Thomas Vanek

Therrien says Vanek needs to ‘step up,’ Vanek agrees


Despite Thursday’s big 5-4 OT win in Boston, the Canadiens weren’t satisfied with their overall play — most notably, the contributions from prized trade deadline acquisition Thomas Vanek.

Vanek was minus-1 in Game 1 and was temporarily dropped to the fourth line, finishing with 18:58 TOI. That last figure is noteworthy, because it came in a double-OT game; comparatively speaking, Vanek played 19:34 in a Game 3 victory in the opening round against Tampa Bay — a game that was decided in regulation.

Against Boston, all but three Canadiens forwards played more than Vanek did. Here’s more, from

Vanek is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011, when he scored five goals in a seven-game loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with the Buffalo Sabres. Vanek’s line with [David] Desharnais and [Max] Pacioretty combined for 18 goals in 14 full regular-season games together, and Vanek’s history of torching the Bruins, with 30 goals in 55 regular-season games, made him a key ingredient to the Canadiens’ potential for success.

In Game 1, he and his line didn’t deliver.

“It’s frustrating,” Vanek said. “You want to contribute, especially this time of year, so I think it’s frustrating we’re not having the success we had earlier. At the same time, you just take a step back, relax, and be better [Saturday].”

Getting more out of Vanek will be key for Montreal in this series. One, he’s a noted Bruins killer — 62 points in 55 career games against the B’s — and two, this postseason may be all Montreal gets out of Vanek, so it has to be good. The pending UFA has previously expressed his desire to test free agency, and the Habs paid a fairly decent price for what could amount to a short-term rental: a second-round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg, the 33rd overall pick at the ’12 NHL Entry Draft.

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning

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In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.

Hands of gold: Connor McDavid scores his first NHL goal


Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.

The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.

To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).

Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:

Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):

McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: