Being that this is their third consecutive playoff meeting, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers know each other pretty well. As it happens, both teams have at least one thing in common: they’ve turned things around from darker times.
In the case of the Capitals, it all started to turn around after a players-only meeting following a dispiriting 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 8. Defenseman Karl Alzner described that moment.
“We played terrible. Didn’t have any emotion. It’s one you needed to talk about instantly; can’t let things like that drag on,” Alzner said. “We had to get everything out in the open, hear what everybody was feeling, why we thought we weren’t playing with as much intensity as we normally do, and figure it out. Figure it out now.”
While the Capitals cleared the air, the Rangers brought in new blood via trades. John Tortorella noted that things picked up when the team made trades that (most notably) sent Marian Gaborik out of town while bringing in Ryane Clowe and Derick Brassard.
“I think it solidified our team,” Tortorella said. “We have kind of grown since then. We’re not always dead-on in our minutes in the game, but we have still found ways to win hockey games, and that’s what we’re going to have to do in the playoffs.”
“I thought it changed our team a little bit … And we took off.”
Of course, both teams will face their biggest tests in the next weeks … and maybe months.
Optimism won’t come as easily for Lightning after ugly loss to Canucks
They were able to find the bright side of recent troubles, but what do you really say after a 5-1 loss to the struggling Vancouver Canucks?
The Lightning have lost two straight, six of seven and seven of nine during a deeply worrisome run. While they did generate more shots on goal tonight, they’ve now given up at least 30 in all but three of their contests since the start of November.
If the playoffs began today, the Lightning would easily miss them.
“It’s time for us to step up here,” Ben Bishop said after a game in which he was pulled heading into the third period. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us.”
Blame it on injuries if you’d like, but Steven Stamkos isn’t coming back anytime soon. If they don’t get things back together, they won’t be playing for much once he can return.
#tblightning Cooper: "I don't even remember losing games by four goals. Ever. Maybe one a year. Now we're losing them once a week."
One team just can’t be denied. At times, the other team just can’t seem to defend.
It was a pretty wild one between the Edmonton Oilers and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, with the ultimate result being a 6-5 win for the Flyers.
The ride was bumpy, dramatic and will probably provide Oilers head coach Todd McLellan with a lot of “teaching moments” (or, let’s be honest, reasons to yell really loud).
Things started promising enough for the Oilers, who built an early 2-0 lead thanks to a goal and an assist by Leon Draisaitl. You could then cue the horror music, as the Flyers scored three goals in a minute and 12 seconds to grab a brief 3-2 lead:
There might be some concern about a young team like the Oilers cratering from such a letdown, yet they bounced back … to an extent.
Edmonton rattled off three unanswered goals, giving them a 5-3 lead about five minutes into the third period. It seemed like it would be a redemptive moment after that three-goal blunder.
The Oilers? They didn’t even get what sometimes feels like a customary “charity point” by getting to overtime. Three isn’t a magical number for Edmonton lately, as they’ve now lost three in a row. It’s probably safe to say that this one will burn the most.
Avalanche beat Bruins, even as Pastrnak remains almost unstoppable
David Pastrnak is scoring at an astounding pace. Sometimes it’s still not enough to earn a win for the Boston Bruins.
The 20-year-old wunderkind scored both of the Bruins’ goals on Thursday, giving him a patently absurd 18 in 23 games. Pastrnak now has five goals in his last three games (not to mention a five-game point streak with those five goals and two assists).
Calvin Pickard was perfect against Bruins not named Pastrnak, however, and the Colorado Avalanche beat Boston 4-2.
Perhaps part of the problem was that the Bruins “other” MVP wasn’t in action, then. Tuukka Rask has been right up there with the NHL’s best, but it was Anton Khudobin in net, and he gave up four goals on just 22 shots.
Rather than taking a step up the ladder, Pastrnak’s made leaps. Similarly, Rask is more than merely rebounding from what was – for his lofty standards – a disappointing campaign in 2015-16.
The Bruins need more from their supporting cast members, however, especially when one of these two players can’t suit up.
Even the best goalie in the world – one who makes it look easy – can lose his cool sometimes.
(Heck, that used to be the domain of Patrick Roy, right?)
It was quite the sight on Thursday nonetheless: Carey Price absolutely lost his cool and went after Kyle Palmieri during the Montreal Canadiens’ game against the New Jersey Devils. You can watch that spectacle in the video above.
Palmieri received an interference penalty while Price received a roughing double-minor. Apparently fits of Price anger are rare:
Carey Price loses it?! That's like seeing a unicorn.