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

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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.

Blues, Flames take care of business (Islanders … do not)

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For a while there, it seemed like the idle Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs would be Monday’s “winners.” That changed when the Carolina Hurricanes salvaged a standings point and the Tampa Bay Lightning stormed back to beat the Blackhawks.

Still, there were some teams who came through (beyond the Lightning) and those who fell flat, so let’s cover some of the results in short.

West teams get it done

Unlike their counterparts out East, West teams jockeying for position avoided “unforced errors” in losing to non-playoff teams.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 while the Calgary Flames topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2.

This keeps the Blues and Flames in position to advance. St. Louis is one point behind the Nashville Predators for third in the Central while the Flames are a point behind both the Sharks and Oilers for second and third in the Pacific (while remaining in shouting distance of the division title).

East teams stumble, some get over it

Again, the Lightning fought through hurdles to win and the Hurricanes managed that “charity point.”

Overall, East teams struggled. The New York Islanders fell to the Predators by a score of 3-1. Your mileage may vary on the Florida Panthers’ chances, especially after they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Here’s what the race for the final spot in the East looks like after tonight:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Victor Hedman might just force his way into the Norris argument

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For quite some time this season, the Norris Trophy race felt a bit like “Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and [insert token finalist].” As it turns out, Victor Hedman is making it a pretty interesting three-horse race.

With Burns and Karlsson idle on Monday, Hedman continued to go on the best offensive tear of his already-impressive career, contributing three assists to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As much credit as forwards Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin deserve in pushing Tampa Bay in Steven Stamkos‘ absence, Hedman has been an all-world blueliner for a Lightning team with a defense that isn’t really surrounding him with great talent.

He’s serving as a workhorse when his team needs him the most:

Now, when you look at the numbers, it’s probably fair to say that Hedman comes in third among the likely finalists in simple categories:

Brent Burns: 27 goals (!), 72 points in 75 games, +16 rating, 24:52 time-on-ice average

Erik Karlsson: 14 goals, 67 points in 74 games, +7, 26:53 minutes per game (fourth highest average in the NHL)

Victor Hedman: 15 goals, 65 points in 72 games, +2 rating, came into Monday with average of 24:15 minutes per game.

Looking at those breakdowns, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t just flippantly hand Hedman the “bronze medal” and a pat on the back … but things get more interesting if you ponder the all-around impact of those three.

Now, traditional-thinkers who slam risky defensemen for their mistakes often overstate such arguments. Both Burns and Karlsson tilt the ice in their teams’ favors, usually to profound degrees.

Still … Hedman locks opponents down to a truly elite degree and scores at a similar rate. Hedman could very well own the “two-way” argument; you could perhaps see his case most clearly when you compare his “HERO” chart to those of Burns and Karlsson, especially from the perspective of conceding shots.

Again, Burns remains the likely winner, and he would be a deserving one. You could make a solid Hart Trophy argument for Burns, in addition to tabbing him as the Norris frontrunner.

Even so, voters would be wise to take Hedman’s case seriously, especially as the Lightning continue their improbable playoff push.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack hospitalized after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Update: A mostly positive bit of news from the Hurricanes.