Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 5:40 pm

NHL behind push to eject, fine octopi tossers?

For all of downtown Detroit’s troubles, the NHL apparently wants to address what it sees as a major scourge. 

The tradition of tossing octopi on the ice. 

Matt Saler of the blog On the Wings reports the NHL has asked Detroit to enforce a city ordinance, which apparently caused one fan to be ejected from Wednesday’s Game 1 and put him on the hook for a $500 fine:
"Officer Bullock informed me that the enforcement of Municipal Code 38-5-4 is at the request of the NHL. Evidently, police supervisors were informed Wednesday night, either before or during the game, by League representatives that they don’t want anything thrown on the ice. An officer has to witness the throw and nab the thrower on the spot, but it’s something they can and will enforce. Apparently, distance from players is not an issue: any octopus on the ice is grounds for ejection and a fine."

The interesting part is that the Wings are not the ones asking for it. According to Officer Bullock, they’re fine with the tradition, and even like it. And I gather the police aren’t big fans of enforcing it either. It’s up to the officer’s discretion, so it’s possible fans may still get away with it at times. But with NHL officials pushing for it, it’s less safe to throw than it ever has been. Previously, it may have been a bit of an empty threat. Now it has teeth.

According to Yahoo! hockey blog Puck Daddy , NHL spokesman Frank Brown wouldn’t confirm that the league is asking for police to enforce the city code: 
"I don't believe it's anything new, but I'm waiting to hear back from our security. It's a safety issue. You throw stuff on the ice, people get their skates caught in it, they fall down and hurt themselves. It's wrong. That's a problem," said Brown, in a phone interview this afternoon.

The NHL then sent out this statement: 
"NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface."

This eight-legged controversy began to swirl when Deadspin reported an account from the fan who allegedly was the target of police:
All of a sudden, a guy from there said, "You're going to jail. Come with me." Granted, not a thing happened to the prior folks, or any other game. I went down and was charged. Really, it's AN octopus in Detroit in a hockey game! They kick me out, fined me $500 and I have to go to court. I paid $150 for my ticket [but] now will pay $500 more. That's $217 a period.

Although the tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice dates back to 1952, opponents have complained for years that chunks of the sea creature are often left on the surface. That could create a safety concern, although there have been no reports of that any player was injured because of it. The Red Wings were threatened with a $10,000 fine three years ago if famed Zamboni driver Al Sobotka swung any octopi he picked up off the ice. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 15, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 3:31 am

Road to the Cup: Miller, Price keep blanks coming

Ryan Miller didn't show signs of any lingering injury. Carey Price made Habs fans forget about what's his name? Oh, yeah. Jaroslav Halak.

Miller and Price each posted shutouts Thursday, a night after Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Nashville Predators netminder Pekka Rinne also held their opponents scoreless. Eight games, four shutouts so far in the playoffs.

Miller, who missed four of Buffalo's final six regular season games with an upper-body injury, stopped all 35 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Price, who sat on the bench while Halak led the Montreal Canadiens to the conference finals a season ago, halted 31 shots in a 2-0 win agianst the Boston Bruins.

With their donuts, Miller and Price stole home-ice advantage for their respective teams.

"You want to come out and establish that we can skate with these guys and come out and play our system and win a game," Miller told CSN Philadelphia. "We still think that they have a load of experience, and they’ve showed that they’ve been down and out before. So we certainly we’re not going to be comfortable."

Price passed off the credit for his third postseason shutout to his skaters, who blocked 19 shots.

“We have had good chemistry all year,” Price told The Montreal Gazette. “All I do is try to make the first save. They have done a really good job of getting to the rebounds, blocking guys out and blocking shots. . . . Guys were sacrificing their bodies all night.” 

Even in a loss, rookie Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled at the end of the regular season, answered a few questions. He can hardly be faulted for the game-winner in his first playoff start, which was tipped in on rebound by Sabres Patrick Kaleta.

“He played really well,” Flyers defenseman Sean O’Donnell told CSN Philly’s Sarah Baiker. “I think Bob answered a lot of critics. We never questioned him. As a team, we didn’t play well the second half, but we knew we were revved up to come in here for Game 1, and he gave us a good chance to win tonight.”


