The general managers have had their say and unsurprisingly they’ve picked Montreal’s Carey Price, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne as the three finalists for the 2015 Vezina Trophy.
Of course, Price is regarded as the heavy favorite for the 2015 Vezina Trophy. He led the league in wins (44), GAA (1.96), and save percentage (.933) while starting in 66 games. He’s also been the single biggest component of the Canadiens’ successful 2014-15 campaign and consequently the discussion has shifted as to whether or not he’s worthy of the Hart Trophy as well.
For a time though it looked like fellow nominee Rinne might be able to take the Vezina instead as he was having almost as good of a campaign. However, while Price stayed strong throughout 2014-15, Rinne did falter in the second half. After the All-Star break the Nashville goaltender posted a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage in 27 contests. That was enough to make him slip to the point where he finished third in GAA (2.18) and tied for seventh in save percentage (.923) in 64 starts. He still tied for second in wins though with 41.
That being said, Price wasn’t the league’s best goaltender after the All-Star break, although he was a very close second. Devan Dubnyk dominated over that span with a 25-8-2 record, 1.72 GAA, and .939 save percentage in 35 games. That covers most of his tenure with the Wild, but his time with the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the season wasn’t nearly as flattering from a statistical perspective. He was still impressive in Arizona, especially given how the team was playing in front of him, but that time does drag his overall numbers down somewhat. Even still, he ranked second in GAA (2.07) and save percentage (.929) in 58 games this season.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Senators at Canadiens, 7:00 p.m. ET on CNBC
The Ottawa Senators will once again look to avoid elimination tonight as their series with the Canadiens moves to Montreal’s Bell Centre for Game 5. The Sens are no strangers to playing desperate hockey. Andrew Hammond led Ottawa to a 20-1-2 record down the stretch as the Sens clawed their way into the playoffs. In order for Ottawa to have a chance tonight they’ll have to solve Habs’ starter Carey Price. After allowing three goals in Game 1, he has surrendered just four goals in three games while posting a .959 save percentage. Paul Romanuk, Mike Johnson and Glenn Healy have the call tonight.
Penguins at Rangers, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Like the Sens, the Penguins will need to go into MSG tonight and find a win in order to prolong their series with the New York Rangers. Kevin Hayes scored the overtime winner in Game 4 giving the Rangers a 3-1 stranglehold on the series. The Penguins, who have been to the conference finals once in the past five years, are trying to avoid being bounced from the first round for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire will be on the call tonight.
Wild at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The final game of the evening has the Minnesota Wild in St. Louis to take on the Blues in Game 5. St. Louis is coming off a dominating 6-1 victory in Game 4. It appears the heavy workload may be catching up to goaltender Devan Dubnyk. After winning 26 of 34 starts since joining the Wild in January, Dubnyk is now 3-5-1 in April with an .895 save percentage. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call of Game 5.
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.
Connor McDavid did his part to help the Erie Otters win Game 1 of their series with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Thursday night. The top prospect scored three straight power play goals in a 3:22 span to tie the game at 3-3 in the third. However, the Greyhounds responded with three straight to take Game 1 6-3.
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A Montreal Canadiens fan has created a goal celebration light show in his living room programmed to play each time the Habs score a goal. (Puck Daddy)
The Washington Capitals took a 3-2 series lead in their best-of-seven with the New York Islanders with a 5-1 win on Thursday night. Perhaps the Islanders weren’t in the right frame of mind to start the game? The team was delayed getting to the Verizon Center because of traffic caused by President Obama’s motorcade. (CSN)
Here’s a look inside the Caps room following the win:
Actress/model Kate Upton is currently in Vancouver to shoot the movie “The Layover” directed by William H. Macy. The pair were at Rogers Arena taking in Game 5 between the Flames and Canucks on Thursday night.
The benefit of being a Cinderella Story is that you get very familiar playing in must-win games. Ottawa needed to go on an incredible 21-3-3 just to make the playoffs. Compared to that a four-game winning streak doesn’t sound so daunting. The Seantors were down 3-0 in the first round going into tonight’s contest, but they stayed alive for at least one more game by earning a 1-0 victory over Montreal tonight.
As has been the case so often for Ottawa in recent months, goaltending was the story. Craig Anderson, who had lost the starting gig to Andrew Hammond by the end of the season, got the nod for the second straight game and turned aside 28 shots to earn his third career playoff shutout.
His efforts proved critical as netminder Carey Price and the Canadiens were very effective at shutting down the Senators. Two of Ottawa’s top forwards, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan, were once again held off the scoresheet in this first round series. Not that they were alone in that tonight as 25-year-old rookie Mike Hoffman accounted for the game’s only goal:
Of course a team winning Game 4 after falling behind 3-0 isn’t unheard of, but actually pulling off a reverse sweep is a very rare feat. Ottawa will have another must-win game on Friday.
Goaltender Corey Crawford has led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship, but when Chicago attempts to eliminate Nashville on Thursday, he won’t be playing between the pipes. Rookie Scott Darling has been a big part of the first round series and will get another start in Game 5.
It’s an impressive, yet oddly common story this season. If you look at the GAA leaders so far in the 2015 postseason, you won’t see Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist listed in the top-three. Instead it’s Darling, Devan Dubnyk, and Jake Allen. Three netminders who weren’t in starting roles when the campaign began. Then there’s Petr Mrazek, who shutout the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to give Detroit a 2-1 series lead.
“It might be the year of the backup goalie this year,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “Somebody you’ve never heard of may get an opportunity and all of a sudden is a key guy. We all know the importance of the goalie and how the guy who is playing well is getting that net. Sometimes it’s competitive with internal competition but at the same time the rapport is excellent [with the normal starter] and it’s a healthy situation to be in.”
The question is if this trend will continue. Dubnyk really can’t be regarded as a backup anymore and that’s been true since Minnesota acquired him, but if Darling, Allen, or Mrazek falter, then their respective teams might not wait long to replace them.
We’ve already seen Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond be relegated to warming the bench despite his tremendous regular season run and Vancouver’s Eddie Lack was yanked early in Tuesday’s contest. Even still, at this point it’s entirely possible that the goaltender who leads his team to a Stanley Cup championship will be one that didn’t hold the starting job at the beginning of the season.