The St. Louis Blues clinched a 2013 playoff berth on Tuesday. If only deciding which goalie to start could be so black-and-white.
The team’s No.1 goalie spot was already up to debate with Jake Allen and Brian Elliott enjoying their own intermittent spans of strong play, but head coach Ken Hitchcock threw an extra wild card in the mix: Jaroslav Halak might just be good to go.
Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford “don’t read anything into it from there,” after dropping that bomb. Maybe Rutherford won’t, but plenty of fans and pundits might embrace this invitation to debate the trio’s relative merits.
If you want help doing so, check out their season stats:
Elliott: 22 GP, 12-8-1, .903 save percentage and 2.41 GAA
Halak: 16 GP, 6-5-1, .899 save percentage and 2.14 GAA
Allen: 15 GP, 9-4-0, .905 save percentage and 2.46 GAA
Those 2013 numbers don’t exactly roll out an obvious answer, unless you place a ton of stock in win-loss record. Then again, one might counter that Halak, 27, holds the advantage based on his glorious playoff run with Montreal in 2010.
Hitchcock might provide good advice, then, because gauging the best goalie option isn’t that much easier than deciphering an unfamiliar language.
You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.
The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.
It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.
You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:
Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):
The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled tough guys Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy from the AHL on Tuesday.
This move makes a sense for a couple of reasons.
Most clearly, things are getting nasty between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, so Pittsburgh is bringing in a couple of brutes. Each player isn’t shy about piling up penalty minutes, whether that be in the NHL or AHL.
The other reason: with injuries and Kris Letang‘s suspension, Oleksy could provide some depth. Justin Schultz is motivated to prove himself, yet Oleksy provides a little insurance.
Is it the ideal scenario in a big playoff game? Nope, but if brute force ends up being a factor, the Penguins added some muscle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the series lead for the first time against the New York Islanders, who are trying to regain the advantage on home ice at the Barclays Center after a split in Tampa Bay. You can catch Game 3 between these teams on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Strome saga continues, will be a healthy scratch for Game 3
Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon
Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.
“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.
The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.
Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.
He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.
In March, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule outlined above should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.
Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016