Stamkos had a quiet start to the 2015 playoffs, but he’s heated up tremendously as we’ve gotten deeper into the postseason. With the Lightning down 1-0 in the second period, Stamkos extended his goal scoring streak to three games by launching a one-timer past Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist:
Stamkos now has six markers in his last nine games. Lightning coach Jon Cooper deserves some credit for that turnaround as his decision to move Stamkos to the wing has paid dividends.
It might not be enough to save Tampa Bay tonight though. While the Lightning largely controlled the play in the second period up until Stamkos’ goal, the Rangers bounced right back after they lost their lead. Chris Kreider scored at 15:16 of the second frame and Keith Yandle provided some insurance just 1:48 minutes later with his first marker of the 2015 playoffs:
The Minnesota Wild have re-upped with Michael Keranen on a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Friday.
Keranen, 25, arrived in North America last year with some fanfare, joining the Wild after a successful stint in the Finnish League that culminated with him winning the Lasse Oksanen Award as the top player during the regular season.
Though he didn’t play in Minnesota in 2014-15, his play with Iowa did merit a recall in mid-Ferbruary, when Tomas Vanek was dealing with an injury. Overall, Keranen finished his first AHL campaign with a team-high 27 assists, to go along with 37 points and 147 shots on goal.
Keranen could compete for a big-league job next season. Minnesota is relatively tight to the cap and may need to part ways with a few of its veteran UFA forwards (Minnesota has four in Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Carter, Sean Bergenheim and Chris Stewart). All of their futures are likely tied to how GM Chuck Fletcher handles his two biggest priorities this offseason, RFA forward Mikael Granlund and UFA goalie Devan Dubnyk.
The Minnesota Wild suffered one of the worst playoff losses in franchise history on Wednesday night — a 6-1 shellacking at home against St. Louis — and the day after, head coach Mike Yeo did a little posturing.
“There’s still pressure on them,” Yeo said Thursday, per the Pioneer Press. “They think that they’re much better than us, and it’s our job to prove we’re up at that level.”
As for last night?
“It’s not like we played our best hockey and came up short,” he explained.
That message stayed consistent with comments made in the immediate aftermath of Game 4 (basically, “we stunk, let’s move on.”) Zach Parise said his team was “brutal” and Yeo followed suit today, saying Minnesota has plenty more to give — which, apparently, will include a new lineup look for Game 5.
There’s no shortage of candidates to come out after Game 4. Sean Bergenheim played a team-low 10:11 and finished minus-2 on the night, and has been parked in the press box already this postseason. Veteran d-man Jordan Leopold had the fewest minutes among all blueliners and finished minus-3, and with the wealth of options Yeo has at his disposal — Matt Cooke, Jordan Schroeder, Erik Haula, Christian Folin and Nate Prosser all sat last game — there are plenty of new looks he could throw at St. Louis.
Related: Shattenkirk lighting it up as Blues play ‘our game’
After a 4-1 loss on Saturday, the Wild are switching things up for tonight’s Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series against the Blues.
Sean Bergenheim, acquired at the trade deadline, will draw back in with Justin Fontaine after both dressed for Game 1 and sat Game 2. They’ll suit up at the expense of Matt Cooke and Jordan Schroeder; the former played just 10:27 on Saturday while the latter finished minus-1 in 8:50 TOI.
“At home here, we know the crowd’s going to be buzzing,” head coach Mike Yeo explained. “We can get in there and bump them a little bit, but to make that happen we need to execute getting up the ice as well.
“That’s where a guy like [Fontaine] comes into play. He’s [also] very quietly become one of our top penalty killers.”
With these moves, it means another seat in the press box for last year’s surprise playoff performer, Erik Haula. After scoring four goals and seven points in 13 games last spring, big things were expected of the Finnish speedster but he struggled during the regular season and has been parked upstairs for the entire Blues series.
“This is not about beating down [Haula],” Yeo explained. “It’s been a trying year for him.”
Quite a lot is happening this Saturday afternoon, so here’s an attempt to gather some of the smaller bits in one spot, whether you use this information for fantasy purposes or just general information:
- The Minnesota Wild made trade deadline acquisition Sean Bergenheim a healthy scratch on Saturday, putting Ryan Carter in the lineup instead. In an odd quirk, Bergenheim (pictured) has the same paltry production as fellow scratch Devante Smith-Pelly: just one point in 15 games with his new team.
- As much as the Pittsburgh Penguins are approaching full-strength, there are still setbacks. David Perron’s out sick today, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari.
- The Philadelphia Flyers are dealing with some flu issues that are sidelining defensemen Mark Streit and Carlo Colaiacovo. NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman shares their modified defensive pairings here.
- Lubomir Visnovsky returns to the New York Islanders’ defensive lineup.