Dominant Blues expose all of Stars’ flaws in Game 3 rout

Ian Denomme
Antti Niemi. (Getty Images)

It was nice the Dallas Stars won Game 1 of their second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. They might not win another one.

The Blues took a 2-1 series lead on Tuesday thanks to a dominant 6-1 victory over the Stars. The loss exposed all of the flaws and questions about the Stars that many had before the playoffs even started.

Let’s start with the goaltending. It’s a mess.

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Predators’ offense comes to life in win over Sharks to get back in series

James Neal (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The never-say-die Nashville Predators unleashed a seldom used weapon to beat the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday – their offense.

After giving up a first-period goal, the Predators scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 win over the Sharks. They now trail the series 2-1 with Game 4 at home on Thursday.

The Predators entered the game as the lowest-scoring team remaining in the playoffs, averaging just two goals-per-game. During a tight, low-scoring first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Predators would go into shutdown mode after getting a lead, knowing a goal or two was enough to win.

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Shame such a great game was decided by such a terrible non-call

Brian Boyle (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN – Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was talking about his team’s game Tuesday night and how it’s a great example of why we all love this game so much. And he’s right. But it’s also a pretty good example of why this game infuriates us, too.

We love it because when it’s played like it was in the Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win over the Islanders in Game 3, it embodies everything that makes this game great. It also infuriates us because too many times, the lack of awareness/incompetence of the referees ruins it. What people who think that officials “should let the players decide things” fail to realize is that referees influence the outcome of a game with non-calls, too. And that’s exactly what happened in Game 3.

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Bruins’ Krug out six months, Krejci sidelined for five after off-season surgery

Jared Clinton
Torey Krug (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston struggled down the home stretch and fell three points short of landing themselves a post-season berth, but the extended off-season might pay dividends for three key members of their roster. The Bruins announced Tuesday that Torey Krug, David Krejci and Matt Beleskey have all undergone off-season surgeries that will keep them out of action for significant periods of time.

Beleskey, 27, will see the shortest recovery time with only six weeks needed for him to get back to action. He had surgery to repair his left hand in mid-April, and the timeline for recovery will give the first-year Bruin more than enough time to get healthy in time for the regular season. In his first campaign with Boston after signing a five-year, $19-million deal, Beleskey netted 15 goals and 37 points.

The more worrisome injuries, though, are those to Krug and Krejci, who are expected to miss six and five months, respectively. Read more

Johansson has upper-body injury after Letang hit, will be re-evaluated ahead of Game 4

Jared Clinton
Marcus Johansson (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Capitals winger Marcus Johansson was able to finish Monday’s Game 3 against the Penguins following the hit by Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, but Johansson’s status for Game 4 could be in question.

As the Capitals took the ice for practice Tuesday, the team announced that Johansson had suffered an upper-body injury and would not skate with the team. Being that it’s the post-season, no specifics regarding Johansson’s injury have been released, but the 25-year-old told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he cleared concussion protocol following the jolt and was dealing with a sore neck after the Capitals’ loss.

According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Capitals coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t confirm whether or not Johansson would be back in the lineup for Game 4, saying only that the winger would be re-evaluated Wednesday. Read more

IIHF president says ’60 percent’ chance NHL not going to Olympics

Jared Clinton
Rene Fasel (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

IIHF president Rene Fasel has already said the financial hurdles standing between the NHL and International Olympic Committee could make the league think twice about sending its players to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but it may shock some to learn Fasel doesn’t even think there’s a 50-50 chance the two will reach an agreement that sees the game’s brightest stars play at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

In an interview with The Associated Press’ James Ellingworth, Fasel said he thinks a 50-50 chance is “very positive” and believes it’s more like a “60 percent (chance) that (the NHL) are not coming” to the 2018 games. The NHL has remained tightlipped and non-committal about participation in PyeongChang, but their decision may be coming sooner rather than later, according to Fasel.

While the league has been hesitant to announce a firm deadline for deciding on their potential participation in the games, Fasel told Ellingworth the NHL will likely come to a decision by the end of 2016 for scheduling purposes. However, the league waited until seven months before the 2014 Olympics to confirm they would send players to Sochi, so that doesn’t rule out the NHL coming to a final decision in early 2017. Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Wade Allison is burning up the draft charts

Wade Allison (Photo courtesy of the Tri-City Storm)

As the season begins to wind down, we’re starting to see some hardware handed out in the prospect ranks. Toronto Maple Leafs hopeful Mitch Marner, for example, just won the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s most outstanding player for his work with the London Knights. Another OHL award-winner is featured below in my weekly wrap-up. Elsewhere in the hockey world, the USHL is in the middle of its two-stage draft. During Phase 1 (for 2000 birthdays), Sioux Falls landed competitive center Gavin Hain with the No. 1 pick. Phase 2 (for 1999s and earlier) happened today. And speaking of the USHL, let’s get to this week’s round-up:

 

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Update: Kris Letang suspended one game for late hit on Marcus Johansson

letang hit

Is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a lightning rod for dangerous plays or what?

Whether he’s giving or receiving, he can’t seem to dodge controversy. Letang avoided a suspension for this slash in the first round of the playoffs on the New York Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg, as the NHL Department of Player Safety felt the stanchion launched Letang’s stick into Stalberg’s face.

Letang might have a tougher time escaping the law after what happened in Game 3 of his Penguins’ Metropolitan Division final matchup against the Washington Capitals Monday. A look at his powerful hit on Caps left winger Marcus Johansson:

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