Brent Seabrook played 23 minutes in his return to the lineup. Chris Pronger played just 4:33 - all on the power play - in his return.
Kris Versteeg, as a depth player, is still managing to show playoff clutch. He has four points and is plus-5 in six games. The first four games he averaged about 13 minutes. The last two he has averaged 18 minutes thanks to the OT.
Antti Niemi will be back in net for the Sharks tonight, despite giving up three goals on four shots last game.
One question asked in the comments from yesterday was about Ilya Bryzgalov’s comments re: the cold in Winnipeg. All that says to me is that he won’t re-sign. But he’ll flourish anywhere, and it won’t be the KHL. Look for Colorado, Tampa Bay or Florida. Well, Tampa Bay or Florida...because of the non-cold. But will the Panthers even bother? Markstrom is a year away, so do the Panthers sign a guy long-term? Bryzgalov will want at least four years, I’m sure. Edmonton? Therein lays the “cold” factor again. Tampa it is. I answered my own question.
Michael Leighton got the surprise start, and per my Saturday article he deserved it. But then he blew it and got the hook after giving up three goals on eight shots. This time it was Brian Boucher who salvaged the win. These two did this act last year – yank one, play the hot hand. That guy gets pulled, and the other guy plays great.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani has seven points in six playoff games. Excellent statement! Makes you wonder why the Sabres didn’t get him onto their roster sooner. The guy is 24 and he was probably ready to make the jump last fall.
Sabres are toast. I find myself cheering for them...but they’re done. No intensity. No hunger. I would be shocked if they found that hunger in time for Game 7. And no more of this jump to a 2-0 or 2-1 or 3-2 lead crap. They blow it in the third. If they want the win, make the lead a safe one. Rant over.
One boost for the Sabres – Derek Roy will be back! He’ll replace Tim Connolly, who is out with an upper body injury. But if you want a winner who plays with intensity, give me Roy over Connolly any day of the week.
Lindy Ruff on Connolly: “Tim’s not doing very good”. Given his concussion history, I would be a little worried about the career here. I added the clip below - should Richards be suspended? Is Connolly going to be forced to retire?
Lost in Chicago’s miracle comeback has been Corey Crawford’s steady play. His Game 2 was a little rough, but overall his statistics (SP and GAA) have improved over the regular season. And those numbers were pretty good: 2.30 to 2.27, and 0.917 to 0.922. Win or lose, he’s earned the right to be their starter next season.
Ironically, Roberto Luongo takes the loss. Again. Corey Schneider was injured during Michael Frolik’s penalty shot (clip below) and was forced to leave the 3-3 game. Luongo, who has struggled against the Hawks in the postseason throughout his career, stopped 12 of 13 shots. Relatively speaking, it was one of his better performances. Schneider stopped 17 of 20.
They call the Schneider injury “cramping”. It looked like his knee or leg gave a little twist and roll as he fell back.
Frolik has five points in six postseason games. His owners may look at his nine points in 28 games for the Blackhawks during the regular season. These are the owners you need to talk to. Clearly, Frolik needs a talented center to line up with and once Dave Bolland returned, he took off.
The New York Post is reporting that John Tortorella has been extended for another three seasons by the Rangers. Look for the team to trade Sean Avery, then. But who would want him? Besides me, of course. And fantasy owners.
I was thrilled to watch the Predators win their game yesterday. The fans need something to get excited about. The franchise has been in Nashville for, what, 14 years? Now they finally get to the second round. I think this team can succeed in that market – not many markets can cling to a team after the first 14 years of not playing hockey in May. This buzz is just what the doctor ordered. Every year I seem to pick the Preds to get out of the first round and finally, after I bet against them (barely), they do it. Now that the curse is lifted, look for them to put a scare into their next round’s opponent. They will either play Vancouver or Detroit (outside shot at playing the Kings) – and they have the depth to take down either one.
I like Barry Trotz’s strategy of out with the old, in with the new. He is playing JP Dumont and Steve Sullivan five to seven minutes per game. These are guys who have been his studs for a few years now. As recently as a year ago, he’d give these guys 20 minutes in an important game. Now, he sticks a talented goal-scoring kid on their line (Geoffrion) and limits their minutes. They were very effective playing in short spurts. The energy level was high, they were fresh – it just worked. Then he leaned more on the Legwand, Fisher and his energy/checking line of Smithson, Spaling and Tootoo.
Nick Spaling, who is one of those youngsters who carries the label “tweener”, is showing that he wants to be in the top six and not the bottom six. A “tweener” is the term given to those prospects whom scouts see as a guy who could develop into a top six scorer, or he has the tools to play on a checking line. How these prospects perform early in their careers will dictate where they end up. Spaling seems like the odd man out, with the emergence of Sergei Kostitsyn, Blake Geoffrion and with other talent on the way. But he has four points in six games – actually, four in his last two – and has saved the Preds by adding a scoring threat to their third line.
Pekka Rinne has still only been average. Seriously, if/when he gets his game back, the other team is in trouble. If he pulls a Halak, then the Preds steal two more rounds without scoring much at all.
More ramblings to come – after breakfast
Sabres want Mike Richards suspended for this hit on Tim Connolly. Suspendable?
Frolik penalty shot goal, Schneider has fallen and he can’t get up:
Here’s a guy who has earned a contract next season. Ray Emery with the lights out save: