legwand-nugent-hopkins

Tonight: Edmonton vs. Nashville in the battle of David Legwand vs. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins…Wait, what?

Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers will host the Nashville Predators at Rexall Place in what promises to be an interesting affair. Why interesting? Because the teams come in boasting two unlikely leading scorers.

For Nashville, it’s 31-year-old veteran David Legwand, who leads the team (and is tied atop the NHL leaderboard) with 2G-6A-8PTS through four games.

Yes, Legwand is Nashville’s franchise leader in almost every significant statistical category — goals, assists, points and games played. But that’s more a product of “if you hang around long enough…” than anything else. Legwand’s never been a sniper, breaking the 20-goal plateau just twice and the 50-point plateau once.

Heck, he didn’t score his eighth point until middle of November last season.

As for Nugent-Hopkins (aka: the NHL’s Cam Newton) — the hype amplifier’s been cranked to 11 ever since his hat-trick effort against Vancouver on Saturday. The 18-year-old broke the record for the earliest three-goal game by the first overall pick in an NHL Draft, set by Dale Hawerchuk in 1981.

Hawerchuk did it in his eighth NHL game. Nugent-Hopkins did it in his third.

Heading into tonight, RNH leads the Oilers with four points — all of them goals — and has accounted for 100 percent of Edmonton’s power play scoring this season.

Now, this isn’t to say Nugent-Hopkins’ offensive prowess is a huge surprise. A surprise, sure…but not huge. He did score 106 points in 69 games with Red Deer of the WHL last season. It’s just that the kid was lauded for his vision and passing ability, not goalscoring. Going back to the Netwon comparison, it’s like how everybody lauded him for his athleticism and mobility as a QB…then he came out and threw back-to-back 400-yard games.

That’s where the comparisons stop, though. Netwon is 6’5, 250 lbs. Nugent-Hopkins kinda looks like Ellen Page.

Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

Leave a comment

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.

Canucks trade Jared McCann to the Panthers for Erik Gudbranson

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Jared McCann #91 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

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.

 

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Leave a comment

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.”

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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