The 2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp is something of a mad science lab, with 30 NHL prospects and two NHL head coaches on hand to test all the variables and hypotheses. One of the more interesting and derisive concepts would be incredibly punitive for penalty kills: what if a shorthanded team could receive an icing call?
That’s one of the rules that is being put to the test today, so leave it to Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to make a bold move to try to take advantage of it. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reveals that Bylsma pulled his goalie when his team earned a power play late in the second period of the test game to try to capitalize on the opposing penalty kill’s inability to ice the puck. This essentially created a 6-on-4 advantage with a significant risk since an accurate clear from the shorthanded side could find its way into the power play unit’s open net. Rosen reports that the tactic backfired because the shorthanded team got the puck out of the zone and created a 2-on-1.
Obviously, this is a testing ground so the stakes are much lower. Bylsma joked about the situation, saying “I’m fired.”
Bylsma wasn’t the only inventive coach who had some interesting feedback about that strategy. Washington Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau said that he would tell his penalty killers to risk an icing call if the other team had an empty net and also stated that icing the puck would remain a common strategy on the PK, even with the added drawbacks.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, who was sitting in the stands here watching it all unfold, understood Bylsma’s tactic and didn’t mind the risk, but if he were coaching the shorthanded team he would have told them to fire the puck down the ice regardless of the potential for icing being called and the ensuing faceoff coming back into his defensive zone.
“I’m going to try for the free goal,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “Shoot it down and take your chances.”
Even though the shorthanded team would not be allowed to make a line change if they’re called for icing, he feels the break between the whistle and the ensuing faceoff is long enough to give the players on the ice a breather.
“When you’re under pressure and you’re shorthanded, I don’t think it will stop you from icing the puck because you’ve got to get it out of the zone,” Boudreau said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”
I pondered the merits of icing on the PK a bit last summer, but I ultimately believe that it would be an excessive punishment for shorthanded squads. What’s your take, though? Would you like to see that rule implemented or not? Either way, I wouldn’t expect many coaches to take the risk in the situation Bylsma was in during R & D camp today – and that would include Bylsma himself.
Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.
For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.
The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.
San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.
As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Here are the details:
McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.
The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.
One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.
Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.
The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.
It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.
Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.
(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)
Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.
“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.
“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”
The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.
You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch
On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott
The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko
Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday