• P.K. Subban’s slash: shock and awesome all in one

    Subban2

    One small whack in the playoffs, one giant gouge for playoff-kind.

    P.K. Subban’s tomahawk to Mark Stone’s wrist ignited an inferno of what is so controversial and so awesome about the NHL playoffs. It was a microcosm of a hockey fan’s favorite two months of the season, all captured in a few moments of the second period of the first game of Round 1.

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  • Petr Mrazek gets the nod as starter for Detroit — could this be the end for Jimmy Howard?

    Jared Clinton
    Jimmy Howard (Mike Stobe/National Hockey League)

    For the past six seasons, Jimmy Howard has been the man between the pipes for Detroit. With Petr Mrazek handed the starting reins for the Red Wings’ first game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, however, Howard’s time as Detroit’s number one might be up.

    Howard had been, without a doubt, the Red Wings go-to goaltender heading into the all-star break. Up until Jan. 10, he had backstopped Detroit in 32 games, had the team in contention for top spot in the Atlantic Division and his numbers looked solid – Howard had a 2.11 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. But on Jan. 10, he went down with a groin injury after playing just 1:53 against the Washington Capitals and allowing one goal on three shots.

    From there, Mrazek took over. And after being forced to split time with Mrazek once returning from injury, it might be hard for Howard to ever get his job back. Read more

  • If Isles’ young guns continue stepping up as they did in Game 1 win, Caps are in trouble

    The Islanders' Josh Bailey celebrates after scoring against Washington in the second period in Game One of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    In the New York Islanders’ 4-1 Game 1 victory over Washington Wednesday, superstar center and Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares had just one assist. That could be interpreted by some as an ominous harbinger of what’s to come for them against the Capitals and throughout the rest of the post-season. But the opposite is true. The fact the Isles got big games from youngsters such as sophomore centers Brock Nelson (who had the first and last goal of the night) and Ryan Strome, and veteran wingers Josh Bailey (one goal and two points) and Kyle Okposo (one assist) means there’s less pressure on Tavares to shoulder the entire load. And that can only be good news for their playoff hopes this year. Read more

  • Kris Russell lifts Flames to Game 1 victory with last minute goal

    Jared Clinton
    Kris Russell (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    The Vancouver Canucks learned a valuable lesson in the first game of their opening round series against the Calgary Flames: if you want to beat this team, you have to make sure you bury them under a pile of goals. Otherwise, the never-say-die Flames will find a way to make you pay.

    In another of their improbable victories, the Flames entered the third period down by one. After evening the score with 12 minutes remaining in the final frame on a David Jones marker, Calgary built up substantial pressure as time wound down. Sam Bennett controlled the puck below the goal line with less than 40 seconds left, made a quick pass that narrowly missed the stick of Jones but was held in by Dennis Wideman.

    Wideman, who has been outstanding since Mark Giordano went down with injury, took a peek at his shooting lane before shuffling the puck across the blueline to Kris Russell, where Russell let go a quick slapshot that found its way through a glut of bodies and past Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack: Read more

  • Experienced Blackhawks, led by rookie Darling, make improbable comeback to take Game 1 in double OT

    Scott Darling (John Russell/Getty Images)

    If the Nashville Predators are going to even up their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re going to have to need short memories because otherwise this loss could stick with them for a while.

    After Nashville took a 3-0 lead in the first period on two goals by Colin Wilson and one by Viktor Stalberg, Chicago dominated for long stretches of the second period, vanquished their three-goal deficit and headed into the third period with the score tied. And while Duncan Keith’s game-winning goal will go down as the shot that ultimately won the game in double overtime, it was the play of rookie goaltender Scott Darling that was truly the story. Read more

  • Isles’ Ryan Strome picks a corner in traffic, sends seeing-eye puck past Caps’ Braden Holtby

    Islanders center Ryan Strome celebrates after scoring a second period goal against the Capitals in Game One of their first-round playoff series. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    New York Islanders center Ryan Strome was playing his first NHL playoff game Wednesday against the Washington Capitals – and the 21-year-old wasn’t showing any nerves when he scored his first career playoff goal (and the game-winner) on a sweet wrist shot in traffic that caught the upper corner of the Capitals’ net.

    Strome, who scored 17 goals and 50 points in his sophomore regular season, grabbed the puck off a faceoff won by Isles star John Tavares early in the second period in Washington, and wasted no time ripping it over Holtby’s right shoulder and just under the crossbar to make it 2-1 for the visitors: Read more

  • Corey Crawford makes big blunder, gives gift to Viktor Stalberg to put Predators ahead 2-0

    Jared Clinton
    Corey Crawford (John Russell/Getty Images)

    Heading into the post-season, the Chicago Blackhawks were struggling, but goaltender Corey Crawford was playing some of the best hockey of his career. Crawford is going to want to forget the first period of the opening game between his Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, however.

    With Nashville taking the play to Chicago early in the first and jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a Colin Wilson goal, the Predators added to their lead thanks to a massive misplay by Crawford. As the puck came around the boards into the Blackhawks’ zone, Crawford went out to play the puck but, due to the trapezoid that limits goaltenders ability to get involved in the play, he had to wait for the puck to arrive.

    When the puck met Crawford, he had it poked from his stick by Nashville winger Calle Jarnkrok. Predators’ winger Viktor Stalberg was waiting on the other side of the net, scooped up the puck and tucked it into the wide-open net. Check it out below: Read more

  • Canadiens’ P.K. Subban ejected after slashing Sens star Mark Stone – did the referees get it right?

    Carey Price and P.K. Subban (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

    You know that, no matter what else happens in every Stanley Cup tournament, there will always be at least one controversy related to NHL officiating. If it’s not a personal relationship between a referee and a particular player some fans and media focus on, it’s a debatable call that earns the ire of the public (and often, the team on the wrong end of the call). And it didn’t take very long at all for that officiating controversy to take place in the 2015 post-season: in the second period of Game 1 of Montreal’s first-round series against Ottawa Wednesday night, Canadiens star defenseman P.K. Subban was assessed a five-minute major penalty for slashing and a game misconduct.

    The ejection of Subban enraged Habs fans, especially after Sens phenom Mark Stone – who, after being slashed by Subban on the penalized play, writhed around in great pain and left the game – returned to action a few minutes later. But if you think Subban was wronged to be given so harsh a penalty, don’t blame the officials. Blame the league and its philosophy of basing punishments on injury and thus encouraging players to embellish.

    To be certain, Subban’s slash of Stone’s arm was (a) a two-hander; (b) vicious; and (c) could easily have caused serious damage to him: Read more