Alex Burrows Roberto Luongo

Alex Burrows hopes to limit his mistakes (and snacks?) in Game 2

Wins and losses tend to amplify or diminish each game’s biggest mistakes. If you take a bad penalty and your team allows a deciding goal on the ensuing power play, you might be fitted with goat horns. Yet time often washes away the mistakes of the lucky when the scoreboard favors their teams.

Vancouver Canucks power forward Alex Burrows could have been the goat of Game 1. At this point you probably already know that he engaged in that dopey biting sequence with Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron after the horn sounded on the first period. That transgression gave the Bruins a power play after Burrows received a double-minor while Bergeron was whistled for one roughing penalty.

That wasn’t the only mistake Burrows made, though. He took a holding penalty midway through the first period and a tripping infraction during a similar point in the middle frame, giving him eight penalty minutes overall. Burrows was credited with two giveaways and zero takeaways as well, according to Game 1’s box score.

In other words, Burrows took a lot away from his team without bringing much to the table in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. He ultimately benefited from a lackluster Bruins power play and a tightly-fought 1-0 win, but the Canucks will need better things from their high-scoring agitator as the series continues.

Burrows acknowledged that he must make more intelligent decisions going forward, especially after avoiding a possible fine or suspension for that biting incident. He admitted as much to Eric Duhatschek of The Globe & Mail.

“It’s the Stanley Cup finals and I’ve been working all my life to be in this position. Obviously, with the last incident, the league’s made a decision and I’ve moved on. Now, I’m focusing on a big game tomorrow.”

Burrows took four penalties in the series opener and head coach Alain Vigneault suggested one – a goalie interference call – was largely unwarranted. The contact, in that case, did appear to be incidental and the Canucks have said they reached out to the NHL to get a clarification about why those calls are made if Tim Thomas is always leaving the crease to stop the puck.

Thomas’s counterpart, Roberto Luongo, changed his style this season, to play deeper in the net, and Vigneault implied it had to do with avoiding incidental contact.

According to Burrows, the answers were expected to come late Friday.

“At the same, I’ve got to be aware, around the net, to make sure I can’t bump the goalie,” he said. “That’s his ice if he’s already there. I have to be smarter and make sure I don’t put my team down a man.”

As much as the Bruins’ power play is struggling, it’s dangerous to give any NHL team six man advantages through two periods of play like Vancouver did. The Canucks and Bruins’ physical styles can blur the line between what is legal and illegal, but Burrows must realize that he dragged mud all over the proceedings in Game 1.

When he’s at his best, Burrows balances grit and mean-spirited play with finesse and timing. It’s not often that he hurts his team significantly, but sometimes he echoes those “die by the sword” moments less useful pests such as Sean Avery experience by going too far. We’ll see if he can approach his best level on Saturday after being far off the mark on Wednesday.

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.