday night as the Lightning take on the Wings in Game 4 at the Joe, trailing 2-1.

His coach Jon Cooper sounds like he believes in that theory.

"You see a close game and he happens not to score, the alarm goes off, 'What's wrong with Stammer,'" Cooper said, via the Detroit News. "He's had a couple of good looks in this series. If you go down the list of some of our players who haven't scored, he's had a couple of helpers (assists). These guys that have done it on numerous occasions, there's a little more weight on their shoulders.

"Does Stammer wish he has a goal or two in this series? For sure. Do I think Detroit will keep him down the whole series? I don't. It's just a matter of time."

If he does it in Detroit, it would likely come against Pavel Datsyuk’s line, which shut down Stamkos to the tune of two shots in 16:47 – he had as many shots on goal as minor penalties taken.

The lack of goal-scoring from Stamkos affects several areas of the team. Take the power-play, for example: The Bolts are 0-for-13 in the series in their losses and were 0-for-6 in Game 3. They were 14th in the NHL on the man advantage in the regular season  (18.8 percent) and Stamkos had 13 power-play goals.

But the power play in the playoffs might be an indication that there’s something wrong with Stamkos beyond the Red Wings’ defense and his own bad puck luck. 

Cooper’s used him at the front of the net on the man advantage, taking away that lethal shot from the circle where he snipes so many goals. Both ESPN’s John Buccigross and Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on today’s MvsW indicated this change, and his lack of production, are in indication that Stamkos is playing with an injury, perhaps to his shoulder.

Neither the Lightning nor Stamkos had indicated there’s anything wrong with the star sniper. In fact, Stamkos said he just needs to find that extra gear.

“No, it’s just myself, personally, I’ve got to be better,” Stamkos said. “We talked about it a little bit to take a peek in the mirror and realize what we have to bring to the table in order for ourselves as individuals to give our team a best chance to win. I got to be better. We’ve all got to be better. Not a good game for us the last game, and I think we were able to see it on the video and for us it’s just our willingness to compete. We know we have the skill. We know we have the speed and the intangibles that go along with that. But when we compete we’re a good hockey club and we need to do that next game.”

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 8:55 pm

After Hall Gill blocked an absurd blast by Sheldon Souray in the final minutes of the second-to-last game of the 2011-12 season for the Nashville Predators he was asked by a reporter how he felt.

“You ever block a shot? It hurts,” Gill replied. 

The moment was unintentionally hilarious, but it was Gill through and through. He didn’t have to talk to the media, but he did, regardless of if he had suffered a devastating injury right before. It ended up being a major moment near the end of Gill’s career. The shot fractured the then 36-year-old Gill’s tibia, he had surgery and he never was the same afterwards. The joke was that the slow-footed Gill couldn’t possibly get slower. But he was doomed in the rapidly changing world of speed and puck possession.

The Boston area native announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons via an NHLPA media release Thursday.

In spite of this unceremonious end for Gill, which included a buyout by the Preds and a stint in Philadelphia where he watched most of the 2013-14 season from the press box, he carved an incredible career for a guy who was supposedly too slow to compete in the NHL post 2004-05 lockout.

He played 1,108 games in the league, scored 36 goals and had 184 points. He was drafted in the eighth round in 1993 by the Boston Bruins, and played for them, the Maple Leafs, the Penguins, the Canadiens, Predators and Flyers. His highest goal total in a season was six. His highest point total was 22. But that wasn’t the reason teams employed Gill.

He was an incredible shot blocker, and on the penalty kill the 6-foot-7 Gill would use his long legs and condor-like wingspan to take away all passing lanes. Gill on the penalty kill (no rhyme intended) was a sight to see for hockey geeks.

Photo via @skillsy75

As shown by the above photo snapped by Gill and posted on his Twitter account, he also had a sense of humor. 

In 2008-09, when Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup, Gill averaged 3:10 of short handed ice-time per-game and blocked 112 shots in the regular season. In the playoffs he added the type of veteran presence and playoff toughness – and defensive nature – that helps teams win championships. This may seem old school hockey logic in thinking, but Gill knew his way around a defensive zone better than a lot of defensemen, especially at the end of a close game.  

With the Canadiens he played Crash Davis to P.K. Subban’s Nuke LaLoosh in bringing the younger Subban along and showing him the NHL ropes.

Cheers Hal, a.k.a. Skillsy, on a long, sustained and prolific NHL career. Enjoy grilling on the patio with a cold one in hand in Lincoln, Mass. with your wife and three kids.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 8:25 pm

Imagine sitting in your living room watching your favorite NHL team playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You’re probably on the edge of your seat reacting to each moment of the game. The big hits. The big saves. The scoring chances.

