Mike Yeo

Blackhawks continue to foil Parise, Suter and Koivu in the playoffs

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For all the talk about Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash chasing that first playoff goal, the most worrisome slump might revolve around the Minnesota Wild’s big names being unable to solve the Chicago Blackhawks. Simply put, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter have had an awful time against the ‘Hawks in seven playoff games over two postseason series.

The good news is that they still have some time to figure things out, but so far, they seem downright baffled. Sunday’s 4-1 Game 2 loss may represent a new low for the Minnesota trio, too; they failed to score a point and combined for a -8 rating.

Parise, 29, is the only one of the three to even score a point against Chicago over those seven games. He generated an assist in Game 1 and scored one goal in Minnesota’s 4-1 series loss to Chicago in 2013.

MORE: Wild coach says his team is just a “play or two away.”

In case you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of how all three have fared in the two series against Chicago, with the obvious note being that they have plenty of time to redeem themselves as things shift to Minnesota:

Parise in 2013-14: one assist, -3 rating, nine shots on goal in two games against Chicago; In seven games against Colorado, Parise had a point in every game (three goals, eight assists for 11 points in that series).
Parise in 2012-13: one goal, -7 rating, 17 SOG in five games against Chicago.

Koivu in 2013-14: zero points, -3 rating, five SOG; Koivu had six points (one goal, five assists) against Colorado.
Koivu in 2012-13: zero points, -6 rating, 11 SOG in five GP

Suter in 2013-14: zero points, -5 rating, four SOG … 27:25 TOI in Game 2 and only 25:22 TOI in Game 1; Suter had four points in Minnesota’s series against Colorado and generally logged his usual heavy minutes
Suter in 2012-13: zero points, -5 rating, five SOG in five GP

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It’s really important to note that these lousy-looking numbers came in a very small sample size with five against the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup-winning team from last season and two against a championship contender this season. If anything, Chicago deserves as much credit as Minnesota’s biggest names inspire concern.

Still, with all of those caveats aside, it’s clear that things aren’t going well for Minnesota’s leaders (especially Koivu and Suter, as Parise’s shot totals at least imply that he could be more productive with better bounces).

The question is: what needs to be done to get them back on track? Will a change of scenery do the trick? Should head coach Mike Yeo consider shifting lines to try to avoid the likes of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa or is it just a matter of the Wild’s big names digging deep?

That’s up to debate, but if Minnesota doesn’t find an answer soon, it could be another short series.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Capitals, Game 2, plus NHL Draft Lottery

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, right, goes up against Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, left, during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to even up their second-round series with the Washington Capitals with a win on the road Saturday at Verizon Center. You can catch Game 2 between these rivals on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links for both Game 2 between the Penguins and Capitals, and the draft lottery:

Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary

Everything you need to know about the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery

Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)

Lightning strikes: Bolts even series with Islanders

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Tyler Johnson began the playoffs as a game-time decision for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their series with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s now among the top point producers this post-season.

Needing a win to even the series before it shifts north to Brooklyn, the Lightning earned a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. Series tied, 1-1. As for Johnson, the diminutive but skilled forward, he led the Bolts with a three-point night and is up to 10 points in the playoffs.

He opened the scoring versus the Islanders and finished it with an empty-netter to negate any late comeback attempt.

Still without Steven Stamkos, the Lightning got another strong game from Jonathan Drouin, who entered this series without a goal. But he changed that, giving the host team a two-goal lead in the opening period of Game 2. That goal would be the eventual winner.

Corey Perry: ‘I take a lot of blame for what happened’ after Ducks bounced in first round

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 11:  Ryan Getzlaf #15 and Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks watch from the bench during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on April 11, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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After a first-round playoff loss that resulted in the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau, players were forced to answer for such a disappointing end to the Anaheim Ducks’ season.

The Ducks were last in the West at the holiday break but went flying up the standings in the second half of the season, claiming the Pacific Division. But they couldn’t close out the Nashville Predators in the opening round, despite a 3-2 series lead, and Boudreau was sent packing.

Ducks GM Bob Murray then let the players have it, blasting the core group and their performance, especially in the first two games of the series, and strongly suggesting there would be some big changes in Anaheim leading up to next season.

“I take a lot of blame for what happened,” said Corey Perry, as per the Ducks’ website. “I didn’t score a goal. I take a lot of responsibility. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.”

In seven games, the 30-year-old Perry, who just concluded the third year of an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $8.625 million, had four assists. But, as he said, no goals.

On Boudreau’s dismissal, Perry added: “He did a lot for my game. It’s tough when you know the reason somebody got fired is because we as a team and as individuals didn’t perform to where we needed to perform, and that’s the hardest thing. You lose four Game 7s at home, and he has nothing really do with what we did on the ice. We’re performing, we’re playing and we have to hold ourselves accountable. And I think a lot of guys are doing that.”

 

Marquette, Michigan is your Kraft Hockeyville 2016 winner

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Huge congrats to the community of Marquette, MI and the Lakeview Arena — after an exciting voting process, Marquette has been named the winner of the Kraft Hockeyville 2016 competition.

As a result, Lakeview will receive $150,000 in arena upgrades, and will host an Oct. 4 preseason game broadcast on NBCSN between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes.

More, from the NHL:

Marquette is rich in hockey heritage and Lakeview Arena stands as a pillar of the community, stimulating the local economy since it opened in 1973. Lakeview Arena’s semi-pro Marquette Iron Rangers signed the first female professional hockey player in North American history, Karen Koch.

Lakeview Arena will prioritize energy efficiency updates with the grand prize money in addition to other arena upgrades to ensure future generations of Marquette players are able to enjoy skating at Lakeview Arena for years to come.

“We’ve seen amazing participation across the country in Kraft Hockeyville USA’s second year,” said Nina Barton, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Kraft Heinz. “This year’s contest led to millions of votes from passionate hockey fans, and we’re so proud America has chosen the spirited, well-deserving community of Marquette as Kraft Hockeyville USA 2016.”

Marquette was just one of more than a thousand communities across the country that submitted stories showing their hockey spirit and passion.

The runner-up, Rushmore Thunderdome of Rapid City, S.D., will receive $75,000 to use toward arena upgrades.

For more on this year’s Kraft Hockeyville competition, click here.