Checking up on the West's free agents to watch

pavelski.jpgA couple weeks ago, I broke down the pending free agents (unrestricted and restricted alike) for each conference. (East hereWest here)

So let’s take a gander at how some of the most noteworthy free-agents-to-be fared up to this point. Obviously, for players on half the teams, they won’t get another chance to show off their skills. I’ll begin with the West in this post and then discuss the East later on. This might not be a comprehensive list, so apologies if your favorite pending free agent is left out.

San Jose

Joe Pavelski – 11 points/becoming the Sharks’ American hero.

Evgeni Nabokov – a 1.93 GAA and 91.9% save percentage. Not bad at all.

Devin Setoguchi – 7 points in 7 games played. Not bad, either.

Patrick Marleau – 3 points. Not so good.

Colorado

Peter Mueller’s concussion issues kept him from making an impact, but Chris Stewart and Kyle Quincey were solid in the playoffs.

Chicago

Antti Niemi – probably pricing himself out of Chicago with a fabulous (92.1 save percentage) playoff run so far.

Nashville

Patric Hornqvist had health problems so he gets an “Incomplete” while Dan Hamhuis had quite the checkered post-season, most notably being the victim of what should have been a more beneficial boarding penalty from Marian Hossa …

Vancouver

Pavol Demitra’s been nicely productive (5 points) but Willie Mitchell has been injured.

Los Angeles

Alex Frolov produced a decent (1 goal, 3 assists) but unspectacular post-season. It seems likely that he’ll be wearing a different sweater next year.

Phoenix

Lee Stempniak – a rough playoffs with just 2 points and a -4 rating.

Wojtek Wolski – The team’s second leading scorer with 5 points, including 4 goals.

Detroit

Nicklas Lidstrom – 6 points in 8 games for the superhuman Swede.

Todd Bertuzzi – 5 points for the surprisingly effective brute.

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    Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

    Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

    With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

    It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

    Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

    The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

    Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

    If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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    NBCSN screen
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    Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

    An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

    After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

    You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

    Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

    Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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    Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

    Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

    Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

    Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

    Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

    An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

    Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

    Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

    Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

    “It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

    Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

    People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.