Henrik Lundqvist

Video: Callahan finally snaps playoff scoring slump to cut into Rangers lead


Ryan Callahan was closing in on two full months without a goal. He finally snapped his personal scoring slump in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday.

Callahan, who last scored back on April 4 during the regular season, beat Henrik Lundqvist with a move to the backhand on a power play breakaway just 1:50 after the New York Rangers opened up a two-goal lead.

By the way, that is a terrific pass up the middle from Anton Stralman.

Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save

The New York Rangers entered Game 6 needing a special performance from goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

He was certainly busy in the opening period, making 15 saves on 16 shots, as the Rangers jumped out to the lead in a game they must win to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final. His best, however, came off Steven Stamkos, as Lundqvist threw out the left pad to deny Tampa Bay’s prolific scorer from in close.

Shortly after that save, the Rangers opened up a two-goal lead.

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.

Cooper: Lightning aren’t treating Game 6 like any other game


It’s understandable that hockey players and coaches sometimes choose to sound like drones, especially this time of year, spouting phrases like “one game at a time.”

Maybe Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is preaching such a day-by-day approach to his team, but he’s not acting like Game 6 against the New York Rangers – with a chance to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final – is just your run-of-the-mill contest. He acknowledged how big tonight’s contest is, as NHL.com reports.

“I don’t think you can treat this like any other game,” Cooper said. “There are only four teams left, and we put ourselves in a position to advance. Now we have to raise the bar a little bit higher; we know the Rangers are going to, so we have to match that. But I think our confidence level is where we know we can do that.”

Tampa Bay avoided what could have been an arduous Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens by playing what seemed like picture-perfect defense. Steven Stamkos believed that he saw glimpses of that shutdown mentality from the Bolts in Game 5.

There’s plenty of incentive for Tampa Bay to win tonight, beyond the most obvious goal of advancing.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are really engaging in a physical, emotional series. It’s plausible – though obviously not guaranteed – that those two teams could go the distance. If the Bolts could win tonight, they’d get a little extra rest.

More than that, few teams probably want to contend with Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers in a Game 7 situation, especially considering how dominant they’ve been in those scenarios at Madison Square Garden.

All things considered, it’s easy to see why Cooper is preaching urgency.

Conversely, which factors should Alain Vigneault be stressing? The video below breaks down what the Rangers need to do to be successful.

Related: Lightning hope to avoid a “letdown.”

PHT Morning Skate: Barber cuts portrait of Lundqvist into fan’s hair


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Earlier this month a New York Rangers fan had a portrait of Chris Kreider shaved into his head. Ahead of Game 5 barber Joe Barajas was at it again this time shaving a portrait of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist into a fan’s head. (Puck Daddy)

The Anaheim Ducks’ three-goals in 37-seconds on Saturday night presented an opportunity for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to reflect on his playing days. Quenneville was a part of the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs, which scored three times in a 23-second span. (Toronto Sun)

Entourage star Kevin Dillon took in Game 5 of the Lightning-Rangers series on Sunday night at MSG. (Sportsnet)

Don Cherry believes the Leafs should strip Dion Phaneuf of the captaincy. (Sportsnet)

Former NHLer Glen Murray developing reputation for developing talent. (The Boston Globe)

A Rangers fan had quite the jersey foul Sunday night at MSG. (Sporting News)

The NHL on NBC crew breaks down the keys to Ben Bishop’s success in Game 5: