James O'Brien

Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers

Drouin in: Lightning give promising rookie a shot in Game 3

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It’s not always easy to see it this way, but one player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Cedric Paquette won’t be able to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens, so in comes Jonathan Drouin.

The 20-year-old has faced a tough postseason so far, only receiving 8:42 of ice time (and suffering a -2 despite Tampa Bay winning) in his only playoff appearance back in round one. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said that Drouin would make an appearance in this series, and so it is.

From the sound of things, Drouin will be eased into the mix, joining a low line with Brenden Morrow and Vladislav Namestnikov.

It’s still an interesting opportunity, especially since Montreal won’t be able to use its best resources against a line that has experience in Morrow and potential in Drouin and Namestnikov. There’s always the possibility that Drouin might get bumped to a more potent line, too, but that might require the third pick of the 2013 NHL Draft to show that he’s ready first.

The Canadiens have to hope that his struggles continue, as they already have a tough road ahead.

2015 Jack Adams Award finalists: Hartley, Laviolette, Vigneault

2014 NHL Awards - Inside
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The three finalists for the 2015 Jack Adams Award were announced on Wednesday: Bob Hartley (Calgary Flames), Peter Laviolette (Nashville Predators) and Alain Vigneault (New York Rangers).

The National Hockey League Broadcasters’ Association determines who receives the trophy given to the “NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” (This post’s main image features last year’s winner Patrick Roy with the trophy.)

There was no shortage of worthy candidates, with some citing Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice (among others) as worthy candidates.

Interestingly, Vigneault is the only coach of the three to ever win the Jack Adams, which he did with the Vancouver Canucks back in 2006-07. Hartley and Laviolette probably get the last laugh in that regard, however, as they both have Stanley Cup victories on their resumes.

WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action

NHL Game Three of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers

Wednesday night presents two games of Eastern Conference playoff action. By the end of it, we may get a better idea of how many semifinal series could be long or short.

First off, the New York Rangers hope to even things up in their second-round series against the Washington Capitals, who currently hold a 2-1 edge. Will Braden Holtby continue to make a name for himself or will Henrik Lundqvist get the edge tonight? Find out on NBCSN and also by streaming the game via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Next, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in a desperate situation: not only are they down 2-0 to the Lightning, but the next two games take place in Tampa Bay. We’ll get a better idea of what this Habs team is made of in Game 3, which airs on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

The two contests are staggered 30 minutes apart, but with these streams, you can watch both at once. Ah, the wonders of technology.

Flames aren’t flinching about burning a year off of Bennett’s deal

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits
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It seemed like the Calgary Flames were going to bring Sam Bennett along slowly, at least until he became a quick study in the playoffs.

After only playing one regular season game, the 18-year-old has been impressive in eight postseason contests. In fact, he’s been impressive enough that the Flames say they’re OK with burning the first year off of his entry-level contract by playing him against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 on Tuesday

“Contracts don’t matter to us,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said Monday. “We’re a pro organization, a very classy organization, and never have I had a conversation with [general manager] Brad Treliving or [president of hockey operations] Brian Burke about the contract of Sam Bennett. They always allow me to play the players that we feel will help us win.

“Sam Bennett will be in the lineup [Tuesday].”

The fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft has already made an impact with the Flames. He has four points in this postseason, tying him for fourth in scoring among Calgary skaters. Bennett even spoiled Frederik Andersen’s shutout bid with the Flames’ only tally in Game 1.

One can see why the Flames want to keep him in the mix, especially to show other young players that there are incentives to run with opportunities (rather than contract-related glass ceilings).

That said, it should be an interesting situation to observe in hindsight. What happens if the Flames lose this series in four or five games? Will some question management for getting such little value out of a precious commodity like a cheap rookie contract?

It’s the kind of question that would keep some executives up at night, but credit the Flames for trying to live in the moment. It could very well be the best thing for his development, anyway. Maybe.

Rick Nash: ‘A bounce would be nice’

Rick Nash
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By setting a new career-high with 42 goals in the regular season, it felt like New York Rangers winger Rick Nash redeemed himself after a tough 2014 postseason. That seemed true, at least, until the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs began.

Now it’s the same old story with Nash, as he’s been limited to one measly goal in eight playoff games so far.

The frustration seemed to hit a new level in Game 3 on Sunday, as he failed to find the net despite firing seven shots on goal. Remarkably, his 2015 postseason shooting percentage of 3.1 is now even lower than his startlingly bad career playoff percentage of 3.5.

Even those who scream about a perceived preponderance of peripheral shots have to admit that this is a bit ridiculous.

The 30-year-old admitted that he could use a little luck while discussing his frustrations with the New York Daily News.

“A bounce would be nice,” Nash said. “The ones that were going in early in the season aren’t there. Especially when your goalie gives you a chance to win, I definitely look at myself, and it’s frustrating.”

Nash is too familiar with the nature of the beast: fair or not, a star player’s struggles get magnified when his team isn’t scoring in the playoffs. It’s not just Nash who isn’t scoring for the Rangers, after all; New York is only generating 1.88 goals per game in the postseason after averaging more than three during the regular season. (Nash’s 42 goals accounted for about .5 goals per game, which is pretty remarkable.)

It’s not as if the Rangers have been awful, especially since their wins and losses have all been close. Much like Nash, the team’s puck luck hasn’t always been there.

It all seems quite frustrating for Nash and his team, yet he can look at Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay and other examples of snipers breaking through. Then again, Nash’s struggles now extend to 49 career playoff games, so it’s also plausible that these frustrations won’t cease.