Brian Boucher

Five Thoughts: Flyers goaltending not all to blame for bad goals

Yesterday’s games in Philadelphia and Vancouver certainly gave us enough of a rainbow of both how to and how not to handle a playoff game. In Philadelphia old demons that never really went away resurfaced all in one bad afternoon. Meanwhile in Vancouver, teams traded blows in a defensive showdown that needed two overtimes to settle things out. With such a smorgasbord of action there’s plenty to discuss this morning.

1. Everyone’s busy talking about how the Flyers goaltending problems are once again in vogue and that’s understandable. After all, a team loses 7-3 and sees them make a goaltending change again in the playoffs mid-game, there’s clearly an issue there. In Philly, Brian Boucher just did not get things done  and Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t fare much better in relief. Those guys are worth of criticism and that’s fine.

What’s not getting scrutinized enough from yesterday’s game are the failings of the Flyers defense. For the entire game their defensemen were busy trying to keep up with the constant motion of Boston’s forwards and they seem shocked by how often Bruins defensemen jumped into the play to mix things up offensively. Flyers defensemen were chasing players all over and getting confused or lost on their assignments leaving Bruins forwards all the room around the net to make plays or pounce on rebounds untouched. If the defensemen had problems keeping up, the Flyers lines had a hard time matching up with the Bruins top line as Nathan Horton and David Krejci dominated whoever lined up across from them.

From Peter Laviolette on down to the players, they had no answers for Boston. They’ll need to fix things defensively fast or else things are going to head south quickly. They need to straighten up their assignments and play things a lot tougher and a lot tighter on top of it all.

2. The scary part of what Boston did was that they saw a breakout game from David Krejci. Krejci ascended to the role of #1 center after Marc Savard was knocked out for the season. Since then Krejci has had some injuries and he’s been very inconsistent. In the playoffs, however, he’s turned back into the playmaking type center they knew he could be. Getting two goals and two assists in yesterday’s rout could be a sign of great things for the Bruins as a healthy and motivated Krejci on the top line to help get Horton free and perhaps even wake up Milan Lucic would be huge in helping them go even deeper in the playoffs. Asking Krejci to be the new Savard is asking too much of him, but having him be the best he can be is all the Bruins really need now.

3. What’s all the more amazing about the Bruins doing as well as they are is that their power play continues to stink out loud. They’re now 0-26 in the playoffs with the man advantage and by all appearances not getting any better at all. Even in a game where they gave up seven goals, none of them came on the power play. That’s wretched. The Bruins are rolling on borrowed time as far as this stat is concerned. They’ll run into someone capable of edging them out consistently and those opportunities where they’re not scoring with the extra man will haunt them. Claude Julien says they’re working things out but the most immediate change they can make for the better is to put a shock collar on Tomas Kaberle and whenever he doesn’t shoot he gets a jolt.

4. If you needed an exercise in how to play goalie in the NHL look no further than Game 2 between Vancouver and Nashville. Pekka Rinne got the win stopping just 32 shots through nearly five full periods, but it was his stops in the two overtimes that made his night look spectacular in leading the Predators to a 2-1 double OT victory. Roberto Luongo too was fantastic in defeat stopping more than 40 shots on goal. With both guys being Vezina Trophy finalists it’s thrilling to see both of them living up to the designation against each other.

5. One area of major concern for the Canucks, however, has to be their offense. With just two goals against Nashville in two games and the biggest of the big names not showing up yet, there’s reason for the Canucks to be nervous. If Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Ryan Kesler don’t start finding their way to the score sheet more often, things are going to get ugly in Vancouver. With Nashville not making life any easier on those players, it’s up to them, the Sedins in particular, to play like MVPs and lead the charge. Easier said than done we know, but if they really want to impress us, lighting it up in the playoffs would do the trick.

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.

John Scott to return to Habs’ AHL team this weekend

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John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.

Now, he wants to get back to work.

Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.

“It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”

Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.

Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.

Related:

The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?

Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’