The Buffalo Sabres finished at the bottom of the National Hockey League standings, and, as a result, were rewarded with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft after Tuesday’s lottery.
It’s not the first overall selection, which now belongs to the Florida Panthers, but getting to select from the top crop of prospects is something to look forward for the Sabres and rookie general manager Tim Murray. The 2013-14 season was a difficult one to digest for fans of the Sabres and those involved with the team, which finished with a 21-51-10 record.
It was also a record-breaking season, as the Sabres scored 150 non-shootout goals, a new record low in the post-expansion era, as reported by PHT’s Joe Yerdon.
“A lot of nights it was hard to watch,” said Murray, as per The Associated Press. “A lot of nights we competed hard and just didn’t have enough talent to put us over the top. But other nights, it wasn’t pretty.”
Murray also said earlier in the day that Ville Leino is a “very good possibility” to receive a compliance buyout this off-season.
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)