Posted on: April 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 5:18 pm
The Ducks may have to rely on their scoring a little more than they might have had to early in the season. With a goalie situation that remains in flux due to injuries, Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy-winner Corey Perry and his linemates can certainly lead that charge. Nashville, however, has one of the stingiest defenses in hockey, led by likely Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne. There might not be two differing styles of play on display in the first round than what we have here. The Preds won three of the four meetings.
Here's the breakdown:
Forwards: Perry, who is the only player in the league to finish with 50 goals, leads a star-studded line with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. It could very well be the top line in hockey at the moment, but the Ducks do have some secondary scoring. Teemu Selanne, who at age 40, had an 80-point season (31 goals, 49 assists) and Saku Koivu finished with 45 points. Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat, the Predators’ top scorers with 50 points, would only be tied for sixth with that kind of output in Anaheim. Edge: Anaheim.
Defense: Anaheim’s Lubomir Visnovsky was tops among NHL defenseman in scoring (68) and assists (50) and second in goals (18). He also finished strong down the stretch, with six points over his final seven games and was plus-18 on the season. The Ducks, however, have some vulnerabilities, especially if Francois Beauchemin’s injury limits his play. Ducks coach Randy Carlye likes his defenseman to be active on offense, but Beauchemin is one of his shutdown guys. Shea Weber, the only Nashville blueliner to play in all 82 regular season games, anchors the Preds’ defense that allowed the third-fewest goals (2.32 goals per game). Ryan Suter has evolved into an even more solid defenseman this year and was a plus-20 to go along with his 39 points. All the Preds defenseman who played more than 45 games were in the plus territory this season. Edge: Nashville.
Goalies: The Ducks’ made it through the first half of the season leaning on Jonas Hiller, who put up some of the league’s best numbers in the crease. Then he had his bout with vertigo after the All-Star break and the team’s goalie situation was no longer settled. Ray Emery, who was out of the NHL more than a year after hip surgery, and Dan Ellis, acquired from Tampa Bay before the deadline, stabilized things. Ellis will likely get the start in Game 1. Boston’s Tim Thomas may have put up slightly better numbers and faces more shots, but Rinne should be right there with Thomas in the Vezina conversation. He’s the primary reason the Preds allowed the second-fewest goals this seasons. Edge: Nashville.
Special teams: These two power play units couldn’t be any different from a production standpoint. The Ducks finished with the third-best power play (23.5 percent), while the Preds finished 26th (15.2 percent) – the worst among the 16 teams in the playoffs. The stats are flip-flopped on the PK, with Nashville ranked fifth and Anaheim 19th during the regular season. Selanne (16 goals) and Perry (14) combined, scored just 14 goals fewer than the Preds tallied on the power play combined.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 10, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 4:31 pm
No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks
Season series: Chicago 2-2 ; Vancouver 2-1-1
Player to watch: Daniel Sedin, F, Vancouver Canucks. The twin of last year's Hart Trophy winne, Henrik, turned in another stellar regular season, leading the league in points (104) and assists (75). He’s averaged better than a point per game over the last two postseasons.
X-factor: The Blackhawks’ energy level. The Blackhawks, like any Stanley Cup winner, had the shortest summer in hockey. Celebrations, a day with the Cup and all the ancillary rewards can take their toll. Then you lose a good chunk of the team via salary cap moves and you struggle to remain a contender all season. Chicago eventually needed a Dallas Stars loss Sunday to make it in. Let’s see what they have left.
Game 1 - Wednesday (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
Game 2 - Friday (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
Game 3 - April 17 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
Game 4 - April 19 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
*Game 5 - April 21 (10 p.m.) Chicago at Vancouver
*Game 6 - April 24 (8 p.m.) Vancouver at Chicago
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) Chicago at Vancouver
Season series: Los Angeles 3-3-0; Jose Sharks 3-1-2
Player to watch: Joe Thornton, F, San Jose Sharks. Thornton took only a couple faceoffs over the last five games of the regular season, although the center said on a conference call with reporters that could change in the playoffs. (As is the case, nobody is calling the move off the faceoff dot was caused by an injury.) He scored his 1000th NHL point earlier this weekend and had 70 points (21 goals and 49 assists) this season.