Now imagine, since you can’t be at the arena, when your team scores a goal you can still feel the experience and celebrate in your own unique way. This is the idea Francois Maillet, a Montreal-based computer scientist, had in mind when he created a goal celebration light show in his living room. 

A Montreal Canadiens fan, Maillet trained a machine learning model to know when a goal was scored just by the sound of the announcer yelling GOAL!. Once the Canadiens scored and the announcer did his thing, this is what happened:

Maillet originally planned to create a light show like this that was triggered by someone pushing a button after a goal was scored. But wrrying about finding a button to push while celebrating is too much to remember, so Maillet went the automatic route and the final result is awesome. 

Tested during two games of the Ottawa/Montreal series, Maillet found a 75-percent success rate between the goal being scored, the announcing’s call and the party getting started in his living room. He explains his entire construction process on his blog in great detail.

This really puts those Budweiser red lights to shame. 

Stick-tap Information Age

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 23, 2015, 7:30 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Photo provided by <a target=

• The second Chicago beats Nashville, I'm going to this gas station. [DNA Info]

• Winnipeg Prime Minister Stephen Harper stuck out like a sore thumb by not wearing a Winnipeg Jets jersey in Wednesday’s game. But when you're a politician, you have to pander to all of Canada. [CBC]

• Duncan Keith is a freaking marathon man. He does not stop playing hockey … ever. [Chicago Tribune]

• Willie Desjardins has gone from the man with the golden touch to a coach on the ropes pretty quickly. How have his decisions backfired these playoffs?  [Pass it to Bulis]

• The Royal Half is trying to jinx the Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup run … by picking the Ducks and showing us why they will win. This is fantastic. [Royal Half]

• Neon yellow in Calgary’s sea of red … gaaaa. The people wearing said colors are from Edmonton. Banish them immediately! [Calgary Sun]

• The Rangers overtime goal to send their series to 3-1 against the Penguins kind of showed why the Pens are what they are, and how the Rangers have more depth than the Pens. [Hockeybuzz]

• Jonas Hiller has given the Calgary Flames the stability in net they truly need. He's come a long way from uncertainty in Anaheim. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]

• Joel Ward’s butt is an incredible weapon for the Washington Capitals. Hey, Jaromir Jagr has made a great living off having a huge behind. This has to be in some sort of scouting report. [Washington Post]

• The Predators have never staved off elimination at home. Ever. Can they do it Thursday night against Chicago? [Nashville Post]

• Even in sickness, Al Arbour remains maybe the greatest member of the Islanders organization in its history. A solid feature by Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun. [Toronto Sun]

• It’s Connor McDavid against Darnell Nurse in the OHL playoffs. Will the Oilers tell Nurse to go easy on the kid? [Buzzing the Net]

• The Edmonton Oilers have reached out to Todd McLellan. Is he the guy to bring Connor McDavid into the NHL? [Oilers Nation]

• NHL players as musical acts? Oh this is great. Especially Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Suter. [The Current]

• Paul Coffey almost missed a call inducting him into Canada’s sports Hall of Fame thanks to a Calgary area code? Yup. And this rivalry runs deep in case ya didn't know. [The Star]

• There are very good goaltenders in the NHL. But the age of iconic goaltenders – Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy etc. is over. [Red Wings Now]

• An interesting story behind a tribute jersey and how it came about. [Little Thing 5]

• Your Eastern Conference fantasy All-Star winners from last year! [Dobber Hockey]

• Trying to understand Jake Muzzin and Robyn Regehr, two of the most misunderstood defensemen on the Kings. [Jewels from the Crown]

• The top five logo concepts for the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Hockey by Design]

• A detailed breakdown of suspensions and fines dating back to the 2011-12 season. [Undisclosed Injury]

• A q&a with Bernie Nicholls, who has entered all sorts of endeavors in his post-playing career. [The Hockey Writers]

• Finally, You ever want to see "The Cutting Edge" played out in real life? This is about as close as we will come to seeing it happen.

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 6:57 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Thursday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

Special Guest Star: John Buccigross of ESPN on the playoffs and Jack Eichel!

• The Stanley Cup Playoffs! 

• The Selke!

• Hockey News and Views

Question of the Day: It's GOING POSTAL! Ask us anything. Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarekClick here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast viaiTunes or Feedburner.

***

BUY THE MvsW T-SHIRTS! SUPPORT HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER!

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 6:04 pm
1972 Summit Series - Paul Henderson and Bobby Clarke celebrate goal

Who owns the puck that beat Vladislav Tretiak on Sept. 28, 1972, to win the Summit Series?

Who owns the puck that turned Paul Henderson into a national legend?

For years, the location of the puck and the identity of its true owner were debated. One story had the Henderson puck in the possession of an Ontario man who found it stashed away in a freezer bag, sourced back to a Russian player who cleared it over the glass in frustration.