Highlight of the night

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick settled, well, quickly after the San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley scored on the second shot of the game. (It came 28 seconds into the game, the fastest the Sharks have scored in the playoffs in franchise history.) Quick stopped 41 of the next 42 shots to get the Kings into overtime before Kyle Wellwood found Joe Pavelski for this game-winner as the Sharks earned a 3-2 victory:




Top performance

Justin Williams missed the Kings’ final nine games of the regular season with a separated shoulder. Early reports after the Mach 21 injury against the Calgary Flames said he'd miss the rest of the season -- the playoffs and all. He declared himself healthy earlier this week, Kings coach Terry Murray said earlier Thursday he’d put Williams in the lineup and Williams, in turn, grinded out a gutsy night where he had a stick in both goals. Williams had the primary assist on Dusint Brown’s second-period tally and tied, 2-2, later in the same period. 

-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 14, 2011 11:38 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 3:04 am

Could Kings's Stoll be in line for suspension?

Jarret Stoll may become the latest Los Angeles Kings forward forced out of the lineup, although it won't be by injury. 

Stoll elbowed San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White with 25 seconds left in the first period, a hit that sent White's head off the glass and left him wobbly.  White, who had a bloody nose, was assisted to the locker room by the Sharks' medical staff, likely to a dark, quiet room mandated by new concussion guidelines.

Here's a look at the hit:

Stoll was not called for a penalty on the collision, although that may not be the end of it.

"I don't like it," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. "I didn't like it the first time around, and I don't like it on the replay."

LeBrun reports league officials in Toronto were reviewing the play.

"They should," said Boyle. "I don't know that Stoll is that kind of a guy but that's exactly what we're talking about and trying to eliminate (from the game). The guy's head is this far from the boards and you drive your forearm and elbow in there? That's what they're trying to get rid of. I didn't like it." 

Stoll said there was no intent to injury on the play, The Associated Press reports.

"I hope he's all right," Stoll said. "You hate to see a guy get hurt in the regular season or playoffs and I definitely wasn't trying to hurt him. ... There wasn't a penalty on the call so I'm not expecting anything."

Beside the video evidence, it doesn't help things that Kings coach Terry Murray all but predicted a bruising game earlier in the day. Here's what Murray said after the morning skate via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider:

“We know it’s going to be a real revved-up series, a real hard series. Everything I read, from the San Jose players talking, it’s going to be a bit of a gong show, with fighting. I’m reading about Clowe’s bloody nose and Ben Eager all over the place and Mayers fighting. So we’re going to gear ourselves up for that kind of a game. We’ll keep Westgarth in the lineup. That’s the way they’re setting it up, so we’re going to be ready to battle.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 14, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 4:15 pm

Upon further review: NHL explains Ovi's goal

Score one for transparency.

Not only has the NHL has brought back the situation room blog for the playoffs, but Damian Echevarrieta, the NHL's senior director of hockey operations, explains exactly why the Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying, third-period goal counted. The Capitals went on to beat the New York Rangers, 2-1, in overtime on Wednesday.  


-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 14, 2011 2:38 am
Edited on: April 14, 2011 2:52 am

Wednesday playoff recap

Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0 (Pittsburgh leads, 1-0)

Alex Kovalev and Arron Asham scored third-period goals 18 seconds apart and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 32 shots as the Penguins eased to a victory in their playoff opener. Chris Kunitz sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute in the Penguins' first postseason game in their new arena. Brooks Orpik had two assists.

Washington 2, New York Rangers 1, OT (Washington leads, 1-0)
Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin broke out of a 15-game playoff scoring drought with a one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist in overtime. Semin also assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal late in regulation. New York defenseman Matt Gilroy scored the Rangers’ lone goal 1:56 into the third period. 

Detroit 4, Phoenix 2 (Detroit leads, 1-0)
The Red Wings overcame an early one-goal deficit with second-period tallies by Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen and eased to victory. Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler padded Detroit's lead late in the second period and early in the third. The Coyotes took the lead on a Kyle Turris tally 2:16 into the game, and Radim Vrbata scored midway through the third period. 

Nashville 4, Anaheim 1 (Nashville leads, 1-0)
The only way the Ducks could solve Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and the stifling defense in front of them was on a two-man advantage in the third period as Teemu Selanne scored. By that time, Nashville had already built a healthy lead. Mike Fisher paced the Preds with two goals and an assist. 

