When Chicago rookie Brandon Saad stole the puck off the Bruins early in last night’s game, he didn’t hesitate when he looked up and saw big Zdeno Chara standing between him and the Boston net at the other end of the ice.
Instead, Saad did this:
That goal was the first of five — yes, five — Chicago goals for which Chara was on the ice.
“That’s one of the main goals is to get him to move his feet and try to sustain that pressure,” Saad said Thursday. “He’s a great defenseman but to keep that pressure and have the success that we did, that’s always a positive thing.”
In a related story, Bruins head coach Claude Julien spoke today about neutralizing the ‘Hawks attack before it has a chance to turn its speed into pressure.
“I think Chicago did a great job last night,” said Julien. “They put pucks in deep, and they came after us. They were forcing us very well. And because they got some speed in the neutral zone, it didn’t mean they had to make plays, but they put pucks in the right places.”
While it’s unlikely the Bruins will be quite so loose defensively Saturday at the United Center, for the Blackhawks, Game 4 was proof that Chara’s not invincible.
“I think maybe at times in the first couple games we were giving him a little bit too much respect by trying to keep the puck away from him,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
“He’s not a guy that we should be afraid of. We should go at him, protect the puck from him, make plays around him and through him.”
Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots
The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.
For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.
The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).
New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.
This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.
There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.
On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.
The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.
The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.
Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).
Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.
More Boucher on Anderson: 'For all the saves he’s made this year, and all the times he’s made us win a game, he gave us a point tonight.'
When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.
It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.
After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:
Most Consecutive Appearances in #StanleyCup Playoffs: 29: BOS, 67/68–95/96 28: CHI, 69/70–96/97 25: STL, 79/80–03/05 and DET, 90/91–15/16