Most of the attention centered around defenseman Pat Stapleton, who some claimed they saw take the puck from the net. In 2008, after years of denial, Stapleton allegedly brought the puck to a Junior ‘B’ game in Sarnia for the ceremonial faceoff, in honor of a former manager that helped Stapleton get his start.

But questions remained about its validity. On Wednesday, via Sean FitzGerald of the National Post, Stapleton reiterated that he owns the Henderson puck.

“It isn’t really under wraps,” he said, via the Post. “It kind of sits around my house. When the kids were smaller, they played hockey with it. They’d bat it around. The dog bit it. So it really isn’t under wraps — it’s just that you’re not in the right location.” 

Paul Henderson's puck became ... a chew toy?

Stapleton is 74, and from the sound of it he’d like the puck to find a home in the Canadian Sports or Hockey Halls of Fame.

From the Post:

Peter Steen is director of media and communications for the business established around the 1972 team. He said there are three options: Selling the puck, keeping it or donating it. “Each have their pluses, each have their minuses,” he said. “I highly doubt we’re going to go down the ‘sell it’ route. Pat’s not that kind of guy, and if he wanted to, he’s had plenty of time to do it already.”

The timeline for a decision, Steen said, is “limited.”

“We don’t have another 40 years to start developing this thing,” he said. “Because we’re losing members, and we’re losing stories, and we’re losing relevancy in that regard.”

Stapleton said his only goal is for the puck is for it to “be for young people to dream upon.”

That’s a perfect sentiment, given how many young Canadians dreamed about becoming hockey legends after Henderson’s goal vs. the Soviets. 

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:50 pm

Let’s put aside the question of how the tacos will stay together for a moment. Instead, let’s celebrate the idea of a taco cannon existing in the first place.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha is having a pretty good 2015 so far. The team won its first NCAA tournament game in program history last month and advanced to the Frozen Four before falling to eventual champion Providence. In the fall, the Mavericks will move into a brand new state-of-the-art $81.6 million arena with one awesome way to get some food during a game.

One of UNO's new partners is Voodoo Taco, and those great people will introduce a taco cannon for games next season. This is what it will look like:

Voodoo Taco / Facebook

OK, let’s get to your main concern: How will the tacos stay together as they’re fired into the crowd? 

Eric Newton, owner of Voodoo Taco, showed off the cannon to Omaha’s KETV7 and after a couple of attempts, the well-wrapped tacos survived the ride and were perfectly intact upon landing.  

“I wouldn’t say it would be restaurant quality when it gets to them, but it’s edible,” he said. 

Good enough for me!

Let's watch.

Via KETV7:

“I understand shooting t-shirts. I understand shooting hot dogs. How does a taco become something you can shoot out of a cannon?,” asks Thor Tripp.

“You know, you just do.” 

Amen, Mr. Newton. Amen.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy

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Author: Sean Leahy
Posted: April 23, 2015, 3:54 pm

Welcome to the first edition of our Conn Smythe Watch, which chronicles the ever-changing race for playoff MVP. This one is a just a glimpse at the current picture; we’ll make it a daily feature when Round 2 begins. Keep in mind that we factor in the probability of a long playoff run into these choices. Who are the current favorites for playoff MVP? Glad you asked. 

1. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks winger has seven points to tie Kevin Shattenkirk for the playoff lead, as Anaheim was the first team to punch its ticket for Round 2. Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf are also making strong cases. But Perry was a difference-marker in the sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, to the point where he angered fans so much they chanted "Katy Perry!" at him because they're super creative. 

2. Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks

After Corey Crawford flopped to start their series against the Nashville Predators, his journeyman backup stepped in and has played brilliantly: .969 save percentage, 1.05 GAA and three wins. That includes 50 saves in the triple-OT win. His job to lose.

3. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

The Blues star has five goals to lead all scorers. Granted, they’ve come in two wins, while he’s been comparatively silent in two losses to the Minnesota Wild, but he has six points overall. Kevin Shattenkirk, with seven assists, is the second choice for Blues.

4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Price had a rough start to their series against Ottawa but has been solid ever since, including back-to-back one-goal games. He has a .946 save percentage and a 1.67 GAA.

5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

Six points for the Caps center, including the overtime game-winner in Game 4. Alex Ovechkin gets the press, but Backstrom might be the backbone of the team.

6. Jonas Hiller, Calgary Flames

The goalie has three wins, a .938 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA. And he’s one win against the Vancouver Canucks away from getting his old team, the Anaheim Ducks, in the semifinals.

7. John Tavares, New York Islanders

Three points in four games and a huge OT game-winner. One gets the feeling that if the Islanders top the Capitals, it’ll be because Tavares has added to his Conn Smythe case.

8. Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings

The goaltending consistency equivalent of a yo-yo, Mrazek was brilliant in Game 1, terrible in Game 2, and brilliant in Game 3. The Red Wings are up 2-1 on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

9. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

Skating over 25 minutes per game, he has a goal and two assists including a game-winner, and is helping to shut down Sidney Crosby. 

10. Jason Pominville, Minnesota Wild

With Devan Dubnyk a little too inconsistent at the moment for MVP, we’ll go with Pominville’s four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in four games. He leads the Wild with 16 shots as well.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 3:40 pm

The Pittsburgh Penguins are down 3-1 in their series against the New York Rangers, which means they’re one loss away from a summer of second-guessing, major re-tinkering and a full evaluation of GM Jim Rutherford’s performance. (That David Perron trade … woof.)

Rutherford was tasked with adding essential depth players to the Penguins forward group, and the results have been inconsistent. But one addition has made a difference in the playoffs: Max Lapierre, the devious veteran forward, whom they acquired for Marcel Goc from the St. Louis Blues.

Look, he’s not what you’d call a “measurably good player.” He was an epic drag on possession in the regular season, he had 11 points in 80 games and he only skated 11:10 per game. But he’s doing that “Max Lapierre thing” in the playoffs, which is why Rutherford acquired him: Other than Steve Downie, there’s not another crap-stirrer on the roster, not another player whose antics make an opponent’s blood boil.

Case in point: Game 4 between the Pens and Rangers, and a Dominic Moore penalty that should have never been.

At 17:58 of the first period, Lapierre skated over to Moore near the Penguins bench. Moore raised his arm and pushed into Lapierre’s sternum. 

Lapierre then grabbed his face and leaned over the Penguins bench, feigning injury. Moore was given two minutes for roughing.

How amazing was that sell job? His own teammates were concerned for his well-being!

Alain Vigneault went nuts on the Rangers bench. The announcers crucified Lapierre’s antics.

But again: It’s the playoffs. You win by any means necessary. Embellishment is a tactic. Diving is a tactic. The fact is that an adult film star, Lapierre’s greatest talent is faking it.

Back in 2011, when the Vancouver Canucks were playing the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup, Lapierre had one of the Lapierre’est games of his career: Scoring the lone goal of a 1-0 win, and embellishing a spearing call against Zdeno Chara that remains an Academy Award-level performance:

This led to an exchange after the game with Scott Burnside of ESPN, one that we actually just recalled with Burnside on Marek Vs. Wyshynski: 

Q. Max, looked like you were mortally wounded when you had that encounter with Zdeno Chara. I wondered how you were able to carry on after that. Describe the emotion of being one win away from the Stanley Cup.

MAXIM LAPIERRE:  I think we know it's going to be the biggest game of our life in Boston, and Boston is going to be ready.  We're going to have to be ready for a challenge.

Ouch.

If you listen to the Chara clip, you’ll hear the announcers claiming that the referees are on to Lapierre and that he has a reputation and won’t be able to get away with this stuff.

THAT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO.

Again, he’s a diving, conniving rat. He’s not, ahem, among our elite hockey talents – the ultimate image of him from Game 4 was lying on his stomach, watching Kevin Hayes scoring the game-winning in overtime.

But for what he does, and what the Penguins needed, he’s been one of the few effective depth players in the roster in this series, love’em or hate’em.

But mostly hate’em.

s/t Tony Vela

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 1:53 pm

Without question, the most impressive thing about the Winnipeg Jets in their first-round battle with the Anaheim Ducks were the Winnipeg fans.

Granted, this is because the Jets were swept and their goalie transformed back into a sieve, but it’s also because they were deafening and passionate and supported their team even during the handshake line in the first playoff games in Winnipeg since 1996.

For that, Jets fans earned the third star of the game from Sportsnet.

(Not from the official press box three stars, mind you, who were given to Ducks star Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Mark Stuart.)

We have two reactions to this. Perhaps you’ll share one of them.

Hooray! What an hono(u)r for the long-suffering fans of Winnipeg, whose raucous support of the Jets not only provided a lure for the NHL to bring a franchise back to Manitoba but powered their team to an unlikely playoff berth. The atmosphere they created will not soon be forgotten; an argument could be made they deserved first star.

Boo! What, was Ray Emery not eligible!?

The Ducks swept them, meaning the Jets have now matched the ignominious playoff legacy of the Atlanta Thrashers. All the lung-bleeding cheering from Jets fans resulted in were consecutive losses, and it actually fed the demon that lives inside of Ryan Kesler. Rewarding these fans is an extension of the “everyone gets a participation ribbon!” response to the Jets getting swept, like they were a wide-eyed puppy that accidentally stumbled into a greyhound race rather than an NHL team with NHL players who -- oh we, don’t know -- eliminated the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.

Eh, we’re just curmudgeons. We love Jets fans. Maybe next time their team will actually give them something to cheer for.

s/t David Gerow for image

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 1:07 pm

No. 1. Star: Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks

His two third period goals pushed Anaheim past the Winnipeg Jets and into the second round of the playoffs in a 5-2 win. Kesler notched three goals in this series, all on the road, proving his worth as an offseason acquisition for Anaheim from the Vancouver Canucks. He was also a plus-3 and won 54 percent of his face offs in Game 4.  

No. 2. Star: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

There is absolutely no way Tarasenko could pull another ‘Forsberg’ move in the middle of a game again. No … wait … he did what? Tarasenko dazzled with the below one-handed goal score in the Blues’ 6-1 blasting of the Wild. His two goals helped tie the series at 2-2.

No. 3 Star: Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

In his second start of the postseason, the Senators netminder stopped 28 of 28 Montreal shots on goal to keep Ottawa alive this playoff. The series is now 3-1 in favor of the Canadiens as it heads back to Montreal for Game 5. Anderson lost his starting job down the stretch of the season to Andrew Hammond, but has now started the last two games for Ottawa in the playoffs.

Honorable Mention: St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk notched three assists in the drubbing of Minnesota … Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was a plus-4 in 20:36 of action … St. Louis forward David Backes scored one goal and added one assist … Rangers forward Kevin Hayes scored a goal in overtime to help give New York a commanding 3-1 series lead over Pittsburgh in a 2-1 win  … Rangers forward Derick Brassard also scored … Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman scored a goal in the Sens’ win … Anaheim forward Corey Perry notched two assists. Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen scored a goal and added one assists.

Did You Know?: Hayes is the first Rangers rookie to score his first career playoff goal in overtime since Don Murdoch in 1978.  

Dishonorable Mention: Pittsburgh forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were each held without a point in the Penguins’ Game 4 loss to the Rangers … Jets defensemen Tyler Myers and Tobias Enstrom were each a minus-3. Fellow Winnipeg blueliner Dustin Byfuglien was a minus-4 and had just one assist in the series … Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold and forward Jason Pominville were each a minus-3. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was yanked after allowing six goals on 17 shots on goal. 

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 5:49 am

The Minnesota Wild had every reason to feel confident heading into Game 4 of their series against the St. Louis Blues.

They pitched a shutout in Game 3. They had their home fans ready to roar. The Blues were in a state of disarray, scrambling their lines in practice ahead of the game. 

Then St. Louis scored three goals in the first 10:06 of the game. Then three more in a 13:11 span in the second period. The final score was 6-1, the series was tied at 2-2 and the Wild were left wondering how to cope with this embarrassment at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday night.

"We might have came in a little cocky. We felt really good, and rightfully so. I don't know if we thought it would be easy game,” said Wild winger Zach Parise, via Michael Russo.

“We went from feeling awesome about ourselves, feeling like we can't be beat and we get a little dose of reality, a little slap in face.”

Where did it go wrong?

“How much time you have?” asked coach Mike Yeo.

“They were on top of their game, and we weren’t close to being on top of ours.”

The Blues got first-period goals from fourth-liner Ryan Reaves, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes, his first of the postseason. Jared Spurgeon’s power-play goal in the second period got the Wild back into it at 1:41 of the second, but three more goals by Paul Stastny (his first of the playoffs), a highlight reel goal by Tarasenko (his fifth) and Patrik Berglund put it away.

“It didn’t have the feel of a game [where] we were going to come back,” said Yeo.

Devan Dubnyk was pulled after giving up that sixth goal, 16:50 into the second period. Darcy Kuemper finished out the game, but Dubynk will return in Game 5.

“I think he’ll react great,” said Yeo. “I have no concerns about that.”

Dubnyk hadn’t given up more than three goals for the Wild since he started with the team on Jan. 15, save for a Jan. 20 game at Detroit when he gave up four.

“Forget about it,” he said after Game 4, when asked how he’ll cope with the blowout loss. “It doesn’t make a difference if we lost 1-0 or we lost the way we did.

“We’ve all got better than that.”

Game 5 is Friday night back in St. Louis. 

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 5:40 am

The Winnipeg Jets were the solid upset pick in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. Size, speed, good puck possession numbers? Add what was supposed to be an absurd home ice advantage at the white out crazed MTS Centre and the Jets seemed a tough out. But it didn’t play out that way in the first round against Anaheim. And wow was I so wrong on the prior linked column. 

Though the series felt much closer than the final game score indicated, the Ducks swept the Jets out of the playoffs in a 5-2 victory Wednesday night at the MTS Centre.

Via the Winnipeg Sun:

“They just seemed a little more confident in one-goal games. The first three could have gone either way. For a good portion, we were in control but they were able to come back every time we got up on them,” said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart. “We just weren't able to get over the hump, but I'm proud of the way we played.”

Ryan Kesler scored two third period goals in the victory, including the game winner. Overall, the Ducks top players showed up in a major way while the Jets’ best guys were mostly silent. Dustin Byfuglien was a minus-4, and Blake Wheeler and Drew Stafford scored one goal each. Corey Perry finished the series with seven points and Kesler had three goals, all scored on the road. 

Love Kesler's goal celebration – it’s like wrestling villain taunting the crowd. Only he’s wearing skates and not roided up.

Via the Orange County Register:

Kesler scored three goals in the two road games, saying the taunts directed his way from the sellout crowd of 15,016 “energized me.”

“Amazing,” Kesler said. “Especially when they’re heckling and yelling and booing. Obviously I wanted to silence this crowd tonight. And that’s what we did.”

The Jets organization – which goes back to the Atlanta Thrashers, even though many Canadians seem to often forget this obvious fact – has still never won a playoff game in eight tries. They're young, strong, mostly under contract and they should be back next season. They just needed a taste of the playoffs.

Per the Winnipeg Free Press on what the Jets need to do going forward:

More than one pundit, this one included, picked the Jets to win this series. Were we tricked by a late-season mirage? An experienced and balanced Ducks squad made the Jets look bad. But is this a temporary case or a permanent malaise, which only amputation can correct?

Today, they’re a beaten group having been exposed by a superior team with more top-end talent, poise and smarts.

The Ducks showed how deep and talented they are in this series between Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line and Kesler on the second center position. Now comes the big test for coach Bruce Boudreau – beating either the Calgary Flames or Vancouver Canucks to get to a conference final. Boudreau has never been past the second round as a head coach. But this Ducks team might be the deepest all-around group he’s ever had. Pressure's on Bruce (as usual) ... but enjoy this win first. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:59 am

This move will always be called ‘The Forsberg’ for his stamp goal performance in the 1994 Winter Olympics. But Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is making a push to rename it. 

Remember that time when he did it against the New York Rangers earlier the year? Apparently he has enough skill to do this crazy awesome move twice in the same year.

What's goodbye in Russian, because he totally said it to Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on that score. 

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which was at the scene:

Tarasenko’s goal was reminiscent of his highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers earlier this season, tricking Dubnyk by moving to his left and leaving his right arm free to drag the puck in.

“It was deja vu,” (defenseman) Shattenkirk said. “That was pretty sick. The fact that he has the poise to do that under that kind of pressure is unbelievable.”

Tarasenko finished St. Louis’ Game 4, 6-1 win over the Minnesota with two goals. And the Blues tied the series at 2-2, in spite of coach Ken Hitchcock’s line tinkering. That’s now five goals this series for Tarasenko – who has not disappointed at all. The fact that he can back this type of play in-game at high speeds is pretty incredible. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:18 am

Emerson Etem has some of that California creativity and artistry in him when he decides to use it during game action. We don’t see it much, but when Etem’s talent comes out, it’s something to watch.

Just watch the Long Beach, Calif. native totally walk Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba on this absurd goal in Anaheim’s Wednesday Game 4 against Winnipeg. The score tied the game at 1-1.

Etem, a 2010 first round draft pick, is fast, talented, a mumps survivor and a solid American Hockey League scorer. He only has 15 goals in 112 NHL games, but yow … nice score. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 3:29 am

It appears the Andrew Hammond era for Ottawa as a starting goaltender is all but over, which is not necessarily a bad situation for the Senators in this context. 

Craig Anderson unofficially reclaimed his starting job with a 28-save performance to stave off elimination for the Sens in a 1-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens. Anderson started Game 3 and stopped 47 of 49 Montreal shots on goal in an overtime loss, but it was still sort of in question as to whether he would start Wednesday.

The series is now at 3-1 in favor of Montreal. 

From the Ottawa Sun:

This is where it counts the most. You just want to go out there and give the team a chance to win," said Anderson. "If it ends up being a 0-0 game, great. If it's a 3-3 game, you want to make the next save so the team has the opportunity to go down and score."

Still, the Senators aren't ready to declare they're back in this series.

"It's a little early yet. We're just going to enjoy this win for two or three minutes and then come back ready to work (Thursday) and get focused for the next one. It's only going to get harder," added Anderson.

Mike Hoffman was the only goal scorer of the game. Montreal’s Carey Price stopped 31 of 32 shots on goal. 

So let’s say you’re an Ottawa Senators fan. Would trade the ability to throw a hamburger on the ice for a playoff win? I think this is an easy decision. Clearly at the moment, Anderson gives the Senators the best chance to win. Hammond was a nice story, but unless there’s some crazy ‘stand-on-his-head’ relief appearance in the next game, it’ll be Anderson tasked to with trying to help Ottawa come back.

As for the Canadiens, this just gives them a chance to clinch the series at home.

Said Max Pacioretty to the Montreal Gazette:

“Their backs were against the wall and they played some great hockey. But it’s no excuse for us taking our foot off the gas. They definitely deserved that win, but going into the third anything could have happened. They were the better team in the third and that’s the difference.

“It’s frustrating, but you know what? You go back home now and we try to close it out at home.”

Montreal is still the heavy favorite ... or favourite in this All-Canada series. 

 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 23, 2015, 3:12 am

In a tightly-played contest – expected, given the stakes – the New York Rangers needed someone to make a play, and that someone was Carl Hagelin.

Hagelin skated around the Pittsburgh Penguins zone, his speed still blazing despite Game 4 having entered overtime. He held the puck, passed it to the point, flew through the zone, took to the puck back from a Martin St. Louis pass, and then made a brilliant backhand shot from the side of the net, through Max Lapierre of the Penguins, across the crease and under Marc-Andre Fleury.

It trickled to Kevin Hayes, who potted it for the game-winner.

(An aside: What the heck was Paul Martin doing on that play? Did he zone out? Was he counting snow piles in the crease?) 

The Rangers won the game, 2-1, and lead the series, 3-1.

The Penguins struck first and early, just 2 minutes and 22 seconds into the game. Sidney Crosby fed the puck back to the point to Paul Martin, who passed to Ben Lovejoy, whose shot was tipped home by Patric Hornqvist for his second of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh won the first period for perhaps the first time in the series, dominating in possession.

The Rangers got the equalizer in the second period on a hard-working play by Derick Brassard. After a Rick Nash shot deflected off of him in front of Marc-Andre Fleury (2w saves), Brassard dug the puck off the post, drew it to his forehand and popped it into the goal for the 1-1 tie at 17:15.

Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves for the win. The Rangers need just one more to advance to the division finals, and to send the Penguins into an offseason of second-guesses and reevaluation.

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 2:27 am

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks are the three finalists for the 2014-15 Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” the National Hockey League announced on Wednesday.

Does that look familiar? It’s because that is basically the exact lead from last year’s post, and it holds true for this year … again.

So apparently only three guys deserve this award – which seems to always go to Bergeron except that time Toews won it in 2013. Never mind the fact that there are plenty of other solid options who never have sniffed the award like David Backes. Alas, it’s three players in the three biggest markets again.

The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is a bit of an odd trophy. It hasn’t exactly gone to the best “defensive” forward, because if that was the case, someone like Paul Gaustad would at least be a finalist every year of his career.

It seems to go to players who, in spite of prodigious offensive talent, use their powers to play a 200-foot game. For example, Chicago’s Marcus Kruger actually plays more time on the penalty kill than Toews. And Bergeron plays about the same amount on the PK as Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell. 

But then again, there’s more stock into being a solid defensive 5-on-5 player than penalty killer these days, so who knows.

Anyway, here are your finalists and why they deserve this award...

Why Patrice Bergeron Deserves The Selke

From the NHL:

Bergeron was the NHL's top performer in the face-off circle in 2014-15, leading the League in total face-offs (1,951), wins (1,175) and winning percentage (60.2%). He also ranked among the League's top five forwards in a host of statistics that measure team puck possession while on the ice at five-on-five, including SAT (shot attempts differential), SAT Rel% (ratio of player's on-ice SAT vs. off-ice SAT) and SAT Close (SAT in one-goal games in periods 1 and 2, tie games in period 3). Bergeron is a Selke Trophy finalist for the fourth consecutive season; he captured the award in 2012 and 2014 and finished runner-up to Toews in 2013.

What, what, what??? The NHL whooping out some fancy stats here? Hello! Bergeron’s advanced stats are pretty solid. Add the fact that those face off numbers are actually important when you’re starting in the  defensive zone ... he's much more of a defensive forward than an "all-around" guy, though he did lead the Bruins in scoring this year.  

Why Anze Kopitar Deserves The Selke

From the NHL:

Kopitar led Kings forwards in ice time per game (19:23) and was the top face-off man (752-678, 52.6%) on the club that ranked fourth in the NHL in team defense, allowing an average of 2.40 goals per game. He was the NHL's top-ranked forward in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), as the Kings registered 363 more shot attempts than they allowed when Kopitar was on the ice at five-on-five. The 27-year-old center will be vying for multiple honors in Las Vegas, already having been announced as a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy.

Just give it to Kopitar because he is so gentlemanly due to his Lady Byng nod. In all sincerity, in spite of some of his advanced numbers, which are always impressive, he’s had better seasons. Not just from a point total, which has nothing to do with this award supposedly, but part of the reason LA didn’t make the playoffs was a middling 2/3 of the year for him.

Why Jonathan Toews Deserves The Selke

From the NHL:

Toews played a key role in helping the Blackhawks tie for the fewest goals against in the NHL and post the 11th 100-point season in franchise history (fifth since 2008-09). He led all Western Conference players and ranked fifth in the League overall with a career-best +30 rating, ranked fourth in the NHL in face-off wins (947) and sixth in face-off winning percentage (56.5%), and topped Blackhawks forwards in total ice time (1,584:36, 19:33 per game). A Selke finalist for the fourth time in five years, the Blackhawks captain is in quest of a second career win after capturing the award in 2013.

Come on, you took out the fancy stats for Toews? Why guys? Why? Toews ranked second on the Blackhawks in shot attempts differential at plus-249 which also was tops amongst Blackhawks forwards. As far as regular stats go, the plus-30 looks nice for a two-way forward. 

Who Wins The Selke?

Bergeron

Because really, as part of a voting populous for an award with a nebulous winner trends, it tends to go to the guy who has won it before multiple times as default. Unless this voting populous suddenly decides it’s time to reward Kopitar for being a wonderful all-around player in the year he probably doesn’t deserve the award. Who keeps the metric system down? We do! We do!

Our Top Choice

Toews

He. Just. Does. Everything. So. Incredibly. Well. And that has kind of what this award has turned into -- an all-around center award. Though it’s kind of a shame that Ryan Kesler didn’t seem to get any vibe for the Selke for the work he has done in Anaheim. He came in, was told to play as a lock-down defender on the second line and did his job. But shouldn’t this award be given to the best offensive forward since there’s this line of thinking that playing great offense means your defense is better since you're not in the defensive zone as much – looking at you, people who voted Erik Karlsson No. 1 for the Norris Trophy ... the award that's supposed to go to the best all-around defenseman. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 22, 2015, 11:59 pm
@Sid_Seixeiro

This is Connor McDavid’s face, moments after it was revealed the Edmonton Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery for the right to select him this June. 

One might assume this is a look of dreadful disappointment, because it’s the exact look one gives when told they need a root canal, or that rather than turkey  the main course at Thanksgiving is rat brains.

Ah, but someone who would know best believes anyone that gleans disappointment from McDavid’s reaction here is as wrong as wrong can be: Brian McDavid, the new Walter Gretzky!

As he told Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun:

“To be honest, he was a little bit in shock,” said Brian.

“He would have had the exact same expression on his face if the winner had been Buffalo, Toronto or Arizona. The reality is that his future had just been decided by bingo balls.”

Just like our grandmothers every Tuesday night ...

It's a future that Connor McDavid never thought could bring him to that cesspool of dashed expectations and abject mismanagement slice of hockey heaven known as the Edmonton Oilers. Brian McDavid, via Jones:

“Candidly, Edmonton was the one place we didn’t think he’d land despite the high odds.

“We figured the hockey odds wouldn’t grant the Oilers another first overall pick. So we never really talked about Edmonton. We were just shocked when the balls bounced in their favor.

“Connor is very aware of the rich history and the passionate fans in Edmonton and would be proud and humbled to follow in the steps of those great players and teams. I hope my saying this will put that subject to rest.”

So there you go: That look on McDavid’s face – a.k.a. the same look one has when a blind date has Rod Brind’Amour’s nose and Mike Ricci’s smile – is actually one of humility and honor, as McDavid finally achieves his dream of being compared to Wayne Gretzky on a game-by-game basis and hearing “if only we had better goaltending” for the next decade.

Image via Sid Seixeiro

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Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: April 22, 2015, 9:31 pm

The Vancouver Canucks are down 3-1, which is a pretty poor spot for a team in any series. And now comes official word that Alex Burrows is out for the rest of the first round, which could only go one more game. What is Burrows’ problem? A broken rib was a report. The Canucks have not said, other than the forward, who was taken via ambulance to a Calgary area hospital after Game 4’s morning skate, is not seriously hurt but done for the first round.

Though coach Willie Desjardins (from Climax, Saskatchewan, as we should always reference him) did tell reporters that Burrows’ issue was “nothing serious.”

Burrows did not travel with the Canucks back to Vancouver per the team. 

And with Eddie Lack being pulled in Tuesday’s playoff loss that put Vancouver in a 3-1 hole, there’s now somewhat of a goaltending controversy with Ryan Miller stepping in and stopping 15 of 15 shots on goal. Miller was the team’s starter until a late February knee injury. Who is going to start Game 5? Our money is on Miller.

Changing goaltenders tends to be the ultimate panic – or genius – move.

Meanwhile, the Flames are humming along with one of the best lines in hockey with Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. They’re in control of this series, and the Canucks are falling apart.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: April 22, 2015, 9:30 pm

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