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:

 

 


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Comments (24)add comment

Derrek said:

TangerineDreamTeam
NHL 11 Larry breaking out the ol' EA sports references... was he auditioning for the role of Paul Bunyon?
April 25, 2011
Votes: -1

Sanstanya said:

sanstanya
Thank you Larry Man I've been trying not to say anything (other than cussing to myself from my couch) about the officiating in that Van-Chi series because I don't want to be blaming refs for the outcome. And granted, Vancouver fully spotted Chi 2 games when they should have been nailing the box shut...but I think it's been just brutally officiated. I lost count of all the free passes Chi had last night on flagrant infractions right in front of a ref (thanks for reminding me of a couple I had forgotten).

And how does everyone think Torres should be banned from hockey but Bickell's similar hit, with some bonus leaping and more from the blindside, isn't even 2 minutes?! I don't care what team I want to win I never want to see a series handled like this - it's a straight up tragedy and betrayal of the game I love.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +1

Larry said:

Rollie1967
im starting to believe in conspiracies... THe disparity in PP's is worrisome in the Hawks/Nucks series, Mason Raymond gets a penalty for poking Keith in the arm,Frolik falls and a borderline penalty becomes a penaltyshot.. but the highstick on Sedin's face was missed? Bollands slewfoot on Henrik was missed? Bickell leaving his feet and hitting Bieksa's head was missed? and the most agregious non-call had to be Bollands overhead slash to Sedins stick to prevent him from scoring on the scramble with Crawford on his belly was dumbfounding. Biggest windup on a slash I have ever seen- chopping Paul Bunyon style....and no call.ugh.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +2

Nate said:

Nate
Bieksa The hit on Bieksa last night was clearly a suspend-able offence. A clear shot to the head. Why no mention of this?

FIRE CAMPBELL and give those refs a wake up call.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +2

gerald said:

immortal_leafs
... @hockeytowner - In that position, a player should protect themselves first. Again, this play happens over and over in a game when forwards are chasing d-men into corners on the dump in. The d-men brace themselves, forwards press up on them, and then they battle for the puck. If the d-man looks down at the puck and just skates into the corner he is going to get himself killed. Protect yourself first, then play the puck.
April 25, 2011
Votes: -1

Woodrow said:

woodrow
RIchards no Suspension Richards:

- repeat offender: check
- wraps up Connolly and drives him head first into boards: check
- no suspension: check... like that's a surprise - NOT.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +2

r22yu said:

BlackGold
nashville They will need 3 outs to in order to oust Detroit:
1) Zetterberg stays out
2) Franzen stays out
3) Rinne plays lights out.

Without that, it's Detroit vs Phoenix all over again, probably to game 5 or 6 though.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

hockeytowner said:

hockeytowner
Richards Not that the Sabres deserved the win as Dobber points out but if Richards gets tossed for the Connolly hit he isn't there to assist on the last 2 goals. I agree with Wark...no suspension unfortunately. Gerald, if he puts his arm up how is he supposed to have a chance at playing the puck?
April 25, 2011
Votes: +1

gerald said:

immortal_leafs
re: richards I don't think Richards should be suspended, for the reasons Kerry Fraser listed on TSN. Connolly knew or should have known that Richards was right there on him, he had a chance to protect himself, get his arm up, and he didn't. 2 minute minor was the right call.

That play happens over and over in a game, what is Richards to do? Not lean on Connolly and put him into the boards? Just let him stick handle all day and keep possession in the corner? I hate to see a guy get hurt, especially someone w/ a concussion history, but you have to be aware and protect yourself. You don't go into the corner leaning forward when a guy is right behind you.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +1

Dobber said:

Dobber
Wark Awesome! Bang. Bang. Bang. Straight to the point - make your calls. I like it!
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeremy Wark said:

jer_33
... 1. Sabres will still win their series.