Vancouver 2, Chicago 0 (Vancouver leads, 1-0)  
Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen scored in the first period, and Roberto Luongo made 32 saves as Vancouver beat Chicago in the playoff opener. Corey Crawford made 31 saves in his first playoff start as Chicago opened its defense of the Stanley Cup with a loss.

Highlight of the night

Here’s a replay of Alexander Semin’s overtime goal that sent the Caps to victory. 

Star of the night 

Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver Canucks: 32 saves in a shutout, including 25 over the final two periods, for his second career playoff shutout. 


Predators defenseman and Orange County native Jonathon Blum made his NHL playoff debut, picking up an assist on Fisher's second goal. He became the first California born-and-raised player chosen in the first round in 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted on: April 12, 2011 6:16 pm

Capitals getting healthy, turn to rookie goalie

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals have fallen behind the last two first-round series, including in 2009 against these same New York Rangers

This time the Caps are expected to turn to Michal Neuvirth. He will make his playoff debut in net Wednesday with Semyon Varlamov -- who was turned to the last two postseasons after then-starter Jose Theodore stumbled -- as the backup. Neuvirth will likely have a familiar blueliner back in front of him, even if Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t officially confirming Mike Green’s return from an apparent concussion. 

“We’ll figure it all out tomorrow, but he looks fine out there,” Boudreau said at the Capitals training facility on Tuesday. 

Minutes earlier, Green declared himself ready. He’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 25

“I feel great,” Green said. “I’m in game shape and ready to play.”

The team’s most prolific scorers --- at least when it comes to the last few regular seasons --- also appear to be healthy. Both Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin missed time over the final weeks of the season due to undisclosed injuries, which could be code for “rest.” Ovechkin is coming of a season with his lowest scoring output as a pro, but the Caps may be more worried how Semin will perform in the playoffs. 

Semin failed to score a goal and had three assists in the first round last year against the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, the last time Semin scored a goal in the playoffs was when the Caps edged the Rangers, 2-1, in Game 7 of the playoffs two years ago – a span of 14 games.

“He looks determined,” Boudreau said. “I think they all know what’s at stake. I have no qualms Alex (Semin) will give his best effort.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 12, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:50 pm

Preview: No. 2 San Jose vs. No. 7 Los Angeles

All three California teams made the playoffs -- that’s one more than Canada, if you’re counting -- and no rivalry in the state goes back as far as Sharks-Kings. At the end of November as the Sharks sat in 11th place, it was questionable whether San Jose would even make the playoffs, let alone win another Pacific Division title. But the Sharks -- using some new and old parts –- rebounded and enter the playoffs relatively healthy. The same can’t be said for the Los Angeles Kings, who could be without both their top scorers from the regular season. Azne Kopitar (ankle) is out the rest of the season and Justin Williams is a question mark for the series. The teams split their six regular-season contests. 

Here's the breakdown: 

Forwards:   Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau are a veteran corps that led San Jose to the conference finals for the second time in team history. Thornton didn’t take many faceoff circles down the stretch possibly due to a hand injury, but he said he could go back to draws now that it’s the playoffs. Rookie Logan Couture was also one of the Sharks’ most consistent forwards this season with 56 points (32 goals, 24 assists). The Sharks are a bit hobbled in the gritty forward category as both Ryane Clowe (lower body) and Scott Nichol (upper body) missed time down the stretch. Kopitar, the Kings’ leading scorer at 73 points, tore ligaments in his ankle on March 26. Williams, who separated his shoulder a week earlier, has returned to practice, but no decision has been made on when he’ll return. Captain Dustin Brown, who was tied for second with Williams with 57 points, and trade deadline acquisition Dustin Penner will be leaned on to make up the difference.

San Jose. 

Defense: No Sharks blueliner who played more than 29 games had a negative plus-minus. Dan Boyle led the Sharks in ice time (26 minutes, 14 seconds per game) and finished with 50 points, seventh overall on the team and first among defensemen. Jason Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic took another step in their development this season and 6-foot-3 bruiser Douglas Murray was again reliable. The Kings counter with a solid core group of defenders as well. Drew Doughty hasn’t had the same kind of season that led him to become a Norris Trophy finalist, but it was a solid effort at 42 points and plus-13. Jack Johnson led all Kings defensemen in points (42), but his minus-21 may cancel that out. The Kings also have a Cup winner in Rob Scuderi to lean on and rookie Alec Martinez also performed well throughout the season. The Kings allowed the third fewest shots per game (27.9)

Edge: Kings.