X-factor: The Kings’ offense. Los Angeles lost its two top scorers -- Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams -- in closing weeks of the regular season. It’ll be up to Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner to pick up the slack.
Schedule: Game 1 - Thursday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
Game 2 - Saturday (10 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
Game 3 - April 19 (10:30 p.m.) San Jose at Los Angeles
Game 4 - April 21 (10:30 p.m.) San Jose at Los Angeles
*Game 5 - April 23 (10:30 p.m.) Los Angeles at San Jose
*Game 6 - April 25 (TBD) San Jose at Los Angeles
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD) Los Angeles at San Jose
Season series: Detroit, 2-1-1; Phoenix 2-0-2
Player to watch: Shane Doan, F, Phoenix Coyotes. The last Winnipeg Jets player left on the Coyotes missed the final four games with a separated shoulder when these two teams clashed in the first round a season ago. He was the Coyotes’ only 20-goal scorer this season and led the team with 60 points.
X-factor: Will Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg make it back? He missed the final two regular season games with a lower body injury, and coach Mike Babcock told reporters Sunday that he doesn’t expect him back for the start of the series. He led the Wings with 80 points (24 goals and 56 assists).
Game 1 - Wednesday (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
Game 2 - Saturday (1 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
Game 3 - April 18 (10:30 p.m.) Detroit at Phoenix
Game 4 - April 20 (10:30 p.m.) Detroit at Phoenix
*Game 5 - April 22 (7 p.m.) Phoenix at Detroit
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Detroit at Phoenix
*Game 7 - April 27 (TBD) Phoenix at Detroit
Season series: Anaheim 1-3-1; Nashville 3-1-0
Player to watch: Corey Perry, F, Anaheim Ducks. He’s the only player to reach 50 goals this season. Sure, he plays on arguably the best line in hockey, but he did have to carry things when Ryan Getzlaf was out about a month with a sinus fracture.
X-factor: The Ducks’ goalie situation. Dan Ellis, acquired before the deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, could be the starter by default. Starter Jonas Hiller returned for one game (March 24) after a 15-game absence due to vertigo and went on to miss the final eight games. Ray Emery suffered a lower body injury in the penultimate game of the season and his status is also not clear for the playoffs. It's certainly not nearly as stable as Nashville, who have a Vezina candidate, Pekka Rinne, healthy in net.
Game 1 - Wednesday (10:30 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
Game 2 - Friday (10:30 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
Game 3 - April 17 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
Game 4 - April 20 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
*Game 5 - April 22 (10 p.m.) Nashville at Anaheim
*Game 6 - April 24 (TBD) Anaheim at Nashville
*Game 7 - April 26 (TBD) - Nashville at Anaheim
* - if necessary
All times Eastern
Posted on: March 25, 2011 3:09 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 11:53 am
The sequel is never as good as the original. In the case of the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens, the last one wasn't that good either.
Thursday's “rematch” between the Canadiens and Bruins again wasn’t competitive, not that many remember Montreal eased to a three-goal win on March 8. No, that game was all about Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara's check that sent Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty off a padded divider between the benches. The collision left Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck, a concussion and a good portion of Quebec in an uproar.
It was payback time Thursday, right? Not quite. Chara, who was not suspended for the collision with Pacioretty, was the games No. 1 star with three assists as the Bruins extended their Northeast Division lead with a 7-0 victory. On a night that featured three shootouts in games that will help determine the postseason order, what transpired at TD Garden wasn't nearly as compelling.
There were a couple roughing penalties and Montreal’s Paul Mara and Boston’s Gregory Campbell were sent to the box for fighting, but those things happen in just about any blowout.
"We just went out there, we were focused on doing it right," Bruins coach Claude Julien told CSN New England. "And for us, it's a win that we needed, for all the right reasons, standings and everything else. I think our guys felt good about our performance tonight, and rightfully so."
