2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Don't forget about Matt Carle

Carle.jpgMuch of the focus in this series has been the play of Chris Pronger,
the mythical veteran on the Flyers that everyone gravitates to in order
to get his take on the team, the series and the games. He plays nearly
30 minutes every game and at times he’s out on the ice for an
extraordinary amount of time. He’s been instrumental in shutting down
Dustin Byfuglien, and the top line of the Chicago Blackhawks been
frankly horrible against the Flyers.

Yet there is one player who deserves much more attention than he’s
receiving, and I’m sure he’d rather it stay that way.

Matt Carle is spending almost as much time on the ice as Pronger, as
the two have developed into one of the most consistent and dominant
defensive pairing in the postseason. There’s no doubt that Carle has
played a major role in his team’s success, and on Friday night was in
the right place at the right time when he found the puck on his stick
down low for a big goal late in the first period.

Coach Peter Laviolette says that Carle is a quiet, unassuming player
who just does his job exactly the way is should be done.

“I’ve said this all year, Matt has to play against the same players
that Chris is playing against, and they’re usually pretty good players,”
said Laviolette yesterday after the team arrived in Chicago.

“For somebody that doesn’t have the same stature and size as Chris on
the ice, he’s a smaller player, he defends very well. He uses his —
he positions himself well in the defensive zone. He never really puts
himself in a bad position. He makes it really good first pass. He gets
himself out of trouble with his skating. They’ve been a really good
pair the entire year.”

What’s more impressive is that Carle is able to be just as effective
as Pronger without resorting to the same methods, the same intimidation
factors that Pronger is infamous for. You never expect Carle to take a
dumb penalty for cross checking or retaliation, and Pronger says that
sometimes Carle is overlooked for just how good he is defensively.

“[Carle is a] very steadying influence on the ice,” said Pronger.
“Makes a great first pass. Reads a play very well. And is a solid
defender. I think a lot of times guys that can make plays and
see the ice as well as he does and jumps in the attack, their defensive
play gets overlooked a lot. He’s obviously playing with me matched up
against the top line. Does a great job.”

Believe it or not but
Pronger is very modest when it comes to his role in shutting down the
Hawks, stating time and again he’s just doing his job. But ask him about
Carle and he’s forthcoming, very willing to heap praise upon his young

Carle has bounced around a bit in the NHL before
landing with the Flyers last season, but it’s a playoff performance like
this one that truly defines a career. Pronger may be getting all the
attention but the ones who really watch the game, the ones that really
matter — they know just how good he’s been.

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    Eddie Olczyk declares he’s cancer-free


    It’s the news every hockey fan wanted to hear.

    On Thursday night’s Chicago Blackhawks broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago, Eddie Olczyk, who was diagnosed last summer with colon cancer, told the hockey world some great news.

    “I got the call on March 14 at 5:07 p.m. letting me know my scans were clear,” an emotional Olczyk said as he stood next to long-time broadcast partner Pat Foley. “I’ve never heard a better phrase in my life. I’m now 10 days on with the rest of my life.”

    Olczyk, 51, had surgery after his diagnosis and had his last chemotherapy treatment on Feb. 21.

    “All the cancer is gone – we beat this thing,” Olczyk said, thanking a handful of people, from colleagues at NBC to the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL to his family members, wife and four kids. “And I say ‘we’ because it has been a team effort. We all beat this and I’m so thankful for all the support and prayers. They worked. I’m proud to stand here before everybody and say we beat this thing.”

    Foley called Olczyk’s battle with cancer, “heroic.”

    Olczyk was scheduled to have a scan in April to see how his chemo treatments had gone, but that scan was moved up due to emergency hernia surgery, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    “I’ve had enough crying to last me a lifetime,” Olczyk said. “I can’t emphasize enough just the support out there… just the texts, the email, the letters. I’ve received thousands and thousands of mail. I won’t be able to thank everybody, but I just want everybody to know on behalf of Eddie Olczyk and his family, we’re forever grateful for the support and the prayers and well wishes we received over the past seven months.”

    Olczyk said one thing he realized through his battle is that he found out he was way tougher than he thought he ever was.

    “If I can inspire one person to stay away from this, then I guess it was well worth it going through it,” he said.

    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

    Grubauer, Capitals shut out Red Wings

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    If you were looking for a barn-burner, this game wasn’t that.

    While the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders combined for 13 goals, and the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes scored 11 in total, the Washington Capitals and their hosts, the Detroit Red Wings, played 60 minutes with just one goal between them.

    It wasn’t nearly as exciting in the goal-scoring department, but the win for the Washington Capitals put a bit of separation between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets, who the Caps (93 points) lead by four points now.

    Brett Conolly’s third-period marker at 6:41 was all the Capitals needed for their

    Andreas Athanasiou appeared to make it 1-0 in the first period on a nice wrister, but a goaltender interference challenge by Washington was successful after Tyler Bertuzzi was judged to have made contact with Grubauer. This one was pretty cut and dry, as far as GI calls go.

    The loss for the Red Wings meant they were officially eliminated from playoff contention, something that had been known for a while but hadn’t happened in the mathematical department.

    Grubauer was solid, making 39 saves for his third shutout of the season. At the other end of the rink, Jimmy Howard wasn’t too shabby either, stopping 25-of-26. All he needed was a bit of run support.

    Prior to puck drop, the Red Wings announced that defenseman Mike Green, who was hampered by a neck injury back in February, will go under the knife, ending his season.

    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

    WATCH LIVE: Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks

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    [Puck drop at 10 p.m. ET, CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE]


    Golden Knights

    Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonTomas Tatar

    David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

    Ryan CarpenterCody EakinAlex Tuch

    Tomas NosekPierre-Edouard BellemareRyan Reaves

    Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

    Shea TheodoreDeryk Engelland

    Jon MerrillColin Miller

    Starting goalie: Malcolm Subban

    [Golden Knights – Sharks preview]


    Evander KaneJoe PavelskiMelker Karlsson

    Tomas HertlLogan CoutureMikkel Boedker

    Timo MeierChris TierneyKevin Labanc

    Barclay GoodrowEric FehrJannik Hansen

    Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

    Paul MartinBrent Burns

    Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

    Starting goalie: Martin Jones

    Cam Ward delivers an all-time own goal (video)

    Fox Sports Carolinas

    We’ve seen some pretty interesting own goals throughout NHL history, and now Cam Ward has staked his claim for one of the strangest.

    The Carolina Hurricanes goaltender scored on himself in one of the most bizarre plays ever seen in the NHL.

    The puck, as you can see, hops into the skate of an unknowing Ward as the veteran netminder went out to play a puck that was rimmed around the boards.

    Ward, does what he would normally do after trotting out behind his net, and gets back into his crease. Unsure of where the puck is, he drops into the butterfly. The problem is the puck is stuck in his right skate, which goes over the goal line.

    It’s hard to explain, so let’s roll the footage:

    The play-by-play man on Fox Sports Carolinas had a good point: Why wasn’t the play blown dead? Even if the ref has his eye on the puck, there was no way of Ward knowing what he was about to do.

    Is there even a rule for that?

    Either way, one of the strangest goals in recent memory counted in a game few were probably watching to begin with.

    It’s probably safe to assume Ward (and goalies around the NHL) are going to find some way as to not let that happen again.

    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