Tampa Bay had a lot to be happy about after its 6-2 victory over Montreal in Game 2 on Sunday, but the one blemish was the loss of forward Cedric Paquette. He sustained an undisclosed injury during that contest and couldn’t participate in Game 3 as a result.
Promising rookie Jonathan Drouin was inserted into the lineup as a result, but was held to just 9:54 minutes of playing time and was on the ice for Montreal’s lone goal in the Lightning’s 2-1 victory.
Paquette is ready to return for Game 4 tonight, but rather than push Drouin out again, veteran Brenden Morrow will sit instead. Drouin will play on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and fellow rookie Vladislav Namestnikov. Meanwhile, Paquette is projected to skate alongside Valtteri Filppula and J.T. Brown.
In nine playoff contests, Paquette has scored a goal and averaged 13:08 minutes of ice time.
Mike Fisher has completed his two-year, $8.4 million contract and consequently has the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent in a relatively thin market. It might never get that far though as Predators GM David Poile has made his feelings on the matter clear.
“Mike Fisher, we would love to have him back,” Poile told the Tennessean. “He represents so much to our team, both on and off the ice. … He’s a real leader. I truly feel that the best place for Mike is here in Nashville. As long as I’m the manager, he can play as long as he wants.”
It looks like Fisher and Poile might see eye-to-eye as the 34-year-old center is optimistic about the Predators’ future. His agent, Todd Reynolds, also suggested that the Predators and Fisher aren’t far apart when it comes to the terms of his potential extension.
“I love, obviously, this city and being here, part of this group,” Fisher said. “It’s something that will have to be worked out here in the next little bit, but I’m pretty confident that something will get done and that I’ll be back.”
Fisher had 19 goals and 39 points in 59 games in 2014-15. He also won 52.3% of his faceoffs and had a 53.1% Fenwick For in 5-on-5 situations, which is slightly better than what Nashville did when he wasn’t on the ice.
The first three games of the New York Rangers and Capitals’ second round series have been determined by one goal and Washington has won two of those contests. Since the playoffs began, Washington is 5-2 in one-goal games, putting them ahead of every team but the Chicago Blackhawks (5-0) in that regard.
The ability to win close contests can be vital in the playoffs and Washington’s success in this area is in contrast to its playoff runs from 2008-13 when it posted a combined 18-22 record in one-goal games.
“The pressure definitely gains during the games when it’s only one goal. Every mistake or mishap can go in the back of your net. And you obviously don’t want to think that way, but the pressure’s there,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green noted, per the Associated Press.
“But I think we’ve done a good job of handling it, really. You don’t really feel that panic out on the ice or on the bench that maybe in recent years you felt.”
Green thinks there could be a lot of different reasons for that, including maturity and experience, but it could also be the influence of new Capitals coach Barry Trotz. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis has noticed a change in them.
“They play a heavier game, probably, now. They probably get pucks in deep a little more. They’re allowed to sustain offensive zone time. It’s a team that’s good off the rush and heavy down low,” St. Louis said.
Even still, Washington’s edge over the Rangers has been thin thus far. New York has an opportunity to even the series tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Todd McLellan’s focus right now is on coaching Team Canada in the 2015 World Championships, but he did admit that he’s had an interview with new Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli while they’re both in Prague, per the Edmonton Sun.
In fact, the Sun thinks that interview was Chiarelli’s primary motivation for making the journey to Europe. While he’s there though, he’s also met with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Anton Lander, and Oscar Klefbom.
McLellan, who has a career 311-163-66 record, mutually parted ways with the Sharks after San Jose failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003. It’s believed that other teams are also interested in his services, including the Buffalo Sabres. At the end of the day though, whether or not he’s teams’ top choice might be dependent on what Mike Babcock decides to do next. The highly regarded Detroit Red Wings coach has the option to become a free agent this summer.
The coaching market might remain at a standstill until Babcock announces what his plans are, but in the meantime McLellan has made his interest in the Oilers clear.
“It’s a team with a rich history and they have some good players there. Now you add in McDavid, Bob (Nicholson) taking over and Peter (Chiarelli) coming in,” McLellan said. “I really do think there were good people there before. What job descriptions they end up in, I’m not sure. But there will be a very strong team and group of people there.
“For any coach to consider all of that, it has to be a positive. It has to be exciting, not just for myself but for anybody. With all those good players there, it will eventually get going the right way. I think some of the changes and the No. 1 draft pick on Connor McDavid’s year make it enticing.”
Report: Former Lightning coach Boucher has been contacted by NHL teams
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Canadiens at Lightning, 7:00 p.m. ET on USA
Montreal is down 2-0 in its second round series after also losing all five of its regular season games against Tampa Bay. The Canadiens just can’t seem to figure the Lightning out and time isn’t on their side. It certainly doesn’t help Montreal that Steven Stamkos ended his postseason goal scoring drought in Game 2. Given what Tampa Bay accomplished while he was struggling, the squad should be very dangerous if he gets hot.
The silver lining for the Canadiens is that they will likely get David Desharnais back tonight. The 28-year-old forward had the flu and was hospitalized at one point to get re-hydrated. However, after initially staying behind when his teammates traveled to Tampa Bay, he was able to rejoin them on Tuesday. He’s been averaging 16:40 minutes per game in the playoffs, so Montreal had a significant hole to fill when he was absent for Game 2.
Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The first three games of this second round series have been decided by just one goal, so it’s fair to say that these squads have been evenly matched. In Game 3, the difference was a somewhat fluky marker by Washington’s Jay Beagle. That being said, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had the best game out of anyone with 30 saves to post the shutout. He now has a 1.54 GAA and .949 save percentage in the playoffs and is one of the main reasons Washington has its 2-1 series edge over the Rangers.
Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been great too, but he hasn’t gotten much help from the Rangers’ top forwards. Rick Nash has just one goal in eight playoff contests while Martin St. Louis hasn’t found the back of the net in the 2015 postseason. If Nash and St. Louis don’t bounce back then the Rangers will have a lot of difficulty getting past Washington.