Tag:Conference Semifinal
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:04 pm

Preds or Wings? Who has best shot at a Game 7?

The Nashville Predators get the first crack tonight. The Detroit Red Wings follow on Tuesday.

But which team is more likely to extend their second-round series to seven games?

My vote would be for the Predators, although I believe it’s possible both could go the distance. The Vancouver Canucks have already allowed the Chicago Blackhawks back from a 0-3 deficit to force a Game 7 in the first round and the Preds are the a little healthier than the Red Wings, who face the San Jose Sharks in their Game 6 on Tuesday. 

"We want to make them think as much as we can," ,” Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien, who spent two seasons with the Canucks, told The Vancouver Sun. "They obviously have had a little bit of trouble closing series out for whatever reason.

"We are kind of taking the attitude we have nothing to lose. No one probably thinks we're going to come back other than the guys in this room. We believe. We have come back all year. You hear Trotzie use the word resilient, we have been resilient all year. There are a lot of good guys in here and we want to keep playing. We have nothing to lose and will have our fans behind us tonight. We'll give it our best shot and hopefully we can force a Game 7."

The Preds and Wings are each on home ice, although that hasn’t always been advantage for Nashville. The Predators enter tonight’s contest 2-3 at home in the playoffs, including losses in Games 3-4 in this series. Nashville has allowed an average of 3.6 goals per game at Bridgestone Arena. 

“We haven’t played great hockey at home so far this series,” Preds forward Jerred Smithson said. “Tonight would be a good night to get things started.” 

The Canucks will have the services of forward Chris Higgins, who took a shot off his foot in the first period of Game 5. He left Monday’s skate early, but told reporters afterward he expected to play. 

That’s good news for the Canucks since Higgins has one more goal (two) than both the Sedin twins in this series. Daniel Sedin is looking for his first marker and Henrik has scored just once through the first five games. Each has two assists. 

Meanwhile, the Red Wings have bigger injury issues to deal with as they look to become the fourth team in NHL history to battle back from an 0-3 deficit. Johan Franzen (ankle) appears to be question mark. But, as it often does this time of year, will Detroit's goalending backstop another victory? Jimmy Howard made 39 saves in Game 5, including several key stops late as the Wings rallied to win 4-3. 

It could take another effort like that if the Wings want to force the series back to the Shark Tank. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 3:21 pm
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Posted on: May 9, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:52 pm

Ailing Datsyuk leads Wings; Franzen forced out

Pavel Datsyuk’s sore wrist prevented him from taking faceoffs in Game 5, but the Red Wings center still had the passing touch. 

Datsyuk had three assist as the Red Wings extended the second-round series again, this time with a 4-3 comeback victory over San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. 

His final assist came after he swiped the puck from Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, danced around the ice for a bit then hit an open Nicklas Lidstrom, whose blast was deflected in by Tomas Holmstrom for the game-winner. 

“Pav was really good,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “I don’t think he was great early, but he was outstanding in the third period. He really dug in and competed.

"It’s interesting. As you watch the playoffs, there are lots of nice players in the regular season and they have good skill level and all that. But if you don’t have a drive train and if you don’t compete at the highest level, you aren’t going to compete this time of year.”

One of the Babcock’s usual playoff stalwarts, Johan Franzen, wasn’t able to grind it out the entire game. 

An ankle injury suffered in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes again made Franzen, known as  “the Mule,” all but immobile on the ice, although he did move pretty quickly when he thought Sharks captain Joe Thornton targeted his injury in the first period. Franzen got two minutes for slashing, while Thornton went off for unsportsmanlike conduct after he embellished the swipe. 

Here's a look at the incident:

And here's a more humorous look at Thornton's dive you "Star Wars" fans will appreciate. 

“It’s been hard for the Mule,” Babcock said. “The Mule is a star at playoff time. Playing on one leg has been hard for him. “

Franzen’s last shift came midway through the second period and Babcock was forced to shuffle his lines even more. He had already scratched Jiri Hudler in favor of the quicker Drew Miller before the game. 

Babcock said it’s up to Franzen whether he'll play in Tuesday’s Game 6.

“I don’t know what will happen there,” Babcock said. “He’ll just tell me if he’s going or not. If he can go, we’re going with him.”

If he can’t, we might see veteran Mike Modano. Modano has played in only one game in these playoffs, Game 4 in the first round, and missed half of the regular season after wrist surgery. 

-- A.J. Perez


Posted on: May 9, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 3:35 pm

Roenick: Sharks' Marleau 'gutless' in Game 5

At the very least, the San Jose Sharks’ Game 5 loss allowed Jeremy Roenick to take another run at Patrick Marleau

Roenick, the former NHLer turned Versus analyst, called Marleau’s performance in the Detroit Red Wings’ comeback victory on Sunday night “gutless,” but the rips kept coming. 

