All season long Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has looked a little bit off. After a Vezina Trophy winning season last year and an Olympic tournament that saw him lead the way for Team USA, it only made sense that he would have a bit of a down year this year.
Leave it to Miller to make his biggest impression of the season when it started to matter the most as he stopped 35 shots in Game 1 of the playoffs to lead the Sabres to victory 1-0 over Philadelphia. The shutout was Miller’s second in his career in the playoffs and while he didn’t get a lot of offensive support tonight, he got just enough from Patrick Kaleta of all people to get the win.
The loss for Philadelphia continues a bad trend that carried them through the final month of the season as the Flyers struggled to the end. The Flyers closed their year from February 26 til the end of the regular season going 7-8-6 and now they’re dealing with a red hot Sabres team that finished their season strong.
Some of you may have given us some grief for going against the Flyers as long as they’re playing without Chris Pronger, but tonight was a prime example of how things can change without their best defenseman as it was Danny Syvret who was caught not defending Kaleta on the game’s only goal.
It’s unfortunate for Philadelphia as James van Riemsdyk played an outstanding game for the Flyers. They’ll need more of that from him as the playoffs roll on. While the stars are always counted on to be big performers, getting production from the depth players goes a long way.
For Buffalo, stealing home ice advantage away from Philadelphia goes a long way for them as they’ll at least head back to Buffalo for Game 3 with a split in the series and at most with a 2-0 lead and the Flyers on the ropes. Either way, seeing Miller shut things down does wonders for the Sabres confidence on a night when their offense was able to muster just one goal.
If the Flyers want to get wins in the playoffs, fixing their power play would go a long way towards helping that out. The Sabres were 0-5 with the man advantage and looked bad on all of them. It’s been an issue for the Flyers all season as their power play ranks out as the sixth worst one amongst teams in the playoffs during the regular season scoring just 16.6% of the time. Against Buffalo tonight they looked like a mishmash of players attempting to do something but that something wasn’t putting the puck in the net.
While Buffalo would love to see the offense pick up, if Miller plays outstanding like he did all playoffs… Buffalo looks a lot scarier to face.
The mumps are back.
Three years after a league-wide outbreak sidelined a slew of players, the Canucks have announced that d-man Troy Stecher has been diagnosed with mumps, while four other players — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — have presented symptoms.
More, from the club:
The team has worked from the outset with the Vancouver Health Authority, NHL, NHLPA and BC Centre for Disease Control to minimize transmission of the illness.
In keeping with BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, players presenting symptoms are immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.
Vaccines are also being administered to minimize further risk of contraction along with universal preventative hygiene measures as recommended by Vancouver Coastal Health including disinfecting all dressing room areas.
Vancouver’s in the midst of its bye week. Saturday’s home date against the Sharks will be its first since a 3-2 loss to Philly on Sunday.
Given that Stecher’s out and the other four are being quarantined, the Canucks project to be severely undermanned tomorrow. There was no immediate announcement for AHL recall plans, or emergency roster replacements.
Following Saturday’s game, Vancouver is back in action again on Tuesday, when it hosts Detroit.
The Anaheim Ducks have acquired winger Patrick Eaves in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The cost was a conditional second-round draft pick in 2017.
Eaves, 32, is enjoying a career year with 21 goals in 59 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, his cap hit is just $1 million. It was expected that he’d be traded prior to next week’s deadline.
Eaves join a Ducks team that could use a few more goals. Of note, Corey Perry has struggled offensively, scoring just 11 times in 62 games.
Below is the condition on the draft pick, which could turn into a first-round selection.
Based on draft position, Dallas will receive the middle pick of Ottawa, San Jose or Toronto’s second-round selections in 2017 per the conditions in which Anaheim acquired the pick from Toronto in a previous trade. Should Anaheim advance to the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50% or more of their games in the first two rounds, the selection becomes the Ducks first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell is expected to skate in his first hockey game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The Hurricanes assigned Bickell to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on Friday and say he’s expected to play for the Checkers on Saturday night.
The move came a day after he was placed on waivers in a procedural move that allowed the team to send him to the minors.
Bickell, 30, has been out since October, was diagnosed with MS in November and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 11.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the past month.
Justin Schultz‘s career has done a virtual 180 since joining Pittsburgh at last year’s trade deadline, and the Pens have made it clear they’d like to keep him around beyond this season.
“We have not [discussed an extension with Schultz],” GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “But he will definitely be a priority for us in the offseason.”
Acquired for a third-round pick last February, Schultz proved to be one of Rutherford’s best moves (part of the reason why Rutherford captured NHL GM of the Year). The former Oilers rearguard had seven points through 18 regular-season games and then thrived once getting into the playoff mix, helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup.
He was signed to a modest one-year, $1.4 million extension last summer, which has turned out to be another Rutherford masterstroke.
Schultz has been vitally important for a Pittsburgh defense decimated by injury. His TOI is way up — 19:15 per game — and his offensive contributions have been outstanding. The 26-year-old has nine goals and 39 points through 56 games, putting him tops among all Pens d-men (and tied for seventh among all NHL blueliners).
Schultz is a pending RFA, and in line for a pretty big raise. The Post-Gazette suggested it could cost Pittsburgh $4-$5 million annually to keep him around, meaning Rutherford will have his work cut out. Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley are all pending UFAs, while fellow d-man Brian Dumoulin is also restricted come July 1.
Rutherford will also need to deal with the Marc-Andre Fleury issue, specifically how to mitigate Fleury’s $5.75 million cap hit.