• Top 5 Playoff Tough Guys

    Bryan Mcwilliam
    1995 Stanley Cup Finals - Game 4:  Detroit Red Wings v New Jersey Devils

    Grit and sandpaper go a long way come playoff time in the NHL. Toughness is an essential factor in teams making Stanley Cup runs and when a hard-nosed player liked David Backes goes down, the results can change, as is certainly apparent in the St. Louis and Chicago series.

    Below are the top five tough guys (we’re talking effective tough guys who can also put points on the board, not pure goons) who’ve laid some of their claim to fame in the most essential of games by laying some smack down.

    5. Ken Linseman

    Linseman did some major damage for the Bruins in 1987-88 when he recorded 25 points in 23 games, but he also knew how to throw his weight around, earning 56 penalty minutes that same year. He was a major factor in the Bruins making the Stanley Cup final that season and was also a key contributor in the Flyers’ playoff runs of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

    The Kingston, On., native was a scrappy 175 pound bulldog, which is why he’s still beloved by Bruins and Flyers’ fans to this day.

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  • Flyers play it safe, will start Steve Mason in Game 4 against Rangers

    Steve Mason

    One Pennsylvania team will get a goalie change in their next playoff game.

    flyerstweet-mason

    The Philadelphia Flyers, trailing the New York Rangers 2-1 in their first round series, will turn to their regular starter Steve Mason in Game 4. Mason, who missed the final few games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, returned to the bench to back up Ray Emery in Game 3 and played the final 7:15 after Emery was pulled in the 4-1 loss.

    Overall, Emery hasn’t been bad for the Flyers in this series. The team in front of him has been one of the worst possession lineups in the playoffs so far – better than only Los Angeles (down 3-0), Tampa Bay (swept), and Colorado (the anomalous one). Of the six goals Emery allowed in Games 1 and 2, half were on the power play. And through those first two games, Emery had a .913 save percentage. That’s not a bad performance at all – Emery even deserves most of the credit for Philadelphia’s only win in the series. Read more

  • Get a taste of the Montreal Canadiens series victory through Dale Weise’s mic

    Rory Boylen
    Montreal Canadiens

    The Montreal Canadiens swept the Tampa Bay Lightning aside earlier this week. Blame Tampa’s goaltending, its defense or a combination of the two: either way, the city of Montreal was in celebration mode Tuesday night.

    And Dale Weise was wearing a mic for it. Though the Habs allowed Tampa Bay to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the third and tie Game 4, Max Pacioretty’s power play goal with less than a minute left in regulation propelled the Habs into the second round.

    Here is a short clip of the Canadiens’ reaction to the winning goal – as heard through Weise’s mic – a glimpse into the post-series handshake line, and a brief look into the locker room celebration after the game. Read more

  • Highly anticipated Red Army documentary to make its debut at Cannes. Watch the trailer here

    Jason Kay
    Red Army Club v Montreal Canadiens

    Hockey gets the red carpet treatment next month in Cannes when the documentary, Red Army, makes its world premiere at the renowned film festival.

    The movie, made by director Gabe Polsky (The Motel Life) and co-produced by Hollywood heavy hitters Jerry Weintraub and Werner Herzog, chronicles the dominant Soviet machine and sets it against the changing socio-political backdrop.

    And, of course, it goes deep into how and why this club was so good.

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  • After latest playoff debacle, Penguins can’t depend on Fleury anymore

    Adam Proteau
    Marc-Andre Fleury (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

    Marc-Andre Fleury is no different than any other veteran NHL goaltender insofar as he realizes all the regular-season success in the world doesn’t matter if he falters in the playoffs. So he also has to know that, after an utterly disastrous end to Game 4 of Pittsburgh’s first round series against Columbus, he’d awaken this morning to a chorus of critics calling for management to bench him for the rest of the post-season and end his time with the franchise in the summer.

    I’m one of those critics. After Wednesday’s implosion, it’s clear the Penguins no longer can justify going back to Fleury and expect him to regain the form that helped the organization win a Stanley Cup in 2009.

    I know we’re supposed to say hockey is a team game, that Pens captain and superstar Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored in his past nine playoff games, that Fleury played a strong 59 minutes and 40 seconds in Game 4 before the wheels fell off. All that is true, but when you sink massive amounts of time, money and effort into a car year after year to get you from Point A to Point B, you’re not happy if the engine explodes three feet from Point B on a number of your most recent trips. You expected and paid for the full journey and you didn’t get it – and regardless of what that car did for you in the past, nobody would fault you for abandoning it at the side of the road in favor of a ride you trusted. Read more

  • Breaking News: Henrik Zetterberg in for Game 4 tonight

    Ken Campbell
    Henrik Zetterberg

    With the Detroit Red Wings trailing 2-1 in their first-round series against the Boston Bruins, they’ll go into tonight’s Game 4 with their captain and one of their best players in the lineup for the first time in two months.

    A source close to the Red Wings said Henrik Zetterberg has been cleared to play tonight, after missing the last 30 games (including playoffs) and all but one game of the Olympics with a back injury. The source said Zetterberg will likely play only “limited minutes,” somewhere in the range of 10 to 12, but even that will be a massive upgrade for a Red Wings team that is reeling with injuries and has been outscored by the Bruins 7-1 in the past two games. Read more

  • Stanley Cup goalie faith-o-meter

    Ryan Kennedy
    Carey-Price-Habs

    We’re only a week into the playoffs and already there have been an assortment of twists and turns to deal with. The Habs are through to the second round, while the Kings are almost through, period. And while goaltending can’t explain every result, it has been prominent – as Pittsburgh found out last night. With that in mind, I present the Stanley Cup faith-o-meter. Adjust your rosaries accordingly.

    Ken Dryden-Approved

    Tuukka Rask, Boston – gave up one goal and somehow lost the opener, but still 2-1 with 0.67 goal-against average.

    Carey Price, Montreal – Stared down Steven Stamkos and the Kids in four games and said “meh.”

    Antti Niemi, San Jose – Just doin’ his thing while his Sharks light up the Kings.

    Jimmy Howard, Detroit – Has given up just three even-strength goals in three games to powerful Bruins.

    Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers – Hasn’t been busy, but getting the job done.

    Semyon Varlamov, Colorado – Regular season set a high standard, but his one loss came in OT after a 60-minute shutout.

    Super, But Human

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  • Are the Blues missing crucial pieces of the Stanley Cup puzzle?

    Blues lose

    No one likes knee-jerk analysis during a best-of-seven playoff series, especially when the home team has won the first four games of said series. Regardless, it’s hard not to make alarming observations about the St. Louis Blues, who have now blown a 2-0 series lead in the first round for the second consecutive season.

    This team has been my 2014 Stanley Cup pick since last summer and still is, yet I can’t help but remember the questions raised in the THN war room last summer when we were yelling working out a consensus title pick.

    1. Do the Blues have a real superstar to rely on with the game on the line?
    2. Do the Blues have a money goaltender who can steal games in the playoffs?
    3. Do the Blues have enough veteran experience to guide them through adversity?

    As for the first question, look at what Chicago has done the last two games. Captain Jonathan Toews scored the winner in Game 3 and it was Patrick Kane’s turn to take over in Game 4. He scored twice, including this laser to clinch it in overtime:

    When in doubt, Chicago can lean on its megastars. In Game 4, Toews had no equal on the forecheck and Kane elevated every Blues fan’s blood pressure every single time he had the puck, terrorizing Ryan Miller. His winner was more of an inevitability than a surprise. Duncan Keith dazzled on the back end with his wheels, too,skating the puck out of trouble repeatedly.

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