2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Yes, Hossa is valuable to Hawks

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If the Chicago Blackhawks had lost the first two games of this
series, or even split them, then we might be talking about how Marian
Hossa is undoubtedly cursed.

This is his third straight Stanley Cup finals, and he’s the first
player to appear in three straight series with three different teams. He
was on the losing end in his two previous trips to the Cup finals, and
some thought that the Blackhawks adding Hossa was the kiss of death.

Hossa was almost magical for the Penguins in 2008, acquired at the
trade deadline to provide offensive firepower and he responded with 12
goals and 26 points in just 20 games, as the Penguins eventually lost to
the Red Wings. Last season, he made the switch over to Detroit, and
struggled with his production, scoring just 6 goals in 23 games as the
the Wings lost to his former team.

Hossa started the postseason this year in similar fashion, being
nearly invisible on the scoreboard as his team rolled through the first
three rounds of the playoffs. Thankfully, the rest of his team was
scoring and we were left to wonder if perhaps Hossa was pressing too
much as he fought to finally, finally hoist the Cup at the end of the
postseason.

Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t worried about his
struggles in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

“We
really like the way he has progressed in the Playoffs as well. I’m
sure he’s excited about the third chance here this year. We really like
his contribution in the first two games. I think that line has been
very effective in a lot of ways.”

In the first two games of the Cup finals, Hossa has awakened. He’s
back to looking like the dominant player he can be and it’s none too
soon; with the top line of the Blackhawks struggling mightily, Hossa was
needed more than ever to step up his game. He has a goal and two
assists in the two games against the Flyers — not earth shattering
numbers but his efforts in other areas of the game that’s made the
difference.

Patrick Sharp is certainly glad he’s on the team this season, as he’s
been the difference maker they needed him to be:

“He’s been a great addition to the team,” Sharp said this afternoon.
“If you ask all 30 teams in the league if they want [Hossa] there they’d
take him gladly. We’re lucky to have him on our team.”

Sharp says that Hossa has made a difference for the Blackhawks, even
if he’s not putting up a ton of goals.

“He brings so much more to the club than just his goalscoring.
Everyone knows him because he scores 40 goals a year, but he’s one of
the best two-way wingers in the league. He’s a great locker room guy and
the fact that he’s been to three Cup finals is a great thing.”

Hossa looked the best he’s looked all postseason on Monday night in
Game 3, as he was a force along the boards and in front of Michael
Leighton. His determination was awarded with the first goal of the game,
as he beat several Flyers players to a rebound.

Despite not putting up big numbers, he’s been incredibly sound
defensively and has been a perfect example for the rest of the team on
how to still make a difference even if you’re shots aren’t hitting the
back of the net. He’s a plus-11 through 18 games, showing that he hasn’t
become overly frustrated despite not scoring at his usual pace.

Quenneville is convinced that Hossa is much, much more to his team
than just a goal scorer, and he allows the coaches flexibility with
their lines and matchups.

“For sure as a coach you have a lot more options with him on the
ice,” the Blackhawks coach said. “I think defensively he really provides
a lot of puck possession and defensive responsibility. Offensively if
he’s got the puck, he can make plays. That line has been a big factor,
and he’s a big part of it. “

Poll: Is Henrik Lundqvist still an elite goalie?

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This post is part of Rangers Day on PHT…

The 2016-17 season was an interesting one for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. There were moments when he looked brilliant and other moments where he was clearly fighting the puck.

The 35-year-old opened the season with victories in seven of his first 10 games which is actually pretty good. He allowed two goals or less in six of those contests, and everything seemed to be fine.

In November and early December, he hit a significant rough patch. After dropping five of eight games between Nov. 18 and Dec. 6, the Rangers goalie sat for four consecutive games, as Antti Raanta took over between the pipes.

When he got back in goal, Lundqvist responded by winning three consecutive starts over Dallas, Nashville and New Jersey (he gave up just three goals in those three games). But the inconsistency was far from over at that point. A couple of weeks later, he dropped three straight decisions to Toronto (four goals allowed), Montreal (five goals allowed) and Dallas (seven goals allowed).

He then followed that poor stretch up with another three-game winning streak (I think you guys get the point).

He finished the season with a 31-20-4 record, a 2.74 goals-against-average and a .910 save percentage. Those are a far cry from the numbers we’re used to seeing him put up.

The Rangers finished the season in the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They ended up getting a first-round date with the Montreal Canadiens, who seemed to have Lundqvist’s number (especially at the Bell Center).

No one knew what to expect from Lundqvist going into the series, but he ended up being fantastic. He picked up a shut out on the road in Game 1. In Game 2, his team was leading 3-2 with less than a minute remaining when Montreal scored late and won in overtime.

The Habs took Game 3 at MSG by a score of 3-1, but that’s when Lundqivst got back into a groove. He allowed one goal in Game 4, two goals in Game 5 and one more goal in Game 6. The Rangers won all three games, and they were off to the second round to face Ottawa.

Despite losing to the Senators in six games, the Rangers netminder turned in another solid effort during the series. There were some blips on the radar (six goals allowed in Game 2 and five goals in Game 5), but he was still one of New York’s best players in the series.

He finished the playoffs with a 6-6 record, a 2.25 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.

So, he had a very inconsistent regular season. Whenever he struggled, Raanta was there to step in and hold the fort while Lundqvist got back on track. This season, with Raanta off to Arizona, the Rangers signed Ondrej Pavelec to be their backup goalie. Anyone who’s followed his career knows that he’s as inconsistent as they come. If the starter falters this year, will the Rangers be able to count on Pavelec to bailed them out for a few games?

Of course, they won’t need him to bail them out if Lundqvist stays healthy and plays like he did during the playoffs. Is he still capable of playing at a high level over an 82-game season? Is he still up there with Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky and others as an elite goalie in the NHL?

Alright, it’s your turn to vote in our Rangers poll question. Feel free to also leave your opinion in the comments section below.

It’s New York Rangers day at PHT

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After plodding their way to a frustrating series loss against the Penguins in 2015-16, Alain Vigneault changed the New York Rangers’ style, and it worked in 2016-17.

Sort of.

The Rangers’ experience ranks up there as maybe the most indicative of just how ridiculously stacked the Metropolitan Division was.

The Rangers were one of nine teams in the NHL to generate at least 100 standings poitns (in their case, 102), finishing just one behind the Montreal Canadiens, who won the Atlantic Division. Even so, they faced said Canadiens in the first round as a wild card.

After dispatching the Habs, the Rangers fell to the Senators, and now they prepare for what’s likely to be an even bigger set of changes in 2017-18.

The Rangers traded away Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. The Dan Girardi era ended with a buyout. Ondrej Pavelec now serves as Henrik Lundqvist‘s backup, while the Rangers landed the biggest fish of free agency in Kevin Shattenkirk.

Mika Zibanejad got a new deal as he takes over the No. 1 center spot, while David Desharnais was added to try to limit some of the losses down the middle.

So, the Rangers continued their move toward a more modern system, as their transition game should be much stronger. On the other hand, last season’s deep offense looks quite a bit thinner.

The Rangers are quite the puzzle heading into next season, so enjoy as PHT tries to put the pieces together today.

Duchene trade talks quiet, but Avs will ‘listen to offers’

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To little surprise, not much is going on in the trade market. Just ask Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic.

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers did just that, and Sakic revealed that he would still consider trading the likes of Matt Duchene … although he didn’t mention him by name.

“I will be listening to offers. Right now it’s quiet on all fronts,” Sakic said. “But I’ll listen to offers on how we can get better. I’ll never name names but I’ll sit there and if something makes sense for the way we want to go, with our team, we’ll really look at that.”

Considering that it’s mid-August, it’s not too surprising that little is happening. One can imagine that several GMs are more interested in finding drinks with umbrellas in them than trying to land Duchene, at least since the Avalanche don’t seem interested in giving him up without some serious haggling.

(And, really, the Avs would be wise to pump up Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog‘s respective trade values, anyway.)

That Denver Post story features a semi-update on Nikita Zadorov. Sakic told Chambers that the two sides agreed that a two-year deal would be best, but the “numbers” aren’t there yet. He didn’t tip his hand about how big the gap was. For what it’s worth, Sakic didn’t sound too worried about the lure of the 2018 Winter Olympics swaying Zadorov to head overseas.

While a lot of the activity circles around what hasn’t happened, the Avalanche did realize that Will Butcher officially won’t sign with them, while Colorado added a college free agent (and former Maple Leafs prospect) Dominic Toninato to their own mix.

At the moment, it doesn’t seem like something big is brewing regarding Duchene and other prominent Avs, but at least Sakic isn’t slamming the door shut on such a possibility.

Logan Couture’s teeth are still sore from horrifying mouth injury

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Still jarring and gross: the image of Logan Couture‘s mouth after taking a puck to the mouth about five months ago.

Still sore: Couture’s mouth.

Yep, the San Jose Sharks star hasn’t totally gotten over that injury, which forced him to have false teeth up top and some painfully sore ones on his bottom row. NBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz transcribed the unfortunate details Couture shared with NHL Network this week:

“There’s good days and bad days,” Couture said. “My bottom teeth are still my real teeth. They’ve tried to keep them so I don’t lose them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, they’re still pretty sore. My top teeth are all fake now – my front six, I think. So, it’s different. It just feels different in my mouth.

“But everything else with my face and all that is healed. I’m lucky that it’s an injury that didn’t affect my training, and hopefully won’t affect me going forward.”

As someone who’s endured more than a few unpleasant trips to the dentist, stories like these always lead to queasiness. This classic PHT post about Keith Tkachuk’s agony always comes to mind in situations like these.

Speaking of queasy, this is footage of when things were really bad for Couture. That link is provided because some will inevitably want to look, but treat this like the other gross things on the Internet that you wish you never saw and just move on.

(Seriously, the healing process continues on this end.)

Anyway, about the only bit of good news is that Couture can still train more or less as usual. He endured that injury late in the regular season (March 25), and while he suited up for the Sharks’ first-round series, it sure seemed like both Couture and Joe Thornton were limited in those six games against the Edmonton Oilers.

As much as dental agony seems like a uniquely “hockey” problem, this situation sounds especially rough for Couture.