Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs coach hopes to follow the Kings’ style

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Say what you will about the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but when things were going well, that team could light up the scoreboard. Unfortunately for Buds fans, other teams lit up the scoreboard far more often – especially when it all fell apart at the end of the year.

There are basically two ways to judge those results. One side is to say that a high-octane style could work – particularly considering the personnel on hand – if the defense and goaltending was simply adequate. The other is to say that the team needs to embrace big-picture NHL trends of going defense-first. Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle sides heavily with choice “B,” as he told Kevin McGran.

“I look at the way (the Kings) played and the type of team they had was very similar to what we had in 2007 (in Anaheim),” Carlyle said. “It was a grinding type of puck movement (in the playoffs) … There wasn’t a lot of goals scored off the rush. There was a lot more special teams in the games.”

This is the kind of hockey Carlyle wants his Leafs to play.

The big question is: do the Leafs have the makeup of a team that can grind out a lot of low-scoring, one-goal wins? Let’s not forget that along with a deep group of forwards, the Kings employed one of – if not the – best defense corps in the NHL and an undeniably elite goalie in Jonathan Quick.

A question of personnel

Is there anything resembling that in Toronto? Dion Phaneuf once came into the league with Drew Doughty-type acclaim, but he seemed to plateau in Calgary.* James Reimer showed flourishes until a concussion derailed his season, so the Quick element isn’t there, either.

If you ask me, the Leafs were at their best when Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were shocking the hockey world with their fantastic, frenetic play. Their best off-season move so far involved letting go a once-promising defenseman (Luke Schenn) for a hopeful power forward in the making (James van Riemsdyk).

Changes coming?

Of course, the key phrase is “so far.” Perhaps Toronto can add some talent in net and some stability on the blueline. Otherwise, it’ll take some fantastic coaching from Carlyle if the Maple Leafs want to look anything like the Kings.

(Other than the “struggling to get into the playoffs” part, that is.)

* – There is talk that he’s improve, yet that dialogue has a “he’s not all that bad” tone.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.