“All in all 19 players of San Jose Sharks came and grinded it out and played very good game,” Roenick added. 

Here's a look at the video: 

Roenick then took to Twitter to defend his remarks, with explanation marks galore.

“Everyone can be mad at me for my comments. That's fine!!” Roenick wrote. “My opinions are mine and I’ve always voiced them! Classless? I’ve had worse said of me!! 

“Marleau has his fans and that's great! I am not one of them and won't pretend to be! I love the Sharks with a passion and think the fans deserve a better effort than Marleau has given in this series!!!”

It was a harsher assessment than when the Sharks took on the Wings, also in the second round, a year ago. 

“When is Patrick Marleau gonna come out and hit somebody in a playoff game?” Roenick said on a Candian radio station. 

Bitter much, JR? He played his final two seasons of his career with San Jose, the last on the Sharks’ Presidents’ Trophy-winning team of 2008-09. That run was cut off in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks in a series where Marleau was chided for doing the “double flamingo” as jumped out of the way from a slap shot. 

Marleau’s captain’s “C” was yanked that offseason, but he remains one of the classiest players in the NHL and never outwardly sulked as Joe Thornton took over the captaincy. Marleau also didn’t stand out in Game 5, which I guess maybe you could note. He didn’t have any points, but he also finished even, although he did have two giveaways -- one less than Thornton. Sharks defensemen Ian White and Niclas Wallin, by the way, were both minus-3. 

"Jeremy Roenick only cares about furthering his broadcasting career," Sharks' broadcaster Randy Hahn said on Twitter . "His Marleau take was WAY over the line. Many bridges were burned."

Roenick, however, wasn’t the only former NHL player/broadcaster to rip the Sharks, but give Aaron Ward credit for not going the personal route. 

“Another case of 'Sanjoseitis'?” Ward, also a Versus analyst, wrote on Twitter . “New strand similar to ones seen in years past. Symptoms include choking and restlessness.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 11:41 pm

Legwand scores equalizer from behind net

The Nashville Predators found success again by tossing pucks from behind the Vancouver Canucks’ net.

Preds center David Legwand flipped the puck from behind net in the opening minute of the second period and the puck bounded off the arm of Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler then past goalie Roberto Luongo. Legwand, who also scored the game’s first goal, tied the game with the trick tally and the Preds went on to win, 4-3, on Saturday to force a sixth game in the second-round series. 

“That second goal is the type of goal you don’t see too often,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

Here’s a look at it:

Nashville forced overtime in Game 2 when defenseman Ryan Suter’s centering pass from end boards banked off Loungo’s stick and in with just over a minute left in regulation. 
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 4:44 pm

Boston's Bergeron suffers 'mild' concussion

Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron suffered his third concussion of his NHL career in Friday’s series-clinching victory over the Philadelphia Flyers

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters Saturday that Bergeron suffered a “mild concussion,” reports CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty. But with Bergeron’s concussion history, any new head injury won’t be taken lightly --- especially with the NHL’s new concussion standards pressed into use this season. 

“He went into the Quiet Room after he was hit, was assessed by our doctors, took the NHL-modified SCAT II test and was deemed unable to return. But what I’m told is that the concussion is mild,” Chiarelli. said  “When I spoke with him after the game he was a little despondent, but he was quite lucid. He was despondent having suffered another concussion. It was just okay”

Bergeron, the Boston’s leading scorer this postseason with 12 points (two goals and 10 assists), was checked by Flyers forward Claude Giroux in the opening minutes of the third period of the Bruins’ 5-1 Game 4 victory over the Flyers at TD Garden, a hit Chiarelli said was a “shade late.”

One bright spot is that he reportedly went home, not to a hospital, after team doctors ruled the symptoms weren’t serious enough to warrant closer observation. Next up for Bergeron is a visit to the neurologist, which will help determine his path back to the ice.

Bergeron, 25, could miss the first couple games of the Eastern Conference Final. The matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning is set and the series will begin after the both West series ---- Detroit vs. San Jose and Nashville vs. Vancouver --- are settled. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 7, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: May 7, 2011 3:18 am

Bobrovsky rallies, shows he has No. 1 stuff

Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette finally figured out his goalie situation. 

In Game 4 he started Sergei Bobrovsky, the 22-year-old rookie who had 28 wins in the regular season but started only three of the Flyers’ 11 playoff games. Sure, the netminder referred to around Philly as “Bob” had his struggles at the end of the regular season and faltered Game 2 of the first round against the Buffalo Sabres, but he was hardly the cause of Friday’s Game 4 loss as the Boston Bruins completed the sweep. 

