If you haven’t noticed, there’ve been a lot of blocked shots in the playoffs. Many of them in the Capitals-Rangers series.
The increasing tendency for all five defenders to collapse around the goalie has forced coaches to make adjustments on offense.
As the Washington Times reports, one of the ways the Capitals have responded is by working the puck down low and getting the cycle going.
“We wanted to make sure that if we had the chance, we get it to the net. But when we didn’t, we had to get it behind the net and start a cycle and get the puck to the net,” forward Keith Aucoin said. “It’s tough. You want the puck in front of the net; you want clear shots. But we’ve been playing pretty good as a team cycling as a team and we’re getting used to it. I thought we did a pretty good job [Saturday] when we got the puck behind the net. We’ve got to continue to cycle and wear them down.”
On a side note, if collapsing around the goalie is the new way to play defense, you have to wonder if we’ll see an even bigger premium placed on power forwards that can take the puck down low and just barge their way to the net. It’s not pretty to watch, but repeatedly firing away from the perimeter isn’t a winning strategy against good shot-blocking teams.
The mumps are back.
Three years after a league-wide outbreak sidelined a slew of players, the Canucks have announced that d-man Troy Stecher has been diagnosed with mumps, while four other players — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — have presented symptoms.
More, from the club:
The team has worked from the outset with the Vancouver Health Authority, NHL, NHLPA and BC Centre for Disease Control to minimize transmission of the illness.
In keeping with BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, players presenting symptoms are immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.
Vaccines are also being administered to minimize further risk of contraction along with universal preventative hygiene measures as recommended by Vancouver Coastal Health including disinfecting all dressing room areas.
Vancouver’s in the midst of its bye week. Saturday’s home date against the Sharks will be its first since a 3-2 loss to Philly on Sunday.
Given that Stecher’s out and the other four are being quarantined, the Canucks project to be severely undermanned tomorrow. There was no immediate announcement for AHL recall plans, or emergency roster replacements.
Following Saturday’s game, Vancouver is back in action again on Tuesday, when it hosts Detroit.
The Anaheim Ducks have acquired winger Patrick Eaves in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The cost was a conditional second-round draft pick in 2017.
Eaves, 32, is enjoying a career year with 21 goals in 59 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, his cap hit is just $1 million. It was expected that he’d be traded prior to next week’s deadline.
Eaves join a Ducks team that could use a few more goals. Of note, Corey Perry has struggled offensively, scoring just 11 times in 62 games.
Below is the condition on the draft pick, which could turn into a first-round selection.
Based on draft position, Dallas will receive the middle pick of Ottawa, San Jose or Toronto’s second-round selections in 2017 per the conditions in which Anaheim acquired the pick from Toronto in a previous trade. Should Anaheim advance to the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50% or more of their games in the first two rounds, the selection becomes the Ducks first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell is expected to skate in his first hockey game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The Hurricanes assigned Bickell to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on Friday and say he’s expected to play for the Checkers on Saturday night.
The move came a day after he was placed on waivers in a procedural move that allowed the team to send him to the minors.
Bickell, 30, has been out since October, was diagnosed with MS in November and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 11.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the past month.
Justin Schultz‘s career has done a virtual 180 since joining Pittsburgh at last year’s trade deadline, and the Pens have made it clear they’d like to keep him around beyond this season.
“We have not [discussed an extension with Schultz],” GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “But he will definitely be a priority for us in the offseason.”
Acquired for a third-round pick last February, Schultz proved to be one of Rutherford’s best moves (part of the reason why Rutherford captured NHL GM of the Year). The former Oilers rearguard had seven points through 18 regular-season games and then thrived once getting into the playoff mix, helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup.
He was signed to a modest one-year, $1.4 million extension last summer, which has turned out to be another Rutherford masterstroke.
Schultz has been vitally important for a Pittsburgh defense decimated by injury. His TOI is way up — 19:15 per game — and his offensive contributions have been outstanding. The 26-year-old has nine goals and 39 points through 56 games, putting him tops among all Pens d-men (and tied for seventh among all NHL blueliners).
Schultz is a pending RFA, and in line for a pretty big raise. The Post-Gazette suggested it could cost Pittsburgh $4-$5 million annually to keep him around, meaning Rutherford will have his work cut out. Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley are all pending UFAs, while fellow d-man Brian Dumoulin is also restricted come July 1.
Rutherford will also need to deal with the Marc-Andre Fleury issue, specifically how to mitigate Fleury’s $5.75 million cap hit.