Luongo, O'Brien losing touch with reality

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Luongo2.jpgInstead of taking responsibility for his own play in net, Roberto
Luongo is looking instead to change his luck. The playoff beard is gone,
obviously the cause for his troubles in the second round against the
Chicago Blackhawks. The goaltender says he’s “trying to change things up
a bit” as the Canucks hope to stave off elimination in Game 5 against
Chicago.

Shaving off the beard is all well and good, signifying a
fresh start and all that, perhaps the complete disconnect between the
players’ mindsets about their own play and the reality their coach is
seeing that should truly be worrisome.

Shane O’Brien, once praised
for keeping his cool and settling in defensively against the Kings, has
now been at the forefront of his team losing their collective minds at
the wrong time. With their season on the line,
O’Brien makes perhaps the most boneheaded comment of them all:

“We are in a situation where probably nobody thinks we can come back;
the odds are we probably can’t. We are going to give it our best go.”

Now, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t
know what his tone was when he said it, and I certainly don’t know the
exact context of the comment itself. But saying that the odds are that
his team can’t come back isn’t exactly the best statement to make after
his team decided to stop playing hockey and swing and punch like a bunch
of spoiled kids who were pushed down on the playground for the first
time. The Blackhawks have found out exactly what to do to beat
Vancouver, and they’re exploiting that weakness all the way to a series
win

While the rest of his team agrees that they just need to stay out of
the penalty box, O’Brien decided that perhaps the officiating was to
blame, saying that perhaps “that’s our fault for yelling at the refs
during the season.”

His coach knows the reality of the situation however, and I’m sure
that if the Canucks had a better defensive situation available O’Brien
would find his value on this team diminish in a hurry. Alain Vigneault
knows that his team was outplayed in the three losses, and that his team
needs to learn to keep itself out of the box:

“All the penalties we took are penalties we deserved,” he said.
“Officiating has got nothing to do with it.”

After the first round, the Canucks became my favorite to win the
Stanley Cup. I felt that with the offense they possessed, all they
needed was for Roberto Luongo to just manage to be good. Not great, just
good. Instead, he’s looked like someone who’s more interested in
yelling at the officials than stopping the puck and even then it’s a bit
half-hearted. The rest of the team hasn’t shown much more of a heart
themselves, and therein lies the reason that the Cancucks are facing a
3-1 series deficit and what’s likely to be eventual elimination.

If the captain has no heart, why would the rest of the team?

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.