John Tavares

Capuano says Isles ‘didn’t deserve’ Game 2, hints at lineup changes

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As the 1-1 series shifts to Long Island, both the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders fumed about a different game so far.

That might seem like a no-brainer with a loss apiece, but sometimes teams are happy with efforts and unhappy with results. The Islanders didn’t seem happy about the way they dropped a 4-3 loss tonight, and it sounds like head coach Jack Capuano is mulling over changes, as the New York Daily News’ Stephen C. Lorenzo reports.

“These are the tough decisions you have to make as a staff and now it comes down to personnel,” Capuano said. “We have to make sure we put the lineup in that’s going to help us win Game 3.”

The harshest comment from Capuano was “we didn’t deserve it.”

Here’s a list of the scratches from Game 2, excluding injured blueliner Travis Hamonic (who would be an obvious add-in):

Eric Boulton
Matt Donovan
Tyler Kennedy
Colin McDonald
Griffin Reinhart

That’s not an awful collection of players to insert into the lower level of the lineup. Playing armchair coach for a moment, one obvious scratch possibility would be Michael Grabner, who didn’t manage a single shot on goal and whose numbers look especially hideous when you consider “fancy stats.”

A swap or two might not change everything, yet with a switch to home ice in a rowdy old barn – and with a team that’s one game removed from leaving the Capitals worried about slow feet – the tenor of the situation could change quickly.

Going further, John Tavares didn’t seem too upset:

However they feel about the overall level of play, the Islanders had 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but go back home with the series tied.

Now Capuano’s key is to put his team in the best position possible to have the Capitals picking up the pieces next.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Senators at Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET on CNBC

Montreal earned a 4-3 victory in Game 1, but the big story was P.K. Subban’s slash on Mark Stone. The Senators wanted to see Subban suspended over that one, but it looks like that won’t happen. Now tempers are running high going into Game 2. As previously noted, the Senators need to control their emotions though before this series gets away from them.

Islanders at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Islanders secured a 4-1 victory over Washington in Game 1 with Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson leading the charge. If John Tavares gets hot in Game 2, then New York might find itself in a commanding position by the end of the night, although we might end up seeing Alex Ovechkin respond instead. Meanwhile goaltender Jaroslav Halak now has a 2.23 GAA and .941 save percentage in seven career playoff games against Washington.

Blackhawks at Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

It took 87:49 minutes to settle Game 1, but in the end Chicago completed its comeback from a 3-0 deficit. Along the way Patrick Kane recorded two power-play assists in his return from a broken clavicle. Chicago struggled to convert on its power-play chances after the All-Star break, but the return on Kane might have ended that issue, which is yet another thing Nashville has to worry about.

Flames at Canucks, 10:00 p.m. ET on CNBC

Down 1-0 going into the second intermission, the Flames rallied in the final frame and Kris Russell scored the winner with just 30 seconds remaining in Game 1 on Wednesday. The Flames were one of the best teams in the league when it came to battling back from a deficit in the third period over the course of the regular season, but they obviously don’t want to make a habit of it in the playoffs. The Flames might not be so fortunate this time around if they fall behind again.

Stone suffered microfracture on Subban slash, Sens confirm

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I hate using a term like slash-gate, but I have a slash-gate update for you.

On Thursday morning, Ottawa announced that Mark Stone — the recipient of a P.K. Subban slash in Wednesday’s series-opening loss to Montreal — has suffered a microfracture in his right wrist, and that his availability for the rest of the series is unknown.

Stone, Ottawa’s star rookie, got caught with the slash midway through the second period and left the game momentarily, but did return and finished with over 15 minutes of ice time.

Losing him would be a major blow.

Since Jan. 1, only four players have scored more points than Stone’s 44 — John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby. It gives you an idea of the level Stone’s been playing at and how important he is to the Sens, especially after they dropped Game 1.

Stone didn’t skate with Ottawa on Wednesday as Milan Michalek took his spot on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Alex Chiasson took Michalek’s spot alongside Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad, which meant that Chris Neil drew into the mix and rushed on the fourth line.

As for Subban, he won’t face any supplemental discipline from the league and, per reports from this morning, Sens head coach Dave Cameron won’t be fined for his threats of retaliation against Montreal for the slash.

PHT’s awards picks for 2014-15

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Just a brief awards post on this busy day. Halford and I each gave our top picks. Feel free to add your two bits in the comments section.

Hart Trophy

Brough: Carey Price. Nobody was more important to their team than this guy. If not for Price, the Habs may not have made the playoffs. I did strongly consider Alex Ovechkin, given he had 10 more goals than anyone else. If Caps fans are mad at me for choosing otherwise, perhaps they can take solace in the fact I didn’t really consider Sidney Crosby at all.

Halford: Carey Price. I also strongly considered Ovechkin, who was the only skater to break the 50-goal mark. But Price was the only goalie with a GAA under 2.00 and save percentage over .930, and on a Montreal team that finished 20th in offense (2.61 goals per game), Price was the more valuable player.

Norris Trophy

Brough: Erik Karlsson. I don’t apologize for picking the defenseman with the most points. It’s not the only factor I considered (obviously), but the ability to move the puck and create offense from the back end is vitally important, and nobody does it better than Karlsson.

Halford: Drew Doughty. No d-man logged more total ice time this season. Not even Ryan Suter. The Kings may have missed the playoffs, but it wasn’t because of Doughty. He’s the best two-way defenseman in the world.

Calder Trophy

Brough: Aaron Ekblad. It was extremely hard not to pick Johnny Gaudreau or Mark Stone, but considering Ekblad’s rookie season, compared to the ones by other 18-year-old defensemen throughout the years, was in line with Bobby Orr’s, I’m not going to lose any sleep over my decision.

Halford: Mark Stone. This was the toughest pick by far but, in the end, I couldn’t ignore how well he played over the final half of the year, especially when the Sens went on their tear. Only Ovechkin, Crosby, Jamie Benn and John Tavares scored more points than Stone (44) after Jan. 1.

Jack Adams Award

Brough: Barry Trotz. Did a masterful job convincing the Capitals to buy in and play with more structure. Also handled Ovechkin perfectly, providing constructive criticism while also publicly praising and bonding with his captain and face of the franchise.

Halford: Bob Hartley. The Flames went from 77 to 97 points, snapped a six-year playoff drought and did it with their captain and best player, Mark Giordano, missing the final 21 games of the regular season. Yeah, there was some puck luck and good fortune involved, but Hartley did a remarkable job getting this team to overachieve.

Selke Trophy

Brough: Patrice Bergeron. A tough season for Bruins fans, but having this guy under contract through 2021-22 is a good way to feel better.

Halford: Patrice Bergeron. I considered some extremely talented guys — Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Pavel Datsyuk — for the Selke, but never thought about giving the first-place vote to anybody but Bergeron. Kinda says it all.

Vezina Trophy

Brough. Carey Price. Played the fourth-most minutes among all NHL goalies and nobody had a lower save percentage than his .933 mark. Ultimately, this wasn’t a tough decision, despite some excellent seasons from a handful of other goalies.

Halford: Carey Price. He’s going to win in his first year as a finalist, an interesting factoid in that it reminds you Carey Price has never been a Vezina finalist before, let alone won one.

Lady Byng Trophy

Brough: Sean Monahan. Took just six minor penalties all season, to go with 31 goals. There were actually a few candidates for this award on the ultra-disciplined Flames.

Halford: Jiri Hudler. It’s a Calgary love-in! Hudler took one more minor penalty than Monahan did this year, but also finished with the team scoring lead (76 point). That gets him the nod in my book.

Scoring champ Benn to undergo hip surgery, out 4-5 months

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Well, this certainly makes Jamie Benn’s Art Ross victory more impressive — on Monday, the Stars announced that Benn has been playing with a hip injury, one that will require surgery and sideline him for the next 4-5 months.

As a result, Benn won’t play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships.

It’s unclear when Benn suffered the injury, but the timeline doesn’t seem to matter much — he appeared in all 82 games this year while averaging 19:57 TOI and, down the stretch, broke the 21-minute plateau in seven of Dallas’ final 13 games.

That late run also saw Benn pile up 13 points over his final five games, catapaulting him ahead of the Islanders’ John Tavares for his first-ever scoring title.

While the surgery and recovery time are significant, the timetable suggest he should be ready to go when the Stars open training camp in mid-September.

In other injury news, forward Ales Hemsky will also undergo offseason hip surgery following what was a disappointing first season in Dallas. The veteran Czech winger scored just 11 goals and 32 points in 76 games, finishing a lowly ninth on the team in scoring.