Thrashers interview Craig Ramsay (and others) for head coach

While the Atlanta Thrashers ponder what their future will hold, one part they’ll have to take care of first is their vacant head coaching position. Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells us that general manager Rick Dudley has spoken to one man on his hit list who could be of major interest.

The Thrashers interviewed Craig Ramsay for their vacant head coaching position over the weekend. Ramsay, currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins, is the third candidate to be interviewed by new Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley.

Last month Dudley interviewed AHL head coaches Scott Arniel, of the Manitoba Moose, and Don Lever, of the Thrashers’ minor-league affiliate Chicago Wolves. Dudley met with Arniel at the Memorial Cup and with Lever following the junior hockey tournament.

You can scratch one name off that short list already as Scott Arniel is set to become the head coach of the Blue Jackets. Don Lever is an interesting choice given his familiarity with the players in the organization. Of course, that didn’t really help out former head coach John Anderson at all as he was let go at the end of this past season.

As for Ramsay, he’s spent most of his coaching career as an assistant coach, save for one year as the Flyers head coach in 2000-2001 that ended with a first round loss in the playoffs to the Buffalo Sabres in six games, the clincher being an 8-0 blowout. Apparently, Craig Ramsay is still suffering from that humiliation because he hasn’t landed a head coaching job since then. Luckily for Ramsay, his former teammate Rick Dudley is willing to look beyond such matters at this point in life.

As for who else Dudley might be looking at, Vivlamore adds a couple more names in Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti who is a bit tied up right now with the Stanley Cup finals and Rockford Ice Hogs coach Bill Peters. What’s Dudley looking for in a head coach? Warning: Nonsensical cliché ahead.

“I was trying to throw questions that were not normal questions that they would get … and they didn’t even flinch,” Dudley said of the interviews. “If I asked them about the neutral zone and playing against a passive fore check, what would you do? They just answered like it was water off a duck’s back.”

So the Thrashers want to be like ducks or like the Anaheim Ducks or not like ducks/Ducks at all? I’m lost now.

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    A ‘weird game’ and a tough loss, but Preds feel good about their chances

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    PITTSBURGH — “It was a weird game,” said Pekka Rinne, pretty much nailing it.

    The Nashville Predators had just lost, 5-3, after keeping the Pittsburgh Penguins without a shot for almost two full periods of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Rinne, the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite heading into the series, only saw 11 shots the whole night. Four of them beat him, including one that bounced off his own defenseman to put the Preds down, 3-0, in the first period.

    Nashville eventually battled back to tie it at three, thanks to a couple of power-play snipes and an even-strength tally by Frederick Gaudreau. But Jake Guentzel‘s goal at 16:43 of the third, on a shot that broke the Penguins’ unfathomably long stretch without one, proved to be the winner. Minutes later, an empty-netter sealed it for the defending champs. 

    “At the end of the day, my job is to make the save,” said Rinne, “and at the end of the game I’m disappointed I couldn’t help my team. We showed a lot of character. I thought that we played a great game. I think we have a lot of things that we can take away from this game, a lot of positives.”

    Captain Mike Fisher had no idea that his Preds had held the Penguins shotless for 37 minutes, a stretch that went from 19:43 of the first when Nick Bonino‘s one-handed pass bounced off Mattias Ekholm‘s pads into the net, all the way to Guentzel’s winner.

    “I knew they weren’t getting too many chances and we were playing pretty strong,” said Fisher. “We found a way to get back in it, but it wasn’t our night.”

    Defenseman P.K. Subban, who had a goal called back in the first period after video review determined that Filip Forsberg was a hair offside, was characteristically positive afterwards.

    “That’s hockey,” said Subban. “That’s just what it is. And if we just play the way we did, minus some of the mistakes that we made, I like our chances. We’ll be better next game, that’s for sure. I’m sure they’re going to be better. … This is going to be a long series.”

    Penguins avoid collapse, beat Preds in crazy Stanley Cup Final opener

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    PITTSBURGH — The game of hockey can be crazy at times.

    Then you have nights like Monday, when it gets really crazy.

    In a game that often made no sense at all, the Penguins built up a 3-0 lead, blew that lead, then rallied late to beat Nashville 5-3 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    So, uh, where to even begin with this?

    Let’s start with the game-winner. Jake Guentzel, who was on the verge of being a healthy scratch for tonight’s affair, scored with less than four minutes remaining to snap an eight-game goalless drought.

    Now, consider the circumstances under which this goal was scored.

    Guentzel was facing tremendous pressure to get his offense going. And the shot he scored on was Pittsburgh’s first in 37 minutes of action. During that time, the Pens recorded the first zero-shot playoff period since NHL began tracking SOG in 1957-58.

    Guentzel’s goal also came after Nashville had staged a furious, wild three-goal rally to even things up.

    Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissions and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Preds, with Sissions and Gaudreau finding the back of the net less than four minutes apart in the final frame. Gaudreau, who up until a few weeks ago was playing in the Calder Cup playoffs, looked as though he was primed to become the next unlikely postseason hero.

    But it wasn’t to be.

    Because there were other equally unlikely developments on the night.

    Heck, we haven’t discussed the first period yet. Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino scored in a span of 4:11 in the opening frame, a flurry filled with fortuitous bounces and breaks. Malkin’s tally came on a 5-on-3 man advantage, after Calle Jarnkrok and James Neal were whistled for simultaneous penalties. Bonino’s marker was an own goal, knocked in by Preds d-man Mattias Ekholm.

    Oh, and there was that disallowed marker.

    Perhaps you heard? It was an ignominious start for the NHL on its biggest stage. Seven minutes in, the Preds looked to have taken a 1-0 lead when P.K. Subban‘s blast beat Matt Murray. But hold on. Pens head coach Mike Sullivan quickly challenged and, upon review, it was deemed that Filip Forsberg entered the Pittsburgh zone illegally.

    More, from the NHL’s situation room blog:

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesmen, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that Forsberg preceded the puck into the attacking zone, nor did he have possession and control before crossing the blue line.

    This ruling came just hours after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended offside challenges in his state-of-the-league address.

    Crazy is right. And fitting, given what transpired tonight.

    Video: Guentzel, Penguins regain lead after 37-minute shot drought

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    Luck keeps going the Pittsburgh Penguins’ way in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    The Nashville Predators kept firing away at Matt Murray, holding the Penguins without a shot on goal for a whopping 37 minutes and managing to tie the contest 3-3 after falling behind 3-0.

    It was a ridiculous display … and then Pittsburgh got its next shot.

    Jake Guentzel scored on that attempt, roofing it past a struggling Pekka Rinne. It’s the sort of thing you can’t even dream up.

    Pittsburgh also added an empty-net goal, so Nashville needs an epic final 30 seconds if they hope to avoid a crushing Game 1 loss.

    Predators hold Penguins without a shot in second, now down 3-1 in Game 1

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    There’s little sense denying the Pittsburgh Penguins’ luck through 40 minutes against the Nashville Predators in Game 1.

    Through the first period, some favorable calls and a lucky bounce or two helped Pittsburgh generate a stunning 3-0 lead. Pittsburgh ended the opening frame with a burst of activity after a strong start to the Stanley Cup Final by Nashville.

    The Predators regained their composure and confidence in the second, resulting in a dominant display on the ice (if not on the scoreboard).

    The Penguins only managed couldn’t even manage a single, measly shot on goal against Pekka Rinne during the middle frame, but unfortunately for Nashville, some dominant puck possession only resulted in a goal by Ryan Ellis.

    A 3-1 deficit is digestible, if frustrating, for Nashville. We’ll see if they can get back into Game 1 in the third period.

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