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2014 NHL Playoffs: San Jose Sharks push L.A. Kings to brink with 4-3 OT win

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By Allan Muir

Rallying from two disastrous efforts in San Jose, the Kings threw everything they had at the Sharks in Game 3 on Tuesday night.

It wasn’t enough.

San Jose’s Patrick Marleau ended a back-and-forth thriller at 6:20 of overtime with a harmless looking backhander that deflected off the stick of L.A. defenseman Slava Voynov and over the shoulder of goalie Jonathan Quick to seal a 4-3 win. The Sharks now have a 3-0 stranglehold on their best-of-seven series and could close out the 2012 Stanley Cup champions on Thursday night.

The Kings answered the bell early in this one, tightening a porous defense, amping up their physical game and getting strong performances from Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (a game-high 66.7 percent Corsi rating). But their inability to build on a pair of one-goal leads created by Carter and Jarret Stoll pushed them into sudden death. They had their chances there, too, pinning San Jose deep in its own zone and getting off the first five shots of the extra frame before Marleau administered the dagger that all but ends L.A.’s season.

Here are a few observations from this OT thriller, along with thoughts on what lies ahead in Game 4.

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Awards: Patrick Marleau among Lady Byng Trophy finalists

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    Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers

    Rangers mighty mite Martin St. Louis (26) is an eight-time Lady Byng nominee. (Kathy Willens/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    The NHL announced this morning that forwards Patrick Marleau, of the Sharks, Ryan O’Reilly, of the Avalanche, and Martin St. Louis, of the Rangers, are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

    The award is voted on by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.

    Here’s what the league had to say about the candidacy of each finalist:

    Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

    Marleau tallied his seventh 30-goal season in the past nine years, helping the Sharks reach the 100-point mark for the seventh time in that span. He ranked second on the Sharks in goals (33), was third in assists (37) and points (70), and led his club with 285 shots on goal, fifth-most in the NHL. He played in all 82 games and skated an average of 20:31 per contest but received only 18 penalty minutes. The 34-year-old Aneroid, Sask., native is a Lady Byng finalist for the second time, having finished third behind Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards in 2006.

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs injury update: Steven Stamkos to play; Wings’ Alfredsson out

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    Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning

    Only the loss of a limb would likely keep Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos out of Game 4 against Montreal. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    A couple of quick notes from today’s morning skates:

    In Montreal, where the Lightning are in a 3-0 series hole, Tampa Bay’s playoff survival rests squarely in the hands of backup goalie Anders Lindback:

    Coach Jon Cooper sounded encouraged about the progress that goalie Ben Bishop is making, but it sounds as though the series would have to be extended to a sixth or seventh game before there is any chance of seeing Bishop back in net.

    Lightning-Canadiens Game 4 preview

    While the Bolts will miss their big goalie, they will have their big gun in the lineup on Tuesday.

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2014
  • Top Line: Matt Cooke hit puts NHL discipline czar to test; more links

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    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • Mikael Granlund’s spectacular OT game-winner gave the Wild the result they deserved against the Avalanche.

    • Colorado is irate after defenseman Tyson Barrie was injured by a reckless hit from Matt Cooke. The league isn’t too happy, either. It scheduled an in-person meeting with Cooke for later on Tuesday, which suggests that he will be suspended for at least five games. It’s the latest incident in what’s been a trial by fire for new NHL disciplinarian Stephane Quintal.

    •  One thing to keep in mind when Quintal’s ruling comes down: Under the terms of the CBA, Cooke is not a repeat offender. Doesn’t quite seem right, does it?

    • Barrie’s injury was brutal, but the fractured leg suffered by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas was heartbreaking. You can’t help but feel for the hard-working veteran, who battled back from an injury to the same leg earlier this season. Here’s hoping he’s able to make a complete recovery during the summer.

    • If the Bruins are going to get past the Red Wings in their opening round series, Boston will have to do something it hasn’t done since 2007.

    • Reinforcements could be on the way for the Bruins.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 22, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs: Lightning gambled after Steven Stamkos kneed in head

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    By Allan Muir

    There was nothing nefarious about the head shot that Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos took in Game 3 against Montreal on Sunday night. It just happened that a battle for position with the Canadiens’ Brandon Prust ended with the Lightning captain being knocked to the ice directly in the path of Alexei Emelin. With no time to avoid a collision, the right skate of the Montreal defender slammed into the back of Stamkos’ head, leaving him on his knees, dazed.

    For the record, that’s not a trained medical opinion. I have no idea whether that hit left Stamkos shaken up, seeing stars, or straight out concussed. But it looked bad. Really bad.

    And so did what happened next, because it was so utterly predictable. After being attended to by the team’s trainer, Stamkos got to the bench under his own steam — barely, but he made it — and headed to “the quiet room” where, presumably, a team physician conducted a series of league-mandated tests to determine his condition.

    And then he was right back on the ice to start the third period.

    Again, there’s no telling how seriously Stamkos was shaken up on the play. The team wouldn’t even confirm that he had undergone concussion protocols, so maybe it really was nothing. But his own words are revealing.

    “I tried to shake it off,” Stamkos said. “Games like this, you don’t want to miss any time. I want to be out there as much as I can to help our team win.”

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  • Published On Apr 21, 2014
  • Top Line: NHL’s underrated postseason players; Penguins in danger; more links

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    Marcus Kruger of the Chicago Blackhawks is one of the NHL's most underrated postseason players.

    If the Blackhawks’ are to stage a comeback, they’ll need a spark from Marcus Kruger (16). (Charles Cherney/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • Nate Greenberg breaks out the charts and graphs to reveal the five most underrated players in the NHL playoffs.

    • Forget the complaints about Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang and Dan Bylsma. The Penguins can live with their occasional brain cramps. What they can’t survive without are premium efforts from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And Dejan Kovacevic says that Pittsburgh can’t wait much longer for their A-games to arrive.

    • Not that the Avalanche have missed him while Nathan MacKinnon has been running wild, but Matt Duchene is one step closer to returning to the Colorado lineup.

    • Speaking of MacKinnon, the Wild might try to Cooke the Colorado kid in Game 3.

    Will David Backes play in Game 3 against the Blackhawks? And if he can’t go, what will it mean to the Blues?

    • The Stars went 10-2-1 at home down the stretch. Now they need some more home cooking to stay alive.

    • The Sharks’ offensive outburst is the lead story of San Jose’s 7-2 win over the Kings, but the underlying theme was San Jose’s resilience in the face of an early 2-0 deficit.

    • The Red Wings might be able to outskate the Bruins, but they sure don’t measure up in scrums.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 21, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: Seven different Sharks score in Game 2 rout of Kings

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    Fourth-liner Raffi Torres turned out to be a catalyst for the Sharks' explosive attack. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    Fourth-liner Raffi Torres turned out to be a catalyst for the Sharks’ explosive attack. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Not to steal a rare moment in the sun from fourth-line winger Mike Brown, but the real first star of the Sharks’ stunning 7-2 win over the Kings wasn’t wearing teal.

    Brown may have scored the first of San Jose’s seven unanswered goals and led the assault with eight official hits, but the actual catalyst behind this jaw-dropping win was Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who made two decisions early in the second period that turned a 2-0 deficit into a franchise-record-tying rout.

    Sensing that his combinations needed some adjusting after a frustrating first period, he pulled Joe Pavelski off of Joe Thornton’s wing and slotted him on the third line between Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard. McLellan also recognized that his fourth line was firing on all cylinders and deserved a regular shift.

    Both calls paid quick dividends. Brown and Raffi Torres drew the Sharks even by the midway point of the period, setting the stage for Pavelski to help blow the game wide open with a goal and two assists in a four-goal third.

    No one should be surprised that San Jose now holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. After all, the home side has taken 18 of the last 19 meetings between these two teams. But the margins of the Sharks’ victories — they won 6-3 in Game 1 — might be more surprising than the Red Wedding. What was expected to be a tight defensive series has been turned upside down. San Jose has scored 13 goals in two games after scoring all of 10 against Los Angeles in a seven-game second-round loss last spring, and now stands poised to put the Kings on the ropes when the series resumes on Tuesday night in L.A.

    Whatever the line for that one is, take the over.

    Here are some quick observations on tonight’s game, as well as a couple of thoughts on what sets up to be a very important Game 3.

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  • Published On Apr 21, 2014
  • Top Line: Brent Seabrook ban coming; Wild look silly vs. whiz kid; more links

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    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • The St. Louis Blues got payback the smart way after a vicious cheap shot by Brent Seabrook left captain David Backes crumpled in the corner in the dying minutes of Game 2. Just a brain-dead play by the veteran defender … and not a real good look on Jonathan Toews, either. I expect a little more from him than to be seen chirping the obviously dazed Backes.

    • Honestly, we can’t be surprised at this point to hear that Seabrook will have a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety, meaning his suspension won’t top five games. If a hit as dangerous, as injurious and as blatantly offensive to common sense as that doesn’t merit a more serious response, it’s time to dismantle the department and start from scratch.

    • They’re even questioning the dirty, stupid play of the Blackhawks in Chicago after this one. What does that tell you?

    • It’s not often I get to link to the great Michael Enright in this column, but his essay on the complicity of the NHL in the build-up of hockey violence fits nicely today.

    • Nathan MacKinnon’s nickname is silly, but not as silly as he’s making the Wild look in his NHL playoff debut. Gotta hand it to this kid. The bigger the game, the better he plays.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 20, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: Nathan MacKinnon lifts Avs to 2-0 series lead over Wild

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    Nathan MacKinnon has given Avs fans plenty to cheer about with seven points through two games. (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Rookie Nathan MacKinnon has taken a liking to the playoffs in his first go-round. (Michael Martin/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Patrick Roy knows a bit about making a playoff impression at an early age.

    The coach of the Colorado Avalanche was just 20 when he stepped between the pipes and led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1986.

    But even he has to be amazed at what Nathan MacKinnon is doing to the Minnesota Wild.

    The 18-year-old sensation followed up a three-point performance in Game 1 with a record-setting four-point encore to lead the Avs to a 4-2 win over the Wild on Saturday night. The victory gives Colorado a commanding 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven series heads to Minnesota.

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  • Published On Apr 20, 2014
  • Top Line: Lucic spear defended; race an issue in Kane criticism; more links

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    Top Line: Milan Lucic spear defended; race factor in Evander Kane criticism; more links

    Corey Perry (10) and Jamie Benn (14) sparked one of Friday’s below-the-belt controversies. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • Jerard Fagerberg isn’t just a beer-league goalie. He’s also a moral gymnast, judging by his defense of Milan Lucic’s cup-check on Danny DeKeyser. Strictly for Bruins fans or those who enjoy spikes in their blood pressure.

    • It was one of those nights. Corey Perry gave Jamie Benn an equipment adjustment as well.

    • No word on whether Lucic or Perry will face league discipline for jabbing another man’s midsection, but we do know the NHL frowns on grabbing one’s own junk.

    • Adam Proteau says you’re being naive if you don’t think criticism hurled at Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and P.K. Subban is at least in part racially motivated. No one should be naive enough to assume it’s not a factor for at least some people, but that doesn’t mean it’s the prevailing influence. Still, it is a take worth reading. Read More…


  • Published On Apr 19, 2014


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