Before we get into the Toronto Maple Leafs’ immediate on-ice issues, there is a bit of breaking news that could have a profound effect on the team both on and off the ice.
Greg Brady reports that the team will replace their current president and CEO Richard Peddie, although Brady notes that there isn’t an exact time table just yet. Apparently the team will hire a firm that will consider both Canadian and U.S. candidates.
Multiple sources confirm Richard Peddie is being replaced as Pres/CEO of MLSE. A search group has been hired by MLSE for his replacement.
Moving on to more tangible, on-ice related matters, Jean-Sebastien Giguere blasted his teammates for failing to compete. Here is a snippet of what he said via James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail.
Giguere said the team’s slow start was what really killed them, as after failing to capitalize on an early 5-on-3, Toronto seemed to back off and allow the Lightning to take control of the game with three quick goals.
“I think it was obvious we weren’t ready to start … As a group, we just weren’t ready to compete and do what we needed to do to win the game,” he said. “I mean, we played better in the second and third but that’s not enough. In the situation we’re in, you need to see some desperation out of the guys, some competitiveness and we’re not seeing that.
“I don’t understand why it’s not happening. There’s nothing given in this league. It’s a tough league to win in, especially on the road. You need to show up ready. Things might not go your way, that’s understandable, and you’re not going to win them all but after you lose a few in a row like that, you need to start showing something.
“Tonight we didn’t even have a chance.”
After starting the season with a sensational 4-0 run, the Leafs are looking like the team many picked to finish in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. They’ve gone a pitiful 1-6-3 since that four-game winning streak, including their current six-game skid. They’ve been shutout three times during that run, a sign that their offense is probably their biggest problem.
Changes seem like they’re coming at the highest levels of the organization, but they are needed just as badly on ice.
(H/T to Puck Daddy.)
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.