Guy Boucher’s explains Steven Stamkos’ scoring slump on ‘some parts of the body injury’

We’ve already noted how NHL teams will grow increasingly (and comically) secretive about player injuries* but Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher produced some comedy (intentional or not) when he explained the struggles of his best scorer. When asked to justify a six game goal-less drought by Steven Stamkos, Boucher said he was injured, elaborating further that it was a “some parts of the body” injury.

* – Notice how the Phoenix Coyotes explained that Ed Jovanovski suffered a “lower body injury” after his jaw was on the receiving end of a Mike Brown shoulder check? Although perhaps he hurt his lower body on the way down? See, that’s how they get you …

Whenever I see a stat overlay that says “Player X has zero goals in x games” I always wonder if that guy happened to pile up a lot of assists in that span. My skepticism wasn’t justified in the case of Stamkos, though, as he only has one assist in that six game goal-less span.

The good news is that Stamkos downplayed the severity of his ailments, describing them as “bumps and bruises” with flu-like symptoms being the latest issue. With 31 goals to his credit with almost half the season remaining, it’s reasonable to expect an occasional lull anyway.

Even if that’s something Stamkos wouldn’t like to see very often.

Stamkos, second in the league with 31 goals, describe whatever his injury is or was as “nothing major, nothing that’s going to keep me from playing a game. Honestly, it’s the bumps and bruises I go through every year.”

He also said he has been fighting “a little bit of the flu, lately.”

As for his drought, he said, “You want to find that consistency. You don’t want to have those spurts, but the team is finding ways to win. … Sometimes it gets a little frustrating because of what you expect of yourself, but at the end of the day we’re all happy at the fact that we’re winning. To me, that’s most important.”

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

Leave a comment

Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

1 Comment

The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

1 Comment

Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

Getty
1 Comment

It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.