The Morning Skate: Can the Penguins survive?

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A quick look at the Eastern Conference finals and notes from the Blackhawks’ road win last night.

Game 4: #1 Pittsburgh Penguins at #4 Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET (on NBCSN and live online) – Bruins lead series, 3-0

In Game 3, the Bruins outlasted the Penguins in the longest game of the postseason, when Patrice Bergeron scored 15:19 into the second overtime. Tonight, the B’s will try to sweep the Pens to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. The Bruins are 5-0 all-time in Game 4s of best-of-seven series at home (13-5 overall) when up three-games-to-none.

The Penguins’ scoring deficiency, after leading the NHL in goals per game during the regular season (3.38) and the first two series this postseason (4.27), has been historic. With only two goals vs. Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, it marks only the second time in franchise history that the Pens have scored two or fewer goals in a three-game stretch in the playoffs (2001 Eastern Conference Final, Games 3-5, vs. New Jersey Devils). The six players with four or more goals coming into the conference final have a combined one (Chris Kunitz, Game 3).

 

FIRST TWO SERIES

THIS SERIES

Player

Goals

Goals

Shots on goal

Shot attempts

Sidney Crosby

7

0

9

17

Pascal Dupuis

7

0

6

15

James Neal

6

0

15

30

Chris Kunitz

4

1

8

17

Evgeni Malkin

4

0

20

34

Jarome Iginla

4

0

4

10

Shot attempts = shots on goal, attempts blocked and missed shots

The top six forwards on the B’s, on the other hand, have had few problems creating offense. The top line of Nathan Horton (two goals, three assists), David Krejci (four goals) and Milan Lucic (three assists) has combined for six goals, while the second line of Brad Marchand (two goals, assist), Patrice Bergeron (two goals, assist) and Jaromir Jagr (three assists) has four.

The Bruins’ only roster change will involve Gregory Campbell, the center on Boston’s “Merlot Line” with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. “Soupy” broke his right fibula while blocking a Evgeni Malkin slapshot, and will miss the remainder of the season.

WHO ON EARTH IS … KASPARS DAUGAVIŅŠ?

Perhaps the name is familiar. Kaspars Daugaviņš, the most likely roster replacement (along with Carl Söderberg and Jay Pandolfo) for the injured Gregory Campbell in Game 4, has already suited up for the Bruins this postseason, playing 9:52 in the B’s Game 1 defeat of the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Doesn’t ring a bell? You remember him from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where he represented Latvia and registered six shots on goal in four games (zero points). Still no? But certainly you’ve seen the most memorable shootout miss (see link) in NHL history, when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators, playing against the Bruins, on March 11.

That daring attempt, which he had first tested in the AHL two seasons earlier, was stopped by the Bruins’ starting goaltender Tuukka Rask. In the Senators’ next game against Boston, he scored his only goal of the 2012-13 season, beating the B’s backup, Anton Khudobin, in what would be his final game in Canada’s capital. On March 26, he was placed on waivers by the Sens and picked up the following day by the Bruins.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have never scored fewer than three points in a playoff series. Crosby had one goal and two assists in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final vs. Detroit, and Malkin had one goal and two assists in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final vs. Detroit and the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Montreal.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Chicago 3, Los Angeles 2 – Blackhawks lead series, 3-1

Marian Hossa scored 1:10 into the third period – his seventh goal of the postseason – to lift the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Kings in Game 4. Bryan Bickell (his eighth goal, T-2nd in NHL) and Patrick Kane also scored, as Chicago overcame the absence of top defenseman Duncan Keith (suspension). The Kings, who got goals from Slava Voynov and Dustin Penner, were held to 21 shots on goal, only two in the third period.

The Blackhawks not only took a three-games-to-one series lead; they also snapped the Kings’ franchise-records for most consecutive home wins in the playoffs (nine) and overall (15). Chicago can clinch its 12th Stanley Cup Final berth by defeating Los Angeles at home on Saturday evening, on NBC.

TWEET OF THE DAY

–    Patrick Kane, after he tapped in the 2-2 goal off the goalline that would have been teammate Bryan Bickell’s second of the game (and ninth of the postseason)

LINK

  • Jaromir Jagr demands perfection in the gym [CBC]
  • Today’s brew from Boston mixes beers with biers [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Sushi, the new pre-game wonder meal [Globe and Mail]
  • Bruins the modern-day version of the Broad Street Bullies [The Province]
  • Sidney Crosby’s sister carving out her own hockey path in goal [Canadian Press]

Video: Patrick Marleau scored a beauty in his Leafs debut

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It didn’t take Patrick Marleau long to score a goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yea, it’s the preseason, but it’s still nice to see him adapt to his new surroundings.

Going into Tuesday’s game, the veteran admitted that a new beginning in a new city was exciting, but he didn’t seem stressed by it.

“I wouldn’t say nervous, but definitely some excitement,” Marleau told TSN.ca before the game.

“There’s that energy of something new … you’re not sure how everything’s going to go so you try to stay within yourself.”

