2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Hawks talk about 3rd period struggles

Sopel.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks may be leading this series 2-1, with a good
chance to head back to Chicago with a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup,
but the Philadelphia Flyers have the momentum. After walking away from a
sloppy Game 1 confident that they can keep up with the talented and
deep Blackhawks, the Flyers have used a surprisingly strong surge in the
latter half of the past two games to climb right back in this series.

The
Flyers grossly outplayed and outshot the Hawks in the third of Game 2,
but thanks to a timely and surprisingly deft goal by Ben Eager walked
away the losers in a close game. They talked about building on that
momentum and getting a good start here in Philadelphia, and put together
arguably their best overall effort in Game 3.

Still, their best
effort of the series still saw the Flyers playing in a tight game that
could have gone either way. Once again the Flyers grossly outplayed the
Hawks in the third period, outshooting their opponent 15-4 and easily
seizing control of the game.

It’s a disturbing trend for the
Blackhawks, who until this series had used their great depth to put
together a complete, 60-minute effort in nearly every game of the
postseason. There were some hiccups here and there, but this has been
the first time the Hawks have struggled this much in consecutive games.

“Playing
with the lead, sometimes you tend to sit back a bit which we don’t want
to do,” Patrick Kane said when asked about his team’s struggles in the
third period.

“I think they’ve been building off their momentum
in the third periods which is probably why they had more chances in
overtime and ended up winning the game. Sometimes when you have the lead
you tend to sit back a bit.”

The Hawks have certainly been
sitting back, especially when you consider that they took the lead early
in the third last game and were trying to protect a two-goal lead in
Game 2. Yet it hasn’t just been a matter of the Hawks sitting back; some
of the credit has to go to the Flyers as well.

“They have a good
team concept and they seem to stick to it,” said Patrick Sharp. “They
don’t change if their up a goal or down a goal, and that makes it tough
to play against.”

One thing that has been evident is that the
Flyers have used their hard forecheck all game long to seemingly beat
back the counterattack of the Blackhawks. Brent Sopel feels that
forecheck harder than most, and he agrees that the Flyers are a cut
above the rest.

“They’re tenacious, they don’t give up,” said
Sopel. “They’re resilient, the whole team
is that way. They definitely come a lot harder than other teams [on the
forecheck]. Obviously everyone uses their forecheck differently, but
they’ve got speed and they try to use that to their advantage.”

Troy
Brouwer agreed, that there is one thing that the Flyers use better than
any other team they’ve faced in the playoffs. What is that one part of
the game they do so well?

“Pressure,” Brouwer said. “They have
a lot of desire on that team and a lot of will to win. When it comes
down to crunch time and you have to press for a goal or press for the
lead, they’ve done really well in that aspect.”

The Blackhawks
were almost gushing about the way the Flyers play, especially in the
third period. Yet when asked what they’ll be doing differently moving
forward to try and have a better effort in the third, the Blackhawks
were adamant they don’t need to change anything, really.

“We
don’t change our game because it’s the third period,” Brouwer said. “We
got a lead in the third period last game and the very next shift they
got a nice bounce right on the tape for an open net goal. What can you
do, really? It’s a tough break, and we don’t change the way we play
because of it.”

Brent Sopel was even more direct. He didn’t want
to hear any questions about the third period, stating several times that
the past is the past and they can’t change it. All the Blackhawks can
do is focus on what is ahead of them.

“We’re not worried about
the third period, we’re just worried about the first period here in
Game 4.”

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    The Buzzer: Connor Hellebuyck’s sixth shutout; Staal, Granlund combine for eight points; Penguins cruise

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    Players of the Night:

    Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets: Hellebuyck’s sixth shutout of the season — a 34-save effort in a 4-0 win against the St. Louis Blues — set a new franchise record. He’s now just two wins away from tying the team’s franchise record for wins by a goalie at 32.

    Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild: Staal and Granlund basically had their way with the New York Rangers in a 4-1 win. They each scored twice and also assisted twice on each other’s goals. Feasting on the Rangers is pretty easy these days, but it was an impressive night for the duo nonetheless.

    William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights: Goals No. 32 and No. 33 tonight, including quite the rip on his second one. Added an assist as well in a 6-3 win for the Golden Knights over the Vancouver Canucks. What a player he’s turned into.

    Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins: Kessel has two goals and an assist and Malkin and Guentzel each had a goal and two assists. The Penguins are already scary on offense, and they just added Derick Brassard on Friday. Three-peat, anyone?

    Highlights of the Night:

    Saucy little number:

    Patrik Laine makes it look so easy:

    Slick feed game:

    Ugly suit night for the Winnipeg Jets:

    https://twitter.com/NHLGIFs/status/967262571605778433

    Trade of the Day:

    The three-team deal that happened, then it didn’t and then happened again

    Penguins land Derick Brassard on second try in wild three-team deal.

    Own goal of the night:

    Troy Stecher got a little unlucky on this one:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Scores:

    Wild 4, Rangers 1

    Penguins 6, Hurricanes 1

    Jets 4, Blues 0

    Blackhawks 3, Sharks 1

    Golden Knights 6, Canucks 3


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Why the Golden Knights got involved in Derick Brassard deal

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    If Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is to be believed, getting forward Ryan Reaves and a draft pick while not having to give up anything but some cap space was the meal ticket.

    McPhee, who spoke to the media in Las Vegas during the first intermission of their game against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, said they added grit to their lineup with Reaves after the Golden Knights were one of three teams involved in a wild trade that ultimately sent Derick Brassard from Ottawa to Pittsburgh.

    Reaves, McPhee said, is a tough guy who can do more than just dole out physical punishment.

    “Ryan is a big strong guy that brings some grit, some strong depth to our hockey club,” McPhee said. “He’s a unique player. These players, tough guys in this league, many of them have been rendered obsolete because they can’t play. (Reaves) can play.

    The deal was convoluted, McPhee admitted, saying that it’s something that happens with three teams involved. He said it took four transactions to make it work.

    “We gave up some cap space, we have a lot of cap space and a minor league player to do this, so we picked up two assets,” McPhee said. “I thought it was a good deal for our club.”

    McPhee said he spoke with Pittsburgh a couple days ago, and the deal for Reaves came together quite quickly. He said the issues with the deal were more on the side of Ottawa and Pittsburgh and once those were worked out, the deal was made.

    McPhee said he doesn’t necessarily believe the club needs to make moves.

    “But if there are opportunities to make the club a little bit better, one percent, two percent, three percent, you do it if it’s not going to affect chemistry,” he said.

    This may only be part of the story here for the Golden Knights.

    Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported that Vegas may have got involved in the deal to block the Winnipeg Jets from getting Brassard.

    Even though the Jets and Golden Knights wouldn’t meet until the third round of the playoffs — a lot would have to go right for that to happen — Vegas essentially made sure that if the scenario ever came to fruition, they wouldn’t have to deal with Brassard in the series.

    If true, that’s some next level stuff by McPhee and Co.

    McPhee played down those reports in his presser, saying it wasn’t a “material” part of the deal.

    “We saw an opportunity to pick up Ryan Reaves and a draft pick in what was a simple transaction for us,” he said.

    TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the Jets were disappointed not to land Brassard after going “hard” after him. The move would have solidified Winnipeg’s spine, with Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Brassard and Adam Lowry down the middle. Winnipeg’s already a scary team without Brassard’s services. The fear factor would only have improved with him.

    The Jets, reportedly, offered three pieces for Brassard, in what was a “solid” package. Given what Pittsburgh sent Ottawa’s way, that likely means a first-round pick, a roster player and a high-level prospect.

    The Jets are now forced to look elsewhere, and perhaps they have the league’s newest team to blame for it.

