As we pause briefly from the Stanley Cup playoffs, let’s turn our eyes over to Europe for a second, where the World Championship is down to four teams. Canada plays the Czech Republic in one semifinal, while Russia and the United States renew hostilities on the other side of the bracket.
If Canada hopes to move on, they’ll have to stop an ageless icon. Meanwhile, the Russians will have their hands full with a powerful teenager.
When it came to giving themselves the best chance at playoff success, the Washington Capitals had just about every box checked off. They had a new voice behind the bench, they had a big, grinding team that could win the battles of attrition, their superstar player was showing up, their goaltending was all-world, their secondary scoring was decent and their defense corps had a really good blend of punishers and two-way players.
Yet there they were Wednesday night, once again shaking hands at center ice as the losers of yet another playoff series, another Game 7 and another defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers. Two things have to make it particularly grinding this time around. First, the Capitals were 141 seconds away from winning the series in five games. Second, in that same game, a goal by Matt Niskanen that would have provided the margin of victory in regulation time was waived off after Derek Stepan clearly pushed Joel Ward into Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
The Memorial Cup has its third competitor as the Kelowna Rockets will be heading to Quebec to compete for major junior’s grandest prize following a sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL final.
The Rockets, who defeated the Wheat Kings 3-0 in the fourth game of the final, captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the fourth time in the last twelve seasons and will go on to the Memorial Cup tournament in Quebec City. Both the Quebec Remparts and Rimouski Oceanic have secured a spot in the tournament, and are battling for seeding now, since the Remparts are hosting.”
In light of the Montreal Canadiens exiting the playoffs with a whimper Tuesday night, now is as good a time to ask the question. What exactly are the Montreal Canadiens? Are they a team on the rise that is a couple of pieces away from being a Stanley Cup winner or has their success been a mirage orchestrated by an all-world goaltender and a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman in the prime of his career?
The Canadiens will have to answer those questions this off-season. More specifically, GM Marc Bergevin will. On one hand, they were three points away from winning the Presidents’ Trophy. On the other hand, they were one of the worst possession teams in the NHL, had a terrible power play and looked very ordinary against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
Major junior playoffs have reached the final series, while the AHL post-season is well into the second round. An incredibly exciting 2014-15 campaign is nearing its end, so I’m opening up the Hot List a bit to younger prospects. Like those that came before them, they are the players you’ll want to know and that we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
When Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz compared Alex Ovechkin to Hall of Famer Mark Messier after Game 1 of his team’s second-round series against the New York Rangers, he probably didn’t realize how soon his captain would have to prove him right.
Messier and Ovechkin are the only two players in NHL history to be named a first-team all-star at two different positions. Like Messier, Ovechkin has a rare blend of speed, skill and physicality. And now, like Messier, Ovechkin is putting himself out there by guaranteeing a victory, the way Messier did 21 years ago for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final against the New Jersey Devils. Read more
OSHAWA – Speed kills. You figure they’d know that in a city that exists because of the car industry. But instead of being an assembly line of sleek speedsters, the Oshawa Generals are driving the Erie Otters and their superstar nuts by commandeering the slow lane.
There are many, many reasons why Connor McDavid is special. One of the main ones is that he can do so many things at top speed. His ability to gain the zone with the puck and with speed is legendary. But he’s done next to nothing in the OHL final because the Generals have taken that aspect of the game almost completely away from him. Sure, the kid had some pretty good looks in Game 2 of the OHL championship series, a 5-1 drubbing of the Erie Otters by the Generals, but the Generals had an incredible amount of gap control. Almost non-existent were McDavid’s blinding zone entries and only a few times was he able to jump on loose pucks in the offensive zone. Read more
Based on his record-breaking year with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Auston Matthews is looking like a game-changer for the 2016 draft. But where he plays next season may be just as revolutionary.