New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game One

Thomas Vanek did not get good reviews last night


A handful of tweets about Montreal forward Thomas Vanek, both during and after his performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final:

So…not overly positive. Vanek finished the game with one shot, and in addition to getting ripped on social media, was called out by Don Cherry (video) for his defensive coverage on the Rangers’ first goal — “you talk about a guy in a fog” — as well as the “stupid” slashing penalty he took in the first period that negated a Montreal power play.

Now, to be fair, Vanek does have five goals in the playoffs, tied with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque for the most on the Canadiens. It wasn’t long ago that Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin was being celebrated for getting Vanek from the Islanders for cheap.

But if you ask Grapes about Vanek, “This guy’s mind is in Minnesota,” where it’s been widely speculated the ex-Gopher will sign this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Bonus tweet!

Question for discussion — if you’re Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, how much would you be willing to give the 30-year-old winger? Because the Islanders were reportedly willing to give him a lot, and the Sabres were reportedly willing to give him a lot. Which is to say, he’s going to be demanding a lot.

Also consider that Minnesota already has experience with a highly paid winger who scored a lot of goals before he was 30, only to stop scoring so much after he got on the wrong side of that age. Via Hockey Reference, here’s how the numbers look for that guy:



Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


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.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


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.