Author: James O'Brien

Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin

Caps GM shares position that tops his UFA shopping list

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Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan already made some interesting comments about free agents who might leave town, but what about players who might join the fold?

The still-fairly-new-GM shared some interesting thoughts on the development of forwards such as Tom Wilson (he’s hoping to see the brutish winger become a top-six guy some day) and Andre Burakovsky, yet the position that tops his free-agent shopping list is awfully interesting. As he told the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, the Capitals are hoping to sign a first-line right wing.

Capitals fans are all-too-familiar with a revolving cast of linemates for the dynamic duo of Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. It’s actually been a theme even before the Capitals changed their management combo.

Sometimes, the Capitals have rolled with a power forward-type such as Joel Ward or Wilson. Other times, a “finesse” player would compliment them, such as Burakovsky or Marcus Johansson. (These “With or Without You” stats show how erratic things got for Ovechkin + Backstrom.)

Naturally, there are plenty of questions that arise, including “are you sure there’s even a suitable right win out there?” As you can see from this list, the choices fall off fast after Justin Williams and Martin St. Louis, two players who could conceivably stick with their current teams.

Still, plenty of things can change, and you can’t blame MacLellan for pointing out an obvious hope.

Speaking of hoping, Japers’ Rink did an amusing job of cobbling together Prewitt’s findings into what would seem to be MacLellan’s ideal top-six scenario:

Oh man, Dude Not On Roster can play.

Babcock decision looms: ‘I’ve talked to all the teams I’m talking to’

Detroit Red Wings v Philadelphia Flyers
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Plenty of teams have been said to show some interest in Mike Babcock, even if it sounds like it may come down to the Buffalo Sabres or Detroit Red Wings. Whatever the case may be, it sounds like #BabWatch won’t last a whole lot longer.

If nothing else, the lauded head coach told MLive.com that he’s close to making a decision, and his interviewing process is finished.

“Just going to re-visit everything one more time (with Red Wings GM Ken Holland),” Babcock said on Monday. “I’ve talked to all the teams I’m talking to.”

He noted that he expects to sit down with his family tonight and that he’ll probably announce his choice on Wednesday. Of course, with the nature of hockey news and these sensitive choices, it’s possible something will come up sooner (or perhaps even later).

Let’s hope for the former, because the scuttlebutt can get wild in times like these. Also, this Photoshop might be seared into a brain or two:

PHT Morning Skate: Blunder and Lightning

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Are the Chicago Blackhawks going to regret the fact that they didn’t add defense at the deadline beyond Kimmo Timonen? (Bleacher Report)

Too bad this possible Chicago signing can’t jump right in then, assuming he chooses the Blackhawks, huh?

Some of these troubles are just pure bad luck, really. (The Hockey News)

How to know you’ve made it in the NHL: people at least try to learn how to pronounce your name. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

It hasn’t been made official from the San Jose Sharks, but all signs point to them landing Joonas Donskoi:

It’s believed that the Oilers will confirm rumors of hiring Todd McLellan this afternoon.

This 8-Bit playoff bracket is pretty cute. (BarDown by way of Reddit Hockey)

The New York Post’s back page was devoted to the Rangers’ Game 2 loss (and Martin St. Louis’ reaction to that pun):

Conversely, Tyler Johnson gets some front-page love in Tampa:

Bolts coach makes it clear why Drouin isn’t playing

Jonathan Drouin
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Many have wondered why the Tampa Bay Lightning keep scratching Jonathan Drouin, and when they have played him, why he’s served a marginal role. It’s pretty clear that the trust isn’t there between Drouin and Jon Cooper just yet, though.

More specifically, Cooper made it clear that he doesn’t believe that the 20-year-old’s two-way game is there yet, as the Tampa Times’ Joe Smith reports.

“There is more than one net in a rink. There’s two. You have to be able to play in front of both,” Cooper said of Drouin.

 

On second thought, Game 1 made Lightning’s Cooper ‘want to vomit’

Jon Cooper
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The New York Rangers only beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 1, but they controlled much of the proceedings. It was surprising to see a fairly optimistic Jon Cooper after the contest, then.

… That optimism sure faded after Cooper got a hold of the game tape, though.

Just breathe in the (kind of hilarious) negativity Cooper shared after breaking everything down, via the Tampa Bay Times:

“There’s the times you think you played okay, and you watch the tape and you want to vomit,” Cooper said. “And that was a little bit of how (Saturday) night went. For two periods, I thought we were a little better than we were until I watched the tape. The Rangers played extremely well, but we were stubbing our toe all night. So we were just handing them tickets to the movie, and we were a turnstile and watching them go by. We can’t do that. We can’t be giving pucks away, we can’t be turning them over, we can’t not make them go the 200 feet.”

“We’ve got to be much better than we were. And I’m quite convinced we will.”

Great stuff.

Here’s the thing: Cooper’s assessment on Sunday was a lot more accurate than his post-game grading.

The Lightning were thoroughly outplayed on Saturday, allowing a troubling number of odd-man rushes and dangerous chances, with Ben Bishop almost keeping them in long enough to steal a win. By just about every measure, it seemed a lot more lopsided than 2-1:

source:

 

(Chart via Natural Stat Trick)

The question, then, is how much of this is the Lightning having an “off game” and how much is it the Rangers just playing like the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners?

Perhaps lineup changes may factor in? It sounds like Brian Boyle’s Game 2 availability is very much in doubt, but Cooper can still make some tweaks, including perhaps adding Nikita Nesterov back to the defensive mix.

Either way, there’s no doubt Tampa Bay needs to improve its play. At least Cooper realizes that now.