Unlike a year ago when Montreal’s Carey Price was the no-doubt-about-it winner of the Vezina Trophy, the 2015-16 season had no sure thing.
Three weeks ago, THN made the case for the 10 goalies who were deserving of votes. On Wednesday, the NHL unveiled the three finalists for the award given to “the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position.” They are Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Washington’s Braden Holtby, and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.
The Philadelphia Flyers put a scare into the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, but Washington is moving on to the second round for the second consecutive season thanks to a 1-0 win in Game 6.
In a series that was lopsided, no matter what the scoreboard might tell you, the Capitals simply overpowered the Flyers much like they had nearly every opponent during the regular season. Washington’s top players looked like their top players, and it was fitting that when the Capitals desperately needed a goal, it was the two undeniable faces of the franchise — Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom — that teamed up to make it happen.
Backstrom’s goal, which was the lone marker of the contest, came midway through the second frame after Ovechkin made an impressive play to hold the puck inside the Flyers’ zone. Ovechkin fought off a check from Philadelphia blueliner Radko Gudas, moved the puck to Marcus Johansson, who then made a quick move to shift the puck over to Backstrom. His one-timer found the back of the net behind Michal Neuvirth, and that’s all Washington needed: Read more
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth was drafted 34th overall by the Capitals in 2006, but he was never able to make it as a full-time starting netminder in Washington. Over six seasons with the Capitals, he started 116 games, had a 59-41-13 record, .910 save percentage and 2.67 goals-against average. But he was traded away two seasons ago and hasn’t looked back.
In the time since leaving Washington, Neuvirth, 28, has started games for the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and, after signing a two-year deal in the off-season, the Flyers. And it’s in Philadelphia that Neuvirth is showing that maybe he had more to give than the Capitals, Sabres and Islanders ever believed. Through his past two games — two must-win contests to keep the Flyers alive — Neuvirth has been nothing short of sensational.
Neuvirth has stopped 75 of the 76 shots he’s faced in two games against the Capitals, and he had one of those jaw-dropping efforts Friday night where it looked like nothing short of a literal cannon blast would be able to get by him. Through one period, Neuvirth had seen and stopped 14 shots. He blocked another 16 in the second frame. And by the time the final buzzer went, Neuvirth turned aside 44 pucks in Philadelphia’s 2-0 victory. He’s the first goaltender since Craig Anderson in 2010 to make 44-plus saves in a playoff shutout. Read more
The first round of the post-season won’t see any series end before Game 5, and the Philadelphia Flyers made sure of that Wednesday with a crucial 2-1 win to avoid elimination and stave off the sweep.
The Flyers again clicked early, and in many ways Philadelphia’s Game 4 victory was what one would have expected from Dave Hakstol’s team in Game 3 when the Flyers returned to the Wells Fargo Center for their first game since the passing of owner Ed Snider. Less than six minutes into the game, rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere got on the board with a blast from the blueline on the power play to put Philadelphia ahead, but it was a goal from an unexpected source that gave the Flyers their first win of the series.
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who was buried in the AHL earlier in the season, absolutely hammered a pass from Wayne Simmonds to put the Flyers up 2-0. MacDonald’s second career playoff goal marked the first time all series Philadelphia scored twice in a single game. Read more
Philadelphia Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare served 27 penalty minutes over the course of 74 games during the regular season, but it took him a split second to rack up more than half of that total in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals and earn himself a one-game suspension.
Bellemare picked up 15 minutes in penalties Monday when, in a game that had already gotten out of hand, he drove Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov headfirst into the boards behind the Washington net.
As the two approached the corner, Orlov appeared to slow up in order to control the play and initiate contact with Bellemare, but the Flyers pivot was not impeded at all, instead violently checking Orlov into the boards. Bellemare seemed concerned for Orlov, but the Capitals defenseman remained down on the ice for the duration of a scrum between the two teams before skating off under his own power. For his effort, Bellemare was sent to the showers: Read more
The world under-18s are going full-bore in North Dakota right now and there is some fantastic talent assembled. Sure, Russia’s under-18s were pulled out because of a drug scandal, but youngsters such as Klim Kostin and Andrei Svechnikov just get to make their impressions a year earlier. And with Jesse Puljujarvi joining Finland, the Americans will have several rivals to fend off if they want to defend their gold medal from last year. We’ve also got CHL playoffs getting serious and a special guest star from the coaching ranks in this week’s prospect round-up.
Flyers fans (#notallFlyersfans) like to fancy themselves as an intimidating bunch. When your team identity was founded on the brawn and menace of the Broad Street Bullies, it only makes sense – especially in a town known for passionate fans of all local sports. But what may have worked in the 1970s doesn’t work as well today and once again Philadelphia fans found themselves at the center of a bad behavior controversy last night.
The Capitals came into the post-season with the league’s best power play, and it was with the man advantage that Washington inched that much closer to punching their ticket to the second round of the playoffs.
Though the 6-1 final score makes it appear as though the Capitals ran roughshod all over the Flyers, it was anyone’s game through 40 minutes. It took only 57 seconds after puck drop — which was preceded by a tribute to late Flyers owner Ed Snider — for Philadelphia to get on the board, but Washington equalized not long after on the power play. However, were it not for Alex Ovechkin slipping behind the Flyers defense and snapping home a wrist shot midway through the second, the two teams may have gone to the dressing room knotted at one apiece after two periods.
But even though Philadelphia was only one shot away from tying the contest, hope dwindled early in the third period when a crazy bounce led to an Evgeny Kuznetsov power play goal. Kuznetsov’s tally gave Washington a 3-1 lead, and it was all downhill for the Flyers from there. Read more