2. Win or Lose, Canucks fans will riot in the streets after the first round.

3. Richards won't be suspended.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Emery's recovery ability is gone but he doesnt give up softies like so many other goalies in these playoffs. Agree about the reffing re:Van, they're getting the shaft. Im still waiting for a rational explanation of why Downie got 20 games for a hit that I have seen a few times now in the playoffs already. Campbell should be fired.

Just a comment on the "let the players decide the game". Well, when the refs bury the whistle, they are deciding the game. That can favour one time moreso than the other.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Bryz, Vokoun, and the Frolik Penalty Shot 1. Bryzgalov will sign either with DET or NJ. I'm not sure Holland is sold on Howard. Detroit has a long-list of Russian players that have done well there. The elder Datsyuk might be a nice locker room presence for Bryz. And how about Markov joins them? Or, Bryz may be the heir to the Brodeur throne and join Ilya.

2. Vokoun will stay in the state and sign in TB. Yzerman has fond memories of Czech goalies. Heck, he'll even go out and sign Kaberle so Vokoun & Kubina will have another buddy.

3. I'm surprised I haven't read any Canuck fans complaining about the Frolik penalty shot. Man, his skates just went right out from under him. If I was a Canuck fan (instead of a Crawford fantasy owner), I would have highly questioned that call. I personally didn't think that deserved a penalty shot... it seemed like a very grey area for a call.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Rob said:

rob2kx
Van Chi Series Anyone care to mention the head shot Bieksa received last night? No? Ok. Maybe we should just suspend Torres again.

How about the rest of the reffing? Has either one of these teams played a dirty series? Any obvious imbalance in the physical side of the game? Then why does Chicago have 27 power plays to Vancouver's 16?

The terrible too many men call followed within a minute by a botched offside (astonishingly admitted to), both leading to Chicago goals and the turning point in the series.

I wouldn't mind seeing some commentary on any of the above.

Despite the fact that I'm obviously a Canucks fan, there's some validity there.

Rant over.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +2

Dobber said:

Dobber
JW has it Thanks - fixed.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

JW said:

maya has the knife
Re: Seeding If Chicago upsets Vancouver THEY, not Nashville, will be playing the top seed (San Jose or Detroit if San Jose blows it). With a Chicago comeback it will likely end up: San Jose-Chicago, Detroit-Nashville. If Chicago falters it will be Vancouver-Nashville, San Jose-Detroit... barring a miraculous comeback by LA.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Neil Holmes said:

UBCsalmonslayer
... however unlikely, the Preds could still technically play the Kings.... if LA upsets the Sharks AND the Canucks lose to the Hawks. 3 vs 8 seed, and 5 vs. 7 seed. The Preds could also play the Wings if the Canucks win game 7 and the Kings upset LA.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Bernie Geoffrion - man I needed coffee. I actually had Blake there, and changed it to Bernie because it sounded wrong. Huh? Wow, okay, coffee in hand now. Brain functioning.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Stephen Kostoff said:

SK47
due to seeding The Preds will be play the best seed in the west in the next round.

Vancouver if they win. If nucks lose San Jose is best seed left.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Renegades said:

Renegade
Emery Back in Philly next year hahaha

Emery and Bobrovsky
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Stephen Kostoff said:

SK47
due to seeding They will the best seed left in the West.

Vancouver if they win. If nucks lose San Jose is best seed left.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

Blackie_O said:

Blackie_O
... "They will either play Vancouver or San Jose..."

...ummmmm
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

black aces said:

blackaces
... They said Schneider received IV fluids between periods so perhaps it really is only cramping. Hope he gets the next start. I'm not a Luongo fan.

I think thr Canucks should sell high on Luongo- Vezina candidate- in the off season or perhaps at the draft. Don't get me wrong, he's a very good goalie but I think Schneider is ready to take over & Lou would bring the greater return. Imagine what you could get for him.

Sure would shake up the west.
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0

lcbtd said:

germant
Bernie Geoffrion??? What?!? They've brought Bernie Geoffrion back? Who's next? Guy Lafleur? Serge Savard? smilies/cheesy.gif
April 25, 2011
Votes: +0
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