    A Jets-Golden Knights series would have a little more on the line if it comes to be this spring.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Penguins land Derick Brassard in three-team deal

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    There likely won’t be a more wild trade before the deadline than the one that took the better part of Friday to finally be completed.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins had Ottawa Senators forward Derick Brassard in their grasp, then lost him, and then snatched him up again.

    Penguins defenseman Ian Cole was headed to a bad team, then he wasn’t, and then he was again.

    And somehow Ryan Reaves is now with the Vegas Golden Knights and the NHL’s newest team is retaining a bunch of salary.

    The first trade: Penguins receive Derick Brassard; Senators get a first-round pick, Ian Cole and intriguing goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson.

    This deal was rejected by the NHL for “improper use of salary retention,” so it was back to the drawing board for all involved.

    The second (and actual) trade: Penguins receive Derick Brassard; Senators get a first-round pick, Ian Cole and intriguing goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson. This didn’t change.

    Penguins also acquire a 2018 third round draft pick and prospect forward Vincent Dunn from the Senators; and they also get prospect forward Tobias Lindberg from the Golden Knights.

    Vegas receives Ryan Reaves and a 2018 fourth-rounder (Vancouver’s) from the Penguins and also retains 40 percent of Brassard’s salary.

    Why the Penguins made the trade: It’s been no secret that the Penguins have been looking for center help since losing Matt Cullen and Nick Bonino. Brassard fits that bill, and honestly, stands as a nice upgrade.

    At 30, Brassard is still at or near his prime. The Penguins get Brassard for two playoff runs, as his $5 million cap hit runs through 2018-19.

    Brassard’s quietly enjoyed a strong season in Ottawa, as he has 18 goals and 38 points in 58 games. He’s just one point shy of tying his 2016-17 total, even though that came in 81 contests. The former Rangers forward is battle-tested in the postseason, too.

    No doubt about it, this is a contending team being aggressive to try to win a third straight Stanley Cup. Brassard makes an already-impressive offense that much deeper.

    The inclusion of Cole helps make the money work for the Penguins, even if it’s worth noting that Pittsburgh still has some questions on defense.

    Why the Senators made the trade: The Senators are in liquidation mode, and to start, this trade helps Ottawa get a first-rounder back after giving one up in the Matt Duchene trade. Granted, the Penguins’ first-rounder could be very low – they’d love it to be the 31st selection – but it’s a key return for the rebuilding Sens.

    Gustavsson, 19, isn’t just a throw-in, either. He was a second-round pick (55th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. With Craig Anderson already 36, the Senators need to look to the future, and Gustavsson has a chance to be a part of the picture in net.

    You can argue that Ottawa’s returns aren’t fully documented yet, as they might move Cole for even more futures:

    This is also worth noting from a Senators perspective:

    Why the Golden Knights made this trade: 

    This one deserves a¯_(ツ)_/¯.

    Vegas gets some grit in Reaves and a pick, but get roped into 40 percent of Brassard’s salary for some reason or another.

    Who won the trade?

    Senators fans are unlikely to be happy with the team cleaning house, particularly with players who helped them make a deep playoff run remarkably recently. Still, they’re diving in with a reset, if not a rebuild, and this is a decent return. Getting a bit more for Cole could help, and Gustavsson’s development will play a significant role in how this move is viewed in hindsight.

    The Penguins are going for it, as they have been for some time. Brassard fills a serious need, and while defense is an issue for Pittsburgh, Cole found himself as a healthy scratch and obviously on the way out at times.

    This is all about the present for Pittsburgh, and it’s easy to justify such a thought process. Let’s not forget that Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Phil Kessel are 30 while Evgeni Malkin is 31. You never know when the championship window might slam shut.

    Your excitement regarding the Penguins’ side hinges on how much you like Brassard. Not everyone is blown away by what he brings to the table.

    This is an obvious case of two teams going in different directions, and thus looking for very different returns. Which team got the best value out of the deal, though?

    It’s worth noting that the Penguins gave up a first-round pick and a prospect last summer to get Reaves.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Trades fantasy hockey owners should root for

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    Trades can really liven things up for a sport, so here’s hoping that the intriguing Michael Grabner to Devils move is the catalyst for a memorable stretch of swaps.

    While there’s always the risk that a player will struggle to get acclimated to a new city and new teammates, trades can also provide a boost in fantasy hockey. As we wait for more deals to trickle in, it might be fun to picture changes of scenery. Here are some moves fantasy owners should root for.

    [More on the Grabner trade.]

    Elephants trotting around the room

    Look, asking the Senators to trade Erik Karlsson is asking a lot.

    It could be quite a late-season boon for owners who’ve been burned a bit by a season that’s not up to his honestly ridiculous standards. Complaining about a defenseman generating 42 points in 55 games is silly, but considering that Karlsson often goes in the first or second round, and fantasy sports are kind of silly by nature, well …

    Anyway, a move to a contender could really help him. Maybe he’d enjoy short-term puck luck (his shooting percentage this season is 3.4 percent, half of his career average of 6.8). Considering his puck dispersal skills, setting up teammates who are likely more skilled and more motivated at this point in the season could really be electric.

    Max Pacioretty also stands as interesting.

    With a 7.7 shooting percentage, “Patches” is also lacking when it comes to lucky bounces. More than that, it has to be a drain on him to lose so often, particularly in a hockey-obsessed market like Montreal. Being “one of the guys” on a contender could really do him good.

    Also, it’s been noted, yet it must be said: Pacioretty’s really never played with a great center. Imagine what he could accomplish with a legitimate No. 1? With his contract expiring after 2018-19, the motivation should be there, too.

    Some others worth noting in this category:

    • Evander Kane has dealt with injuries and the frustrating knowledge that he’s never suited up in a playoff game in his career. With an expiring contract at age 26, you could argue that Kane has the most on the line of just about any of the most realistic trade targets in the NHL.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, yet with comparable sniping skills, you have Rick Nash. Much like Pacioretty, Nash is getting his goals now after a prolonged slump. While Kane has never tasted playoff play, Nash surely would like to show that he’s more “clutch” than his critics believe.
    • Mike Green got roasted a bit in this PHT roundtable, but that’s based on real-life play. From a fantasy perspective, Green could be fascinating. That said, he plays a huge role in Detroit, and might actually see a downgrade if traded. So maybe he’s a coin flip?
    • Ryan McDonagh and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are both defensemen who will likely be affected by what happens with Karlsson, as they do too see contracts expire after 2018-19. McDonagh seems more likely to move than OEL, yet both could really thrive on better/more driven teams down the stretch.

    [Dion Phaneuf: better in fantasy than reality.]

    Lightning round

    OK, now onto a handful of names that might not come up much/at all, but would be a lot of fun.

    • Goalies with more fuel in the tank: Sorry, Antti Niemi, but there are better options out there for goalie rentals, even with Petr Mrazek off the market. The Coyotes might want to keep Antti Raanta around, but it would be intriguing to see what he could do for, say, the Hurricanes. Raanta’s save percentage is up to .922 this season. Since 2014-15, Raanta is tied with Carey Price and Corey Crawford for the NHL’s best save percentage at .923.

    Raanta would be the gem in my eyes. Still, there are some other interesting considerations. Would the Sabres trade sneaky-good Robin Lehner? Could Jaroslav Halak help someone if the Islanders decided they’ve had enough?

    • I’ve stated that the Coyotes would likely lose if they traded Max Domi. Domi’s fantasy owners and new team could enjoy modest-to-significant gains, however.
    • This is more tangential: Jeff Carter might be nearing a return. With that in mind, the Kings might actually be a more beneficial landing pad for a player than maybe they’d seem. It sounds like they’re happy to get Tobias Rieder, though.
    • As always, root for the Oilers to trade skilled players (note: they’re saying they are leaning toward tweaks this time, for what it’s worth). You may very well see that player burn them for making such a move, possibly right away.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.