He did a pretty good job staying within himself.

With the Leafs trailing 1-0 in the first period of their game against the Ottawa Senators, Marleau entered the Sens zone on the right side and roofed a wrist shot past Mike Condon.

 

“He scored a goal,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said, per Sportsnet. “He made a real nice play – he backchecked all the way, he slowed the guy down, he gave our D time, he pushed the pace, he wired it under the bar – I mean Patty was fine.”

Hockey world supports Brian Boyle in his battle against cancer

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On Tuesday, Brian Boyle announced that he had been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

As scary as the news must have been for him to hear, Boyle showed the hockey world that he’s going to have a positive outlook on this situation.

“I feel very fortunate and very blessed,” Boyle said, per NHL.com. “We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of prayers, and if there’s anything I can ask it’s that that continues. That is something that I’ve seen firsthand heal cancers and heal situations that are said to be untreatable. For us, we’re in a good spot. We think we have a good plan of attack here and I’m looking forward to getting on the ice and playing.

Immediately, players, teams and fans began sending him messages of support. It’s incredible to see what the hockey community can do when it comes together.

Boyle has already stated that he plans on being in the Devils lineup on opening night.

Jaromir Jagr’s open to many things, but not retirement or a tryout

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Yes, Jaromir Jagr is 45-years-old. He’ll turn 46 in February.

So, yes, even for a fitness freak like Jagr, it’s likely that he’d probably not be the best fit for a team that plays at a frenetic pace. To get the most out of the living legend, a team would have to provide a nurturing environment. There are also questions about what sort of role he’d accept and how much money he’d settle for.

Even with all of those disclaimers under consideration, it’s maddening that we’re in late September and Jagr continues to put out semi-sarcastic cry for help videos.

So, what’s the latest on Jagr, then?

Well, to some extent, it’s useful to consider the process of elimination.

Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko reports that Jagr is open-minded about the KHL, though the NHL is first choice. Jagr acknowledged that participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics would be a draw in the process.

One thing he isn’t open to: a PTO with an NHL team.

While there’s actually some logic to a tryout – teams might want to see how well he can move/what kind of immediate chemistry Jagr could find – it does seem a little … demeaning to a first-ballot Hall of Famer who, frankly, is still producing solid numbers.

Eronko reports that Jagr said he’s talking to three-to-four teams, while Pierre LeBrun reports that two-to-three NHL teams are speaking with Jagr’s reps in the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading.

(Hey, both could be correct if Jagr’s including KHL suitors in his estimate.)

LeBrun also notes the idea Jagr is ruling out, beyond a PTO: retirement.

Jagr doesn’t want to hang up his skates, even if it means not playing in the NHL, which would bum out a slew of hockey fans (raises hand).

Naturally, there are creative “have your cake and eat it too” scenarios. Perhaps Jagr could sign a KHL contract with an NHL out clause of some kind, playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, and then ink a deal with a contender who a) he wants to play for and b) is now convinced he still “has it?”

There are plenty of possibilities, and many of them are fun to think about.

Jagr needing to try out for a team – or worse, retire – is not so fun to think about.

Flyers experiment with Claude Giroux at LW, Sean Couturier as his center

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Last season, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier were on the ice at the same time during even-strength situations for just a bit more than five minutes. Depending upon how a Philadelphia Flyers’ pre-season experiment goes, they could line up together a whole lot more often.

Of course, if you missed this post’s headline, you might be asking: “But how? They’re both centers.”

Well, under this experiment, Giroux would move to left wing, Couturier would play center, and Jakub Voracek would assume his familiar role at RW.

Giroux came into the NHL primarily as a right-winger before moving to center, so he’s clearly versatile enough to theoretically work out on a wing. It also might allow the Flyers to try to duplicate some of their mad science from the power play to even-strength, as that’s often the role he finds himself in on that locomotive of a man-advantage unit.

As Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post reports, Giroux doesn’t seem against it, really.

“It was actually a lot of fun,” Giroux said. “It’s not like I’m against it or I’m not happy with it. If it makes the team better, we have a lot of centermen and I’m up for it for sure.”

Giroux is right. The Flyers have a glut of pivots, especially if head coach Dave Hakstol views additions Nolan Patrick and Jori Lehtera (or fairly recent addition Valtteri Filppula) as better fits down the middle.

NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer reports that Hakstol is impressed by Giroux’s willingness to move around as need be.

“When your captain is as selfless as ‘G’ is, he [goes] all in,” Hakstol said. “Whatever the role is, he’s going to attack it… It’s early, but he’s had a very high-level camp.”

Giroux’s been, at times, a bit more dependent on the PP to get his numbers. In 2016-17, five of his 14 goals and 26 of his assists (31 of 58 points) came on the power play.

Perhaps Couturier could do the “dirty work” associated with a center while two gifted wingers exploit their chemistry and get to have the fun? It’s the sort of hypothesis that can make sense in a hockey laboratory, and it would be entertaining to see if it works out in reality.

Assuming such a scientific method even makes it to October.