Afternoon reading: On Pacioretty, Montreal’s sensitive sniper

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Just sitting in the Staples Center media room. All’s quiet here, so I thought I’d pass along some afternoon reading in the wake of Guy Lafleur’s pointed comments on Max Pacioretty.

This column by the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur is a good look into Pacioretty’s sensitive psyche.

“When I first got called up (in 2009) I scored on my first shot, first period, first game, and I thought life was the easiest thing in the world,” said Pacioretty. “I thought I was never going back to the minors. And you go two games without a point, three games without a point, four or five, and you feel like you’re the worst person ever, the worst player ever. And at that point of my career I wasn’t mentally strong enough to come out of that. You just feel like you’re never going to score again, and . . .

Also check out the Twitter feed of NHL.com’s Arpon Basu, who recently talked to Pacioretty about handling media and fan criticism in the hockey-mad market of Montreal.

“I can handle having a bad game and having people tell me that, and I can handle people critiquing my game and having an honest opinion,” said Pacioretty. “But, people mentioned I scored 39 goals, I think I was fourth in the league, and to take heat about scoring goals from no one that’s ever scored an NHL goal really bothers me at times.”

Obviously, some guys let criticism bother them more than others. Pacioretty is in the “bothers him a lot” category, which is why playing in Montreal has been so tough for him at times, and why he’s had to work on the mental side of the game.

To be fair, he’s only 25, and he did score four times in his last eight playoff games.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.