Alain Vigneault

Vigneault can’t escape blame for Canucks failings

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Fresh off their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy, the Vancouver Canucks could only manage one victory in the playoffs, falling in five games to Los Angeles in the first round.

Perhaps they were worn out, mentally and physically, from last year’s grueling Stanley Cup run.

And the Kings are a good team that nobody would be shocked to see in the final.

But there will still be calls for the coach’s head.

In fact, the calls have already come. When the Canucks were trailing the Kings, 3-0, The Province’s Tony Gallagher, a long-time critic of Alain Vigneault, wrote that losing in the first round would be yet another “ridiculous conclusion” to the season in Vancouver.

Looking back, Gallagher makes a legitimate point.

In 2008, there was a “hideous collapse down the stretch whereby the team missed the playoffs.”

In 2009, the Canucks “had the Chicago Blackhawks down 2-1 with the lead in the third period of game four only to lose those next three and drop a series they should have won.”

In 2010, “the season ended miserably with Chicago humiliating Vancouver in one-sided home games.”

Of course, Vigneault took Vancouver all the way to final last year. “But not before it almost blew a 3-0 series advantage in the first round, ridiculously poor efforts in games four and five the main reason.”

And we’d add the Canucks didn’t exactly fall to the Boston Bruins in the most commendable manner, losing their composure and getting outscored an incredible 21-3 in their four defeats.

Sorry, but some of that has to fall on the man in charge.

Now, many will say it’s insane to get rid of a coach that’s won so many games. They’ll bring up all manner of statistics, comparing Vigneault’s win-loss record to other NHL coaches, and reach the oh-so-obvious conclusion he should be back next season.

But management’s analysis will go far beyond wins and losses, as it should. You don’t and can’t run a team based on numbers alone, though so many Moneyball devotees would like to think you can.

The Canucks took a step back this season, and Vigneault will have to answer in some form for that. Maybe it’ll cost him his job, maybe not. But it’s a discussion that’s worth having.

Related: And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

Oshie OT goal
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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: