69305_canucks_penguins_hockey

Can we put an end to the talk about running up the score?

2 Comments

You would think that in professional hockey the talk about whether or not your opponent is running up the score or not would be non-existent. Such wasn’t the case when the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1 back on November 20th. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was upset about the way the Blackhawks did things while they were up big late in the game and accused them of trying to run the score up. Keep in mind here, these are professional hockey players and not less-than talented six and seven year-olds.

Fast forward to last night’s game and again Vigneault was asked for his thoughts on things regarding that game. Vigneault stated once again that he felt the Hawks were trying to run the game up on them and pulled no punches in doing so.

“I think it’s every team’s right to do what they want,” he said. “Obviously, we weren’t very good. Five-on-three you sent Kane and Toews on the ice. They have every right to do that. They did it. And that’s it.”

Vigneault was told that Quenneville said that was just the next line up and Boynton and Stalberg do not normally play on the power play.

“C’mon, be serious here, let’s go,” Vigneault shot back. “Toews and Kane, it’s 6-0 going into the third. What do you think? Let’s be serious.”

Sigh.

Last night saw the Canucks get an ounce of revenge on the Blackhawks winning 3-0 in Chicago. In a show that turnabout is fair play, leave it up to the Chicago writers to pose the question about whether or not the Canucks were being out of line with how they were doing things up 3-0 late in the game. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago asks out loud if Vigneault was doing the same thing he’s accusing Joel Quenneville of doing.

With the Canucks leading 3-0, Jack Skille was called for a high-sticking penalty with 3:16 left in the game. Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice when the penalty was called. They had already had skated a 0:26 shift but stayed on for the power play. Joining them were the top two scoring defensemen for Vancouver, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Elder, along with Ryan Kesler, who is second on the team with 10 goals.

They played with the man-advantage for nearly a minute, then a second offensive-minded unit took the ice. It wasn’t until the penalty expired that Vigneault sent some fourth-liners on the ice — Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen for example — to finish the game.

Is 3-0 with 3:16 left in the game enough of a lead to call off the dogs, especially when the leading team is about to begin a two-minute power play? It seems it would be, which means Vigneault was either rubbing it in, or simply a hypocrite.

Or it’s very possible we’re all making way too much out of this entire situation. Instead of getting worked up about who’s doing what and whether or not someone’s winning with class let’s just look at it a different way. These guys are professionals. They’re not middle school-aged or college kids where you keep such things in the back of your mind if a game is out of control. They’re pros, they bounce back, they get over things almost immediately.

Having Vigneault complain about having the score run up on him is hilariously bad because if your team is getting beaten that badly at this level, the highest level of hockey in the world, it’s either because the team was badly prepared or everyone conspired to play their worst game of the season on the same night. Having a writer snipe back to pose the question in return is just making a joke of the whole matter which, really, we approve of even though a 3-0 lead can be a bit dangerous in the modern NHL.

All in all here though, everyone should try to be a bit more professional and perhaps just cut out the whining completely.

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.