No doubt about it, New Jersey has absolutely dominated defending champion Pittsburgh all season long. Whether it’s been at the Rock or Mellon Arena, the Penguins have had no answer for Martin Brodeur and Co. If the Devils win tonight’s game, that’ll make it a 6-0 sweep of the season series and give New Jersey the division lead once again.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrunn collected some nice stats from the Elias Sports Bureau. I’ll share some highlighted bits from that post.
Pittsburgh had the shot edge in four of the five games (33-26, 26-25, 35-30, 32-33, 35-32).
The Penguins have gone 0-18 on the power play, the Devils 3-16.
Brodeur is 5-0-0 with a 0.60 goals-against average and a .981 save percentage (three goals against on 161 shots); Marc-Andre Fleury has played and lost four games (4.04, .857, 14 goals against on 98 shots).
By my expert math, the Devils have outscored the Pens by a staggering 17-3. To boil it down to two factors, it seems like the two biggest advantages have been goaltending and special teams. But it seems like the Devils were quite a bit stronger when it came to scoring goals too. *Cough*
Anyway, I thought I’d take a quick look at the road ahead for both teams. After all, the Penguins can still win the division even if they never slay that New Jersey dragon. So, to keep it simple, let’s just look at a few factors for each team.
Last 10 games record: 6-1-3; Most relevant injury situation: Malkin (day-to-day); home/away games: 7 home, 6 away.
Last 10 games record: 5-4-1; Most relevant injury situation: Martin (about to return); home/away games: 8 home, 6 away
The two teams’ similar situations makes it clear just how important this game is. What do you think, sweaty, possibly green beer drinking masses? Will New Jersey or Pittsburgh win the Atlantic division this season?
(My guess: the Devils make a deal for the division title.)
After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.
The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.
That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:
Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.
(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)
Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:
Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”
“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”
Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.
It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.
Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.
Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.
Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.
Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.
Read more about Game 6 here.