The NHL’s playoff race is heating up, but the stream of questionable hits from behind is as steady as every – and Thursday night, Caglary left winger Brandon Bollig added another to the list when he boarded Barret Jackman as the Blues defenseman had his back to him.
There were approximately two minutes left in the first period in St. Louis when Bollig took a run at Jackman, who was protecting the puck along the boards. Pay close attention to Bollig leaving his feet and pushing up into Jackman, driving his head into the boards:
Last season, few would have expected two of the Los Angeles Kings’ key contributors to be a pair of rookies lined up alongside veteran scorer Jeff Carter. Alas, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson turned a lot of heads en route to a Stanley Cup victory.
But with the Kings teetering on the brink of elimination from playoff contention and Toffoli and Pearson past their playoff debuts, there’s potential for a new crop of fresh-faced future stars to make their mark in the post-season. There are five, especially, that will be players to watch as teams battle for Stanley Cup glory.
It might be tough to top the 21-point rookie record held by Dino Ciccarelli and Ville Leino, but that doesn’t mean these young guns won’t give it a shot. Read more
When Jaromir Jagr scored a dazzling wraparound goal Sunday night, it was fun to watch but not all that unexpected. He is, after all, one of the five top scorers in NHL history. Seeing Calgary Flames defenseman Raphael Diaz – he of one goal this season heading into Monday’s game – bury a skillful wraparound, however, is about an unexpected as it gets.
During the second period of a must-win game for the Flames, the puck got worked back to Diaz on the blueline. A massive hole opened in the Dallas defense, allowing Diaz to walk into the zone unimpeded. With a fake shot, Diaz shook Stars winger Curtis McKenzie. By holding his shot, he pulled Kari Lehtonen all the way out of the net. And with a quick curl, Diaz pivoted around the net and buried the go-ahead tally. Read more
For the Calgary Flames to hold onto third place in the Pacific Division and ward off the Los Angeles Kings for a playoff spot, they’re going to need all their stars in the lineup. That’s why it was a scary sight when young center Sean Monahan was knocked to his knees following a hit to the head from Dallas Stars winger Brett Ritchie.
In the waning moments of the second period, Monahan and Ritchie came together towards a loose puck in the neutral zone. Ritchie reached the puck first, chipped it with one hand back to the Stars defensemen and then delivered an elbow/punch/butt end to the head of Monahan. Courtesy of Sportsnet, you can check out the play below: Read more
Before any Pittsburgh fans go and get their jerseys in a jumble, just pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about it: if the Penguins fail to get back to the Stanley Cup final for the sixth straight season, what else is left for the franchise to do but blow up the core?
After an off-season of upheaval in which Pittsburgh brought in a new coach, a new GM and a new supporting cast for Sidney Crosby, there would be few options left but to raze the roster to the ground and begin anew. Sure, the Penguins could use Marc-Andre Fleury as a scapegoat and try using the same roster again next season with a different goalie, but that would only be putting off the inevitable. (Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who are years behind on the rebuilding schedule after sticking with their core despite perennial playoff failures, including their first-round faceplant last year.)
The best thing for the Penguins to do would be to try to trade Crosby for the next Crosby.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch lists the San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames “and possibly” the St. Louis Blues as teams that could seek goaltending this summer.
Free agency is one reason these clubs could be shopping for depth between the pipes. San Jose’s Antti Niemi, Buffalo’s Anders Lindback, Edmonton’s Viktor Fasth and Calgary’s Karri Ramo are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in July. If they test the market they’ll have to be replaced. Read more
Thomas Vanek marked 10 straight seasons of scoring at least 20 goals since making his NHL debut in 2005, when he smacked a flying puck past Calgary Flames’ netminder Karri Ramo to give the Wild a 2-1 lead in the third period on Friday night.
When the NHL changed the playoff format to include wild-card teams last season, it’s unlikely even they could have imagined a scenario in which the races for the final playoff berths in each conference would be this tight.
With less than 10 games remaining on the schedules of all playoff hopefuls, only six points separate teams in the Western Conference, while a three-team race separated by five points in the Eastern Conference could come down to the final night.
What’s on the horizon for each of the teams, and who stands the best shot at making it in? Read more