Byfuglien an unexpected hero for Blackhawks

Every postseason is filled with unexpected heroes, players who
stepped up and took their game to the next level as their team
progressed in the playoffs. When teams don’t have those sorts of
players, then progressing in the postseason becomes increasingly
unlikely. More than any other sport, we learn just how much of a team
game hockey is once the postseason comes.

For the Chicago
Blackhawks, perhaps we can look at none other than Antti Nieimi as the
difference maker so far. Yet with a team leading four game-winning
goals, including three in the sweep against the Sharks, there’s no way
we can overlook just how important Dustin Byfuglien has become for the
Hawks.

We all know about his willingness and ability to move from
forward to defense and back again; it’s an unsung ability and role you
just don’t see very often in the NHL. Yet when Byfuglien was permanently
moved to the top line against the Canucks, that’s when he really
started to make a difference.

“I think it started in
the Vancouver series. All those fans were getting
on his case. He wasn’t popular in that building,” Blackhawks forward
Patrick Sharp said of the man known as “Big Buff.” “Seems like he likes
the spotlight. He likes being the hero. He steps up in big-time.”

Byfuglien
has eight goals in the postseason, including goals in five straight
games. His willingness and ability to crash the net, his agility in the
trenches despite his size, makes him one heck of a foe for opposing
defenses to try and clear out. Amazingly, the defenses have sometimes
completely forgotten about Byfuglien as he’s picked the perfect time to
come down low and pound home a goal.

He was instrumental in
frustrating the Canucks and was the backbreaker against the Sharks.
He’ll continue to have to be a difference maker in the Stanley Cup
finals, when every goal and every play becomes so incredibly important.

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    Max Talbot signs in KHL

    Calgary Flames v Boston Bruins
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    Earlier this week, we passed along word that veteran NHLer Max Talbot was contemplating a move to Europe.

    On Friday, that move was made official.

    KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl announced that Talbot has agreed to a one-year contract. The deal comes after the 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

    Over the course of his 10-year NHL career, Talbot appeared in over 700 games and established himself as a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net.

    He scored double-digit goals four times — including a career-high 19 in ’11-12 — and will always be remembered in Pittsburgh for scoring both goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win over Detroit at the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

     

     

    Jets assistant Vincent named AHL Manitoba head coach

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  (L-R) Assistant coach Pascal Vincent, head coach Paul Maurice and assistant coach Charlie Huddy and the Winnipeg Jets look from the bench against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 1-0 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    Winnipeg didn’t have to look far to find Keith McCambridge’s replacement for its AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

    Pascal Vincent, who’s served as an assistant coach with the Jets for the last five years, will become the eighth head coach in Moose history, the club announced on Friday.

    Vincent, 44, was one of the original hires when the franchise moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. He’s worked under two different head coaches — Claude Noel and Paul Maurice — and is held in high regard by the organization.

    That said, he did face some critiques this year. Jets fans were displeased with the Vincent-led power play, which posted a league-worst 14.8 percent success rate, tying Ottawa for the fewest power play goals in the NHL (38).

    With today’s reshuffling, there appears to be a spot now open on Maurice’s staff. The Winnipeg Sun reports that Jeff Daniels — former head coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers — could be one to keep an eye on.

    Daniels played for Maurice in Carolina, and the pair went to the Stanley Cup Final together in 2002.

    Sweden gets Pittsburgh flair as Hagelin, Hornqvist make World Cup roster

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Sidney Crosby #87 and Carl Hagelin #62 after scoring a goal on Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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    Pretty good 24 hours for Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist.

    Last night, the pair helped Pittsburgh advance to its first Stanley Cup Final in seven years.

    This morning, both made Team Sweden’s roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    Hagelin and Hornqvist joined Buffalo’s Robin Lehner, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Chicago’s Marcus Kruger, Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg and Colorado’s Carl Soderberg as the final seven players named to the Swedish roster on Friday.

    The updated 23-man list, in full:

    G Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres *
    G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
    G Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks

    D Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators *
    D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
    D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
    D Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks
    D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
    D Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
    D Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning

    F Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
    F Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
    F Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
    F Carl Hagelin, Pittsburgh Penguins *
    F Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins *
    F Marcus Kruger, Chicago Blackhawks *
    F Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
    F Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
    F Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
    F Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks *
    F Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche *
    F Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues
    F Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

    * named to roster today

    As far as “snubs” go, the biggest is probably Dallas blueliner John Klingberg. Klingberg, second only to Karlsson among Swedish d-men scorers this year, was passed over in favor of Ekholm.

    Other notable omissions include Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Washington’s Marcus Johansson, Carolina’s Victor Rask, Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm, Vancouver’s Alex Edler and Winnipeg’s Tobias Enstrom.

    In goal, Lehner beat out a host of competitors for the No. 3 gig behind Lundqvist and Markstrom. Jonas Gustavsson, Anders Nilsson, Jhonas Enroth and Eddie Lack — who used to play with Markstrom in Vancouver — were likely challengers for the spot.

    PHT Morning Skate: What superstition? Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz grab the Prince of Wales Trophy

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Sidney Crosby decided to buck the trend and touch the Prince of Wales Trophy. (Top)

    –Former NHLers look back at their Game 7 battles. (Sports Illustrated)

    –A Q&A with the newest Panther Jared McCann. (NHL)

    –Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Penguins and Lightning:

    Joe Pavelski went from not being able to skate and not being big enough to becoming a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite. (TSN)

    Bryan Rust accomplished something pretty rare this postseason:

    –Some teams still need to sign some of their prospects or risk losing them.