When it comes to regular season success, Bruce Boudreau doesn’t have many equals. Between his past tenure as the head coach of the Washington Capitals and his current gig with the Anaheim Ducks, he has a 363-167-69 record and a points percentage (.664) higher than any other coach that’s served in at least 500 games. That includes the legendary Scotty Bowman, who finished his career with a .657 points percentage.
Boudreau doesn’t get a lot of credit for his regular season success though because his teams haven’t excelled beyond that. In contrast to Bowman’s nine championships as a head coach, Boudreau hadn’t reached the Conference Final until this year.
“It’s a relief that I won’t get asked that question anymore,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “I’m sure now it will be, ‘Well, you’ve never been to the Cup Final.’ For tonight I’m really happy that question won’t be asked of me too often anymore.”
Of course, the way to avoid that question too would be to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Western Conference Final. Anaheim largely cruised through the regular season and only needed nine games to eliminate Winnipeg and Calgary in the first two rounds.
Chicago is an entirely different beast though. The Blackhawks have no shortage of veteran players with postseason success. They possess both star talent and depth. They also earned 4-1 victories against the Ducks in their last two meetings.
This series looks like an uphill battle for Anaheim, but at least Boudreau is closer than ever to his ultimate goal.
The Washington Capitals announced that defenseman Nate Schmidt has been summoned from AHL Hershey in a move that might be a hint about Tim Gleason’s status for Game 7 on Wednesday.
Gleason didn’t see any ice time in the final 10:57 minutes of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers. After the contest coach Barry Trotz described the 32-year-old defenseman as “banged up,” per the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.
Washington acquired Gleason from the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 28 in exchange for Jack Hillen and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick. He had two assists and a plus-five rating in 17 games with the Capitals to finish the season, but his ice time has dipped to just 13:28 minutes per game in the playoffs as Washington has leaned on its top-five blueliners in John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Mike Green.
Schmidt, 23, had a goal and three assists in 39 contests with Washington during the 2014-15 regular season.
If Gleason can’t play on Wednesday, then that would mark the first change in Washington’s defense since the playoffs began.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban got some attention when he said after Game 4 that he felt Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had been “sitting on a horseshoe.” He explained that while he felt Bishop had been playing well in the series, he also believed that the goalie was getting lucky.
That was until Game 4 at least when Bishop was yanked after allowing three goals on 14 shots. The Canadiens went on to earn a 6-2 victory to avoid the sweep. They followed that up with a 2-1 win tonight and once again Subban had something to say about Bishop.
“I expect Bishop to be a lot better (in Game 6),” Subban said. Perhaps, but he wasn’t bad in tonight’s contest.
The Lightning netminder stopped 27 of 29 shots in the losing effort. It’s hard to fault him for Devante Smith-Pelly’s goal, which was a great shot that hit the post before going in. There was also a fair amount of traffic around him for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau’s game-winning goal:
Either way, it’s certainly reasonable to believe that the Lightning need a great game out of Bishop on Tuesday as his counterpart in Montreal, Carey Price, doesn’t have many bad nights.
After taking a 3-0 series lead, Tampa Bay was crushed by Montreal in Game 4 on Thursday. The Lightning regrouped for Game 5 and held their own, but they still suffered a 2-1 loss to the Canadiens Saturday night.
Montreal held a 1-0 lead for most of the game after Devante Smith-Pelly got the better of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop at 9:01 of the first period. It certainly helped that Canadiens netminder Carey Price was as dominant as usual, but with a ton of traffic around the goalie, Steven Stamkos was able to capitalize on a juicy rebound to tie the contest.
That had the potential to be the start of a storybook ending for Tampa Bay as Stamkos has struggled to find the back of the net in the 2015 playoffs and didn’t even record a shot in the Lightning’s previous two contests. However, Montreal forward PA Parenteau provided an alternative conclusion:
The Lightning were unable to close the gap the second time around. In a sign of how heated this series has gotten, there was a skirmish after the contest. These squads have now played 10 times since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, so they’re very familiar with each other at this point.
Montreal has to be feeling confident after these two wins against Tampa Bay. The odds are still stacked against the Canadiens, but with Price leading the way, a reverse sweep can’t be ruled out. The key for Tampa Bay now is to avoid getting frustrated. The Lightning have two more chances to eliminate Montreal left and the next one will be in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
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Montreal took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay midway through the first period of Game 5 and for much of the game, the Canadiens clung onto that edge.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price played a big role in allowing that to happen. With nearly half of the third period in the books, Price made a big glove save to rob Valtteri Filppula:
Price merely delayed the game-tying goal though as captain Steven Stamkos was able to capitalize on a juicy rebound at 9:27 of the third to tie the contest:
That was just Stamkos’ second goal of the playoffs and it came after he failed to record a single shot in back-to-back games. He couldn’t have picked a much better time to come through, although Montreal was able to regain the lead late in the frame.