New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Two

Pacioretty hopes to rebound from weak Game 4 outing

Coming off a 39-goal, 60-point regular season, Max Pacioretty stands as one of the Montreal Canadiens’ go-to forwards. Wherever you rank him, his Game 4 performance left a lot to be desired, which he acknowledged to NHL.com heading into Game 5.

Just about any top forward hears it from the media and fans when he’s struggling, yet Pacioretty acknowledges being under the spotlight that much more in Montreal. At 25, it seems like he’s getting better at putting criticism aside and getting back to work.

“It’s tough to have a short memory in this city,” Pacioretty said. “Over the years I’ve gotten better and better at it. But there’s been times in these playoffs when I go four games without scoring a goal, I feel like I’m the worst player ever. But that just comes with playing in a big market, and you use it as motivation and you use it to get ready for the next game.”

Perhaps Michel Therrien can help him enjoy more manageable situations with the last change. Pacioretty had awful numbers from a typical standpoint (zero points, zero shots on goal and a -2 rating) and arguably even worse numbers from a “fancy stats” perspective in Game 4.

The Habs could certainly use Pacioretty at his best, and it’s reasonable to expect a bounce-back performance in Game 5 tonight. He’s been solidly productive in this series (a goal in Game 2, an assist in Game 3) and scored six points in his last seven postseason contests even with that ugly game on Sunday.

Montreal has been dominated during some stretches of play against the Rangers in this series, yet they’ve put up a solid fight after getting shelled in Game 1. If Pacioretty can turn up the heat, this series really might be far from over.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

1 Comment

For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

1 Comment

The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP
1 Comment

If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

2 Comments

It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.