Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: June 3, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 5:55 pm

Malhotra skates, Hamhuis a no-show for Canucks

Center Manny Malhotra skated with the Vancouver Canucks' fourth line during practice on Friday, although Coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t say whether that meant he might return for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

“Manny's day to day,” Vigneault said.

Malhotra hasn’t played since he suffered a serious injury to his left eye in a game against the St. Louis Blues on March 16. Malhotra underwent two operations to help restore vision in the injured eye and returned to practice a couple weeks ago with a full face shield.

"i wish I could put it into a percentage for you," Malhotra said. "Again, it's going to be day-to-day.  I'll see how I feel after our morning skate and we'll make a decision at that point. "

Malhotra missed  the Canucks’ prior two practices, although he didn not go into much detail on why that was the case.

"From one day to the next, things have changed," he said. "I didn't feel proper to go on the ice.  So I took a couple days off."

While Malhotra was on the ice, defenseman Dan Hamhuis was not. Hamhuis appeared to suffer some sort of leg injury on a low hip check he delivered to Boston’s Milan Lucic in Game 1 on Wednesday.

Like Malhotra, Vigneault gave his common refrain to describe Hamhuis’s status: “day to day.”

If Hamhuis is out, it’s likely Keith Ballard will be inserted into the lineup. He played the final two games of the West finals after Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome went down with injuries. 

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:13 pm

Bruins need to revisit Chara's power-play role

A while back, Boston coach Claude Julien decided to take a new approach to solving his team's power-play woes. The plan seemed to make sense: Take the biggest player in hockey, Zdeno Chara, and park him right in the crease. Who better to screen the goalie than the 6'9 (off skates) defenseman?

Well, it's not working. A.J. Perez documented how ineffective the Bruins' power play has been this postseason and how it wasn't any better in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, so it's time to go back to the drawing board. Not every idea is a winner.

Just listen to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo comparing the tactic to what he faced in year's past with Dustin Byfuglien while with the Blackhawks:

"It's not the same. Obviously Zdeno is a bit bigger," Luongo said after Game 1. "On the first power play it was a bit tough to find the puck. But once they got another one, I was able to make a few adjustments, able to see the puck better.

"I think he's a big body, but at the same time we decided that it's best if we just leave him alone and let me take care of him."

Kind of defeats the point of the man advantage, now doesn't it? If Luongo is able to handle Chara on his own, then we are talking about a five-on-five situation as Luongo gets to act as a defenseman in addition to a goalie.

Now, it's certainly possible that Luongo is saying this now to try and nip it in the bud because he really is bothered by Chara. But even if he is, it still stands that it hasn't led to more success for the B's.

"When they're on the power play, yeah, they don't have that great a percentage, but they're a very good power play and they get a lot of chances," Canucks center Ryan Kesler said. "Lou had to make some pretty good saves. After the first couple power plays, we kind of figured out what they were trying to do."

What better reason than that for Boston to try something different?

Quite frankly, Chara's best attribute is his slapshot. With as devastating as it can be, he should be sitting at the point with the man advantage, not right in front of the goalie. Making deflections is not his strength. And if he's not screening the goalie to the extent of being a true hindrance, then what's the point?

"I mean, typically I like to look over the guy's shoulder," Luongo said. "In this case it's going to be impossible to do that obviously. I have to change that a little bit.

"I thought as we moved along in the game, we made some good adjustments as far as making sure that the shots come from the side and not from the middle so I can see better."

Setting up shop in the crease is a learned skill, so throwing Chara in that role hoping things will click isn't likely to happen. It has to be back to the drawing board.

"I think our power play was better tonight than it had been in a while," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Game 1. "We spent a lot of time [in Vancouver's zone], we had some shots, had some opportunities [and] had some chances. We didn't score. Obviously, when your power play isn't doing well, people are going to criticize because you didn't score."

You could say that.

Boston needs to try and space out the offense more, hopefully creating holes in the Canucks' defense with good puck movement in an attempt to open passing lanes. If the B's want to continue to employ the strategy of putting a man in the crease, then they might want to look at somebody else on the roster. It isn't necessary to abandon the idea, just the execution.

However Julien seems to have no such designs.

