Bobby Ryan will begin a seven-year, $50.75 million contract with the Ottawa Senators next season and he’s given them some cause for concern. The four time 30-plus goal scorer is coming off of a lukewarm regular season where he managed just 18 markers in 78 contests. He was also quiet the opening four games of Ottawa’s first round series against Montreal.
The 28-year-old ended a 16-game goal scoring drought tonight though with a nice shot through traffic that found its way past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price:
Montreal jumped ahead 3-0 in this series. Ottawa stayed alive with a 28-save shutout from goaltender Craig Anderson in Game 4, but the Senators clearly need others to step up as well if they are going to dig themselves out of this sizable hole. Ryan breaking out at this stage would be a big boost for them when they need it the most.
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.