Author: Mike Halford

Luke Glendening, Tyler Johnson

Wings confirm ‘extremely important’ Glendening (hand) will play Game 5


After getting knocked out of Game 4 with a hand laceration — a moment cited as a significant turning point — Detroit forward Luke Glendening will be back in the lineup for Game 5 in Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Red Wings confirmed.

Glendening, 25, has been an instrumental figure this series, scoring two goals in four games while averaging nearly 16 minutes per night. How important has he been? Well, several people said his departure on Thursday — he left with the Wings leading 2-0 — essentially turned the game on its head.

Just ask Wings head coach Mike Babcock (courtesy the Free Press):

Glendening went out of the game and everything unraveled. All three of Tampa Bay’s goals were scored by Tyler Johnson’s line, which Glendening’s line had shut out in Joe Louis Arena until that point.

“Obviously, it was the big play in the game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of losing Glendening. “I really felt we should be going on the power play there, but I can’t control those things. Obviously, getting his hand cut and missing the rest of the game, matchupwise, Johnson’s line got the next three goals.”

And if that doesn’t do it for you, ask Tampa Bay bench boss Jon Cooper:

Glendening has played fantastic in this series, which came as no surprise to Cooper.

“I’ve watched him in the minors,” Cooper said. “I’ve watched him play when they unfortunately beat us in the Calder Cup and he’s – I don’t know how to describe him. He’s an extremely responsible player, and there’s not a lot of guys out there like the Glendenings. He’s done a heck of a job on our guys.”

Cooper wasn’t done with his praise there, either.

“They lost a player that plays an extremely important role for them,” he explained. “You look back now and we came back to win the game, so it was potentially a huge factor.

“He’s a good player for them, so there’s no question that it had an effect.”

Chicago to start Darling in Game 6

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators - Game Five

There will not be another goalie switch from the Blackhawks — at least not for now.

On Friday, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed he’d be sticking with Scott Darling as his No. 1 when the ‘Hawks host the Predators in Game 6 of their opening-round series on Saturday. Darling, who took over starting duties from Corey Crawford in Game 3, suffered his first playoff loss in Thursday’s 5-2 defeat in Nashville, and questions were asked if Darling would return to the ‘Hawks goal after allowing three goals in three minutes to start the third period.

That Q is sticking with Darling shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He said the 26-year-old “did everything right,” last night, adding the performance was “fine.” That said, some that saw this as an opportunity to give the crease back to Crawford, who’s been the Blackhawks’ playoff starter for the majority of the last four years and backstopped them to the Stanley Cup in 2013.

Quenneville had previously left the door open for Crawford’s return.

“It’s not like he’s never going to play again,” Quenneville explained prior to Game 3, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s not like he’s discarded off the team.

“He’s still a part of it, he’s a big part of it.”

Chevy re-confirms Pavelec as Winnipeg’s No. 1

Ondrej Pavelec

After a year in which he shared the starting gig and was swept out of the playoffs, Ondrej Pavelec has received another vote of confidence as the Jets’ go-to guy.

“We’re excited to have him as our No. 1 goalie,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Friday, during his end-of-season media availability. “We’re really excited to have [Michael Hutchinson] as a guy that can push and continue to do the things that he’s done.”

To be fair, Cheveldayoff made a similar proclamation at the end of last season and while Pavelec did eventually emerge the No. 1, it was no slam dunk.

The two goalies split time this year — Pavelec had 46 starts to Hutchinson’s 36 — and, in late February/early March, the Czech netminder was bolted to the pine with Hutchinson the goalie of record in nine of 11 games. Pavelec did eventually win the No. 1 gig for the playoffs, thanks to a string in early April where he posted three consecutive shutouts.

While he couldn’t be blamed for the four-game sweep at the hands of Anaheim, his numbers at the end of the series — .891 save percentage, 3.73 GAA — were hardly the stuff of a sure-fire No. 1.

Perhaps that’s why Cheveldayoff hedged his bet a little bit. While he insisted Pavelec is still the club’s starter, he also said Jets are looking for Hutchinson to be a factor.

“It’s not just about Ondrej being the number one goalie,” Cheveldayoff explained. “Part of the reason we were able to accomplish what we were is the strength that both of them had.

“You have to preach team. You have to know the ultimate success of the team is not going to come because you play 80 games. You have to have someone else that can play.”