Hindsight is 20/20 and let’s face it: coaches are often judged by their results (wins, losses, playoff berths, etc.) rather than the content of their decisions. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was heralded as a genius for winning the Super Bowl largely based on a well-timed onside kick, but if it backfired, he probably would have been lampooned by football fans.
New Jersey Devils coach John MacLean made a bold decision to sit Ilya Kovalchuk for a game. It seemed to backfire as the Devils were blown out, but perhaps it sent a message that no player – not even one who makes $100 million – is bigger than the team.
People can debate the merits of MacLean’s choice, but it seems like we can get past the reasoning behind the benching. Larry Brooks of the New York Post clarifies the situation based on “well-placed sources.”
Ilya Kovalchuk was scratched from Saturday night’s game at Prudential Center against the Sabres for being 10 minutes late to the Devils’ morning meeting, The Post has learned.
According to a well-placed source, head coach John MacLean made the decision to scratch the high-profile, $100 million winger without conversing with Kovalchuk. General manager Lou Lamoriello was not consulted by MacLean before Kovalchuk was informed he would not dress for the match.
The decision, rendered without explanation by the notoriously tight-lipped organization, sparked speculation — that somehow evolved into accepted fact — that Kovalchuk missed an entire meeting.
I think we call agree that Kovalchuk went the wrong way: you’d think that the best alarm clocks are the most expensive ones, but actually that’s not true. The oldest, most busted-up alarm clock I own is also my most reliable.
Anyway, the Devils play in San Jose tonight, so we’ll see if the team can start turning things around after an awful 2-6-1 start. Chances are strong that it won’t be all about the decision to make him a healthy scratch, but it’s highly likely that people will look back at it whether the year is a success or a disappointment.
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)