The shortened season is causing teams to break from the norm. In St. Louis, that means the squad will run three power-play units.
“We’re going to use three units, we’re going to use eight guys to kill penalties, that’s just the reality of the season and where everybody is at physically and mentally,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“I think you just have to use as much of your bench as you can. It’s a little more work for everybody, but I think getting guys used to doing it is important.”
One power-play line features Alex Steen at the point and includes Chris Stewart, Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy McDonald, and Kevin Shattenkirk.
T. J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo manned the points of another unit that consists of David Backes, David Perron, and Patrik Berglund.
Finally, the third unit consisted of Matt D’Agostini, Jaden Schwartz, Vlad Sobotka, Kris Russell, and Ian Cole.
Although he admits it’s a risk, Hitchcock has already seen some “good things” by having forwards Steen and Oshie play in the back end.
“It looks like we’re a threat and that’s the key thing,” Hitchcock said. “I think this includes more players, it makes us more dynamic.”
The Blues had a mediocre 16.7% power-play success rate in 2011-12 and they weren’t much better during their subsequent playoff run.
PHT Morning Skate: Tortorella says ‘not a chance’ LeBron James could play hockey
—Auston Matthews is putting together one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a long time, but if it wasn’t for Ukrainian skating coach Boris Dorozhenko’s unique teaching methods, he might not be the player he is today. (ESPN)
–Not many people expected the Minnesota Wild to contend for the Central Division crown this season, but their play is making some in the national media believe they have a chance to do some damage in the near future. “I give them a ton of credit,” NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said. “They’ve put themselves in a great position to win a Cup. This is the best team they’ve had in Minnesota ever. Like, ever!” (Minneapolis StarTribune)
–If he wasn’t a basketball player, I could see LeBron James playing in the NFL. But a hockey player? I don’t think so. It sounds like Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella agrees with me. “He can’t skate,” Tortorella said during a radio interview. “He’s too damn big, he can’t skate. And you can tell him I said that, I challenge him.” (BarDown)
–The Boston Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 in last night’s game against the Red Wings, but they still found a way to lose the game. Watch the highlights of that tilt by clicking the video at the top of the page.
–Every hockey fan is aware of the incredible season Sidney Crosby has put together, but for some reason, Evgeni Malkin‘s stellar play seems to be flying under the radar. After all, Malkin isn’t too far behind Connor McDavid for the scoring title. “He doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves,” said Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar. “Not only this season or that season. I think overall if you look at his career, I don’t think he has been covered as much as some other guys. I think he deserves more credit for what he has done in his career.” (NHL.com)
–The 2003 NHL Entry Draft is regarded as one of the best drafts in league history. That year, the Penguins took Marc-Andre Fleury first overall, but if it had to be done over again, who would the top pick be? According to a pair of Sportsnet hockey analysts, Patrice Bergeron or Ryan Getzlaf would go number one if that draft could be done over again. (Sportsnet)
–In his final year of eligibility, former Expos outfielder Tim Raines was finally voted into the hall-of-fame yesterday, and the Montreal Canadiens made sure to congratulate him during last night’s game:
Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings
If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.
They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.
During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.
The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:
1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
2. Oilers – 57 in 47
3. Sharks – 56 in 45
San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:
Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games
Canucks – 48 in 46
Predators – 47 in 44
Stars – 46 in 46
Jets – 46 in 48
The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.
Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties
Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.
To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:
(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)
Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.
Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.
Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.
#RedWings win a game after allowing 4 first-period goals for the first time since November 1, 1991 vs Hartford