After folks in the front office having to face up to some worries about tickets sold, the Nashville Predators proved that you don’t need to worry about anything when you come out and hit the higher seeded opponent square in the figurative mouth. The Predators dropped the Blackhawks 4-1 in a game where they really took the wheels out of their opponent and shut down their top lines effectively all night. The Blackhawks lone tally of the night came on the power play from Tomas Kopecky (yes, seriously) and their big guns of Toews, Hossa and Kane had a tough go if all night long.
Meanwhile for Nashville, it was lifetime Predator David Legwand making things happen as he lead the way with a goal and two assists. Martin Erat scored on a penalty shot in the third period after being hooked on a breakaway by Dustin Byfuglien. Pekka Rinne stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the win while Antti Niemi stopped 31 of 35 for Chicago in the loss. Game 4 is set for Thursday night back in Nashville.
As for those seemingly jinxed San Jose Sharks, they were able to shake off the after effects of their gut-wrenching loss in Game 3 to take Game 4 2-1 in overtime to tie the series at 2-2. While Joe Pavelski will rightfully be lauded as the hero for San Jose for scoring the game-winner 10:24 into overtime, it was Dan Boyle who was the man of the match for the Sharks. Boyle scored the Sharks only goal in regulation and made a spectacular play in his own end in overtime to help save Evgeni Nabokov’s skin from giving up a potential overtime goal. Anyone worrying about whether or not Boyle has put his Game 3 faux pas aside need not worry anymore as he played very solidly for the Sharks.
Evgeni Nabokov finished the game with 33 saves in the win, meanwhile Avs goalie Craig Anderson was kept busy yet again stopping 43 in the loss. Game 5 will be Thursday night in San Jose.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.
Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.
The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.
Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:
Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:
Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.
Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.
That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.
Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:
When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”
“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.
For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.
Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.
That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.
While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.
If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.
Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.
It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.
Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.
Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.
First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.
Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.
There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.
Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.
Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”
In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.
The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.
One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.