With the 2011 Stanley Cup finals – and therefore, the playoffs – over, it’s time to get answers/speculate some more on the injuries that hampered both teams. We’ll address the newly crowned champion Boston Bruins later on, but let’s get to the wounded warriors on the losing end first.
(Source: The Vancouver Province.)
First, let’s get to the players who discussed their injuries a bit more openly.
- Alex Edler said he was playing with two broken fingers.
- As many suspected, Christian Ehrhoff was dealing shoulder issues. He needed shots before games and probably lost quite a few mph from a blazing (but often wildly inaccurate) slapper. Ehrhoff told the Vancouver Province that he’ll probably need surgery.
- Chris Higgins said his foot never felt “quite right” but didn’t go as far as to say that it was broken. He did imply that he might need surgery, though.
Now let’s get to two players who weren’t quite confirmed.
- Ryan Kesler was one player who wouldn’t speak on the record about injuries, preferring that people avoid using his issues as a crutch to explain the Vancouver Canucks falling just a win short from their first-ever Stanley Cup win.
- Dan Hamhuis was rumored to miss most of the finals with a torn groin muscle, but wasn’t around to confirm or deny the reports.
Kesler wasn’t willing to lean on the injuries excuse, but teammate Jeff Tambellini knew that something wasn’t quite right.
“I think every stride hurt him,” said Tambellini. “He never showed it. He never talked about it. We never heard about it all day and this guy is at true warrior. The fact he even came back is mind-blowing. To skate with the puck as much as he did. He took his game to a different level this year and should be rewarded by the rest of the league. Everybody appreciates what he brings and playing as hurt as he was outstanding.
“He put himself on a superstar level and it’s going to be great to watch the rest of his career.”
But that didn’t make it any easier. Tambellini walked into a dressing room Wednesday that looked more like a hospital ward.
“There were probably shooting six guys up today,” said Tambellini. “We dealt with a lot of adversity this year and to do that and come up one game short is a real credit to this group.”
Obviously, every team deals with some injuries, especially this late in the game. Still, stories like these show over and over again that hockey players fight through pain (and sometimes injuries) for a chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Canucks fell one game short of that goal, but they deserve credit for their efforts in defeat.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.