Ed Lack

Drouin in (and so is Johnson) for Lightning


We may not know for sure if Tyler Johnson is hurt or not until after the Stanley Cup Final (if at all), but he’s playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As expected, Jonathan Drouin makes his championship round debut, as he replaced defenseman Nikita Nesterov.

The Lightning are shifting to a traditional 12-forward, six-defensemen setup. They lost Game 1 with an extra blueliner and one fewer forward, yet they’ve enjoyed some success with that alignment overall in the postseason.

Drouin has been largely ineffective in his sporadic postseason appearances, drawing some ire from head coach Jon Cooper for perceived lacking defense.

To be fair to the 20-year-old, he hasn’t gotten a ton of chances to put up big numbers. Here’s his time on ice per contest:

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final: zero points, -1 rating, three shots on goal, 14:56 TOI
Game 3 of ECF: zero points, -1, zero SOG, 9:54 TOI
Game 4 of first round (vs. Detroit): zero points, -2, one SOG, 8:42 TOI

With 32 points in 70 regular season games, Drouin has shown some ability to generate points at the NHL level, but it would help if he could gain Cooper’s trust.

Whatever the case may be, Cooper wants more from his depth forwards:

Seguin held out of practice after arriving late; Stars to handle ‘internally’


Though their season is essentially over, the Dallas Stars are apparently still in teaching mode. From the Morning-News’ Mike Heika:

It’ll be interesting to see what the Stars decide to do here, if anything. The club’s regular-season finale is at home on Saturday against Nashville, and we’re not that far removed from another young forward — Toronto’s Nazem Kadri — getting parked for a few games after he slept in and was late for practice in early March.

The Stars haven’t been shy about disciplining players this year, either. Forward Cody Eakin was a healthy scratch for a game against Philly last month, though the club was mum on the reasons beyond “team discipline.”

As for Seguin, much has been made of his maturity — or perceived lack thereof — during his time in Boston (including the whole alarm clock thing), but it’s rarely been an issue with the Stars. That said, he did find himself embroiled in a situation earlier this season when he and Jamie Benn made fun of Daniel and Henrik Sedin during a Dallas-area radio interview.

The Penguins ‘finally got a bounce’ this weekend


Granted the opponent was only the Coyotes, but Saturday’s 3-1 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins was a welcome one for a team that had spent much of last week in the cross-hairs of its critics.

Case in point, this is how Ron Cook, columnist at the Post-Gazette, led his most recent piece:

“So what was more surprising Saturday night? That the Penguins actually scored three goals and won a game against the lousy Arizona Coyotes? Or that they didn’t whine to the referees over every call and no-call?”

Can’t score.

No composure.

Those have been the two major criticisms lobbed at the Penguins, summed up in one paragraph by Cook. Neither criticism is particularly unfair, given the Pens haven’t been scoring very many goals and showed a decided lack of composure in a recent game versus the Red Wings.

But that’s not to say the Pens have been playing altogether terrible hockey. The four-game losing streak, the one in which they were outscored 11-2, actually saw them outshoot their opponents by a combined 140-100.

And with the caveat that there’s more to winning than a good Corsi (ask the 2014-15 Kings), it’s still worth noting that, in their last 20 games, the Penguins have the second-best score-adjusted Corsi in the league. In a good number of their losses during that stretch (10-8-2), the opposition goalie was named first or second star.

Evidence of Pittsburgh’s frustration? Here’s what captain Sidney Crosby said of the tying goal versus the Coyotes, one that Arizona goalie Mike Smith mistakenly banked off Brandon Sutter and into the net: “We finally got a bounce.”

Not that Crosby was willing to let his team off the hook in previous losses. (“[Cory Schneider] did make good saves when he had to, but we could have given him more,” he said after a 35-shot shutout loss to New Jersey.) But he clearly felt the bounces weren’t going the Pens’ way.

The Penguins have the day off today. They host the Blues tomorrow in what will be one of their toughest tests before the playoffs start.

“St. Louis is a top team in the West,” said coach Mike Johnston. “We had a good game against them out there. Now it’s coming in against them against a top team and really bringing our game to that level.”

Duclair healthy scratched by Quebec junior team


Bit of an eyebrow-raiser from the QMJHL — Anthony Duclair, the highly-touted prospect that went from New York to Arizona as part of the Keith Yandle trade, will be a healthy scratch tonight when his Quebec Remparts take on Shawinigan.

According to this Journal De Montreal piece, Duclair, who has 27 points in 22 games since being sent back to Quebec in early January, is mired in head coach Philippe Boucher’s doghouse for a perceived lack of effort. It’s possible the 19-year-old is dealing with a bit of fatigue — after making the Rangers out of training camp and appearing in 18 NHL games, he’s since won gold with Team Canada at the ’15 World Juniors and played big minutes with the Remparts — but whatever the case, Quebec isn’t having it, possibly because it doesn’t want complacency setting in, given it’s hosting this year’s Memorial Cup.

It’s also possible Duclair could be distracted. The Yandle deal was one of the biggest blockbusters of this year’s trade deadline, and Duclair could be guilty of looking to the future. In Arizona, he figures to play a prominent role in the organization’s rebuild and will eventually be reunited with Team Canada linemate Max Domi, who the Coyotes took in the first round of the ’13 NHL Entry Draft.

“Having the opportunity to maybe play with [Domi] in the future, that’s great and I look forward to it,” Duclair said, per the Arizona Republic. “I’m actually really excited about the opportunity.”

Columnist calls the Oilers ‘soft’


There are a lot of theories regarding the Edmonton Oilers’ perpetual poorness.

They haven’t drafted well, especially beyond obvious high first-round picks. Despite year after year of ineptitude, the front office seems fairly protected, especially Kevin Lowe (sure, they changed GMs … but some wonder if Lowe’s voice still rings the loudest, anyway). Most directly, they are pretty lousy at keeping the puck out of their own net, whether that falls heaviest on their goalies or defensemen.

If you ask the Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski, the real problem is that the Oilers are “soft.”

It’s been nine years since the Edmonton Oilers were last described as a gritty, hard-working team that nobody wants to play against, which is probably why it’s been nine years since they last made the playoffs.

Any coach or GM worth his weight in lottery balls knows you need some mongrels mixed in with your purebreds if you’re ever going to win.

Granted, it’s also been nine years since the Oilers employed an elite defenseman, as Chris Pronger was traded to the Anaheim Ducks after Edmonton’s memorable run.

Anyway, Tychkowski believes that a recent roster move implies that the front office is acknowledging his perceived lack of sand paper. By calling up Tyler Pitlick and keeping Steve Pinizzotto while demoting Jesse Joensuu, he thinks that Edmonton’s addressing a deficit.

Is it really about grit and intangibles for Edmonton? Maybe, maybe not … but it seems like the Oilers still have a long way to go, which has basically been a refrain since that playoff run many moons ago.