Tag: Drew Doughty

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five

In defense of Yandle, who’s ‘trying to make some plays’


Keith Yandle tried to make a play.

Unfortunately, it ended up on the stick of Steven Stamkos, right in front of the Rangers’ net…


Thank goodness for Henrik Lundqvist.

But the fact no goal was scored didn’t stop reporters from asking Rangers coach Alain Vigneault what he’s seen from Yandle the past couple of games.

“He’s working extremely hard,” replied Vigneault. “He’s trying to make some plays. With the pressure sometimes our D are under, (it’s) a little bit more challenging to make the right play. But he’s got the right idea.”

Vigneault was then asked about the challenge of making the right play under pressure.

“It’s a big challenge,” he said. “It’s the biggest team that we’ve met this year, and not just when they have the puck, but when they don’t have it, they are quick to put pressure. You’ve got to have
your head up. You’ve got to be thinking a play ahead, and you’ve got to make the right plays.”

The fact is, puck-moving defensemen like Yandle are going to make the odd giveaway. P.K. Subban led the league in giveaways by defensemen during the regular season. Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty were up there, too. Those players aren’t out there to clear it high off the glass, and give it right back to the opposition. They’re out there to make plays, with the intention of keeping possession and going on the attack.

On top of that, with more and more teams bringing their defensemen down the wall to pressure wingers on the breakout, more and more plays need to be made in the middle of the ice, right in the danger area. So get your stick on the ice, Kevin Hayes. Be ready for the pass.

That’s not to let Yandle off the hook entirely. When Stamkos is lurking, putting the puck in the danger area is a pretty big risk. There were probably better options available, like spinning off the forecheck and skating with the puck behind the net. But that’s easy to say in hindsight. Also, easier said than done. (“Oh, just spin off the forecheck next time.”)

Yandle had his struggles adjusting to a new system after joining the Rangers in a late-season trade from Arizona. It hasn’t been all struggles though. He had two points in Game 3 versus the Lightning and three more in Game 4.

“We need him tonight to find a way to get a couple more pucks to the net, and we’ll be in good shape,” said Vigneault.

Meanwhile, the Ducks are feeling great about their defensive depth


Enough has already been written on the Blackhawks’ defense. And with Kyle Cumiskey looking like he could step in for David Rundblad for tomorrow’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, more will be written still.

But this post is about Anaheim’s defense. Unlike Chicago’s, it’s looking pretty darn deep.

It’s so deep, in fact, that veteran James Wisniewski can’t get into the lineup.

“We thought we got all these guys and [Simon Despres] would be the seventh D,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said today. “Now it would be pretty hard arguably to take him out. [GM Bob Murray] did a tremendous job acquiring him.

“I think [assistant coach Trent Yawney has] done a tremendous job as far as handling all six defensemen. I think with their minutes, with their responsibilities, now there’s not a fear of putting any one of them into any situation that comes to the front.”

Deep and talented as the Ducks defense may be, it does not have a Norris Trophy candidate, like Chicago does with Duncan Keith. That’s notable if only because most (not all, but the large majority of) Stanley Cup champions do have that kind of defenseman. Los Angeles had Drew Doughty, Boston had Zdeno Chara, Detroit had Nicklas Lidstrom, etc.

To be sure, the Ducks may one day soon have a Norris Trophy candidate. Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler each have the potential. But both are still very young, at 21 and 23 years old, respectively.

Hence, the importance of veteran Francois Beauchemin.

“He’s the voice,” Boudreau said of the 34-year-old. “Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there. You can hear him talking all the time.

“The other one that’s helping, but not playing, is Wiz. He’s helping the defensemen out there. Obviously he wants to play, but he’s been so professional about all of this. He’ll take [Sami Vatanen] aside, he’ll take the young guys aside and say, ‘This is what Chicago is doing, this is this, this is that.’ Those two older guys are great teachers and the guys look up to them an awful lot.”

Related: Coach Q denies Chicago’s depth issues, but Kesler suggests otherwise

Anaheim’s Lindholm on the verge of big things

Via AP

When the Anaheim Ducks drafted Hampus Lindholm sixth overall in 2012, it was somewhat surprising in the sense that NHL Central Scouting had him ranked behind three European skaters — Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Collberg — and the young defenseman from Sweden was taken before all three of them.

Heck, even Lindholm was surprised. “It’s like, whoa, so early,” he said at the time.

Safe to say, the pick has turned out all right for the Ducks. Lindholm has been excellent in these playoffs, paired with veteran Francois Beauchemin, who believes the 21-year-old has the ability to become one of the elite blue-liners in the NHL.

“He certainly does have the potential of becoming that type of defenseman,” Beauchemin said, per ESPN.com. “In five years from now, I’m sure Hampus will be if everything goes well and he keeps improving, obviously he’s got the capability of becoming [among] the top defensemen in the league.”

Lindholm isn’t quite in the elite category yet. He doesn’t play huge minutes like Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. But for a franchise that won its only Stanley Cup with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling the back end, and for a GM, Bob Murray, who’s been searching for “that guy” ever since those two moved on, Lindholm is clearly being groomed for big things.

Oh, and Lindholm isn’t the only talented young blue-liner in Anaheim. There’s also Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, and Simon Despres, all three just 23 years old.


Lightning prospect DeAngelo named OHL’s best d-man


Tampa Bay prospect Anthony DeAngelo has joined a list that includes some of the top blue-liners in the history of the game.

DeAngelo has been awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy, given to the OHL’s best defenseman, after racking up 89 points in 55 games for Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie.

Past winners of the Max Kaminsky Trophy include Denis Potvin, Larry Murphy, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, and Drew Doughty. More recently, it’s been awarded to Jake Muzzin, Ryan Ellis, Dougie Hamilton, and Aaron Ekblad.

DeAngelo was drafted 19th overall last summer, an honor that came not long after being suspended eight games for making “a most inappropriate statement to a teammate.”

“I made a mistake in what I did and know I was wrong for the comment I made,” DeAngelo told NHL.com. “I was deserving of disciplinary actions.”

DeAngelo’s 89 points were 18 more than the second most by a d-man (Owen Sound’s Chris Bigras, Colorado Avalanche).

Related: In DeAngelo, Bolts say they got draft’s top offensive d-man

Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’

Ed Snider

Depending who you ask, it’s either a smart and noble strategy, one that’s been successful for a team like the Detroit Red Wings, or it’s like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, and the reason a team like the Detroit Red Wings hasn’t made a deep playoff run in a number of years.

That strategy is, of course, doing everything you can to win now, while simultaneously and patiently developing youngsters for the future.

It’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to do in Philadelphia, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding from scratch, a la Buffalo or Edmonton.

Snider told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the plan for the Flyers is to “be extremely patient with all of the young players we have coming.” But at the same time, GM Ron Hextall is “going to do everything in his power to produce a winner as soon as possible, which means it could be trades, it could be coaching, it could be all kinds of things.”

It’s a similar story in Vancouver, where the aging Canucks “want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”

The obvious challenge for that type of plan is drafting, because teams that are neither great nor terrible don’t get top-5 draft picks, i.e. players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Drew Doughty.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to find elite players in the middle of the first round, or even beyond. Anze Kopitar was taken 11th overall; Patrice Bergeron and Duncan Keith were second-rounders.

But the win now/win later strategy does put added pressure on the scouting staff to unearth a few “big-time” diamonds in the rough, like the Wings once did to the extreme with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom.

The Flyers have the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft. They also have Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, wherever that may be.

Related: Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider