Losing in the first round of the playoffs has become an all too common occurrence for the New Jersey Devils the last few seasons. Sure, they make the playoffs and have a great amount of success in the regular season, but bowing out in the first round has been a reality for the Devils the last three seasons.
After the Flyers eliminated the Devils in five games last night, the most surprising thing to come about is that there is some speculation courtesy of The Sporting News’ Ray Slover that if big changes are going to come to the Devils next season the first person to possibly be shown the door is future hall of famer Martin Brodeur.
GM Lou Lamoriello already has had a temper tantrum, and as architect of the Devils he is ultimately responsible not just for the team’s failure now, but where the franchise must go after this disappointment.
Changes are coming. Big changes.
And they could begin with Martin Brodeur. We must ask: Is it time for the Devils to part company with the man who carried them to three Stanley Cups and holds most of the NHL’s goaltending records?
That’s a mighty big can of worms to go opening up while Devils fans are sore as hell about losing. If you’re thinking that the Devils lost their series to the Flyers because of Brodeur, then perhaps some perspective is needed. The number of goals scored by the Devils in the series: Nine, and five of those were in the Devils Game 2 victory.
Is this the right climate to sell high on Martin Brodeur though? Ah, there’s the rub, especially with players like Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco destined for unrestricted free agency this summer. Finding a good goaltender via free agency, while definitely risky, can be done. The catch though for Lou Lamoriello if he was to think of moving Martin Brodeur is that some teams might want to roll the dice with a younger (Brodeur turns 38 in May) more easily accessible guy from the unrestricted free agency pile or take an even bigger risk on a restricted free agent (Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price for instance).
Getting what he might think would be an appropriate package for a Hall of Fame goaltender who can still perform at the highest level could prove difficult. All that aside, of all the people who might leave New Jersey, Brodeur is probably lowest on the list of candidates with head coach Jacques Lemaire and soon-to-be free agent Ilya Kovalchuk ranking out a bit higher.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.