Henrik Sedin, Kent Huskins, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Kevin Bieksa

Your San Jose Sharks-Vancouver Canucks Game 5 primer

After winning on special teams and on the scoreboard in Game 3, the San Jose Sharks experienced a disturbing role reversal in their 4-2 Game 4 loss. The only way they can make their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in franchise history is to beat the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks three times in a row. The Sharks hope to begin that journey in Vancouver tonight.

San Jose @ Vancouver (Versus) – 9 p.m. ET; Canucks lead series 3-1

Of all the Sharks worries, something tells me that they’re not too concerned about their “playoff demons.” Instead, they’ll hope that their team will rally around their injured star Joe Thornton, who will fight through a shoulder injury in Game 5. Simply put, the Sharks need more from forwards such as Dany Heatley and Joe Pavelski if they hope to bring the series back to the Shark Tank.

Meanwhile, the Canucks hope to put away an opponent on their first chance for once. It took them four tries to finish off the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 and two tries to end the Nashville Predators’ season in the semifinals. It’s not a do-or-die game for them, but they don’t want to be weary in their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1994. (If they make it, obviously.)

With the Joe Thornton question out of the way, the biggest lineup questions revolve around the teams’ defenses. Hip check virtuoso Keith Ballard is expected to play again in Game 5 for the Canucks, but Christian Ehrhoff seems like a toss-up after missing Game 4. The Sharks face a question about their blueline as well since it sounds like young offensive defenseman Jason Demers is ready to go. Will Todd McLellan decide to put him back in the lineup? It sounds like both teams won’t tip their hands until game time.

If the Sharks lose tonight, they’ll face another year’s worth of inane questions about demons and choking. On the other hand, if the Canucks lose, people will wonder about their killer instinct and energy going forward. For more on Game 5, let’s take a look at the additional PHT content.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

Leave a comment

Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.