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.
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:
You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.
The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.
It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.
You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:
Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):
The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled tough guys Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy from the AHL on Tuesday.
This move makes a sense for a couple of reasons.
Most clearly, things are getting nasty between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, so Pittsburgh is bringing in a couple of brutes. Each player isn’t shy about piling up penalty minutes, whether that be in the NHL or AHL.
The other reason: with injuries and Kris Letang‘s suspension, Oleksy could provide some depth. Justin Schultz is motivated to prove himself, yet Oleksy provides a little insurance.
Is it the ideal scenario in a big playoff game? Nope, but if brute force ends up being a factor, the Penguins added some muscle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the series lead for the first time against the New York Islanders, who are trying to regain the advantage on home ice at the Barclays Center after a split in Tampa Bay. You can catch Game 3 between these teams on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Strome saga continues, will be a healthy scratch for Game 3
Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon
Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.
“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.
The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.
Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.
He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.
In March, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule outlined above should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.
Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016