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.”

No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

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There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

Here is O Canada:

Sami Vatanen returns to Ducks lineup vs. Oilers

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Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.

However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

You can see it in the video above.

After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.