If you thought things might get turned around after a demoralizing end to the second period for the Coyotes… Then you were still caught up in the storybook storyline potential that this Detroit-Phoenix series had. Instead, reality set in and the Wings took out the Coyotes in Game 7 of their opening round series 6-1.
Goals by Todd Bertuzzi and Nicklas Lidstrom on the power play, his second of the night, helped end the Hollywood storyline for the Coyotes in the third period. Pavel Datsyuk’s two goals in the second period and Henrik Zetterberg’s three assists showed that Detroit’s big stars were not about to go down without a fight. Jimmy Howard stopped 32 of 33 shots in what was a rather pedestrian effort despite the shot totals.
If you’re looking for a goat on the Coyotes roster, the last guy to look towards is goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov as he stopped 44 out of 50 shots he faced, meanwhile the Red Wings scored three of their six goals on the power play. It seems crazy to not blame the goaltender in a game that ended with a five goal differential, but Bryzgalov’s efforts throughout the first period kept the Coyotes hopes alive.
What killed the Coyotes was their tentative play all across the ice. In their own end, they gave all of Detroit’s players far too much room to maneuver and rather than challenging the puck carrier, they sat back and waited to collapse in on Bryzgalov to help him out. The physicality was gone for the most part (Phoenix lead in hits given 23-18, rather soft for an NHL playoff game) and the Wings were able to control the puck for large chunks of time with minimal issue. What that all means is simple: Phoenix didn’t come to play and Detroit taught them a lesson for it.
Detroit now moves on to play San Jose in round two of the Western Conference playoffs and they’ll have a relatively quick turnaround to do so as Game 1 of that series is tentatively set to be on Thursday night. For the Coyotes, this offseason should provide some time to think and learn about what they just went through against the Wings, but expect a lot of talk this summer to be about stuff off the ice and whether fan support will carry over into next season. It’ll be fun when these kinds of topics aren’t an issue for a franchise finally turned in the right direction.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.