While Alex Ovechkin is standing by his guarantee that the Washington Capitals will beat New York in Game 7, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault delivered what can be interpreted as a not-so-subtle jab at such promises.
“We need to let our actions do the talking,” Vigneault said, per the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard.
Which is fair because that’s really what this will come down to. This pregame banter is the appetizer, but it will only be memorable in the context of what happens in Game 7. If Washington wins then Ovechkin’s promises will likely be credited with motivating the team. If Ovechkin in particular has a strong game then it could be seen as the biggest performance of his career, in part due to his overall lack of playoff success.
That lack of favorable postseason results is probably at least part of the reason why Ovechkin’s statement has attracted so much attention and why Washington has perhaps gotten more attention than New York. Ovechkin is one of the best players of this era, but he hasn’t been able to lead Washington to the Stanley Cup. He’ll turn 30 in September and hockey fans are wondering when or if Ovechkin will ever win it all.
He’s not the only superstar fighting for his first championship though. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been further than Ovechkin in the playoffs, but the result is the same. Lundqvist is 33 years old and hasn’t won the Stanley Cup yet despite an otherwise tremendous career.
Both players have a chance to achieve their ultimate goal this year, but one of them will be forced to start from scratch yet again with a loss on Wednesday.
Lundqvist: "I don’t think anything about what people are saying, opponents are saying. It doesn’t really matter, & I don’t really care."
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.
As the consensus No. 2 pick at this June’s NHL Draft Jack Eichel is likely headed to the Buffalo Sabres. An IIHF reporter decided to see what the Boston University product would look like in some Sabres’ gear during a recent interview and things got a bit awkward. (Bar Down)
Devan Dubnyk, Andrew Hammond and Karri Ramo are among goaltenders set to become unrestricted free agents. Brian Costello sizes up this summer’s free agent goalie class. (The Hockey News)
During an off-day practice at the World Hockey Championship Jaromir Jagr’s teammate Jakub Klepis decided to wear a vintage Jagr Penguins’ jersey perhaps in the hopes to have the 42-year-old’s skill rub off. (Bar Down)
Henrik Lundqvist received the team’s broadway hat from captain Ryan McDonagh following Sunday’s Game 6 win.
Here’s a look at the goals of the week courtesy of Sportsnet:
It’s become an all-too common problem: When the playoffs start, Rick Nash stops scoring. He had just one goal in 12 games in the 2013 playoffs, two markers in 25 postseason contests last year, and went into Game 6 against the Washington Capitals with a goal in 10 playoff games.
His third period marker on Sunday isn’t enough to compensate for his lackluster history, but it’s a start and for him, it’s also a big relief.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Nash told NHL.com. “It was frustrating when you feel like you’re letting your guys down and your organization down by not scoring. The more important thing that I focus on is the wins.”
Nash still felt like he was contributing to the Rangers’ victories even when he wasn’t finding the back of the net and head coach Alain Vigneault agrees that he’s been “an effective player.” Still, his scoring touch is a big part of his appeal and that’s been largely absent since the postseason started.
Perhaps this will be the beginning of a hot streak for Nash. It would certainly be coming at an ideal time given that Game 7 of their second round series against Washington is on Wednesday.
If the Ottawa Senators re-sign goalie Andrew Hammond — and it sounds like they intend to try — they’ll need to trade one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner.
If they decide to trade Anderson, should the Oilers be interested?
There’s no easy answer to that question, because there’s no certainty, not ever, when it comes to a goaltender. But at the very least, the veteran Anderson possesses a body of work that suggests a modicum of reliability.
In 406 NHL games for the Blackhawks, Panthers, Avalanche and Senators, Anderson has a .915 career save percentage. That’s in line with Jonathan Quick (.915 in 407 games) and Ryan Miller (.915 in 604 games). Anderson’s numbers this season, albeit in just 35 regular-season appearances, were among the best in the league. He was even better in the playoffs.
If there’s a concern about Anderson, it’s his age — he’ll be 34 next week. He’s had his share of injuries as well. But his contract is reasonable, with three years left at a cap hit of $4.2 million. Edmonton would pay that in a heartbeat to stabilize a position that badly needs to be stabilized.
Now, it’s possible the Senators try first to deal Lehner. So, might the Oilers be interested in him? Possibly. But Lehner is only 23, and he’s never started more than 30 games in the NHL. For all his upside — and he has quite a bit — his inexperience may not be a great fit in Edmonton. The same goes for a guy like Cam Talbot. Great NHL numbers, but a limited body of work. Plus, Talbot’s numbers (.931 save percentage in 57 games) were compiled with the help of some pretty good defensemen. (Remember that Ben Scrivens had good numbers with the Kings before the Oilers got him.)
Another experienced goalie the Oilers could pursue this offseason is unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. We’re just not sure that would happen if Todd McLellan ends up becoming their coach.
As mentioned above, things didn’t start especially well for Rinne at this year’s tourney. He opened with a 5-1 loss to the U.S. on the first day of competition but got better — and in a hurry — following up that loss with wins over Denmark (3-0), Norway (5-0) and Slovenia (4-0).
In Finland’s last game, a 3-0 win over Slovakia, backup Juuse Saros got the nod.
Rinne’s shutout record at the Worlds is a feather in the cap of a pretty successful campaign. The Preds netminder earned his third career Vezina nomination on the strength of a 41-17-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.18 GAA and four shutouts. The 41 were were two off his career-high, set in 2011-12 (when he finished behind Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick in Vezina voting.)