As great as Henrik Lundqvist is, one must assume that even the all-world New York Rangers goalie has a weakness. The word was that the Washington Capitals believed that he was vulnerable if you could shoot high toward his glove hand, but they weren’t able to exploit that supposed issue enough to win their seven-game series.
Being that the division rivals face each other so frequently, the New Jersey Devils probably have their own ideas about how they hope to beat Lundqvist in the Eastern Conference finals. Patrik Elias and Zach Parise aren’t copping to an obvious flaw – at least publicly – though.
When a reporter said “the book on Lundqvist is to shoot high,” Parise’s went to the “can we have a copy of that book?” well. Meanwhile, Elias expanded on those doubts by pointing to Lundqvist’s outstanding season.
“I don’t know; he’s nominated for [the Vezina], hasn’t he?” Elias said. “There’s a reason for that. I don’t know if he has a weakness, really.”
Still, Elias gave a few potential ideas on how to produce a bit against the stupendous Swede.
“But there [are] different ways you can get to him, probably,” Elias said. “Obviously you have to have traffic, screen as much as possible … you have to find a way. Maybe spread them out a little bit at certain times. You have to react to the game. Certain plays you have to get the pucks on the net quick. Get the shots quick. Different time shift, maybe take a little extra time, make extra two paths in.”
One of the obvious storylines for this series is a local passing of the torch from aging great Martin Brodeur to current elite Lundqvist. The Devils have a chance to give Brodeur perhaps his last big push for a fourth Stanley Cup, but they’ll be forced to foil King Henrik.
Whether that means exploiting an allegedly weak glove or not.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sat down with Andrea Kremer to discuss his 40 years in hockey. (Above)
Watch as a group of people (including some former NHLers) take part in a pond hockey game on the Rocky Mountains. (Bardown)
Check out Josh Jooris and Johnny Gaudreau‘s crib:
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser explains why Brad Marchand deserved a penalty for his collision with Henrik Lundqvist. (TSN)
The EIHL’s Braehead Clan suited up in a kilt-like uniform.
Today’s the day you can start voting for your 2016 NHL All-Stars. (NHL.com)
It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.
But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”
Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.
Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.
Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.
In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.
Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.
Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.
Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.
While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.
Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.
Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.
Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.
In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.
Some of the more choice quotes:
“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”
“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon Draisaitl–Taylor Hall line] that provides that.”
It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.
They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.
Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.
“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”