When your team is fighting to win its first Stanley Cup in franchise history, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Sometimes that means going with “outside the box” strategies to get every little edge.
Game 2 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals will take place in Vancouver Saturday night (at 8 p.m. ET on NBC), but the Canucks made the decision to sleep at an area hotel instead of their own beds Friday. If you’re a Canucks fan with a devious plan to upset the Boston Bruins’ sleep schedules, you might want to make sure that the home team isn’t staying at the same locale.
While the “act as if you’re on the road when you’re at home” plan sounds silly, it actually makes a lot of sense. Professional hockey players probably deal with a lot of long-lost cousins and reemerging grade school friends looking for tickets during typical games, but one can only imagine the kind of requests they receive during a championship round. It makes a lot of sense for the Canucks to opt for the low-distraction route, even if it’s easy to imagine a collective group of hockey wives and girlfriends with their hands on their hips in disagreement.
Head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t offer a comment regarding this policy, but a few Canucks players divulged some details about the plan to NHL.com.
“We did it Game 7 (of the Chicago series), Game 5 (of the San Jose Sharks series) and for all the Finals games,” he said. “There’s so many people in town, everyone’s trying to limit as many distractions as we can. Everyone gets a good meal the night before and it keeps it really simple for everybody.”
Added back-up goaltender Cory Schneider in his blog for NHL.com: “It simulates what life is like on the road where there’s nothing to focus on but hockey. Some guys want to be around their families, but I think there’s some peace and solitude in staying in the hotel that helps get them ready. We’ve had a lot of success doing, it so we’re sticking with it now.”
The decision to sleep away from home while the series is in Vancouver, we’re told, came from the Canucks’ leadership group.
“The day before a game, it’s not a big deal, we just get together and focus for the game,” said captain Henrik Sedin, who to no one’s surprise is rooming with twin brother Daniel. “We’ve done it for some games and other games we haven’t, so it’s more on a game-to-game basis.
“So far we’ve done it for series-deciding games and in the final we’re doing it for every home game.”
The plan seems to be working out well at the moment; they’re 3-0 in the games Tambellini mentioned. Come to think of it, maybe the Bruins might want to steal that idea when the series shifts back to Boston. They were 24-12-15 in road games and 22-13-6 at home during the 2010-11 season, after all.
Something tells me that hotel managers in hockey markets across North America would love for this strategy to catch on throughout all of the NHL …
The San Jose Sharks 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night was not only the end of their 2016-17 season, it could have also been the end of an era.
With veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, their future with the team remains uncertain, and neither one seemed prepared to talk about it in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s defeat.
Sharks forward Logan Couture was asked if he wants to see the two players return next season and made it pretty clear that he does.
“You’re asking a guy who’s played with those guys for eight years,” said Couture, via Paul Gackle of the Mecrury News. “I love those guys. They play hard. If you guys only knew what they play through. The respect level that I have for those two guys is just through the roof.”
There are a number of variables that are going to play a role in whether or not the two leading scorers in franchise history will be back.
Along with their willingness to return is the fact that both players will be entering their age 38 seasons and already showed some signs of slowing down this season. How much cap space are the Sharks going to be willing to invest in the duo when they already have $55.7 million in salary cap space committed to 16 players for next season, especially given their ages.
If this does turn out to be the end for Thornton and/or Marleau in San Jose their time will be remembered more for not winning a Stanley Cup and probably not for how much success they have actually had on the ice, both individually and as a team. Not only have Thornton and Marleau been two of the NHL’s best and most productive players over the past decade, but the Sharks have been one of the NHL’s best teams. Since the 2005-06 season, when Thornton first arrived in San Jose, the Sharks have won a league best 547 regular season games (11 more than the team with the second-most wins, the Pittsburgh Penguins) while their 64 playoff wins are tied for the fourth most (Anaheim Ducks) behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit Red Wings.
It is a win or go home situation for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, as both teams enter their respective Game 6s facing elimination in their first-round playoff series’.
The Bruins need to beat the Ottawa Senators to force a Game 7 on Tuesday night, while the Toronto Maple Leafs need a win to extend their series against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals to a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.
Both games will be shown on the NBC Networks and streamed online.
Here is all of the information you need for Sunday’s games.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)
The Boston Bruins will once again be without forward David Krejci on Sunday afternoon when they face the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series, coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed.
It will be the third game that Krejci has missed in the series due to a lower-body injury.
Matt Beleskey, who has only played in two of the first five games of the series, will draw into the lineup in his place.
Krejci’s absence still leaves the Bruins shorthanded as they are still without defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. Cassidy said on Sunday that Krug has resumed skating but is still not ready to return to the lineup.
The Senators have a couple of lineup questions of their own. Forward Viktor Stalberg is a game-time decision, while Guy Boucher is making one change on defense with Chris Wideman coming out of the lineup for Fredrik Claesson.
The Los Angeles Kings moved fairly quickly when it comes to replacing Darryl Sutter, and they did not have to go very far to do it.
The Kings announced on Sunday that John Stevens will take over as the team’s next head coach. The team will have a press conference on Monday.
Stevens has been an assistant coach with the Kings since the start of the 2010-11 season and spent four games as an interim head coach with the team during the 2011-12 season after Terry Murray was fired, and before Sutter was hired. Following the arrival of Sutter, Stevens went back to his role as an assistant, remaining in that position until now.
“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,” general manager Rob Blake said in a statement released by the team.
“I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”
Prior to his time with the Kings, Stevens served as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers between 2006-07 and 2009-10, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007-08 season.
He has a 122-111-34 record as an NHL head coach.
The fact the Kings are promoting from within (something they already did with the general manager role) is a pretty clear sign that even though they are seeking a different direction, they are maybe not quite prepared to go through a complete teardown of the organization.
They have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, and have not won a postseason series since 2014.