Special teams: San Jose had the league’s second-best power play (23.5 percent) and scored 68 goals on the man-advantage in the regular season. Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Marleau each had 11 goals. With the Sharks' depth at forward, they have been able to create two solid power-play units. Kings forward Ryan Smyth may not have the explosiveness he did earlier in his career, but he can still be a force in front of the net, as evidenced by his team-high nine PP goals. The Kings were 21st in power-play percentage (16.1), although they fared much better on the PK.  Los Angeles was fourth-best in the league with an 85.6 percent success rate. The Sharks were 24th, 79.6 percent.

San Jose. 

Goalie: Evgeni who? Antti Niemi, a free-agent acquisition last offseason, has done more than just replace Evgeni Nabokov, the Sharks goalie for the better part of the last decade. The Sharks finally have a goalie with size --- which seems to be a must in the modern NHL --  and Niemi is coming off a season where he helped lead Chicago to the title. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had the sixth-best goals-against average (2.24), although he did lose three of four down the stretch and was yanked mid-game after he allowed four goals against the Sharks on April 4.

Edge: San Jose. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 12, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:36 pm

Preview: No. 3 Bruins vs. No. 6 Canadiens

It's a heated rivalry carrying over to the playoffs as Original Six teams Boston and Montreal face off. Of course the underlying current will surround Zdeno Chara returning to Montreal for the first time since his check sent Max Pacioretty into the partition by the benches and set off a national debate. The Canadiens got the better of the season series, winning three of four games. The Bruins seem to be better across the board, but that's why they play. The intensity of the rivalry can even the ice.

Here's the breakdown.

Forwards: There's a lot to like about the Bruins up front, but you can't really feel the same about the Habs. With David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton -- living up to his potential since moving to Boston -- the B's pack quite a punch. Don't forget about wily veteran (yes, he's earned that title) Mark Recchi, who has a knack for performing in the playoffs. And, for the most part, the Bruins are healthy. The Canadiens, meanwhile, can't match up with Boston's depth, but have capable-enough players. With Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta out front, Montreal can be dangerous. Then there's Scott Gomez, who has been booed by the Habs fans a good chunk of his time in Quebec, and for good reason. He just had the lowest-scoring season of his career and put up a team-worst minus-15.

Edge: Bruins

Defensemen: Boston has probably the game's best defenseman in Zdeno Chara. Not only did he provide 14 goals and 44 points this year, he also led league with a plus-33 rating. He's as fierce a defenseman as you'll find. Add in Dennis Seidenberg and Tomas Kaberle for some offensive prowess with Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference for solid defense, and you have a nice corps. The Canadiens are about equally balanced after adding James Wisniewski to their blue line in the offseason. He joins Roman Hamrlik and rising star P.K. Subban for some offense in the back while Hal Gill helps anchor the defensive prowess.

Edge: Bruins, by the strength of having the best player among the group

Goalies: Tim Thomas had another stellar season, quietly setting the NHL record for highest save percentage in one season, breaking Dominik Hasek's mark with a .9381 mark (Hasek's record was .937 in 1998-99). While other goalies have had nice seasons, the Vezina should be locked up for Thomas. Backup Tuukka Rask had a fall-back season, going a disappointing 11-14-2 for Boston. Montreal no longer has last postseason's darling in Jaroslav Halak, and it made plenty nervous to turn the keys over full-time to Carey Price. But he alleviated many of the concerns by putting up the best season of his career while carrying the load with 72 games. It's been a pleasant surprise for a promising goalie that had been a bit underwhelming in his career up until this season.

Edge: Bruins

Special teams: Under Jacques Martin, the Canadiens have been a potent team on the power play. This year was no exception. The Habs were the seventh-best unit with a man up compared to Boston's 20th-ranked group. Likewise, they are the better team on the penalty kill, also coming in at seventh (Boston checks in at 16th). This could be a major key to the series. If penalties become a factor, the ice might tilt toward Montreal, because as good as the Bruins were this season (league-leading plus-58), they are susceptible in the special teams.

Edge: Canadiens

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images
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