Despite the fact Pittsburgh is scoreless on the power play in the Eastern Conference finals, Dan Bylsma isn’t showing concern.
On Friday, the Pens’ head coach was asked about his team’s inability to convert with the man advantage (0-for-12 thus far).
He said he’d relish the opportunity for similar chances in Game 4 — because he’s confident his team will convert.
“I’d love to put our players and our power play and have the puck on James Neal’s stick in the slot, three times with the puck on his stick like he was last game,” Bylsma explained. “Malkin on a breakaway. More than two other opportunities. We’d like to see those opportunities again for our guys tonight.”
The Penguins have been unable to convert scoring chances into goals all series long, but Game 3 was the most glaring example of that struggle — Pittsburgh out-shot Boston 54-40 on the night (13-4 on the PP) and had six man advantage opportunities to the Bruins’ two.
The most stunning part might be how quickly Pittsburgh’s power play went from scorching hot to stone cold.
The Pens went 7-for-21 in the opening round against the Islanders (33. 3 percent) and 6-for-25 against the Sens in Round 2 (24 percent), scoring at least one PPG in nine of 11 games.
Their current three-game scoreless streak on the power play matches a season-high, and they never went four games without scoring on the power play.
So maybe Bylsma is right in feeling confident that, eventually, the PP will come around.
“I feel real comfortable about our power play and our guys cashing in on those,” he said. “Is that something we’re going to build on? Absolutely.”
Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?