A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Blackhawks at Wild, 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Blackhawks held serve with two wins at the United Center, but the Wild can balance that out by taking both games in Minnesota, beginning with Game 3.
The Blackhawks actually had a better road record (24-16-1) than Minnesota’s home mark (22-13-6) during the regular season, but crowds in “The State of Hockey” can be boisterous. The Wild need more from Devan Dubnyk, which hasn’t been a common phrase since the Vezina nominee has put together a near-spotless run with his still-fairly-new team. Chicago’s star players have been taking over this series so far, but Minnesota gets the last change at home, so perhaps they’ll be able to get the matchups they need to shrink Chicago’s series lead to 2-1 on Tuesday.
Ducks at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET on USA
The Ducks won both of their contests at home in Anaheim, too, so tonight basically puts two series at forks in the road: they can either be on the verge of possible sweeps or at least short series or brand-new ballgames depending upon how the underdogs respond to adversity.
Arguably even more than the Wild, the Flames seem to be at their best when their backs are pressed hardest against the wall. Calgary has served as a great home-ice advantage for this plucky bunch, so the Ducks would be wise not to walk into The Red Mile with too much swagger.
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.
The Bergen Record sat down for an exclusive (and lengthy) interview with new New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero (still kind of weird to see any name other than Lou Lamoriello, right?). The basic theme: he needs more time to really flesh out his plan. (Bergen Record)
Some might not realize just how long Lamoriello’s been in the driver’s seat for the Devils. This NHL.com timeline goes back to 1987, so the answer is “longer than some readers have been alive.” (NHL.com)
Would you pump up Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for their leadership qualities? The Los Angeles Times is doing so. (Los Angeles Times)
Trading Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin is just crazy talk. (Sportsnet)
Braden Holtby: money goaltender. (TSN)
The Montreal Canadiens only managed one goal in plenty of playing time in Game 1 (a double-overtime 2-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning), shining a light on their scoring issues. It seems as though Alex Galchenyuk is one of the players sweating the most under that spotlight.
Galchenyuk, 21, only has two points in the postseason and has failed to score in five straight contests. Worst yet, he had a rough Game 1, taking three minor penalties before eventually getting demoted.
Like many other Canadiens – Habs Eyes on the Prize points out that their 2.69 shooting percentage in the playoffs is absurdly low – Galchenyuk said he merely hopes to get more bounces, as the Canadiens’ website reports.
“I know I need to go out there and try to help the team win as much as I can, but bounces don’t go your way sometimes. It’s a team sport. We’re all battling. These are really close games. We’ve all got to bring our game to the next level. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Galchenyuk said. “When you don’t get the bounces for a couple of games, you know they’ll eventually come when you keep working. That’s where my head is right now.”
Head coach Michel Therrien seems convinced that the Canadiens are close to breaking through, according to NHL.com.
“There’s a question of hockey karma also,” Therrien said. “You need breaks. We hit two posts, so we’re talking about an inch. If it’s one inch towards the inside, our offense is outstanding. It’s perception. But we don’t live in perception, we live in reality. We created good scoring chances, and if we keep working with the same determination we’ll get back on track.”
For better or worse, many eyes will be on Galchenyuk tonight and through the rest of the playoffs. That’s just the nature of playing in a pressure-cooker atmosphere such as Montreal.
Line combinations change frequently in the NHL, and the Anaheim Ducks aren’t shy about trying out different wingers alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Perhaps they’ve found a more permanent fit in Patrick Maroon, though?
It makes sense in many ways.
Most obviously, the 27-year-old matches up with Perry and Getzlaf in providing a physical presence. NHL.com lists him at 231 lbs., pretty hefty for league standards. He’s been productive in the playoffs so far (four points in five games) and appears to be the Ducks dynamic duo’s most frequent linemate.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com that it’s all about Maroon becoming more reliable.
“When you’ve only been in this League for a little over two years, the consistency sometimes isn’t there,” Boudreau said. “That’s the only thing that’s plagued him through the course of the year. When he’s on top of his game, he’s a big force for us, but he’s back on that line because he’s been consistent of late and he’s been playing the same way. There’s no letdown in his game.”
“No letdown” is also a good way to describe how the Ducks played against the Flames in Game 1. We’ll see if Maroon & Co. can keep their impressive run going on Sunday night.
Even when a coach expects a player to bounce back from an injury and suit up for a given playoff game, you can only take his (or the skater’s) word for it to a point.
While Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley said he expected Jiri Hudler and Micheal Ferland to play in Game 2 after leaving Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks with undisclosed injuries, some were concerned when Ferland skipped Saturday’s skate. You never know when minds may change during warm-ups, but the good news is that both took a whirl during Sunday’s morning skate, as the Calgary Sun’s Wes Gilbertson reports.
Ferland brings the sort of physical style that can be useful against the often-rugged Ducks. Hudler’s value is obvious enough: he led the team in scoring during the regular season and is a huge part of a stellar line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
That trio hopes to shake off a tough Game 1, in general. While Hudler got hurt, Gaudreau took a nasty cross-check and didn’t get a shift in the third period.
There wasn’t a lot of good news in Game 1, yet the Flames got an extra night to shake things off, and they’ve seen defensemen Raphael Diaz (game-time decision) and Mark Giordano (still likely far away from returning) at least practice this weekend.
If that 6-1 drubbing is any indication, Calgary has a long way to go to really make the Ducks sweat, but at least things seem to be trending in some positive directions.