Brodeur Quick

Kings-Devils Stanley Cup finals matchup: Goaltending

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With the Devils and Kings set to begin the 2012 Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, PHT will spend today and tomorrow breaking down the positional matchups.

New Jersey Devils

Martin Brodeur: 12-5, 2.04 GAA, .923 save percentage, one shutout, four assists.

Johan Hedberg: 0-1, 1.67 GAA, .929 save percentage.

Overview: Brodeur’s gotten stronger as the playoffs progressed, pretty impressive given he turned 40 in May. After a so-so start to the opening series against Florida — he was yanked 22 minutes into Game 3 after allowing three goals on 12 shots — he’s been a model of consistency, not allowing more than three goals in regulation.

If Brodeur stumbles, the Devils won’t have much issue going to Hedberg. While he’s only played 36 minutes this postseason, the 39-year-old veteran appeared in 27 regular season contests going 17-7-2 with four shutouts. They’re comfortable with him in goal (he actually shut out the Kings back in October.)

X-Factor: Elimination games. Brodeur’s been great when given the chance to close out a series…

Game 7 vs. Florida — stopped 43 of 45 shots (2OT)
Game 5 vs. Philadelphia — stopped 27 of 28
Game 6 vs. New York — stopped 33 of 35 (OT)

Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick: 12-2, 1.54 GAA, .946 save percentage, two shutouts.

Jonathan Bernier: No appearances

Aside from an early gaffe in the Phoenix series, Quick has been flawless and is the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe. Only twice has he allowed more than two goals in a game; statistically speaking, his “worst” game of the postseason came in a 4-2 win over St. Louis where his save percentage was “only” .900.

The thought of playing another goalie is almost unfathomable because the Kings hardly give up any goals. But, if Quick should falter, Bernier’s as talented a backup as you’ll find — the only question will be rust, as he hasn’t played since Mar. 31.

X-Factor: Pressure. Quick’s going to hear — and try to deflect — endless comparisons/questions about him (26 year old, first Cup finals) and Brodeur (40, three Stanley Cups). He’s also set to play on the biggest stage of his career.

That said, Quick’s pretty good at handling pressure. LA played an inordinate amount of one-goal games and often relied on him to steal points as the offense sputtered, and he responded with a Vezina-worthy campaign.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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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.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta