Perhaps Coyotes GM Don Maloney was on the same wavelength we were today. After we broke down how the Coyotes would need a bit more help up the middle to make a run at the playoffs this year, they’ve gone out and picked up some experienced help up the middle. Phoenix has acquired Daymond Langkow from Calgary pending a physical in exchange for Lee Stempniak.
Langkow will slot in behind Martin Hanzal at center and comes back to an organization that traded him away back in 2004. With a host of youngsters that could vie for a spot at center, Langkow gives Phoenix stability at a position that was sorely lacking in NHL-quality depth. The question with Langkow comes in his health since returning from a broken neck injury that kept him out most of last season. Langkow did come back last season for the Flames’ final four games of the year and finished with one assist.
If he can fully return to form, he’s a solid set-up man and a guy capable of getting 50 points per season. Langkow will also help solidify the Coyotes position above the salary floor as he’ll arrive with a $4.5 million cap hit. On the downside, he’ll be 35 years-old this season joining Shane Doan (35) and Ray Whitney (39) as the elder statesmen on the team. You know what you’ll get from all three players, the question is can they sustain their level of play the way they’re capable of doing.
Stempniak will join a Calgary team in need of a little help scoring-wise on the wings. While Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, and Rene Bourque are legit threats the Flames were in need of a little bit more and Stempniak will help that out being a guy capable of 20-25 goals in a year. Calgary will be a bit thinner at center without Langkow, but they’re hoping David Moss and Mikael Backlund can have breakout seasons up the middle. Matthew Stajan is also there to fill in depth-wise. Calgary trading out Langkow’s lofty salary for Stempniak’s $1.9 cap hit is a nice cost-cutting move for GM Jay Feaster as well. According to CapGeek.com, the Flames will be $3.5 million under the cap after this deal.
The way to break this down from the Flames’ standpoint is that they’re giving up a high-priced guy who may or may not be able to produce the way he used to before his neck injury for a guy they know what exactly they’ll get out of in Stempniak. Phoenix fills a need by getting a legitimate center while cutting loose one of their many wingers. Tough to say that it’s a win-win trade for both teams right now, but at the least both sides got what they were looking for.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: