The San Jose Sharks going without Marc-Edouard Vlasic in most of Game 5 and all of Game 6 could be viewed as a contributing reason as to why they’re in a Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings tonight.
Vlasic was replaced by Matt Irwin in Game 6 and the Sharks were pleased with how the defensive corps played in spite of Vlasic’s absence as Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea.com shares.
“I thought we moved the puck well,” Jason Demers said. “We have a very special group on D … Matt came in and did a great job. Everyone kind of stepped up. We didn’t get the win, but there were a lot of positives on the defensive side for us, which we’re going to have to build on [Wednesday].”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn’t offer much of an update on Vlasic’s status on Tuesday and if he can’t go, it’ll likely be Irwin who draws in again. Losing Vlasic is no small problem as he’s been San Jose’s top blue liner this season and has been their go-to guy for matching up against opponents’ top players.
It’s no coincidence that Anze Kopitar found a bit more freedom in Game 6 without Vlasic there to match up against him. If anything, being on home ice could help the Sharks from a match up standpoint as McLellan will get the guys he wants out against the Kings best players.
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.