So just what are we going to get out of the Buffalo Sabres tonight?
It stands to reason that we’ll, at the very least, get a team that comes out with a purpose of mending as many errors as possible for their embarrassing loss to Boston against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. By all accounts, coach Lindy Ruff read his team the riot act during and after practice yesterday and the press didn’t get the full brunt of his wrath.
By all accounts, the guys you should see tougher games out of are the guys you’d think would’ve shown up against Boston, namely Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta. While Kaleta is an agitator by trade, Gaustad is the guy that brings the “tough cop” routine. While Kaleta managed to do part of his job, Gaustad didn’t.
The more curious part to this equation is how will Montreal receive them? P.K. Subban is about as good at getting under his opponents’ skin as Kaleta is and while he’s not nearly as dangerous, seeing Subban “poking the bear” tonight could prove to be the spark that ignites an inferno with the Sabres.
The Habs know they’ve got an angry team rolling into town and while their kind of game isn’t at all like Boston’s, let’s just say that rolling through Jhonas Enroth’s crease might not be in their best interests. For goal hangers like Travis Moen and Brian Gionta, giving Enroth any kind of bumps might not turn out well for Carey Price or themselves. The Sabres’ mistake of not responding for Ryan Miller isn’t one that’ll be repeated any time soon.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.