The Eastern Conference final is now tied after the Penguins dropped Game 4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but worse than Pittsburgh’s loss Friday is the impact an injury to Trevor Daley could have on this series going forward.
Late in the second period Friday, Daley was hit behind the Penguins’ net by Lightning winger Ryan Callahan. Though it seemed like an innocuous hit, the kind of which happens on a regular basis throughout the course of a game, the collision resulted in Daley going down in obvious pain before crawling to the front of the Pittsburgh net on all fours. When play finally stopped, Daley rolled onto his back in agony before being helped off the ice: Read more
The Tampa Bay Lightning needed their best game of the Eastern Conference final in Game 4, because through three games the series looked as though it belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even in Game 1, a game the Penguins lost, Pittsburgh looked like the better team but simply weren’t able to solve Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy in. And though Game 4 was undoubtedly the best game Tampa Bay has played in the series, the 4-3 victory didn’t come without a scare.
That said, out of the gate, it seemed like it would be all Lightning, all the time. On the very first shift of the game, only 27 seconds into Friday’s contest, Victor Hedman let go a shot from the Pittsburgh blueline that was tipped in front by Lightning winger Ryan Callahan and past Penguins netminder Matt Murray. Callahan’s second goal of the post-season, and the Lightning’s fast-paced start, was a sign of what much of the first 40 minutes would hold.
Through two periods of play, the Lightning mustered 30 shots on goal — the most they’ve had in the series — and they looked nearly unstoppable on the rush. In what was the best two frames of hockey the Lightning have played not just in the conference final, but throughout the playoffs, Tampa Bay showcased their ability to counter-attack, showed the lethal puck-moving ability that can make their power play so dangerous and made the Penguins pay for even the slightest mistake. Callahan’s goal was followed by markers by Andrej Sustr, Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson, who was lucky to have been in the lineup following a puck to the face during warmup. Read more
Almost everything that could go right has gone as such for the Penguins over the past two games, but there was a moment late in Game 3’s victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning that had some in Pittsburgh worrying about the health of Patric Hornqvist.
With the Penguins in their defensive zone with little more than seven minutes left in the third period, Hornqvist went to close off a shooting lane when the puck came back to Lightning winger Alex Killorn. Hornqvist spread out to block the shot and managed to get his left hand in front of Killorn’s attempt.
However, upon the puck striking Hornqvist, he almost immediately dropped his stick to the ice, winced in pain and skated to the Pittsburgh bench. Shortly thereafter, he headed to the dressing room: Read more
Should Phil Kessel continue his personal assault on the playoffs and be named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP, fans in Toronto and Boston should feel nothing but happiness for him. Wasting their time and emotional energy lamenting what might have been would be an exercise in futility.
And that’s largely because it never would have been. You see what Kessel is doing in the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Never would have happened in either Toronto or Boston. Fans in Boston can be thankful for what they got in return for Kessel – Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton for a while – then Jimmy Hayes and three prospects they got when they dealt the players they got for Kessel. Fans in Toronto can watch as Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington try to win a Calder Trophy for their minor league team and hope the first- and third-round picks turn into something nice.
Phil Kessel has been outstanding through three games of the Eastern Conference final, and in Game 3 he scored once, has an assist and put eight shots on goal in more than 19 minutes of playing time.
With a performance like that, you’d expect the 28-year-old winger to be a bit gassed after the contest, so NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire was trying to get a window into Kessel’s conditioning following Pittsburgh’s Game 3 victory. The wording of the question tripped up Kessel, though, which led to him giving a ridiculous response not about his conditioning level — or breath, as McGuire said — but instead saying he could maybe use a Tic Tac. The question comes around the 1:05-mark: Read more
The Penguins took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference final with a convincing Game 3 victory on Wednesday night, and that means GM Jim Rutherford’s bunch is only two wins shy of winning the Eastern Conference and six victories away from taking home the Stanley Cup. As the architect of this team, though, Rutherford could be in line for some additional hardware at season’s end.
It was announced Wednesday that Rutherford has been named one of three finalists for the GM of the Year Award along with Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan and Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. Unlike other awards, the GM of the Year was voted on by GMs, executives and media members at the conclusion of the second round of the post-season, which helps take into account the impact deadline deals may have had on a club.
But even though that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine Rutherford doesn’t take home the hardware given what he managed ahead of the deadline. Read more
Much had been made about Sidney Crosby’s cold streak heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins captain hadn’t scored in eight-straight games and had been held to only three points over that span. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last, though.
In Game 2, Crosby finally broke through with the overtime game-winner only 40 seconds into the first extra frame, and now it appears like he could be on a much different streak as he’s scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back games. And for the second-consecutive game, he’s managed the game-winner on a one-time blast going upstairs on Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Crosby’s winner in Game 3 came midway through the third period with the Penguins already ahead a goal. After Tampa Bay blueliner Braydon Coburn headed off for elbowing, Pittsburgh’s power play went to work on a 4-on-3, and the open ice gave Crosby room to operate to the right of the net. After a pass to Evgeni Malkin on the blueline, Crosby opened up for a one-timer, took a pass back from Malkin and hammered the puck past Vasilevskiy: Read more
Just hours after Jim Rutherford was announced as a finalist for GM of the Year, the players he acquired displayed exactly why he received so much love from his colleagues around the league. And if there is anybody out there who didn’t think Rutherford’s best days were behind him when he joined the Penguins almost two years ago is either a soothsayer or a member of Rutherford’s immediate family.
But at the age of 67, Rutherford looks as though he’s just hitting his stride. And so does his highest-profile acquisition, Phil Kessel. Talk about being raised from the dead. That both Rutherford and Kessel have a legitimate chance to hold the Stanley Cup over the heads in about a month is nothing short of shocking.