Rookies shine in their Stanley Cup playoff debuts

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Lost among the major storylines of this postseason (violence, suspensions and upsets, predominantly) is the fact several playoff rookies have broke onto the scene in style, performing like grizzled vets.

They include…

Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals

Key stats: 4-3, 2.00 GAA, .940 save percentage

After appearing in just seven games this season, the 22-year-old out-dueled Tim Thomas (you know, the reigning playoff MVP and Vezina winner) in a seven game stunner over the Bruins.

In doing so, Holtby joined Montreal’s Ken Dryden (1971) and Calgary’s Mike Vernon (1986) as the only rookie goalies ever to defeat the defending Cup champions in a playoff series.

Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey Devils

Key stats: 2G-1A-3PTS

Averaging over 16 minutes a game, the Calder Trophy nominee was a clutch performer for the Devils in Round 1. Henrique opened and closed the scoring in New Jersey’s series-clinching win over Florida, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to score an OT winner in Game 7.

The other? Montreal’s Claude Lemieux, in 1986.

Chris Kreider, LW, New York Rangers

Key stats: 1G-0A-1PT, 1 GWG

Kreider made history in Game 3, becoming the first player to win an NCAA title and make his NHL debut in the same year — in the playoffs — since Tony Hrkac did it in 1987 with the University of North Dakota and St. Louis Blues.

As New York’s opening-round series versus Ottawa progressed, so too did Kreider’s role. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 6, then received over 18 minutes of ice time in Game 7 — the only New York forwards that played more were Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan.

Brayden Schenn/Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers

Key stats: (combined) 5G-5A-10PTS.

Schenn, 20, was a point-a-game player in the opening round against Pittsburgh (2G-4A-6PTS in six games.) Couturier scored a hat trick in Game 2, becoming the youngest player (19 years, 128 days) since Toronto Hall of Famer Ted Kennedy accomplished the feat in 1945.

Gabriel Bourque, LW, Nashville Predators

Key stats: 3G-1A-4PTS

The 21-year-old — who only made his NHL debut on Dec. 28 — was huge in the opening round, leading all Predators with three goals and finishing second in scoring (4PTS). Bourque also tied for the club lead and for third in the NHL overall with a +5 rating.

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

Now, check it out in full motion:

It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.

Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

(Rask it is.)

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Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

“Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”

If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.