Plenty of things went wrong for the Isles in their 5-0 series-opening loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but none stood out more than the silencing of John Tavares.
New York’s leading scorer went pointless on the night and was held without a shot on goal — that said, head coach Jack Capuano wasn’t about to place that lack of productivity solely on Tavares.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to John that they were hard on the puck and he didn’t get many chances,” Capuano told Newsday. “We always talk about playing as a unit of five.
“You can talk about John and how they played him, but the surrounding support from our club needs to be better for John to be better.”
The Penguins made a concerted effort to stay on Tavares throughout Game 1, and try to punish him physically.
At no time was this more evident than at the 9:26 mark of the second period, when Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang went out of his way to pop Tavares during a puck retrieval:
Pens winger Jussi Jokinen said Tavares can expect much of the same tonight.
“We need to do that same job all over (Friday),” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Not give him any time, take all the space out of him and try not to let him play with the puck too much.”
Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.
The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.
So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.
You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.
Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.
Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.
The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.
This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.
From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as NHL.com notes.
“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”
Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.
At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.
Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?
We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.
Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.
Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
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Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.
The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.
In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.
This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.
The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.
This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.