Lesson learned. Yesterday, Mike Knuble missed practice, which happens every third practice because he's the oldest on the team. But he missed again today and they called it "maintenance". So I let it be. Well, he's not in the lineup tonight. So yeah, a playoff curveball that got me. I should have noted it.
No surprise here – the Calder finalists are Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner. Corey Crawford fails to get in because he failed to reach 35 wins (he had 33). As for the winner – obviously Skinner. I think there is something inherently wrong with a forward winning the Calder without getting to 60 points, but Skinner’s late surge gets him past that marker and thus the win. My reason for that plateau? A handful of rookies get 50 to 55 points every year. There is nothing special about it. Nine times out of 10, Logan Couture wouldn’t even get mentioned in a Calder conversation even in passing.
The return of Dave Bolland to the lineup sparked the Blackhawks, but it also sparked Michael Frolik, who had three points in the game. Bolland had four. Brian Bickell was on the other wing, making for a nice combination of size, skill, grit and leadership. If the Hawks go out next game, then I have a feeling this line will remain together next year and see a lot more production – and it will be under-the-radar because they were only together for the two games.
The Sedins, Edler, Samuelsson and Ehrhoff were each a minus-3 (except Henrik, who was minus-4).
Roberto Luongo got the hook and Cory Schneider came in and stopped six of seven shots. Luongo allowed six goals on 28 shots.
Two games last night and yet the teams scored 20 times. Me likey.
Hey! Dustin Penner got an assist. Which goes to show – if you give any player 19 minutes of ice time and three minutes of PP time often enough, he’ll get an assist.
Drew Doughty follows up his monster performance Saturday by going pointless and minus-3 last night.
Brad Richardson’s two points last night give him three on the series. That leads all pivots on the team.
Antti Niemi gives up four goals on 10 shots and gets the hook after spotting the Kings a 4-0 lead. Sharks come back in front of Niittymaki and win the game in OT. What a crushing blow! Los Angeles had scored eight straight goals – talk about riding a high. Had they held on, it would have been lights out for the Sharks.
As I warned you about in various articles and in my playoff list – Joe Thornton is struggling and this team is being led by their so-called second line. I call it their first line – Clowe, Couture, Pavelski have 10 points. Thornton, Marleau and Heatley have five. And yes, I would have made Pavelski the first Shark in the draft had I the opportunity to draft Sharks.
Goalies I like as buy low candidates this summer: Montoya, Halak and Steve Mason. I also think Dubnyk will improve, but that damn Khabibulin contract hurts any real potential for next year. The reason? These teams are ready to improve. Chances are that one or two of them won’t, but the two that do improve will see the goaltender suddenly in Vezina talks. Seriously. That’s how you pick ‘em. You look at the team that is ready to turn things around and whether or not the goaltender has any talent and will be leaned on.
I missed this – Jordan Leopold returned for Game 3 for the Sabres. They needed him with Sekera out of the lineup. But when Sekera comes back, what do they do with Gragnani? He’s only been awesome, that’s all. And you can point to all the defensive mistakes and easy assignments that you want. The bottom line is that he is a plus player on a team full of minuses. He is the only plus player, and he also leads the team in scoring. Yes, he has as many points as Vanek, Stafford, Boyes and Ennis put together.
My THN article from yesterday. Topics include Mike Fisher, Drew Doughty and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
What do you think of the NHL rights going to NBC/Versus? Americans, I want to hear from you! It doesn’t impact me, as a Canadian, at all. But well done for the NHL getting what they could here and doing well. It sucks that the ESPN sportsdesk will resume sticking NHL talk to the end of the program – or not at all.
The Wild have signed undrafted forward Justin Fontaine to a ELC. Fontaine had 58 points last season for U. of Minnesota-Duluth in just 42 games. He had 46 in 39 the year before, and 48 in 43 prior to that. So why not drafted? He’s small – just 160 pounds. So the guy either makes it on a top line, or he doesn’t. Black or white. Obviously pretty good upside though, for an undrafted college player.
Jonas Hiller has gone back to Anaheim. His vertigo symptoms are not going away.
We don’t have an instigator penalty. Why do we complain that there is one? If it’s not called here, then it’s never getting called: