It cannot be easy to follow Brian Burke, even if you’re not just talking about amusing facial expressions and often outspoken moments with the press. Yet that was the task at hand for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who took over for Burke when the American GM left the Ducks for a be-careful-what-you-wish-for dream job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Ducks apparently like what they’re seeing so far from “Bar Stool Bob” as the team handed him a four-year extension today. This adds onto his current contract, which was set to expire after the 2011-12 season. (You can watch video of his reactions here.)
Ducks fans seem to have mixed feelings about Murray (a slight majority voted that the team made a bad choice by extending his contract in a poll at the OC Register), but that might stem largely from decisions he was forced to make because the team has a tight budget.
Murray had some bad luck (Scott Niedermayer’s retirement) and made some tough decisions (most notably trading Chris Pronger because the team didn’t want to give him a long-term extension), but the team’s future is still pretty bright. They have a young, talented core in Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry on offense and some promising pieces in goalie Jonas Hiller (if he can deal with his disconcerting health issues) and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler. He didn’t call the shots on every move that set up their impressive nucleus, but he navigated a trying negotiation process with Ryan and scored a steal when he drafted Fowler in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The key will be to surround those players with competent players. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne have shown that they can still contribute at times, but it’s obvious that the team needs to improve the team’s supporting cast or at least make it younger.
Overall, Murray is making the best of a challenging situation in Anaheim. He might not always make flashy or “easy” decisions, but it looks like the Ducks are in good hands going forward.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.