New York Rangers

Quenneville: ‘It might be the year of the backup goalie’

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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.

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…

Canadiens at Senators, 7:00 p.m. ET on USA

In the 35 times the Montreal Canadiens have taken a 3-0 series lead, they’ve never lost. Meanwhile the Ottawa Senators are looking to become just the fifth team to battle back from down three games to win a series. The L.A. Kings did it last spring against the San Jose Sharks on the way to winning the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 4.

Rangers at Penguins, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to even their series at two and avoid heading back to New York down 3-1. In order to tie the series the Penguins will need to have a better start. New York has out-scored Pittsburgh 9-1 in first periods dating back to Game 5 of last year’s series. Doc Emrick and Pierre McGuire will have the call.

Blues at Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Minnesota Wild have won three of the eight playoff series they’ve played, but they’ve never held a 3-1 series lead. The Wild will look to put the Blues on the brink of elimination in Game 4 at Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom will be on the call.

Ducks at Jets, 9:30 p.m. ET on USA

Like the Sens, the Winnipeg Jets will try to avoid a sweep tonight. The Jets have blown third period leads in each of the first three games of the series and find themselves behind 3-0 to the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim has out-scored Winnipeg 7-0 in third periods in the series. The Jets will look for their first playoff win in franchise history in Game 4 while the Ducks are seeking their first playoff sweep in nine years. Chris Cuthbert and Bret Hedican are on the call.

Hobey Baker finalist Hyman won’t sign with Florida

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University of Michigan senior Zach Hyman — taken by Florida in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — has informed the Panthers he won’t be signing an entry-level deal with the club.

The move will allow Hyman to become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16, though the Panthers may trade his rights before then. Regardless, the Sunrise-based team will be losing out on a fairly promising prospect; Hyman led the Wolverines in scoring this year, with 54 points in 37 games, and finished as a Hobey Baker finalist.

This move is not unlike what Kevin Hayes and Justin Schultz did with their drafting teams (Chicago and Anaheim, respectively.) Both waited for the mid-August deadline to pass, then became UFAs and signed elsewhere (with the Rangers and Oilers, respectively.)

It’s a scenario that could play out again this summer with Columubus draftee Mike Reilly, a University of Minnesota junior who’s announced his intention to turn pro next year, but has yet to sign his ELC with the Blue Jackets.

No further discipline for Byfuglien after Perry hit

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Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien won’t face any supplemental discipline for his antics in Monday’s OT loss to Anaheim, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Byfuglien was given a two-minute roughing minor after running Ducks forward Corey Perry from behind just after Perry had scored to give his team a 2-1 lead:

“Obviously, we don’t like it,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game, per the OC Register. “It was a tough play.”

The incident comes just weeks after Byfuglien was slapped with a four-game suspension for a “dangerous” crosscheck on Rangers forward J.T. Miller.

Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

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Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has had enough.

Following multiple columns from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi, Rutherford confronted the writer in an elevator on Monday night.

Here’s the backstory.

Nearly two weeks ago, Rossi wrote a column typically reserved for a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Rossi criticized Rutherford, who is in his first season at the helm with the Penguins, for a number of failures.

Then last Wednesday, on Day 1 of the playoffs, Rossi wrote a column in defense of head coach Mike Johnston, the gist being that it was Rutherford, not Johnston, to blame for the Penguins’ failures.

Following Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers, Rossi and Rutherford shared an elevator at the Consol Energy Center, which is when the Pens’ executive apparently decided to fire back at the reporter.

Here’s the exchange, according to Rossi:

After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins’ dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.

“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

“You’re a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media’s lead sports columnist.

My role is to provide opinion.

“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.

Perhaps the Penguins can channel their GM’s aggression into a win Wednesday night as they look to even their series with the Rangers at two.