What a pickle: Vlasic out, Stalock in for San Jose


Some big developments from the Sharks this afternoon — Canadian Olympic defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will miss his first game of the opening-round series versus L.A. with an injury, and the team is also giving Alex Stalock his first-ever playoff start.

We’ll let that marinate for a moment.


Both stories are significant in their own right. Vlasic, who Sharks GM Doug Wilson called “one of the most fundamentally strong defensemen I’ve seen in 20 years,” was averaging over 20 minutes a night and sits second among San Jose’s d-men scorers this postseason.

With Vlasic out, Matt Irwin will make his series debut and play for the first time since Apr. 12.

Stalock’s start, meanwhile, is a huge shift for the Sharks, snapping Antti Niemi’s consecutive playoff starting streak at 39 games. The Finnish netminder had started every postseason game for the Sharks since coming over from Chicago four years ago, after he backstopped the ‘Hawks to the ’10 Stanley Cup.

That said, Stalock has shown well in limited work this series and apparently shown enough to warrant a start, especially in the wake of Niemi’s recent struggles. The 26-year-old has come on in relief of Niemi twice this series and been perfect, stopping all 26 shots faced in just over 57 minutes of action.

Stalock also performed well against the Kings in the regular season, stopping 20 of 21 shots in a 1-0 loss back in January.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever


Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)


Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…