Raffi Torres ; Tim Thomas;

Canucks outlasted the Bruins in third period, but how much did Game 1 really tell us?


Many hockey players discuss the notion that momentum matters within the span of a single game, but might not transfer to future contests. By that logic, it seems like it might be dangerous to assume that results will repeat throughout any series. Yet Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals seemed like even less of a sign of the times than we’re accustomed to.

In some ways, it almost felt like the penalty parade that took place in the first and second periods made the first 40 minutes unintelligible. Ultimately, we couldn’t take much from those opening frames other than brilliant goaltending by Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo, Alex Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron’s hand and Dan Hamhuis seemingly hurting himself with his own hip check on Milan Lucic.

As time goes on, that Raffi Torres game-winning goal will define Game 1 on highlight reels. Ryan Kesler started things by forcing a Johnny Boychuk turnover in Boston’s zone. Kesler sent a great pass to Jannik Hansen (who had a great overall game) around the point area. Hansen then foiled both Zdeno Chara and an overly aggressive Thomas with his slick pass to Torres, who tapped the puck in with less than 19 seconds left in the game.

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Vancouver 1, Boston 0; Canucks lead series 1-0

After 13 penalties and 28 penalty minutes combined between both teams in the first two periods, the referees didn’t call a single penalty in the third period. The Canucks carried most of the play in those 20 minutes of uninterrupted 5-on-5 hockey. Vancouver out-shot Boston 14-10 in the third, but that shot differential still didn’t properly portray the Canucks’ advantages in puck control and scoring chances during that final frame.

It was a sloppy, rough and contentious Game 1. Deep down, it’s a bit drastic to draw too many conclusions from this contest since penalties really ruined much of the rhythm, but here are a few points to consider anyway.

Outlook for both teams

Some speculated that the Bruins were tired in the last 20 or just plain slow, but they shouldn’t be too discouraged by losing Game 1. Sure, it must be heartbreaking to lose with less than a minute left, but Thomas was brilliant and they proved they wouldn’t be pushovers in either zone.

Both teams should feel proud of their penalty kills and irritated by missed opportunities on the power plays, going 0-for-6 each. The Bruins might have received the greatest chances, receiving a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity early in the second period after getting a four-minute double minor PP early in the first. The silver lining is that Boston produced a lot of shots during those two big opportunities in particular, firing nine shots on Luongo during the double-minor and three more on the 5-on-3.

The two other pluses were the play of Thomas and Zdeno Chara, who seemed to do a little bit of everything for the Bruins but couldn’t seal the deal.

The Canucks should feel great about this win, particularly their play in the third period, the fact that they matched Boston’s physicality and Roberto Luongo earned a 36-save shutout. The Sedin twins created some nice chances but couldn’t convert while Kesler was held in check for much of the game until his late-game assist washed all of that away. Vancouver forced Thomas to make some huge saves before they finally broke through, with perhaps his most exhilarating stop coming on a partial breakaway opportunity for Victor Oreskovich.

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One obvious area of concern for Vancouver is the health of Dan Hamhuis, who was banged up after delivering a hip check on Milan Lucic. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said that Hamhuis is day-to-day after the hit and wouldn’t even reveal if it is an upper-body or lower-body injury. It’s unclear whether he’ll play in Game 2 or not, but an extra night of rest my improve his chances of playing on Saturday.

Overall, the Canucks shouldn’t be too high after narrowly winning Game 1 while the Bruins should stay positive since they were able to hang in there. Stick with PHT for updates, previews and analysis as the 2011 Stanley Cup finals continue.

Coyotes GM ‘called right away’ on Hamonic

Don Maloney
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You can add Arizona to the list of teams that tried to get in on the Travis Hamonic sweepstakes.

“[He’s] a talented player,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the Arizona Republic. “We certainly called right away, but we do not have a good fit for them right now.

“That’s the bottom line. They’re looking for a ready-made complement player.”

Hamonic, who requested a trade out of New York, is garnering plenty of interest across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported five clubs — Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Minnesota — were in the mix, with Sportsnet floating potential trade chips like the Jets’ Jacob Trouba, and the Flames’ T.J. Brodie.

It’s unsurprising the Coyotes didn’t have a fit for Isles GM Garth Snow.

It’s hard to imagine — nearly impossible, really — to think Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be on the move, and the rest of the Arizona defense is comprised of unheralded youngsters (Michael Stone, Connor Murphy) or grizzled vets (Nicklas Grossmann, Zbynek Michalek).

But Maloney’s remarks are still noteworthy, because he more we hear about the Hamonic situation, the clearer the asking price gets.

Related: Hamonic willing to finish season with Isles

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”