“I thought he did a good job,” Laviolette said afterward. “He gave us an opportunity to win the game. It was 1-1 in the third period.”

The Bruins eventually won 5-1, although that included two empty-net goals. None of the three goals Bobrovsky allowed on 25 shots could be classified as “soft,” which isn’t bad for a guy who went nearly three weeks between starts. 

“I thought Bobrovsky played really well,” Flyers defenseman Sean O’Donnell told CSN Philadelphia’s Sarah Baicker. “He made some big saves tonight on the PK. We took a lot of penalties early on, maybe four, five in the first two periods. And they were shooting them off the half walls and tips, and he was real big in the net, I thought. … A lot of pucks were hitting him. You can’t fault him tonight.”

“Coddled” isn’t the correct word, but goalies do need a softer touch than skaters. The position is about confidence as much as reflexes, and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren didn’t do his young goalie any favors by putting Michael Leighton --- a postseason hero from a season ago who played in only one regular season game this year --- on re-entry waivers at the end of the regular season.

It could be just a coincidence, but Bobrovsky went 0-4-2 (including the postseason) since that move was reported on April 5. It also could have been the fact the Flyers’ No. 1 defenseman, Chris Pronger, who missed the final month of the season after hand surgery before he returned in Game 6 of the first round. His postseason, however, was cut short after he suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the second round and Pronger didn’t play in any of Bobrovsky starts. 

Leighton cleared waivers and played in two games this postseason, starting one in which he allowed three goals on eight shots before Brian Boucher was tapped to replace him. 

Boucher, who is a solid backup and one of the most respected players in the locker room, isn’t a No. 1 goalie at this point in his career and it showed as the Bruins chased him in two of this three starts. He doesn’t have Bobrovsky athleticism and the clutch save often eluded Boucher this round. 

Hopefully, Bobrovsky proved enough in Game 4 that he earned a little more leeway with both the Flyers’ front office and coaching staff. He has the talent and --- although he saw time in only six postseason games, half of those coming in relief --- he now has some playoff familiarity as well. 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: May 7, 2011 3:14 am

Lucic breaks out of slump; Bergeron injured

Milan Lucic was the worst dressed man at TD Garden after the Boston Bruins completed a sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. 

But the Bruins forward -- who broke out of his 20-game slump with two markers in a 5-1 victory -- wore it well. 

“It feels good,” said Lucic, who donned the gaudy retro Bruins jacket that’s worn by the game’s MVP selected by Bruins players. “The last time I wore this jacket for us was against the Devils when I got my 30th (goal). The win, regardless of the two goals, is a big win for our hockey club. I think it’s been since 1992 since the Bruins made to the third round. For the last three years, we’ve been looking for that eighth win to get into the third round.”

The Bruins had four chances to do it last year against the Flyers. Then Philly won four consecutive games -- which included a comeback from a three-goal deficit in Game 7 -- to become only the third team in league history to win a series despite losing the first three games. 

Lucic’s second goal, which came with five minutes left in regulation, all but assured Philly wouldn’t come close to repeating that feat. Bruins forward Nathan Horton forced Flyers defenseman Matt Carle into a turnover and got the puck ahead to Lucic, who beat Philly goalie Sergei Bobrovsky through the five-hole to make it a 3-1 game. 

“It’s nice we’re not going to have to answer any of more of those questions and put that behind us,” Lucic said of last season’s collapse. “I think we learned a lot last year from that experience. I think it made us a more determined hockey club and I think you can see it in us. In that first round, we got down 0-2 to Montreal and got back into it. We were feeling it coming into this series and we went right after them.”

Lucic took a boarding major for a collision with Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek  in Game 6, giving him just one less ejection than assists (two) in the first round. He had only one point (an assist) through the first three games of the second round before Friday. 

“With my linemates, (David) Krejci and Horton, we’ve been able to create some chemistry all year,” said Lucic, whose 30 regular season goals paced the Bruins. “They had my back and told me, ‘It’s going to come. It’s going to come. Keep sticking with it.’ I tried my hardest not to get frustrated.”

And Lucic may have found his scoring touch at the right time as the Bruins move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. 

That’s because Patrice Bergeron was forced to the locker room after absorbing a check from Flyers forward Claude Giroux in the first couple minutes of the third period. Bergeron did not return and was not made available to the media after the game. 

"I don't know," said Bruins coach Claude Julien when asked of Bergeron’s status. (via CSN New England’s Danny Picard). "I have no update for you guys right now. Basically, I can't give you anything more than that."

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
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