Even beyond the generally nebulous nature of making predictions, this year’s playoffs are even tougher to project thanks to a handful of stars’ murky injury situations. Teams might prepare as if those guys won’t be in the lineup, but it doesn’t take an expert to say that those clubs won’t have the same kind of firepower without them.
Yet that’s where we stand with Sidney Crosby, Henrik Zetterberg and Chris Pronger.
In the case of Pronger and the Philadelphia Flyers, I made a leap of faith that the game-changing defenseman will be able to play during the team’s fascinating first round series against the Buffalo Sabres. Without knowing every little detail of his injury, it’s tough to speculate how accurate that assumption might be.
CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio caught up with the team regarding Pronger’s situation, but if the Flyers already know whether or not he’ll play in Game 1 on Thursday, they aren’t tipping their hand just yet.
Pronger, who is still in rehab from surgery on March 15, did not practice at Skate Zone but did take part in the team’s special teams meetings and did his other off-ice rehab. General manager Paul Holmgren said Pronger’s status remains day to day.
Some players say he’ll be ready to go Thursday in Game 1 against Buffalo while others are saying he won’t appear unless he is fully 100 percent and ready to go.
So the question is, how does coach Peter Laviolette prepare this week? Does he prepare as if he will have Pronger in the lineup? Or as if Pronger won’t be dressing?
If you take for gospel how things went today, then the Flyers are preparing as if Pronger won’t be available for Game 1.
Well, there you have it. He missed practice, but participated in meetings that would keep him informed of the team’s key strategies and information. In other words, his presence in Game 1 remains a toss-up. Naturally, we’ll let you know if the team gives a solid answer about his status as Thursday approaches, but don’t be shocked if he ends up being a dreaded “game-time decision.”
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:
Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.
“It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”
The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.
For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.
Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?
That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.
The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.
Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.
Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.
Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.
Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.
Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.
Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.
Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.