New York’s power play woes disappear in Game 5

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PITTSBURGH — For one game in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers didn’t have power play woes.

The Rangers 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 saw them score twice on the man-advantage in three opportunities.

Scoring twice on the power play is a good night regardless of the situation, but after going into the game on a 0-for-36 streak in the playoffs, the Rangers felt a bit of relief finally getting off the schneid.

“Hopefully it lifted the million-pound weight we had on our shoulders when we’re going out there and we can keep getting it done on the power play,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. “It’s a huge part of the game and if we can get it rolling, good for us.”

The Rangers’ first goal of the game came on the power play when Chris Kreider buried a rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. Getting the game’s first goal and breaking a playoff-long cold streak helped them get started in the best possible way.

“When we scored [the first one], I was on the bench I could feel that everyone just took a deep breath like, ‘Ahh we scored,’ Rangers forward Derick Brassard said. “Like, finally. It helped us gain the momentum in the first period, we were flying. We were all over the place and I think it really got us going.”

The Rangers finished the first period ahead 2-0, but in the second the Penguins cut the lead in half when Evgeni Malkin scored his sixth goal of the postseason. While Brassard scored just over four minutes later to make it 3-1, the Rangers essentially iced the game when McDonagh scored his first of the playoffs on the power play with a slap shot from the point to beat Fleury.

“We’ve been waiting for it to click here,” McDonagh said. “We continue to have meetings and talk and try to make things happen, make adjustments. We never stop. Now the thing is, we’ve got to back it up and continue with it here. It helped to swing a game here, but it’s got to continue to help us in the next one.”

Getting the power play right, even for a game, is a big step for the Rangers. The key to getting things right in Game 5 may have been just in doing things a bit more simple.

“When you look at our power play goals, they weren’t anything special,” Brassard said. “McDonagh’s shot was a good shot, I don’t think Fleury saw it. Kreider’s goal was a rebound. Our defenseman could’ve taken his time, but he just decided to shoot. When you keep it simple sometimes, good things happen. It’s funny, sometimes you try to make plays and plays are there and it’s not going in. This time it was really simple and it went in.”

Asked if it was just a matter of making the straight-forward play, Brassard fired back with a laugh.

“Like I said, nothing special.”

Red Wings sign Tomas Tatar: four years, $21.2M

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It turns out that Tomas Tatar‘s days are numbered with the Detroit Red Wings by almost 1,500.*

After a salary arbitration hearing and concerns that he might leave after a single season, “Band-Aid” sort of deal, a wide variety of reporters state that the two sides instead agreed to a four-year deal with a $5.3 million cap hit, which would total $21.2 million.

Those figures come from MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan, FanRag’s Craig Morgan, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It will be noted if the Red Wings make the term and/or financial details official.

Here’s the reported yearly breakdown (cue ominous music for that lockout-protection drop in 2020-21), via Morgan:

Again, this feels like a change in viewpoint, as even just yesterday it was reasonable to wonder if Tatar would only stick around for 2017-18. Now, it is possible that Tatar might get traded at some point, but a four-year deal is a bit surprising. The forward himself speculated that a one-year deal would be it.

This contract makes Tatar, 26, the Red Wings’ second-most expensive forward from a cap perspective, trailing only Henrik Zetteberg’s $6.083 million.

Even with this deal out of the way, Red Wings GM Ken Holland still has some work to do, including re-signing speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou. And the situation is tight.

* – Four times 365 is 1,460. Get it?

Wingels fractures foot, but should be ready for Blackhawks camp

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The good news is that Tommy Wingels is expected to be ready for Chicago Blackhawks training camp. The bad news is that he’ll be limited in his training regimen … although that very regimen caused him issues in the first place.

Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks’ team doctor, released the following update regarding Wingels:

“Tommy Wingels sustained a left foot fracture during his off-season training. We anticipate a full recovery in six to eight weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

It’s unclear what caused the specific injury. Dropped weight? Unlucky fall? Perhaps a stress fracture? Without knowing the exact issue, it’s tempting to picture various painful scenarios.

(Probably because we’re in the dog days of the hockey summer, too.)

Wingels, 29, is on a one-year deal with Chicago, carrying a $750K salary and cap hit. He last played for the Ottawa Senators, though Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember him from his lengthy stay with the San Jose Sharks.

Six-to-eight weeks seems like it wouldn’t give a ton of room for error, so we’ll see if he’ll actually be ready for training camp.

Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

FanRag’s Cat Silverman wrote extensively about this topic yesterday. To learn more, give it a read.