Tomas Plekanec trash talks Capitals' goalies

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Plekanechalak.jpgPeople often speak about how dangerous it is to give another team “bulletin board material.” If that idea holds any salt, then the already over-matched Montreal Canadiens might be in some serious trouble. Habs forward Tomas Plekanec bashed the Capitals’ goaltending in a story relayed by TSN.

“It’s not as though we are facing (Martin) Brodeur or (Ryan) Miller,” Plekanec told La Presse. “They don’t have a dominant goaltender. When you look at the goaltending matchup in this series it favours our team. I just believe that our goaltending is more solid than theirs.”

“I’m not saying their goalies are bad. I’m just saying our goalies are better.”

Seems like dangerous talk for Plekanac and the team after they limped into the playoffs with a three game losing streak and a mediocre 3-4-3 record in their last 10 games. Glass houses, Plekanec, glass houses.

TSN breaks down the two team’s goalie situations to show how the forward is both right and wrong.

While the statistics back up Plekanec’s claim, it is not as though the Habs’ goaltending has been head-and-shoulders above the Capitals this season. The Canadiens allowed 2.66 goals against a game; Washington was slightly behind them at 2.72. Montreal also held a slight advantage in terms of save percentage at 91.7% to the Caps’ 91%. Montreal registered five shutouts on the season while Capitals goaltenders blanked the opposition only three times.

That being said, it is hard to argue against the fact that likely starter Jaroslav Halak held a distinct advantage in the regular season over either Semeyon Varlamov or Jose Theodore. Halak finished fourth among all goaltenders with a superb .924 save percentage, while both Theodore and Varlamov were well back with .911 and .909 save percentages respectively. Halak was also top 10 in goals against average at 2.40 while Varlamov was 17th with a respectable 2.55, meanwhile Theodore was posted a 2.81 goals against average for 32nd in the NHL. Halak was also stellar in leading Slovakia to a final four finish at the 2010 Olympic Games.

Halak will have to play amazingly well in net for the Canadiens to have a chance to win this series. He certainly has the monetary incentive (as does Plekanec, as they’re both unrestricted free agents going into the summer). My money is that the Capitals throttle the Habs, but I doubt that smack talking will really mean much more than agitating a few fans.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.