In taking a look at how the Stanley Cup finals shape up, the way the Vancouver Canucks have improved each round. After being pushed to overtime in Game 7 of the first round against Chicago, they went six games with Nashville, and just five against San Jose in the Western Conference finals. While the Bruins don’t have any former Blackhawks to work as a potential bogeyman for Roberto Luongo to have nightmares over, there’s another solution the Bruins could use to try and find a way to slow down the Canucks. They can play like the Nashville Predators.
While the Predators ultimately folded against the Canucks, one thing they were able to do was shut down the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin combined for two goals and five assists over the six games and while that’s still OK production, it’s not like the kind of numbers we saw from the pair against either Chicago or San Jose. The Predators key to shutting them down was to have a pair of stellar defenders in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter shadow them for the majority of the series.
As it works out, the Bruins have a pair of defensemen playing spectacular themselves in the form of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. While Chara is the main focus of the defense, Seidenberg has been the sleeper hit of the playoffs for the Bruins. With the two of them paired up together, they were able to make life miserable on Tampa Bay and Philadelphia’s forwards. While Tampa forwards had a bit more success scoring, the work Chara and Seidenberg did throughout the Eastern Conference finals was outstanding. To beat Vancouver, those two will have to take a page out of Nashville’s book on how to stop the twins.
After seeing what Henrik Sedin did against San Jose scoring one goal and adding 11 assists, while Daniel Sedin added two goals and four assists of his own while helping linemate Alex Burrows come away with three goals and three assists of his own, the defensive capabilities of not just Chara and Seidenberg will be tested but also those of potentially Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly.
Bergeron and Kelly are two of Boston’s better defensive centers with Bergeron being perhaps the best on the Bruins roster. Figuring out how to shadow both the Sedin line and Ryan Kesler’s line will be something coach Claude Julien will have to figure out. Nashville was able to shut down the Sedins but Kesler abused the rest of Nashville’s defense on his way to single-handedly dominating the series and vaulting himself to the top of the Conn Smythe Trophy consideration list.
If the Bruins can get all of their forwards as well as their defense to stick together and play “Bruins hockey” to help neutralize the Sedins, the series shapes up to be much more interesting than it appears on first glance. Taking the Sedins out of the scoring mix makes these teams a lot more similar than they already are and for Boston, taking that elite level of talent out of the mix would be a huge win for Boston. Asking Chara and Seidenberg and the rest of the Bruins to do that for up to seven games makes for quite the tall order.
Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.
Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.
There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.
The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.
Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.
Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.
Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.
Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.
It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.
With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.
Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.
For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.
With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.
Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.
The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.
“If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”
The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now
NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars
Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team