Tag: Martin St. Louis

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Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4

source: Getty Images
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The New York Rangers were put in a tough position after goaltender Henrik Lundqvist surrendered six goals in back-to-back games. He responded with a great showing in Game 4 and his teammates were able to reward his efforts with plenty of support in a 5-1 victory Friday night.

Although the final score is unquestionably one-sided, the game arguably wasn’t. After a fairly even first period, the Lightning took off in terms of five-on-five shot attempts and scoring chances compared to the Rangers, as you can see in this chart courtesy of War on Ice:

















A big part of the reason why the Rangers won anyways was Lundqvist. He turned aside 38 of 39 shots to keep the Rangers in this game during some of their leaner stretches. Given his recent struggles, the fact that he was able to respond tonight is huge. His ability to step up when his team needs him the most is likely part of the reason head coach Alain Vigneault didn’t even consider swapping goaltenders for Friday’s contest.

The Rangers were also able to take advantage of their power-play opportunities. Markers from Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash with the man advantage in the third period provided them with plenty of breathing room. The fact that those two found the back of the net is noteworthy in itself given that both have been snakebitten for the most part in the playoffs.

Nash also scored in the first period, making this the first multi-goal postseason game of his career.

The Rangers evened the series at 2-2 and have reclaimed the home ice advantage in the process. The onus is now on Tampa Bay to win on the road, although that hasn’t been much of a problem for either team so far in this series.

Yzerman, Sather, Murray finalists for GM of the Year

Steve Yzerman

The NHL GM of the Year award has come down to Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman, the New York Rangers’ Glen Sather, and Anaheim’s Bob Murray.

For Murray its an opportunity to become the first general manager to win the award twice since it was first given in 2010. Anaheim won its division for the third straight year and is fighting the Chicago Blackhawks for a berth into the Stanley Cup Final.

Murray helped bring the Ducks to the next level in the playoffs by acquiring Ryan Kesler from Vancouver in the summer of 2014 in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and two draft picks. Kesler had a solid campaign and has been a big help in the postseason with four goals, nine points, and a 61.2 faceoff winning percentage in 12 contests. Perhaps the biggest move was the one Murray didn’t make though. He let goaltender Jonas Hiller walk as a free agent and rather than replace him, Murray put his trust in the idea that one of his two young netminders, Frederik Andersen or John Gibson, would be able to fill the void. So far that’s worked out for Anaheim.

Yzerman’s Tampa Bay Lightning had a 50-24-8 record in the regular season and advanced to the 2015 Eastern Conference Final. Yzerman inherited Steven Stamkos, but he’s done a great job of building a strong team around the superstar. The Lightning have a number of young offensive weapons, including Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat, all of which were acquired during Yzerman’s watch. Kucherov was a late second round selection in 2011 while Palat slipped all the way to the seventh round of the same draft. Johnson meanwhile was never drafted and Yzerman instead lured him over with an entry-level contract in 2011.

The Lightning general manager also acquired a vital piece of the puzzle in 2013 when he sent Cory Conacher and a fourth round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Ben Bishop.

Sather has been running the Rangers’ front office since in 2000 and oversaw their Presidents’ Trophy-winning 2014-15 campaign. He’s made a habit of trading for or signing high-profile players with varying degrees of success. The most recent example is defenseman Keith Yandle, who he pried away from Arizona in March. Some of the other big names he’s acquired in recent years include Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, and Dan Boyle.

In case you haven’t noticed, the NHL is a young man’s game


Just for the sake of the discussion — and since everyone’s talking about Tyler Johnson today — here are all the players who have scored at least five goals in these playoffs:

Johnson (11), Corey Perry (7), Patrick Kane (7), Nikita Kucherov (6), Chris Kreider (6), Vladimir Tarasenko (6), Alex Killorn (6), Derek Stepan (5), Alex Ovechkin (5), Derick Brassard (5), Evgeny Kuznetsov (5), Max Pacioretty (5), Matt Beleskey (5), and Colin Wilson (5).

