Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo

Should Roberto Luongo start Game 5 for Vancouver?

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Through the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, Roberto Luongo appeared to be the man destined to make a run at the Conn Smythe Trophy leading the Canucks to victory. He earned a shutout in Game 1 and held strong to get the Canucks to overtime to win Game 2.

In Boston, things took a vastly more disturbing turn as Luongo went on to allow 12 goals in 103 minutes played through Games 3 and 4 as the Canucks dropped both games by a combined score of 12-1. Cory Schneider took over for Luongo just minutes into the third period of Game 4 and did his part by stopping all nine shots he faced as the Bruins took Game 4 4-0.

So now we have to ask the question: Should Luongo start in Game 5? After all, the last time we saw Luongo get lit up this hard by an offense it came in Games 4 and 5 against Chicago in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Vancouver dropped Game 4 7-2 and then lost Game 5 5-0. Cory Schneider then got the call to start in Game 6, a game he ultimately left early thanks to injury and saw Luongo come into only to lose in overtime 4-3.

Some are thinking that coach Alain Vigneault might do the same thing this time around. We’re not so quick to jump on that bandwagon for a big reason. Against Chicago, the Canucks were playing with house money in Game 6. They had a 3-2 series lead heading into that game and if Schneider helped get the Canucks past their mental nemesis from Chicago, all was well. This time around the fate of the Stanley Cup finals hangs in the balance.

The winner of Game 5 will have a chance to end the series on Monday in Game 6. For Vancouver, a Game 5 loss could mean the end of the series given how poorly they played in Boston. For Vancouver, a win in Game 5 would mean they’d at least buy themselves a one game grace period should they get bombed on again in Boston. Versus’ Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick said they’d stick with Luongo for Game 5.

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Of course, there’s the worry about whether or not Luongo is going through a mental phase here where he loses focus and confidence. You could argue that two or three of the goals he allowed in Game 4 he should’ve stopped. He certainly should’ve had Rich Peverley’s first goal that beat him five hole and he had to have Michael Ryder’s shot that beat him over the shoulder.

Luongo had his own reasons why he missed on Ryder’s goal saying the shot dipped about three feet after glancing off Sami Salo’s stick. We’re a bit skeptical of that take but we’re not the pros here.

So what would you do? Would you go back to your Vezina Trophy finalist who had a couple of bad games or would you go with your rookie backup goalie who has looked decent in the limited duty he’s had in the playoffs? Let us know in the comments and vote in our poll as to what you would do.

‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin
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Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

“We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

“Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

“He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

 

Coyotes hire new COO

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

“Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.

Despite Canadian dollar, Bettman still expects ‘revenue increase’

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman answers a question during a news conference before the NHL All-Star hockey game skills competition, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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The Canadian dollar is trading at around $0.77 USD today. While that’s up considerably from where it was a few months ago, the damage has already been done to NHL revenues.

“If the Canadian dollar was still at par, we would be $100 or 200 million higher perhaps than we may find ourselves,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Bloomberg Television today.

Having said that, Bettman still expects there will be a “revenue increase” compared to last year, adding that “we continue to grow year after year and set new records.”

More from Bloomberg:

Bettman said that while the NHL’s revenue growth has come across the entire business, the league has seen its biggest boon in its digital platform. The league last year signed a six-year, $1.2 billion contract with Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet arm, or BAM, to operate the its digital operations, streaming services and TV network. The NHL got a 10 percent stake as part the deal.

The NHL playoffs are currently in the middle of the conference finals. The NHL’s fiscal year ends June 30.

League revenues, of course, have a direct impact on the salary cap, and let’s face it, that’s the only thing most fans care about.

As of March, the cap was expected to grow from $71.4 million in 2015-16 to $74 million next season.

However, that projection assumed the NHLPA would accept the CBA’s standard five percent growth factor, and with escrow topping the list of player concerns, that’s no given.

The players’ association will discuss and make a decision on the growth factor at some point before July 1.

Related: Bowman noncommittal on Shaw and Bickell, needs to know salary cap first