As deceptive as it might be to call the Los Angeles Kings the eighth seed in the West, it’s literally true. The on-paper talent and acumen behind the bench indicates they’re much more than that, but even so, it’s confounding that they crushed the Vancouver Canucks in round one and seem primed to do the same against the second seed in round two.
The series shifted to the Staples Center, yet that didn’t change much as the Kings bested the St. Louis Blues 4-2 to take a daunting 3-0 series lead. Let’s get the questions rolling.
Look, I know Jake Allen is thedefinition of “NHL-unproven,” but does Ken Hitchcock have any choice but to give him a shot? It’s not like inexperienced goalies haven’t surprised in 2012 (his name rhymes with Maiden Shmoltby.) So let me ask: should they go with Allen or play it safer with Brian Elliott -who doesn’t seem to have much confidence right now.
The Kings’ scoring differential through eight playoff games: 24-14. This is against the top two seeds in the West, if you needed another reminder.
The Los Angeles Kings opened up their second 3-0 series lead of the playoffs. They’ve also revealed a considerable “killer instinct” in answering Blues goals with resounding speed. Can they close out St. Louis quickly?
Speaking of which, can the Blues actually come back? What kind of odds do you give them?
Alex Pietrangelo collected an assist and a -1 rating in 26:34 of ice time. Maybe he’s not 100 percent, but Hitchcock used him quite a bit anyway.
PHT Morning Skate: A beer named after Shayne Gostisbehere
–Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took the league by storm last year and obviously, people noticed. Starting on Friday, he’ll have a beer named after him. The Conshohocken Brewery is coming out with the “Ghost Bear Golden Ale”. (Bardown)
–No one expected rookie Brandon Carlo to make the Bruins out of camp, but he’s been terrific in his first NHL season. Thanks to his reach and wingspan, he’s been able to be effective in his own zone. “The one thing is that he’s so long and his stick is so long, it gives him time to recover because as a young kid in the league you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. He has the ability to come back and recover,” said teammate Torey Krug. (CSN New England)
–The Pittsburgh Penguins have an interesting dilemma with the upcoming expansion draft. First, they need to figure out if they’ll keep eight skaters and one goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. Once that’s settled, the team will need to figure what to do with Marc-Andre Fleury and a youngster like Derrick Pouliot. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun takes a closer look at their situation. (ESPN)
–Through 24 games, Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has yet to pick up a single penalty minute. Some people might see that as a positive thing, but others might feel he’s too soft. So, which one is it? We know what MacKinnon thinks: “I’m being aggressive. I’m playing regularly, just not taking any minors. I think it’s a good thing. Usually I’m good for some roughing penalties and I’ve asked a couple guys to fight this year. I’m not trying to have zero penalty minutes,” said MacKinnon. (Denver Post)
–Injuries have hit the Tampa Bay Lightning pretty hard this year, but they have a bargaining chip named Ben Bishop. Is it time for them to trade him? Here are five reasons why they should. (The Hockey News)
–The San Jose Sharks are having some fun on social media. Their latest hilarious video involves players guessing which teammate of theirs is depicted in a young fan’s drawing. It’s pretty funny:
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.