The Montreal Canadiens had an incredible run to the Eastern Conference finals last season, but they had to make half of it without their go-to powerplay quarterback and best defenseman Andrei Markov. The Russian blueliner sustained an injury from a rugged, yet clean check from Pittsburgh Penguins agitator Matt Cooke.
Here is video of that hit from the second round of the 2010 playoffs.
Now, as you may know, “getting back on skates” and “being ready to withstand body checks from 220 lbs. power forwards” are two very different things. Still, Markov has more than a month to get back to game speed, so if he can participate in the Canadiens’ training camp – or at least a portion of it – that would be a big boost to a team that will be under a lot of pressure to succeed without Jaroslav Halak.
Markov didn’t play much in the regular season either (only 45 games), so hopefully the team will proceed with caution regarding its offensive catalyst. He produced an impressive 34 points in those 45 games, though, so when healthy he can really make things happen.
Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
Credit Frank Vatrano. Bad penalty in 3rd period & but makes up for it with game-winner in OT. That's how you get in Claude circle of trust
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.