If there has been a single surprise player from the Detroit Red Wings-Nashville Predators series, it’s Gabriel Bourque. The 21-year-old had a solid rookie campaign with seven goals and 19 points in 43 regular season games, but he’s really stepped up in the playoffs with three goals for Nashville in four games.
“He’s been awesome for us,” teammate David Legwand said. “He plays the game the right way, hard and straightforward. That’s what you need in the playoffs.”
He’s certainly been the X-factor for the Predators the first round, providing the game-winning goal in the series opener as well as the opening goal for the Predators in Game 4 on Tuesday. That’s not bad coming from a guy who only made his NHL debut in late December.
Although, as young as Bourque is, he’s already built a reputation for being able to step up when he’s needed the most. He’s a former winner of the Guy Lafleur Trophy, which is given to the QMJHL’s most valuable player in the playoffs. He also got seven points in a single World Junior Championship game in 2010 to tie a Canadian record.
“When you’re looking at lineups, sometimes you’re looking for catalysts,” assistant GM Paul Fenton said. “He seems to be one of the catalysts that each night, each shift, he tries to make a difference no matter how much he’s playing — if it’s the fourth, fifth, sixth or eighth shift he’s out there for.”
He might be the difference again when the Predators attempt to seal their series in Game 5 on Friday.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.