Filppula 2

Under Pressure: Valtteri Filppula


“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Tampa Bay Lightning we picked… forward Valtteri Filppula.

The Lightning made the difficult decision to use a compliance buyout on Vincent Lecavalier’s contract and free up roughly $7.7 million annually in cap space. Not too long after that, they inked Filppula to a five-year, $25 million deal.

Is it fair to compare those two? Of course not. Filppula isn’t a substitute for Lecavalier and the Lightning certainly didn’t want out of Lecavalier’s contract for the express purpose of grabbing Filppula. Lecavalier is 33 years old and was signed through 2019-20, so that cap hit was only going to look worse as time went on.

Unfortunately, those comparisons might end up being made anyways.

“Because they play the same position, they shoot the same hand, of course they are going to be compared,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper conceded to the Tampa Tribune.

It doesn’t help that, taken on its own merits, Filppula’s contract is still a big risk for Tampa Bay. He had 66 points in 2011-12, but was coming off a knee injury when the lockout ended and he struggled throughout the 2013 campaign.

That drop off in 2013, especially with the injury factored in, might have been easy to dismiss if not for the fact that he’s 29 years old and has only had one career season with more than 40 points. So to give him $5 million annually for the next five years seems like a stretch.

The man inking him to that deal was Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Given Yzerman’s long tenure with the Detroit Red Wings, he would know Filppula better than most and he clearly believes in him. At the same time, that adds to what’s at stake for Filppula.

It won’t just be the unfair comparisons to Lecavalier that threatens to hang over him or the normal pressure that comes from being a big summer signing. If Tampa Bay has a bad season and Filppula doesn’t live up to expectations, then his signing will be used as a primary example in any potential argument against Yzerman.

In other words Filppula is also playing to prove Yzerman right for trusting him.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win

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Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.

David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

The win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

…Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

The running and gunning Boston Bruins.

When was the last time you could call them that?

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.