The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell thinks both the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs need major makeovers to become competitive again. And while his column’s not entirely pessimistic, it does include the phrase “both teams suck wind,” so yeah.
On the Habs, Campbell writes that GM Pierre Gauthier “has made questionable decision after questionable decision,” but on the bright side, at least they’re going to get a top draft pick this summer.
On the Leafs, he writes that GM Brian Burke “has come up woefully short …in acquiring free agents” while conceding Burke “has made some very shrewd trades and done a good job restocking the Leafs farm system with decent, but not great, prospects.”
So ahead of Saturday’s game between the two struggling clubs, we thought we’d put it to a vote – which team has the brighter future?
—- Toronto is one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The organization boasts a deep pool of prospects including Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and James Reimer. Not to mention, Phil Kessel is only 24, Tyler Bozak’s 25 and Dion Phaneuf’s 26.
—- Montreal has a franchise goalie in 24-year-old Carey Price and talented young regulars like David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty, PK Subban and Lars Eller. The prospect pool isn’t ranked very highly, but it does include first-round picks Nathan Beaulieu, Louis Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, plus junior standout Brendan Gallagher.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.