Yeah, Mike Babcock made the right goaltending choice tonight.
Some wondered if Jimmy Howard might step back into the Detroit Red Wings net for Game 3 after the Tampa Bay Lightning tied up their first-round series, but Babcock stuck with Petr Mrazek. That decision paid off handsomely on Tuesday, as Detroit topped Tampa Bay 3-0 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Red Wings didn’t call upon Mrazek anywhere near as much as they did in Game 1, when the young goalie stopped 44 out of 46 shots to steal a win for Detroit.
That doesn’t mean he could lean back and read a book in net, mind you, as the Lightning still managed some nice chances when they weren’t tripping over their own feet. This Brian Boyle breakaway could have been a turning point if Mrazek didn’t come up with a stop (and then a drop):
On paper, the Red Wings stack up decently against the Lightning in “The Yzerman Cup,” yet there were moments in Tampa Bay when Detroit seemed to strain a bit to keep up.
That feeling largely dissipated at Joe Louis Arena, however, as the Red Wings kept the Bolts’ often-dangerous attack under wraps.
Some of those struggles were on the Lightning themselves, though. Tampa Bay went 0-for-6 on the power play, including a golden opportunity in which they received almost a minute of 5-on-3 time. Far too many pucks were flubbed by point QB’s and forwards, so the Lightning ended up empty.
All of a sudden, the questions start to emerge about Jon Cooper’s group converting potential into playoff results as the veteran group grabs the series edge.
Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson is a big, mean player who can make an impression in little time. He showed that more than once during the second period of Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
Wilson received two different minor penalties for hits. First, he was whistled for kneeing Josh Bailey. That was noteworthy enough, but his gigantic hit on Lubomir Visnovsky waffled the injury-prone defenseman and earned a charging infraction.
Observe his reign of destruction in the video below:
At 21 on a team that could very well remain a playoff fixture, Wilson might make a lot of enemies in his NHL career.
If you prefer GIFs, here is the huge check on Visnovsky in that format:
A skate to the face didn’t keep Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik off the ice for very often in Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
Teammate John Carlson’s blade accidentally clipped Orpik’s cheek, it seems, as you can see from this painful-looking moment:
File this one under “Hockey players are tough,” though, as he’s slated to return in the second period.
The NHL announced the three finalists for the 2015 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy on Tuesday: Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jiri Hudler of the Calgary Flames.
To refresh your memory, the award is handed out to the player who “exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Voting comes down to members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
If you gauage award chances by past victories, then Pavel Datsyuk stands as a heavy favorite. The Red Wings star won it four times in a row from the 2005-06 season through the 2008-09 campaign.
Hudler and Kopitar haven’t won a single Byng in their careers, on the other hand.
Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly took the 2014 award.
Here are some quick factoids about each finalist via the NHL:
Sometimes desperate times force coaches to lean on talented young players more than the trusty, comfortable old hands they’re more comfortable with. That may be the case, to some extent, with Andre Burakovsky making his playoff debut for the Washington Capitals in Game 4.
The 20-year-old showed flashes of brilliance during 53 games of regular season action at the NHL level, scoring nine goals and 22 points with a +12 rating. One got the sense that head coach Barry Trotz and the rest of the Caps’ management group wanted to bring such a young player along incrementally, though.
Burakovsky believes that getting a few games in toward the end of the season will be useful.
“The last couple of games I played, I felt really good,” Burakovsky said. “I think I created chances and my legs were feeling really good. I had good speed. I just need to bring [the way I played] my last three games into the playoffs here and do what I’m doing good. I’m going to use my speed and try to create a lot of chances for the team. Hopefully I’m going to get in do a little bit different and get a win here next game. But I’m really excited to get into my first NHL playoff game.”
Considering his talent, Capitals fans should be excited that he’s getting into the lineup.
Update: Speaking of Washington’s lineup, it looks like Curtis Glencross is out of it as a healthy scratch.