2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Michael Leighton was expecting a pass

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Leighton5.jpgI am admittedly hard on goaltenders, especially NHL goaltenders in
the playoffs.

Many people wondered what Dan Boyle was doing when
he threw his own puck on net; me, I was all over Evgeni Nabokov for not
being square to the play.

Before the Cup finals began everyone was
all gaga over Michael Leighton and how great he was against the Bruins
and the Canadiens. While he was certainly better than expected, he’d yet
to play a team like Chicago when the pressure was at its highest.

Against
the Hawks, through six games, Leighton was good. At times he was great,
but for a team like the Flyers to pull off the upset against Chicago
they needed him to be incredible. In their biggest game of the season,
he was far from incredible.

It’s tough to blame the go-ahead goal
in the third period on Leighton — it was tipped in front — but his
positioning on that play was indicative of the problems with his game
all series. The real killer was the goal before, after the Flyers had
taken a stunning 2-1 lead after being grossly outshot. Patrick Sharp has
a good shot, but this wasn’t his best. It was a clean release, and
Leighton had a clear sight of the shot; somehow the puck found it’s way
through him from the short side.

It’s something that had happened
to Leighton all series long. Good saves, followed by a soft short side
goal.

I’m still trying to figure out what happen on Patrick Kane’s
shot. As a goaltender, you are taught to always stay square to the
puck. If the puck is along the boards, you hug your post and make your
leg pads into a wall. The first instinct is to anticipate a shot, but
your first responsibility is to the initial shot. Trust your defensemen
to cover that pass if it gets through. Unfortunately,
Leighton broke that rule. Per Chris Botta:

“(Kane)
walked out of the corner and there was a guy driving to the
net,” said Leighton, who stopped 37 of 41 shots over 64 minutes and six
seconds. “I thought Kane was going to pass it. He threw it at my feet
and it went underneath me.”

From that angle, Kane’s
goal should never have gone in. While you feel happy for the Blackhawks,
I am saddened that a Stanley Cup was won on such a soft goal like that
one.

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

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Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

Related: With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

Washington Capitals v Vancouver Canucks
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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

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Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.