That’s 14 players. Can you pick out the oldest?

The answer is Anaheim’s Perry, who turned 30 on Saturday. Only slightly younger than Perry, Ovechkin will turn 30 in September.

Otherwise, it’s all players who are comfortably in their 20s, their legs still full of burst, their bodies not yet worn down by the grind of taking hundreds of pucks hard to the net, and all the punishment that goes with scoring goals in today’s NHL.

This isn’t to say that once a goal-scorer turns 30 he should be put out to pasture, like the theory about running backs in the NFL. Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams, and Martin St. Louis all had productive postseasons last year. This year is perhaps an extreme case.

But it does show the importance of youth, and how quickly a player — especially a forward — can go from getting drafted to making a significant impact.

True, patience is required when developing prospects. You don’t want to rush them. There’s nothing wrong with learning the game in the AHL. But at the same time, there has to be a sense of urgency in getting prospects ready for the NHL so they can enjoy as many productive seasons as possible, before their peak years (at a relatively low cap hit) are over.

Hence, all the talk surrounding 20-year-old Jonathan Drouin. While it’s not like the Lightning should be hitting the panic button that he hasn’t yet gained the trust of his coach, it’s not unfair to wonder if he’s fallen a bit behind in his development.

In a related story, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan knows “the next three or four years is the window” in Washington. Because, where will Ovechkin’s game be after that? Where will Nicklas Backstrom’s? The Caps have an opportunity over the next few years to get production from both their veterans and their youth. That’s the sweet spot every GM aims for. And those sweet spots don’t last long.

Caps GM shares position that tops his UFA shopping list

Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan already made some interesting comments about free agents who might leave town, but what about players who might join the fold?

The still-fairly-new-GM shared some interesting thoughts on the development of forwards such as Tom Wilson (he’s hoping to see the brutish winger become a top-six guy some day) and Andre Burakovsky, yet the position that tops his free-agent shopping list is awfully interesting. As he told the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, the Capitals are hoping to sign a first-line right wing.

Capitals fans are all-too-familiar with a revolving cast of linemates for the dynamic duo of Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. It’s actually been a theme even before the Capitals changed their management combo.

Sometimes, the Capitals have rolled with a power forward-type such as Joel Ward or Wilson. Other times, a “finesse” player would compliment them, such as Burakovsky or Marcus Johansson. (These “With or Without You” stats show how erratic things got for Ovechkin + Backstrom.)

Naturally, there are plenty of questions that arise, including “are you sure there’s even a suitable right win out there?” As you can see from this list, the choices fall off fast after Justin Williams and Martin St. Louis, two players who could conceivably stick with their current teams.

Still, plenty of things can change, and you can’t blame MacLellan for pointing out an obvious hope.

Speaking of hoping, Japers’ Rink did an amusing job of cobbling together Prewitt’s findings into what would seem to be MacLellan’s ideal top-six scenario:

Oh man, Dude Not On Roster can play.

PHT Morning Skate: Blunder and Lightning


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.

Are the Chicago Blackhawks going to regret the fact that they didn’t add defense at the deadline beyond Kimmo Timonen? (Bleacher Report)

Too bad this possible Chicago signing can’t jump right in then, assuming he chooses the Blackhawks, huh?

Some of these troubles are just pure bad luck, really. (The Hockey News)

How to know you’ve made it in the NHL: people at least try to learn how to pronounce your name. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

It hasn’t been made official from the San Jose Sharks, but all signs point to them landing Joonas Donskoi:

It’s believed that the Oilers will confirm rumors of hiring Todd McLellan this afternoon.

This 8-Bit playoff bracket is pretty cute. (BarDown by way of Reddit Hockey)

The New York Post’s back page was devoted to the Rangers’ Game 2 loss (and Martin St. Louis’ reaction to that pun):

Conversely, Tyler Johnson gets some front-page love in Tampa: