Say what you want the Kings’ new head coach, but one thing that Darryl Sutter has certainly been is successful. The Kings are unbeaten in regulation since the Sutter took over five games ago; and they’re 4-0-2 overall in their last six games as they continue to work towards a playoff spot. Despite the victories lately, the problem that the followed the team continues to hinder the club: scoring.
Sutter would like to tell you that those stats don’t matter. Who cares if they have the 25th ranked power play in the league? Who cares if they’re the worst scoring team in entire NHL (by a large margin)? Despite the persistent troubles with the man-advantage, Sutter likes what he sees from his new team.
“Our power play is awesome, other than the 5-on-3, in the two games we just played,” Sutter said after Saturday’s morning skate. “…I know, if I’m watching upstairs or I’m covering, I’m saying, `Oh, the power play,’ because it’s 14 percent or whatever, but you have to give them — especially the young players on the power play — you have to give them the ability to use their ability.”
Just to review, the Kings “awesome” power play has only scored twice in their last 42 opportunities. The 5-on-3 opportunity Sutter spoke about was nearly a full two minute, two-man advantage during the Kings 1-0 loss in Winnipeg. Having a strong power play is important for any team, but it’s even more important for a team that is struggling to score goals at even strength.
Perhaps that’s why the team practiced on their power play the day after a redeye flight from Manitoba (and back-to-back games).
Los Angeles will get to show what they learned tonight against the Canucks in their final game of 2011. At this point, fans at Staples Center may want a power play that is a little less awesome, and settle for one that is a little more productive.
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.