Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

The imact of Patrice Bergeron’s injury on the Boston Bruins

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While their power play would probably be better with him, the Boston Bruins haven’t really missed a beat with Marc Savard on the shelf. It’s quite possible that another concussion to another high-level center will have a much bigger effect on this Bruins team.

If you ask me, Patrice Bergeron’s mild concussion could be a major problem. Bergeron doesn’t generate much attention since he isn’t the high scoring forward he was before his first set of concussions, but there are many who believe that he deserved a Selke Trophy nomination this season.

Even in a well-balanced attack like Boston’s, Bergeron was standing out during the first two rounds of the playoffs. He’s tied for second place in the 2011 playoffs for points scored with 12 (two goals and 10 assists) and boasts an astounding 64.2 faceoff winning percentage. His +7 rating shows that good things happen when his line is on the ice.

Bergeron’s slick passing skills and great two-way play fueled a great line with Brad Machand (five goals and six assists for 11 points) and Mark Recchi (two goals and five assists for seven points). As dominant as the Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic line was in Round 2, Bergeron powered the team’s most consistent line.

Now someone else will need to try to maintain that strong second line play. Bergeron is expected to miss at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, but let’s face it; concussion symptoms can linger for random amounts of time. It’s possible that the Bruins will need a longer term fix. Here are three candidates who are most likely to step in for Bergeron.

1. Chris Kelly – Kelly’s been a fantastic addition to the Bruins lineup, as he’s enjoying great chemistry on the third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder. Kelly is the most likely fit because, like Bergeron, he’s a responsible player in his own zone. Here’s what Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Kelly.

“Kelly is a good two-way player. He makes strong plays and we’ve seen him on that other line and his style of play is not unlike Bergy’s,” said Chiarelli. “Watching him (Friday) night it looks like it would be a good fit.”

2. Rich Peverley – Speaking of Peverley, he’s closer to Bergeron’s level from an offensive standpoint. He is a nice playmaker, but might be a defensive liability against the Tampa Bay Lightning’s better offensive players.

3. Tyler Seguin – As Joe pointed out, Seguin will get his chance to play in the postseason with Bergeron’s injury. Seguin is a raw offensive talent who isn’t quite there yet, but who knows, the playoffs might be a good launching pad for the second pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The fact that he’s been a healthy scratch in the playoffs shows that he must earn Julien’s trust to get big minutes, though.

One bonus with the unlikely choice of lining Seguin up with Recchi and Marchand is that the team could keep the Peverley-Kelly-Ryder line together.

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The Bruins will do their best to replace Bergeron for however long he’s out, but it’s unlikely that they’ll find a player at his level. That being said, they do have some options. All three of the choices above are considered “natural” centers, so Julien can mix-and-match to see what the best option might be. This team already excels with an offense-by-committee approach, so it might not be crazy to think that everyone can step it up a bit in Bergeron’s absence.

Early thoughts – and praise – for Capitals landing Kevin Shattenkirk

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Jaws dropped around the hockey world when news broke that the Washington Capitals landed Kevin Shattenkirk in a blockbuster trade. Heads were then scratched as people tried to make sense of the “conditions” of a conditional second-rounder involved in the move.

With a little time for the smoke to clear and with the assets revealed, here are some scattered thoughts.

PHT will likely cover more of the fallout on Tuesday and beyond, though, so stay tuned.

Brian MacLellan deserves consideration as a top GM

Judging an executive can be really tricky; while a GM of the Year award is easy to justify, it’s also easy to mock. Even the best managers inherit a roster (aside from MacLellan’s predecessor George McPhee, who will build one in Vegas), so you have to credit some successes to the guy who came before.

And, yes, McPhee helped put together a core that includes Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom.

Even so, MacLellan evokes Stan Bowman in masterfully adding tremendous electrons to a fantastic nucleus.

He added Matt Niskanen (and, admittedly, flubbed it with Brooks Orpik) to beef up a defense to help the shrewd hiring of Barry Trotz as head coach. Trotz seems like he’s ending what was a busy procession of shaky bench bosses.

MacLellan really nailed it the next summer, trading for T.J. Oshie and signing Justin Williams to a bargain deal. A year later, the Capitals added a fantastic third-line center option in Lars Eller via a smart trade.

And now this. It’s not clear where Kevin Shattenkirk will fit in the Capitals’ lineup, but either way, he boosts an already formidable group.

Misc.

Let’s lightning round some other thoughts.

  • Scottie Upshall joked about all the one-timers Shattenkirk is primed to set up for Alex Ovechkin … but he has a point.
  • It’s difficult to imagine the Capitals re-signing Shattenkirk, putting continued emphasis on the talk of Washington being in the last season of a “two-year window” to make their greatest push for a Stanley Cup. At the same time, there aren’t a lot of problem contracts beyond Orpik’s in Washington, so the plus side is that MacLellan can also show how he might be Bowman-like in making the right calls in who to bring back. Make no mistake about it, getting Shattenkirk is about now, not later.
  • Oh yeah the Capitals also got a nice sneaky bonus in landing Pheonix Copley, who better have the nickname “typo.”

All things considered, it’s no surprise that the Capitals are excited.

There’s at least a chance Shattenkirk might be able to suit up for Washington as soon as Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, but either way, this sure looks like a slam dunk.

Wild just wouldn’t stay down, edge Kings in OT

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Don’t blame Ben Bishop if, deep down, he was glad that he didn’t make his Los Angeles Kings debut on Monday.

After seeing the kind of speed, drive and all-around electric play displayed by the Minnesota Wild, you can understand a goalie shuddering at the often wide-open action. Despite falling behind four times against the Kings, the Wild ultimately edged Los Angeles 5-4 in an overtime thriller.

Mikael Granlund‘s 20th goal of the season ended it in OT, and quickly. And it was beautiful:

…. Unless you’re Jonathan Quick and the Kings, that is.

Granlund is absolutely on fire right now.

Ryan White made a great first impression for the Wild, scoring a goal and an assist (while displaying great flow). Martin Hanzal wasn’t able to score, though he did make his presence felt with five hits. And, again, Bishop might have secretly been relieved to put his Kings debut on hold.

Marian Gaborik turned back the clock a bit to his Wild prime, scoring a goal and an assist. He generally made quite a bit happen for Los Angeles.

It was a tough one for Anze Kopitar, meanwhile, who was unable to generate offense and suffered a -3. He wasn’t able to stop Granlund in OT, though who could?

The Wild still must worry as mumps sidelined at least Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, but for now, they’re battling on. Just ask the Kings how resilient this group really is.

Sell this: Kucherov, Lightning put trades behind them, blast Senators

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The Tampa Bay Lightning might be in sell mode, but that doesn’t mean their players are quitting on this season.

After shipping Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle out of town, they could have rolled over against a hungry Ottawa Senators team. Instead, they blew them out, winning 5-1 on Monday.

Nikita Kucherov was the biggest standout, collecting a natural hat trick, which you can watch above. (He also generated an assist.)

Jonathan Drouin had a big night in his own right, assisting on all three of Kucherov’s goals. Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson generated two assists apiece, as well.

And, yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy inspired at least a few “Ben who?” jokes by making 39 out of 40 saves, including this beauty:

As you can see, Ottawa actually had a 1-0 lead at that point, so it could have been a different game if the agile goalie did do the splits there.

The Lightning are still five points out of the final wild card spot, trailing Boyle’s new team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators, meanwhile, find themselves slipping a bit out of the race to win the Atlantic Division, especially considering Montreal’s comeback win against New Jersey.

Tampa Bay may may not be done making moves and recognizing painful truth that the odds are against them rallying to a playoff spot. That said, nights like these make you wonder if a run is at least possible.

Canadiens’ big guns trigger comeback OT win against Devils

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 27:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates the game winning power play goal by Alex Galchenyuk #27 at 2:54 of overtrime against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 27, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Canadiens defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were looking a little grim there for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

The New Jersey Devils had, at one point, a 2-0 lead. At least in some corners there were murmurs about a bad start for Claude Julien. Then their big guns swung the game.

The comeback started with Alex Radulov, though the drama was just beginning:

Travis Zajac made it 3-1 for the Devils on the power play, only for Radulov to assist on two Max Pacioretty goals to send the game to overtime.

From there, Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime-winner for Montreal on the man advantage. Radulov got yet another secondary assist – he ended up with four points tonight – while Shea Weber nabbed the primary helpers on the last two tallies.

Long story short, the Canadiens biggest names came through, allowing Julien to maybe utther a sigh of relief.