Since Game 2 of their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers’ power play was either neutralized or an albatross, but that changed in a 5-1 Game 5 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. That unit finally broke through with a 2-for-3 night, shifting the special teams questions to Pittsburgh this time around.
As it turns out, Pittsburgh’s PP problems probably deserve some attention, too. The Penguins went 0-for-4 on the night, prompting some criticism from head coach Dan Bylsma after the game.
“I don’t think we’ve attacked and shot enough on our power play,” Bylsma said.
He pointed to one sequence in particular: the Penguins had a 5-on-3 opportunity to end the second period. Down 4-1 late in the middle frame, penalties to Derick Brassard and Dan Girardi gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to get back into the game. Instead, the Rangers kept the Pens from converting on close to 1:30 of 5-on-3 time. Bylsma noted that the team had its fair share of chances, yet he lamented their inability to “capitalize” on those opportunities nonetheless.
It’s easy to make too much out of one game, yet the Rangers now have two power-play goals to the Penguins’ one (although shorthanded goals muddy the picture enough that special teams might be considered a draw).
Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to score a power-play goal in four of its five games against the Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after finding the net with the man advantage in all but one game against Columbus (Pittsburgh went 6-for-29 in six postseason games against the Blue Jackets).
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.