Carey Price, Tuukka Rask

Disrespected? OK, but that’s not why the Habs won

61 Comments

For the record, I love the “we were disrespected” angle that the Montreal Canadiens were playing up last night after eliminating the Bruins. It’s great for the blogging business, providing lots of clicks and comments and ranting and raving. Same goes for Milan Lucic being “disrespectful” in the handshake line. Even more so, actually.

But here’s the thing: getting disrespected wasn’t why the Habs beat the B’s. Perhaps it provided a bit of useful motivation, but let’s not allow that narrative, as much as you all care about PHTs well-being, to overshadow things like:

— Carey Price is one of the best goalies in hockey.

— PK Subban is one of the best defensemen in hockey.

— Teams that have those two things often do well in the playoffs.

— The Habs got Thomas Vanek at the deadline, and it didn’t cost them all that much. His five goals lead the team in the postseason.

— Max Pacioretty was called out by his coach after Game 4. He responded, big time.

— Dale Weise was deemed expendable by the Canucks. In Montreal, he’s been anything but.

— Lars Eller. Pretty savvy trade acquisition for an expendable goalie.

— Brendan Gallagher. Pretty savvy draft pick at 147th overall.

The Habs are full of good stories, from all of the above to Daniel Briere to Mike Weaver to Andrei Markov. And let’s not forget about their coach, Michel Therrien, who just so happens to be enjoying all this success while the guy who replaced him a few years ago in Pittsburgh is getting ready to look for work, apparently no longer a genius.

I’m not quite to the point where I’m going to rip the Habs for playing the “we were disrespected” card, as some have. I’m not going to rip Lucic much, either. Hockey is an emotional sport. We demand the players play on the edge, then we’re outraged when they get frustrated and don’t “#stayclassy”? Seems a bit much to me. But that’s another story.

And besides, I don’t doubt the Habs felt disrespected. (I mean, come on.) However, focusing too much on the respect factor is selling themselves short. Montreal’s got a great chance to get back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Because, as it turns out, Montreal’s got a pretty good team.

Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Getty
6 Comments

Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

Leave a comment

Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.