Canucks players speak about NHL 'conspiracy'

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DSedin1.jpgLike I said yesterday, this conspiracy talk in the NHL isn’t going
away anytime soon, and if the Canucks lose this first round series it
will just keep heating up. I will say this, and it’s something that one
of my good friends brought up yesterday, that if the NHL is conspiring
against the Canucks then they have a mess of conspiracies to try and
keep sorted out all at the same time:

The NHL’s conspiracy against
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

The NHL’s conspiracy against the
Detroit Red Wings (this one makes no sense to me at all).

The
NHL’s conspiracy against Canadian teams, especially since Gary Bettman
took over in 1994.

Now we have the NHL’s conspiracy against the
Canucks, so that the Los Angeles Kings will advance and the NHL can get
better TV ratings in the playoffs.

I don’t buy any of it. Is the
NHL guilty of inconsistent officiating and inconsistent judgment on
suspensions and supplementary punishment? Yes. Is the NHL guilty of
trying to change to much of the game of hockey to appeal to broader
audience?

Of course, the shootout and the trapezoid were horrible ideas.
But conspiring so that certain teams advance in the playoffs for better
numbers in the finals? How do you explain Carolina and Edmonton then?
Ottawa and Anaheim?

What do the players say?

The conspiracy theorists will always be loud
and when there are bad decisions that are made, those voices will ring
out louder. What I want to know is what the players think, and thanks
to Terry Jones of the Ottawa Sun
, we have some thoughts. Jones does
a great job of going through the various theories that run rampant
regarding the Canucks, before getting to these words from some Canucks
players on whether the NHL has it out for the team:

“No. Not at all,” said Burrows after the morning skate Wednesday. “I
hope not. I don’t think so. They’ve got a tough job to do and those were
not easy calls.

“Nobody is against us. Hopefully the calls will start to go our way,”
he added.

“You earn your own breaks and we’re not earning our breaks right
now,” said Daniel Sedin.

“I don’t think it’s like that at all,” said Roberto Luongo. “Whatever
calls are made are out of our control. And I’m a big believe that you
make your own breaks.”

These guys have it right. The NHL may make some bad decisions every
now and then, but what the do not control is how these teams play. If
you watch the games in this series, it’s become obvious how overmatched
the Cancucks are at times. The Kings have more jump, better execution
and are just killing the Canucks on the power play. Roberto Luongo is
playing horribly, that must be the NHL’s doing.

As far as the ‘kicked’ goal by Sedin. This wasn’t Mike Murphy and the
War Room making anything up. There is precedent for a goal that’s not
exactly kicked in to be disallowed, and
both involve Brenden Morrow.

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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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.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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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:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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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?