radulovap

Preds GM Poile on Radulov: “I think he’s a better version of what he was”

2 Comments

There are those who figure Alexander Radulov will be a nice addition — complimentary piece even — to the Nashville Predators this postseason.

Then then are those within the organization — David Poile and Barry Trotz specifically — who figure Radulov will be much, much more.

That’s what John Manasso uncovered in his latest piece for Fox Sports Tennessee, as Poile and Trotz  seem convinced Radulov isn’t just a potential wildcard, but rather a piece to put the Predators over the top.

“I think he’s a better version of what he was both as a player and as a person,” Poile said of Radulov. “We talk all the time about your younger players, as they get older and have more experiences, I think they know how to play more effectively, more successfully and I think they understand the team concept a lot better.”

Nashville’s head coach agreed.

“He’s got great vision, he’s got great hands,” Trotz said. “Some of the things he did created a lot of chances and that’s what Rad does, but he’s still really good defensively, too.

“He manages the game way better than he did four years ago and that’s the maturity of just time and understanding the game and I’m excited. I know the guys are excited as we go on here.”

What’s interesting is how Nashville’s worked Radulov back into the mix. In Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis, Radulov received 22 minutes and 50 seconds of ice time in his third game with the club. That was three full minutes more than the next second-leading forward (David Legwand, 19:19). The only guys that played more were Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Now’s a good time to mention that only one Preds forward — Mike Fisher — averages over 19 minutes a game. Last year, no forward did.

The explanation for this is simple: Radulov’s window for acclimatization is small, so he needs as much ice as possible. And hey, that’s fine. But it also suggests Poile and Trotz have seen enough through three games to determine Radulov is as good, if not better, than any of their existing offensive weapons. (Otherwise, why bother giving him the ice time at someone else’s expense, or the expense of team chemistry?)

If that’s the case, there’s not a lot of time for the team to gel.

“For a team that was playing well, we’ve made more changes than anybody in the league,” Poile said. “From that standpoint, we have a lot of adjustments to make. Lines have been changed, roles have been changed, ice time has been changed…

“We really need these last five games to prepare for the playoffs.”

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 5 to 2 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
Getty
11 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

4 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

1 Comment

This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.