Jason Brough

‘Timely goal-scoring’ and ‘great goaltending’ have been the keys for St. Louis


The St. Louis Blues may have a 3-1 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, but they’ve hardly dominated the series.

In fact, based on Corsi, it’s been the defending Cup champions who’ve controlled most of the five-on-five action. Per war-on-ice.com, the ‘Hawks are at 54.3 percent in that puck-possession statistic.

In Game 4 at United Center, the Blues were outshot, 42-20, but came away with a 4-3 victory. They scored twice on the power play, and Brian Elliott was excellent again in goal.

“Timely goal-scoring never hurts, great goaltending never hurts,” captain David Backes told the Post-Dispatch.

This isn’t to say the Blues don’t deserve the chance to eliminate the ‘Hawks tonight at Scottrade Center. So far, they’ve done what they’ve needed to do. There’s nothing wrong with your goalie being your best player, which Elliott has been. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with burying your scoring chances, a specialty of Vladimir Tarasenko‘s.

Puck possession isn’t everything.

Rather, it’s a long way of saying this series isn’t over. Everyone remembers 2014, when the Blues won the first two games, only for the ‘Hawks to rattle off four in a row.

“We all know that the last one is the hardest one to get,” Jaden Schwartz said. “We’re just hungry to move on and prove ourselves. We had that same belief a couple of years ago. It was a tight series, that one could have gone either way. We’ve got a chance here to try to redeem ourselves.”

Red Wings aiming for some ‘ugly ones’ on the power play

Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) scores on Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) in the second period of Game 3 in a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

How different this series might be if the Detroit Red Wings could score on the power play.

After finishing 0-for-4 on Tuesday, they’re now 1-for-21 with the man advantage in four games.

They’re also facing elimination tonight in Tampa, down 3-1 in their series with the Lightning.

“When things don’t go well you overthink stuff,” forward Henrik Zetterberg told MLive. “When everything goes you just do stuff and it works out. Now, especially with our power play, we got a lot of opportunity on it but we haven’t got enough goals and we start over-thinking everything, instead of making the simple first play, which most of the time is the right play.”

The one power-play goal they did score wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. In Game 2, Brad Richards just put it on net:

“For us, it’s getting pucks to the net, that’s the mindset,” said Zetterberg.

“They’re good being in lanes, but it’s up to us to find a way to get it there and go after rebounds and get some ugly ones.”

Related: Coach Cooper would love the Lightning to knock it off with all the penalties

Demko signs with Canucks, foregoing senior year at B.C.

Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko makes a save on a shot by Quinnipiac during the second period of an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal men's college hockey game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Vancouver Canucks will not lose Thatcher Demko like the Nashville Predators lost Jimmy Vesey.

Demko today signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canucks, making the decision to forego his senior year at Boston College.

Prior to today’s announcement, the worry in Vancouver was that the highly touted, 20-year-old goalie would return to school and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Canucks drafted Demko 36th overall in 2014. He was a Hobey Baker finalist this season. 

“He’s going through the process of what he wants to do and he knows how we feel,” Vancouver GM Jim Benning told Postmedia earlier this week.

“We’ve been patient and he’s sorting out some things on his side. I would expect that we’ll know more in the next few days. If he decides he’s going to turn pro, he’s a guy we want to develop and we assured him he would have a spot in Utica.”

Before Demko makes his AHL debut next season, he’ll represent the United States at the world championship in Russia.

Related: Demko focused on winning a title with Boston College, will talk with Canucks this summer

Shockingly, the Rangers and Penguins didn’t see the Letang slash the same way


The New York Rangers disagree with the NHL’s decision to let Kris Letang off the hook.

As you’re surely aware by now, Letang was not suspended for catching Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg with a high stick on Tuesday night.

“We might feel it seems deliberate,” Vigneault said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“The NHL doesn’t see it that way and the referees on the ice at that time didn’t see it that way. So just gotta deal with it and focus on the next game.”

This is not the first time this season that Vigneault has not seen eye-to-eye with the Department of Player Safety. Recall Matt Beleskey‘s hit that injured Derek Stepan in November, and what Vigneault thought of that. (Beleskey was not suspended.)

Via Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports, here’s why the league chose not to discipline Letang:

1. Letang is off-balance due to the hit. Check his skates – they’re both off the ice as his stick is raised to Stalberg’s head.

2. Now check the left arm of Letang on the slow-motion replay. As he absorbs the Moore hit, his left arm slams against the glass, and as it does his stick – which he’s carrying dangerously high already – snaps into the neck of Stalberg. The NHL believes his left glove or the end of his stick catches a stanchion on the glass. The hit by Moore causes him to twist and makes the stick go forward into Stalberg’s neck.

3. Therefore, the NHL sees this as an accident and not intentional. 

Watching the video, it does appear possible that Letang’s stick accelerated forward into Stalberg’s face after the butt end made contact with the corner glass.

Feel free to disagree. That’s what comments sections are for.

But for the record, here’s what Letang had to say:

And here’s what Letang’s coach, Mike Sullivan, said:

Chorney to replace Orpik, who’s ‘doing better’


Brooks Orpik didn’t skate today and he won’t play tonight in Philadelphia, but he’s “doing better.”

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz provided that update this morning, two days after the veteran defenseman was shaken up on a hit by the Flyers’ Ryan White.

“We’ll see where he is tomorrow,” Trotz said of Orpik, per the Washington Post. “I don’t predict anything, but I know he’s feeling better. I saw him last night, and I saw him this morning. The trainers are working with him, and hopefully, he’s back soon.”

Orpik will be replaced by Taylor Chorney, the 28-year-old who appeared 55 times for Washington in the regular season.

The Caps can sweep the Flyers with a victory, and they intend to do just that.

“When you have a chance to close out a team in the playoffs, you need to step on their throat and end it,” d-man Mike Weber told CSN Washington.

“You can’t give them any breath, any life.”