All three finalists for the 2012 General Manager of the Year Award that were announced today have at least two things in common. First, they haven’t been given the resources to spend to the salary cap. Second, their teams are still alive in the playoffs.
Ladies and gentleman, we present David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues, and Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers.
If we had to pick a favorite, it would be Poile. With all due respect to Armstrong and Tallon, this is the most important season in franchise history for the Preds, and the GM’s done everything he can to build a winner in hopes of convincing defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber to make long-term commitments to the club.
In November, Poile made a strong statement when he signed goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million extension.
Later on, the GM pulled the trigger on three trades, bringing aboard Paul Gaustad, Hal Gill, and Andrei Kostitsyn.
He also brought Alexander Radulov back to Nashville just before the playoffs in a transaction that was anything but simple.
Granted, Suter could still walk away this summer. And if that happens, Weber could follow the next year. But if Suter’s sincere when he says winning will take care of everything, then Poile’s done his job.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Jarret Stoll: "our penalty kill let us down tonight." #mnwild
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
Pominville: "It's been a while since we showed that much fight. As long as we keep fighting…we'll find our way out of this."
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Niklas Hjalmarsson: "Yeah, that was a big win for us. Corey was unbelievable, as usual." #Blackhawks
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.