Out of everyone in the Eastern Conference finals, Jarome Iginla’s position is unique. It wasn’t too long ago he was a member of the Calgary Flames, deciding if he wanted to get traded to play for Boston or Pittsburgh.
When he made his decision, he did so knowing that it was entirely possible for the Bruins and Penguins to face each other deep in the playoffs.
“I chose Pitt. I’m thrilled,” Iginla said as he prepared for this series.
You have to wonder if he’s privately asking himself ‘What if?’ after two big losses at home. If he is though, he didn’t show signs of it in his postgame interview last night. He seemed calm given the circumstances and focused as he answered reporters’ questions following a 6-1 loss.
“We got out-competed tonight and outplayed,” Iginla admitted. “There’s no question about that. So we’ll all look at ourselves. I know I need to be better, we all want to be better in this room, and we all believe we can be. You know, the Bruins played well, but we also didn’t play very well at all.”
The pressure will be on Pittsburgh to take Game 3, but a 2-0 deficit, even with both losses coming at home, isn’t an insurmountable hole to dig out of.
“Our next game is our biggest game,” Iginla said.
Iginla will enter it with no points and a minus-three rating in this series. You can’t put the Penguins’ losses on him, but he’s certainly one of the players with the potential to set a different tone for Pittsburgh going forward.
You can watch his postgame interview below:
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: