Author: Cam Tucker

Crawford ‘feeling pretty good’ after slow start to playoffs

So, Corey Crawford didn’t get off to the best start in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

— He was pulled after the first period of Game 1 against Nashville in the opening round.

— He started Game 2 and gave up six goals on 35 shots.

— He was “a little pissed off at first” that Scott Darling took over the starting job in that first-round series.

But it’s not always about how you start. Since taking back the No. 1 goalie job at the end of the Nashville series, Crawford has been spectacular for the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I never necessarily get low, confidence-wise, about my game,” Crawford told

“I was a little ticked off, I guess you could say, that I wasn’t in there. But I was still ready to get back in. I was working hard, and I mean … things happen. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you can’t really let your emotions affect your play after that.”

In a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the second round, Crawford allowed only seven goals. Two of those came during a frantic stretch in the final three minutes, when the Wild tried desperately to send Game 4 to overtime and possibly extend the series.

“I don’t think I was completely awful the first [series],” said Crawford. “It just took a little bit to get into it. I was out quick, lost the timing and when I came back, I got it back pretty quick. I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

St. Louis isn’t sentimental about time with Lightning ahead of Eastern Conference Final


Maybe when it’s all over, Martin St. Louis will sit back and think more about his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But not now. Not while his New York Rangers are up against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, which begins Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

St. Louis spent almost 13 seasons in Tampa Bay, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004. The Lightning honored him in his return to Tampa Bay in November.

Last season, however, he requested a trade out of Tampa Bay and was dealt to the Rangers at the deadline, with Ryan Callahan coming back to the Lightning.

It’s a juicy storyline — St. Louis and Callahan facing their former teams — so close to the championship series.

“No, it’s not something I think about right now. Right now it’s a team that’s standing in the way of where we want to go,” St. Louis told reporters on Friday.

“I have a lot of respect for the organization over there and the people there. They treated me really well. It’s not time to reflect on it. It’s time to play playoff hockey.”

St. Louis began his time with the Lightning in the 2000-2001 season, and was just shy of a point-per-game pace when Steven Stamkos, now one of the league’s most prolific scorers, was in his rookie season with Tampa Bay.

On the subject of facing former teammates and whether this situation with St. Louis is different, Stamkos said, “I think we’re all over that, to be honest.”

However, the 25-year-old Stamkos talked openly about the impact St. Louis, now 39 years old, had on his career at a young age.

“He was a guy that took me under his wing since I was 18 years old. We got a chance to play with each other throughout probably just over halfway through my rookie year,” said Stamkos.

“Things obviously went very well. He’s the ultimate competitor, the ultimate professional. I mean, you could go on and on with how well he conducts himself. It was a perfect situation for me to come in and have a guy like him and have a guy like (Vincent Lecavalier) there.”

Stralman has ‘nerves of steel,’ says Lightning coach Cooper


Anton Stralman will face his former team for the chance to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

A year ago, Stralman made it that far as a member of the New York Rangers. But after a steady and solid post-season performance, the now 28-year-old defenseman signed last summer with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an unrestricted free agent to a five-year, $22.5 million deal.

The investment has already started to pay off. In his first season with the Lightning, Stralman posted a career-high in goals (nine) and points (39). He’s also riding a three-game point streak into this Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and Rangers.

“The media that’s been around me much of the year, I’ve used this line about Anton, he may not win the Norris Trophy, but his partner will. That’s how good he can make you look,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told reporters.

“People should just watch him. He’s always on the right side of the puck. He uses his body in such a way that he doesn’t have to play a big heavy game, but he can play it because his body position is literally perfect every time he’s around the puck.

“He’s also got nerves of steel.”