"They were pretty hard on him yesterday at times. He just got back upand did his job. I anticipate he'll only get better at that position as we use him there," Julien said Thursday.

I understand the previous attack method wasn't working much better for Boston -- it was a season-long struggle with a man up -- but the Bruins were able to find some occasional success. Not in Game 1. They were 0 for 6 that included four minutes straight in the first period as well as a 5 on 3 later.

Chara had eight goals and seven assists on the power play this season. Boston would be better off putting him back at the point and moving the puck more to the center of the ice and teeing off from back there. Nobody in the game has a better slapper, so it's time to let it fly.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 9:06 pm

Burrows won't be suspended for alleged bite

Vancouver Canuck forward Alex Burrows will not be suspended for allegedly biting the finger of Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the league announced in a statement on Thursday.

"After reviewing the incident, including speaking with the on-ice officials, I can find no conclusive evidence that Alex Burrows intentionally bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron," Mike Murphy, the league's senior VP of hockey operations, said in a statement.

Replays appeared to show Burrows chomping down on the right index finger of Bergeron in a scrum as the first period came to a close on Wednesday. Bergeron skated over to officials moments after the incident and showed them his finger as evidence.

"You know what, I'm over it," Bergeron told reporters on Thursday. "To be honest with you, I'm looking forward for next game. We have to get back in the series. Like I said last night, it's the League's decision.  I'll let them make the call. I have nothing else to say about it."
Burrows refused to discuss the matter after the game.

The league has suspended players twice over the last decade for biting another player. Early last season, the league also looked into whether Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell bit Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang. But, like in this case, the league could find no conclusive proof that a bite actually occurred.

- A.J. Perez

Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:33 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 1:45 pm

Ratings way up for Stanley Cup Finals Game 1

Who says a Stanley Cup Final involving a team from Canada won't do well in the States?

The early returns from NBC show the exact opposite.

Last night’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, which featured the Vancouver Canucks defeating the Boston Bruins, 1-0, produced the best overnight rating for a Game 1 in 12 years. The broadcast generated a 3.2 overnight rating and 6 share up 14 percent compared to last year’s Game 1 (Philadelphia-Chicago, 2.8/6) and the best overnight for a Game 1 since 1999 (Buffalo vs. Dallas, 3.7 on Fox).

Boston was the top-rated market on the night with a 25.5/39, the highest-rated NHL game in Boston dating back to at least 1995, and topping the Boston rating for last year’s NBA Finals Game 1 featuring the Celtics-Lakers (19.1/34).

This is the first Stanley Cup Final featuring a Canadian team since the Ottawa Senators faced the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. The 3.2 overnight for last night’s game is 113 percent higher than the first network broadcast of that series (1.5/3 for Game 3).

Top Metered Markets For Game 1

1. Boston, 25.5/39
2. Providence, 16.7/24
3. Buffalo, 7.2/11
4. Hartford, 5.5/8
5. Pittsburgh, 4.3/7

Or, maybe CBSSports.com comrade Ray Ratto put it best on Twitter: "Game 1 NBA Final, best rating in 7 years; Game 1 SC Final, best in 12 = A lot more people sitting on their asses than ever."

Now clearly Boston and the New England region are doing a lot to carry the numbers for NBC -- destroying the Celtics in last year's Finals? I guess the B's truly do reign in Beantown this time of year -- but one city won't cause that big of a jump across the entire nation. It's pretty clear: the NHL is taking steps every year to build (or regain) its fanbase.

Perhaps it won't be such a bad thing after all for the NHL to lose one of the biggest American markets (Atlanta) to a much smaller market in Canada (Winnipeg).

Too bad for the NHL it couldn't negotiate a new television deal after getting increased ratings across the board.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:26 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 3:27 am

Was Kesler offside before game-winning goal?

The first goal of the Stanley Cup Final came 59 minutes, 41 seconds into Game 1 – and even then there seems to be some dispute as to whether it should have counted.

Replays and photos show that forward Ryan Kesler, who set up the winning goal by beating Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuck to the puck, may have crossed the blue line before the puck. That would have made him offside, negating the game-winner by Raffi Torres scored a couple seconds later in the Canucks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins at the Rogers Center on Wednesday night.

“Even if it was or wasn't, it wouldn't change the outcome right now,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

There are eight situations that can be reviewed via replay, from judging whether the puck was illegally kicked in to determining if the puck actually crossed the line. Offsides isn’t on that list. It’s a moot point anyway since the call stood and there’s no going back at this point.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: June 2, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 1:19 am

Boston gets chances, falters on power play again

The Boston Bruins were scoreless on their six power-play chances in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Canucks, including 1 minute, 32 seconds on the two-man advantage.

Boston did get 12 shots in their eight-plus minutes on the power play. When you're grading on the curve that is the Bruins' lowly play with the extra attacker, you call that progress.

Canucks-Bruins: Game 1
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"I think our power play was better tonight than it had been in a while," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We spent a lot of time [in Vancouver's zone], we had some shots, had some opportunities [and] had some chances. We didn't score. Obviously, when your power play isn't doing well, people are going to criticize because you didn't score."

The Canucks' best penalty killer in their Game 1 victory at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night stood between the pipes as Roberto Luongo made 36 saves. The game's lone goal, scored by Raffi Torres with 18.5 seconds left in regulation, came on even strength as neither team took advantage of their respective man-advantage situations.

The Canucks also had six power-play chances, spanning 9:31.

"As long as we're able to stay on even terms with them when it comes to special teams, we're OK with that," Julien said.

The Bruins have had to explain away their lackluster power play all postseason. Boston went scoreless in their first 30 trips to the power play in the playoffs and are only 5 for 67 (7.5 percent) overall.

But getting four minutes of uninterrupted power play time after Daniel Sedin took a high-sticking double minor in the first period when the Bruins could have set the tone went for naught. The Bruins also started the second period on the power play after Vancouver’s Alex Burrows was tagged with an extra roughing minor for biting Boston's Patrice Bergeron, which became a two-man advantage after Kevin Bieksa was called for a high stick.

Boston -- which again put 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of the opposition net -- won most of the faceoffs during the two-man advantage and put four shots on net, but the game remained scoreless.

"That's a very good hockey team over there," Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. "When they're on the power play, yeah, obviously they don't have that great a percentage, but they're a very good power play and they get a lot of chances. Lou had to make some pretty good saves. After the first couple power plays, we kind of figured out what they were trying to do and we tried to stop it the best we could."

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: June 1, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:21 am

Alex Burrows bites Patrice Bergeron

Alex Burrows channeled his inner pitbull at the end of the first period as the Vancouver Canucks forward bit Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron after a short scuffle.

Replays showed Burrows chomp down on one of Bergeron's fingers. Fortunately for Bergeron, his hand was still ensconced in his glove.

Canucks-Bruins: Game 1
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"Oh yeah, he did. He cut me a little bit on my finger," Bergeron said. "But I'm not going to be here complaining about it. I'll let the league do their job, but he sure did."

Bergeron showed the referees his right index finger after the incident and the referees conferred between periods. Burrows was eventually given two roughing minors.

"They didn't see it," Bergeron said. "We were speaking French, me and [Burrows], and I told him, 'Why did you do that?' That linesmen speaks French, and his explanation was he said that I put my finger in his mouth and he had to do it. I'll leave it at that, but I'm sure the league is going to look at it."

Burrows refused to answer questions about the incident after the Canucks' 1-0 victory, reports the CBC's Elliotte Friedman.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he hadn't seen the replay himself, but the incident was described to him.

"If that's the case, it's a classless move," he said.

The league will likely review the incident and Burrows could be suspended. The league certainly took action for another dangerous move earlier in the playoffs when Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan was given a two-game ban for stomping on the foot of Nashville’s Jonathon Blum.

Anaheim Ducks forward Jarkko Ruutu was given a one-game suspension for biting Buffalo's Andrew Peters in January 2009. Bruins forward Marc Savard, who has been out since January with a concussion, also received a one-game ban for biting Toronto forward Darcy Tucker in 2003.

Mike Murphy, NHL's vice president of hockey operations, would be the one making the final call since this series involves Gregory Campbell, a forward on the Bruins who also happens to be the son of league disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

-- A.J. Perez

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted on: June 1, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 12:36 am

Q&A: Ed Olczyk talks who needs the Cup more

NBC and Versus have seen steady -- sometimes extreme -- ratings improvements in recent Stanley Cup Finals. That was, at least partially, the product of having American teams with massive fanbases -- the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks -- involved over the last three Finals. Hockey analyst Ed Olczyk spoke with CBSSports.com’s A.J. Perez about whether the trend will continue with a Canadian team in the mix, the future of hockey in Winnipeg and who needs the Cup more: the Vancouver Canucks or the Boston Bruins.

CBSSports.com: The Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian team to win the Cup in 1993. How big of a deal is it up there in Vancouver?

Olczyk: Yeah, it’s a topic of conversation, but I don’t think it’s a dominating factor. There is always great pride in it regardless of the market or the country you’re playing in. When it hasn’t happened for a long time, you need to get a crack at winning -- no matter the Canadian city. Vancouver has that chance to win it and you do hear about it.

CBSSports.com: While a Canadian team hasn’t won a Cup for a while and the Canucks have never won it, Boston fans have waited for title since 1972. Which team winning would be a bigger deal?

Olczyk: You hit it on the head. Vancouver is looking for their first time. For the Bruins it’s been a long, long time. These are two franchises who have had their roller-coaster rides and great expectations over the last little while. So, the impact will be great either way. There’s no doubt about it. Either way, it’s a win-win for everybody. If you are a die-hard fan of the National Hockey League or even a sports fan in general, you will see a storied franchised in Boston win or Vancouver, who has waited for years to win the Cup.

CBSSports.com: Following the lockout, the Edmonton Oilers (2006) and Ottawa Senators (2007) played for the Cup. Then we had Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Original Six franchises in the Red Wings and Blackhawks and Philadelphia, another major-market U.S. team with a strong following. How will having a Canadian team back in the mix affect things?

Olczyk: I get the sense from talking to a lot of people that the excitement of the Stanley Cup Final and the excitement of seeing the greatest trophy in all of sports being presented is there. The impact is always greater in certain markets and certain areas you are going to see a bigger surge. We live in a fast food society, meaning we see it, we want it and we want to try it. Hopefully, we can build momentum with stories and Stars. This isn’t something that the teams are just playing for in June. This has been a process going on for years when you talk about how these teams are built.

CBSSports.com: You spent a good part of your career in Winnipeg. What are your thoughts on the NHL returning to Manitoba?

Olczyk: I was there for almost six years as a player. I have good memories of Winnipeg and the way they treated me and my family. I always felt it was a National Hockey League city. Things have changed. There’s a salary cap in place. You have stable ownership with Mark Chipman and David Thompson. There’s more of an even playing field in the NHL. I don’t like to see any city or town to lose a professional sports team, but at the end of the day it is a business. The new building (in Winnipeg) may not be as big as some would like, but I think the support is there. The question is whether the corporate support will be there for the long-term. They’ll have a good base of players, like Andrew Ladd who has won a Stanley Cup a couple of times in his young career. Off the ice, I think there will be a lot of good things moving forward. Whether they will be called the Winnipeg Jets or Manitoba Moose, all I know is that I’m one proud alum of the National Hockey League in Winnipeg and I’m happy to see the best league in the world return to a great hockey city.

CBSSports.com: There’s hockey in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. Then there’s hockey in Vancouver, which doesn’t play so well across Canada. Why haven’t the Canucks been embraced better in Canada?

Olczyk: I think it’s similar to West Coast teams in the States. There’s always that respect factor, but those in Central and Eastern time zones don’t see them play as much as you do the other markets. I was in Vancouver for 17 days and they did an incredible job with the Olympics. It was A-plus all the way. That’s the way the Canucks are as well. They have great ownership and a great coach in Alain Vigneault. I just think it is that aspect of playing on the West Coast. I don’t think there’s any way around it. Hockey people respect and know how good Vancouver, San Jose, L.A. and Anaheim are. There’s no doubt about that. It just doesn’t get the vibe or the push of Toronto or Montreal. Those are Original Six franchises and that’s kind of the real world. Is it ever going to change? If you win a couple of Stanley Cups and keep being No. 1 in the National Hockey League, at some point maybe.

Photo: Getty Images
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