Continuing with the theme of coaches who are actually working at
improving their team after some disappointing losses, Detroit coach Mike
Babcock is shaking up the lines a bit in an effort to spark better play
in one of the Red Wings’ best players.
13 points in the last 12 games? Not
good enough, Henrik Zetterberg.
“After getting back from the shoulder injury, it’s been
better,” Zetterberg said. “After the Olympic break I felt good. I just
have to get more points on the board to help the team win. I don’t
really count chances, but I’ve had enough to where I should be able to
score some goals.”
“We need him to be better,” Babcock said.
“That doesn’t mean he has to
carry the weight of the world around on his back. Just dig in and find a
way to be better, to be harder. Hopefully as a coach I am putting him
with players he needs to help him out.”
The Wings are putting Valtteri Filppula up with Zetterberg and Dan
Cleary, which should strike fear into the hearts of any opponent.
Normally Babcock prefers to have his firepower spread out a bit but with
Zetterberg in such a bad funk then obviously drastic measures were
Zetterberg can’t let a serious shoulder injury be his
excuse for such a disappointing season; he has just 18 goals in 58 games
this year, well below his over-30 average of the past four seasons.
This is the time of the year where he’ll have to buckle up and start
putting the puck in the net. Anything less than a point per game from
here on out is unacceptable.
If this string of poor play
continues, then I’d expect Babcock to move Zetterberg down to the third
or fourth line and get some players into the top-six rotation who can
actually score on a consistent basis.
Please note that this
entire post was dripping in sarcasm.
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)