Preseason quick recaps: October 1st

2 Comments

There were 10 games tonight, so no time for silly introductions.

Carolina 2, Atlanta 1 (OT)

Plus: Brandon Sutter scored both of Carolina’s goals. Both Cam Ward and Ondrej Pavelec put together very nice games.

Minus: You have to wonder about the goal scoring depth of both teams next season. Games like these justify such worries.

Washington 5, Columbus 3

Plus: Capitals fans reportedly gave former team captain Chris Clark a nice ovation, who had one goal and one assist in the game. Eric Fehr put up two goals and an assist while Mike Green had two assists for Washington.

Minus: The Blue Jackets might open it up a bit next season, but judging by the 38 shots allowed, it seems like there’s a chance that might come at the expense of their once-stout defense.

New York 5, Ottawa 4 (SO)

Plus: Clear signs this was a preseason game: Brian Boyle had one goal and one assist while Derek Boogaard scored a goal. A bit more normally, Jason Spezza put together a nice two goal, one assist performance. Chris Campoli had one goal and two assists.

Minus: Every time a game is decided by a shootout, a hockey purist loses its wings.

New Jersey 4, NY Islanders 3

Plus: The Devils’ top players put together another good game, only this time they won. Matt Moulson almost brought the Islanders back into the game, scoring the contest’s last two goals.

Minus: None of those stats count.

Detroit 7, Toronto 3

Plus: Jiri Hudler scored two goals while the Red Wings went 4 for 7 on the power play. Don’t forget that Hudler wasn’t in Detroit last season, depriving the team of a valuable depth scorer.

Minus: It seems like the Leafs were blown out every game this preseason, but that’s just because they’ve played a bunch of games. And also because they’re not very good. Jussi Rynnas allowed all seven goals in this one.

Philadelphia 3, Buffalo 1

Plus: Brian Boucher had a great game, stopping 32 of 33 shots in this one. Ryan Miller was solid too, making 21 of 23 saves. The Flyers scored two power-play goals in this game.

Minus: Mike Grier got thrown out of the game in the third period.

Tampa Bay 2, Florida 1 (OT)

Plus: Both goalies were fantastic in this one; Tomas Vokoun went 40 for 42 while Mike Smith went 29 for 30. Simon Gagne was involved in the game’s two goals, scoring the first one and producing an assist on the overtime game-winner.

Minus: The Panthers allowed 42 shots while the Lightning allowed 30. That’s not very good.

Chicago 5, Pittsburgh 2

Plus: Marian Hossa scored two goals while Patrik Sharp produced a goal and an assist. Brent Seabrook was a +3. Both power plays converted on 50 percent off their chances.

Minus: Brent Johnson allowed three goals on 10 assists.

Calgary 5, Edmonton 1

Plus: Jarome Iginla scored two goals while Mikael Backlund provided two assists. Henrik Karlsson probably won’t get many chances to play real games, but he at least did his job in stopping 20 of only 21 shots.

Minus: Nikolai Khabibulin allowed six goals while the Oilers only put 21 shots on net. Sam Gagner went 5-13 on faceoffs while only having a -2 rating.

Vancouver 4, Anaheim 2

Plus: Ryan Kesler scored a goal and added an assist. Vancouver went 2 for 4 on the power play while Anaheim went 1 out of 5.

Minus: Vancouver only had four shots in the first period.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

2 Comments

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

7 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

22 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

13 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.