Going into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, it seemed like the Boston Bruins were confronted with a pick-your-poison proposition. The feeling was that they’d either get shredded by the Sedin twins’ cycling game or fall victim to Ryan Kesler facing lesser defensive matchups much like the Nashville Predators did in Round 2.
Yet through five games, it seems like they haven’t been victimized by either of the Vancouver Canucks’ one-two punches very often. While they’re creating the odd chance here or there, Henrik and Daniel Sedin are getting bottled up by the Bruins’ responsible two-way forwards and the dynamic D duo of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. It would seem like that focus would open the door for Kesler, but it’s quite possible that he is simply too banged up to take advantage of what might normally be beneficial matchups.
While Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said that “he’s fine” and was just receiving some rest, NHL.com notes that Kesler missed his first “non-optional” practice on Sunday. His absence probably emboldens many who wonder if Kesler is far from 100 percent, pointing to a possible groin injury suffered in Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks as a chief problem among other bumps and bruises.
Despite the Bruins’ reputation for strong defense (which admittedly has been shaken at times in the playoffs), many people think that injuries are the main explanation for Kesler’s Cup finals struggles. He has zero goals and just one assist – on Raffi Torres’ Game 1 winner – in five games against Boston. Those away games really hurt his plus/minus (-4 in those two losses, -3 overall in the last round) and his frustration is apparent in the 33 PIM he collected in the last three games.
That being said, Kesler is fighting through whatever pain and hindrance he’s dealing with quite admirably. He’s still receiving plentiful ice time and continues to win a nice amount of faceoffs on most nights. It’s a bit reminiscent of his performances against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, although he was able to collect more points in that series.
The Canucks have managed to get this far in this series with limited help from their star players, who must range from “running out of gas” to nursing injuries (or just bottled up by great defense). Yet if Vancouver wants to avoid a high-pressure Game 7 in front of what could be a fragile bunch of Canucks fans, they might need some more heroics from Kesler, a player who once seemed like a shoo-in for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
They’ll probably settle for him merely playing in Game 6, though.
Bruce Meyer’s résumé of victories as a lawyer is a long and impressive one, and he has now joined the NHL Players’ Association as a senior director of collective bargaining, policy and legal, the union announced Thursday.
During his tenure of more than 25 years at the law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, Meyer represented the NHLPA, NFLPA and NBPA.
The NHLPA said in a statement that in his new position, Meyer “will focus on a wide array of policy and legal issues.”
In working for those unions, he was involved in matters such as collective bargaining and arbitration, as per his online profile.
“Bruce will be a great addition to the NHLPA’s staff. He brings a wealth of knowledge to this new role coming from his law firm where he gained three decades’ worth of valuable experience, including effectively representing the NHLPA and other Players’ Associations as outside counsel,” said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr in a statement.
The NHLPA said Meyer will begin at his new position in mid-August.
The news of this hire comes more than a month after the league sued the NHLPA after Dennis Wideman‘s 20-game suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson was reduced to 10 games by a neutral arbitrator.
Related: Report: NHL dismisses neutral arbitrator who reduced Wideman’s suspension
Chicago Blackhawks fans, start your engines!
Yes, according to MotorSportsTalk, the Blackhawks have become the main sponsor of CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 car, a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, for the upcoming IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event at Road America next month.
That’s a sweet ride.
The partnership will officially launch at the United Center on Wednesday, August 3, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m in advance of Saturday’s race. Fans will have the opportunity to get up close to the car, meet the drivers and Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard, and have their picture taken.
The race takes place Aug. 6 at Road America in Wisconsin.
Since being selected by the Coyotes at 13th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brandon Gormley has had a difficult time breaking into the league on a full-time basis.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old Gormley joined his third NHL team, signing with the New Jersey Devils on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, the club announced.
Despite his draft status, Gormley has yet to play a full season in the big league, although this deal could give him an opportunity to end that. For the Devils, the deal adds more depth to the blue line in the organization and for a friendly price.
Last season, Gormley split time between the Colorado Avalanche and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage. Despite some high expectations about where he could fit on the Avs’ blue line, he was eventually put on waivers in January.
He ended the season with one assist in 26 games with the Avalanche, and hit the open market after Colorado didn’t give him a qualifying offer.
After ongoing contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba, the two sides have come to a deal.
The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Dumba to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.1 million.
A breakdown of the new deal:
— In 2016-17: $2.35 million.
— In 2017-18: $2.75 million.
Selected seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, Dumba had his most productive campaign this past season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 81 games.
Known for his offensive skills — he had 20 goals and 57 points with Red Deer in the WHL in his draft year — Dumba also brings a coveted right-shot to the Wild blue line, which features four players with contracts of four or more years of term remaining.
As per General Fanager, the Wild still have $2.168 million in projected cap space, but they have secured all their remaining restricted free agents.