Even as police in Montreal investigate whether Chara violated any laws with his check a couple weeks ago, Boston authorities won’t be involved this time --- unless somebody wants to file a missing team report. The Bruins dominated in every facet, including nearly doubling up the Habs with 41 shots on net. Boston goalie Tim Thomas, one of the leading candidates for the Vezina Trophy, made 24 saves for his eighth shutout of the season.
There was a confession after the game, but nobody was Mirandized.
Veteran Bruins forward Mark Recchi told The Boston Globe he intentionally tried to take the heat off Chara when he told a sports talk station that Montreal embellished the severity of Pacioretty’s injuries, comments that drew strong rebuke from the Habs’ locker room earlier Thursday.
"Well, I have to be honest with you guys, I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day,'' Recchi told reporters afterward. "I'm a big boy. And I think anyone who knows me, knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization. I played five years there. I have great respect for Doctor [David] Mulder, the medical staff there.
Chara told The Globe he appreciated the gesture:
"I obviously don't know exactly all the comments,'' Chara said of the remarks Recchi made on 98.5 The Sports Hub. ``But he's such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader. It's a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He's obviously the next Hall-of-Famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can't thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.''
HILLER PULLED IN RETURN: Jonas Hiller, who hadn’t played a game since Feb. 13 as he was sidelined with vertigo, lasted only 11 minutes, 39 seconds into Thursday’s game in Nashville. He allowed three goals on nine shots before Dan Ellis was tapped to enter the game. Ellis actually took the loss in the Preds’ 5-4 victory.
"I didn't think he saw the puck," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register. "I understand his first game back, it's not easy to pull him. In my mind, you don't do that against him. You do it for the rest of the team. That's what I always say."
Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 1 (SO)
Ottawa 2, NY Rangers 1 (SO)
Atlanta 2, NY Islanders 1
Boston 7, Montreal 0
Nashville 5, Anaheim 4
St. Louis 4, Edmonton 0
Toronto 4, Colorado 3 Phoenix 3, Columbus 0
Los Angeles 4, San Jose 3 (SO)
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 25, 2011 12:35 am
The Anaheim Ducks don't need any extra help late in games these days, not with 40-year-old forward Teemu Selanne becoming the first NHL player in history to score four game-tying goals in the final three minutes of play in a season. The Ducks won each of those game, which have all occurred since Feb. 11
Regardless, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter lent a hand -- or rather a foot.
He booted a loose puck past Preds goalie Pekka Rinne with 26.5 seconds left in regualation. The goal, credited to Corey Perry, made it a one-goal game, although the Predators held on for a 5-4 win.
The victory extended Nashville's winning streak to five games – the longest current streak in the league – and moved up to fifth place in the West. Here's a look at the goal:
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 4:52 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can clinch tonight.
ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7) at Boston Bruins (40-22-10), 7 pm ET
This game would certainly have importance even if Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara’s check didn’t leave Montreal Canadeins forward Max Pacioretty with a broken bone in his neck and a severe concussion the last time these two teams met. The Bruins lead the Northeast by three points over the Habs, who are 4-1-0 against Boston this season.
The reaction (overreaction?) by Montreal fans after Chara was ejected -- but not suspended -- over the incident on March 8 has quieted some since it became known that Pacioretty could make it back for the playoffs. Then Boston forward Mark Recchi goes on a sports talk radio station this week and says the Canadiens “embellished it a little bit.”
Still, there’s not likely to be the revenge-filled fracas that was the Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders game on Feb. 11, which resulted in 23 games worth of suspensions. NHL commissioners Gary Bettman already warned Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier against such an incident happening tonight, TSN.ca reports.
“Everybody talks about revenge and what’s going to happen – and the build-up,” said Milan Lucic told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. “I’m sure they’re saying the most important thing for them is getting the two points, and I’m sure for them the most important is getting the two points because they’re right behind us in the standings.”
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (41-27-5) at Nashville Predators (39-25-10), 8 p.m. ET
This game could mark the return of Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who missed 15 consecutive games and 17 games total with vertigo. He was activated Wednesday and backed up Ray Emery in the Ducks’ 4-3 OT victory over Dallas. Hiller was a contender for the Vezina Trophy before his bout with dizziness forced him onto the IR. The Preds will counter with Pekka Rinne, whose goals-against average (2.07) is second only to Boston’s Tim Thomas this season.
GOLF WATCH: The Ottawa Senators will need a victory to avoid elimination. The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers are already mathematically eliminated.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:36 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: No new teams can secure a playoff berth today.
ALREADY IN: Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Nashville Predators (37-25-10) at Buffalo Sabres (35-28-8), 5 p.m. ET
The two eighth-place teams in each conference converge for their one and only meeting of the season. Buffalo won't be dislodged from the top 8, but Nashville could be shuffled out with a loss.
The Sabres are 9-5-2 against the West teams this season and are coming off an 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers Saturday. The victory was goalie Ryan Miller's 30th of the season, making him the eight goalie in league history to win 30 or more games in six consecutive seasons. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, made 39 saves in 3-1 victory over Detroit on Saturday.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Flames (37-27-9) at Ducks (39-27-5), 8 p.m. ET
The first two meetings between the Flames and Ducks couldn't have been much closer. The Ducks won both, the first in OT and the second in a shootout. Depending on how the Nashville-Buffalo game turns out, the winner could move into the top 8. Regardless, these are some crucial points.
GOLF WATCH: A victory or overtime/shootout loss by the Predators eliminates the Colorado Avalanche. Edmonton already eliminated.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 3:07 pm
Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist received a $2,000 fine, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement, for the elbow he landed to the head of Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin on Thursday night.
An official with the Predators confirmed the fine to CBSSports.com on Friday, which means Hornqvist won’t be suspended like two other players this week for hits to the head. Hornqvist received a five-minute major for elblowing and a game misconduct.
Seguin required seven stitches to close the gash to his ear lobe.
The suspension vs. fine delineation may have come down to whether Hornqvist actually used his elbow, which longtime Predators coach Barry Trotz said isn’t so clear on the replays.
"The referee said, 'I saw his elbow out and make contact with the head,'” Trotz told The Tennessean. "When I watched the replay, Hornqvist had his elbow out, and then as he goes into Seguin he brings his elbow in and actually puts the brakes on and sort of turns. When I looked at it, I really didn't think it was a penalty.""
Here’s the video of the hit, which takes place about 45 seconds into the clip:
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: March 6, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 2:04 pm
SEASON SERIES: Nashville 0-1-2; Calgary 3-0-0
IMPLICATIONS: The Predators' first victory – combined with an Anaheim Ducks loss – over the Flames would move them into the eighth and final playoff slot in the west. (Both Anaheim and Calgary start the night even in points, 77, and games played, 65, but the Ducks have the edge in wins.) The resurgent Flames could move up to fifth in the West with a victory. Here's a look at our playoff tracker.
BREAKDOWN: The first three games of the season series have been close with one going to OT and another won via a shootout. But Nashville is coming off one it's most impressive victories of the season, a 3-0 decision over league-leading Vancouver. Predators rookie Blake Geoffrion, the first NHL player from Tennessee who was recalled Feb. 26, has scored in back-to-back games. Youngsters like Geoffrion will be key down the stretch as Steve Sullivan (groin), Francis Bouillon (concussion) and Marcel Goc (shoulder) have gone down with injuries in recent weeks. Flames captain Jarome Iginla (above), who already reached the 25-goal mark for the 12th consecutive season, has scored at least three points in each of Calgary's last two games. Flames forward Alex Tanguay enters on a seven-game points streak.
PLAYER vs. PLAYER: Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff vs. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. This is expected to be Kiprusoff's 20th consecutive start and and he enters with a 13-2-3 record over his last 19 starts. Rinne has entered the Vezina --- maybe even the Hart --- conversation. The Preds which are the fourth-lowest scoring team (2.45 goals per game) in the league are mostly in the playoff hunt because of Rinne, who is second amongst NHL goalies with 10 or more games in goals against (2.08) and save percentage (.929). The two played no bigger role in the season series than in their first meeting on Oct. 19 when they were prefect through regulation.
KEY STAT: 491. That's Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester consecutive game streak, the longest in the NHL. It began exactly seven years ago today.
Photo: Getty Images