A lot happened in 2:26 of ice time for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brian Gibbons in Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
The speedy, under-sized forward scored two goals and appeared to suffer an injury during that very limited amount of time. Gibbons, 26, left early in the first period and hasn’t returned to action yet in the middle frame. As usual with these low-info playoffs, it’s unclear if this is a significant injury.
(For one quick example: it looked like St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was injured in Game 1 of his series, but it turned out that he was probably only dealing with cramps.)
On the bright side, Gibbons made a huge impact in a brief period of time. Here are video clips for both of his tallies from today:
The St. Louis Blues haven’t provided any official word regarding defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s condition, but it appears that he probably suffered an injury during the first overtime of Game 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
As of this writing, he hasn’t returned during the second overtime period in a game that is still in progress. It’s believed that Bouwmeester suffered his undisclosed ailment while blocking a shot during that initial OT frame.
It’s been a rough and tumble affair. Jonathan Toews seemed to suffer two potential injuries in extended time, yet he came back from both potential ailments (at least for now).
The longer this goes, the higher the risk may be for more injuries. If Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper’s update from Wednesday is any indication, injury news probably won’t provide much in detail, especially following games. PHT will pass along anything useful if it happens to crop up, however.
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.
Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Chris Kunitz and James Neal both missed Thursday’s practice. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn’t seem overly concerned, but it remains to be seen if they’ll play Saturday against Philadelphia. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
After starting his career with Florida and Calgary, Jay Bouwmeester said that playing with the winning St. Louis Blues over the last 11 and a half months has been “a breath of fresh air.” (Edmonton Sun)
Martin St. Louis has gotten off to a quiet start with the New York Rangers. After spending parts of 13 campaigns with the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis is trying to find his rhythm. (Newsday)
Meanwhile, the other captain moved in that trade, Ryan Callahan, scored his first goal with the Lightning last night to extend his three-game point streak. After that marker helped Tampa Bay earn a 5-4 win over Florida, Callahan spoke of the urgency the Lightning feel. (Tampa Tribune)
Jussi Jokinen, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, would like to re-sign with the Penguins, but it looks like negotiations won’t really start to roll until after Pittsburgh’s postseason run ends. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
The United States will play against Russia for the gold medal in ice sledge hockey in the Paralympics. (Associated Press)
Dustin Brown, who has been great since the Olympic break, was limited to just 10:12 minutes in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Toronto. Kings coach Darryl Sutter insisted that Brown wasn’t hurt and it wasn’t the result of anything he did specifically. Instead, Sutter said Brown’s line was simply tired. (LA Kings Insider)
SOCHI, Russia – This seems to be the Olympics when everyone around United States hockey officially got sick of the Miracle on Ice. Well, it was inevitable. With the Olympics being in Russia, with famed Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak (who was pulled in the Miracle) lighting the torch, with my generation reaching the age of cloying nostalgia and with the U.S. men’s team looking for its first Olympics hockey gold since that 1980 team, everything pointed to overkill.*
Thing is, hockey in America is nothing like it was in 1980. This was the point the U.S. hockey team kept hammering. Everything has changed. Now, professional hockey players are at the Olympic. Now, the U.S. team has some of the best players in the world. Now, the U.S. team has speed and size and depth that is the envy of almost every hockey-playing country in the world. When the U.S. team played Russia this time around, it was the Americans who were favored, and the Americans who played the villains when they got a favorable call and won in a gritty shootout.
So, yes, everybody was ready to move on from the constant reminders about a bunch of college hockey players who won a gold medal 34 years ago.
Trouble is, to get people to stop talking about the Miracle on Ice, you have to stop losing one-goal games to Canada when it matters most.
The U.S. did lose another one-goal game to Canada in an Olympic semifinal Friday … this after the U.S. women one day earlier lost a crushing one-goal game to Canada in the gold medal game … this after the U.S. men lost a crushing one-goal game to Canada in the gold medal game in Vancouver, one of the most famous hockey games ever played.
To be fair, the United States’ 1-0 loss to Canada was different from the others. It felt cleaner and did not leave much room for regret. That’s because the Canadians pretty thoroughly outplayed the Americans. Was it not for some head-stand saves from Jonathan Quick – “our best player tonight,” U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said – the score easily could have been 3-0 or 4-0.
Meanwhile the “0” on the American end of the score was more or less locked in. It is hard to imagine a team playing more suffocating defense than Canada played Friday. The U.S. power play was rendered all but useless. And other than a couple of moderate chances early and Paul Stansny’s point-blank shots in front in the second period, the U.S. rarely even threatened to score.
The game was played at a high level—the speed on the ice was mesmerizing — and it was entertaining in its own way. But it really was quite a let-down from the famous gold medal game of four years ago. Well, for one thing that was a gold-medal match, while this was a semifinal just to see who would play Sweden for gold. That was a quirk in the seeding, and it definitely altered some of the emotion.*
Then there was the quiet. Here you had the two best hockey teams on earth – two of the most talented hockey teams ever put together – and it was so eerily quiet in the Bolshoy Ice Palace. Every now and again, a hearty soul would try to start up a U-S-A chant or beg the Canadians to finish one of their numerous goal-scoring chances and then it would dissolve into stillness.
Much of the time, the arena was quiet enough to read bedtime stories aloud.
So strange … but then maybe not. No event at these Olympics brought so much pain to the host country as hockey. The Russian hockey team lost to the U.S. in the aforementioned shootout that was, for many Americans, the emotional peak of these Olympics and was for Russian fans the very symbol of fraud. A goal-ahead goal by the Russians was nullified because the cage of the net was slightly off its mooring. Russians who even conceded the point that the net WAS off still believed that U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick had been the one to knock it off. Angry fans demonstrated in Moscow. Television networks replayed the disallowed goal again and again.
Then, more disconcerting, the Russian team disappeared in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Finland that featured no controversy and also no life from a gifted collection of Russian players who never quite came together.
So, it is logical that there simply wasn’t much enthusiasm left for the sport. Tack on the Russians’ famous reticence – something that various non-Russian figure skaters noticed during their soundless programs – and what you had was a striking lack of energy and volume. We grow so used to the biggest sporting events being loud and the tension being almost tangible.
But Friday, early in the second period, Canada’s Jay Bouwmeester – a tough defenseman not necessarily known for his playmaking abilities – slapped a pass that Jamie Benn deflected over Quick to give Canada that 1-0 lead. And then the rest of the game just kind of melted away almost unnoticed. Those sounds you associate with a close and important hockey game – the roars for developing chances, the groans when shots slip wide, the gasps when the winning team narrowly escapes – were largely nonexistent. It was a bit like being in a Vegas casino with no clocks. Time just gushes away.
In any case, the U.S. never came especially close to tying the game, and Canada came very close to extending the lead and it was clear, on this day anyway, that there’s still a gap between Canadian and American hockey. Maybe this is as it should be considering how intently Canadian life revolves around the sport (some 80 percent of Canada watched at least part of the 2010 gold medal game).
But it is a blow for a United States still trying to move past the Miracle on Ice. Bylsma made the point after the game that U.S. hockey is at a place now where it hardly needs a miracle to win a gold medal. He’s right, of course. All the U.S. really needs is a couple more goals against Canada. Thing is, that’s the proving to be about as elusive as miracles.
“We capitalized on that one chance. I think both goalies were definitely the stars of the game.” — Rick Nash
Hands up if you predicted Jay Bouwmeester would start the key offensive play today. Just a perfect pass to Jamie Benn for the tip home. Jonathan Quick couldn’t be faulted on that one, and was otherwise brilliant in stopping 36 of the 37 Canadian shots. Meanwhile, Carey Price stopped all 31 shots he faced, earning a shutout in the biggest game he’s ever played.
“It wasn’t that good a game. It was a sleeper, one nothing. Couldn’t really generate anything, they couldn’t generate anything.” — Ryan Kesler
Many will disagree, given the quality of the hockey we saw today. But, in fairness, Kesler was responding to the assertion that it was a “great” game. And let’s be honest, it wasn’t an all-timer. Besides, has anyone lost bigger games than Kesler since 2010? An Olympic gold-medal final. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now another disappointment. Imagine the frustration.
“I think it was a good game. Two good teams out there that were skating well. Didn’t give up a whole lot of chances on both sides. I think that’s a sign of well-coached teams, good skaters, smart hockey players.” — Patrick Sharp
The perspective from the winning side. Even though they didn’t fill the net (again), this was the kind of game the Canadians wanted to play. Tough defensively, fast, and with minimal mistakes. Yes, the Americans had their chances to beat Price, but you could probably count the number of those on one hand.
“It seems like we had a tough time sustaining any pressure in their end. They outnumbered us in their zone, came up with it quick and, as we expected, they were quick on transition.” — Ryan Callahan
In a related story, Canada’s blue line is the best in the tournament. The only team that comes close to matching it is Sweden, and — hey, wouldn’t you know it — the Swedes are in the gold-medal game, too. Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty don’t have Stanley Cup rings and gold medals by accident. These guys are unbelievable puck movers who set the pace and rarely make mistakes. When a team’s got those two playing over 20 minutes, and it’s also got Shea Weber and Alex Pietrangelo playing over 20 minutes, well, Callahan’s quote says it all.