2014 NHL playoffs: It’s time for Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin to step up

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Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars

After a breakthrough season with Dallas, center Tyler Seguin has cooled in the playoffs. (Andrew Dieb/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

One of the most compelling hooks of the Ducks-Stars series that resumes tonight in Dallas (8 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN) is that it features four of the NHL’s top-eight scorers.

So far, three of them have shown up to play.

Ryan Getzlaf has given a good account of himself, just as you’d expect. He’s leading the Ducks in scoring with two goals and four points through the first three games. He’s established his physical presence at both ends of the ice. And he’s doing all that while battling through a gruesome (and surely painful) injury he picked up while blocking a slapper with his face in the frantic final moments Game 1.

Corey Perry? He leads Anaheim in both shots (11) and punches taken (about 400). That last stat is highly unofficial, but it’s a good indication of how involved he’s been in the series. The Stars’ D-men have turned the blue paint in front of goalie Kari Lehtonen into Central Park at midnight, mugging Perry every time he skates by, but he keeps coming back, wallet in hand. He’s paying the price.

And then there’s Jamie Benn, who is easily the most committed forward in this series. Dallas’ captain had never skated in the NHL postseason prior to last Thursday, but he’s playing like these are the games he’s been waiting for his whole life.

Beast-mode doesn’t begin to capture the impact that Benn has had. When the Stars were on their heels in Game 1, he antied up with a bone-jarring open-ice hit that set Getzlaf’s teeth on vibrate. In Game 2, he rocked Perry so hard that his Olympic linemate retaliated with a nasty spear to his lower midsection.

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Awards: MacKinnon, Palat, Johnson are Calder Trophy finalists

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    Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning

    Whiz kids Ondrej Palat (18) and Tyler Johnson (9) helped the Lightning salvage their season. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    The NHL announced this morning that forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, of the Lightning, and Nathan MacKinnon, of the Avalanche, are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.”

    Tampa Bay, swept out of the playoffs last night by the Canadiens, is the first club to boast multiple Calder finalists since the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively, in 2008. So the Bolts have got that going for them, which is nice.

    The winner will be announced on June 24.

    Here’s what the NHL had to say about this trio of fabulous freshmen:

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • Top Line: Brad Marchand trolls internet; Kings near breakup?; more links

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    By Allan Muir

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

    • The internet was not kind to Brad Marchand of the Bruins last night, accusing the demonstrative forward of faking an injury. He offered an amusing rebuttal.

    • It’s not over for the Red Wings after last night’s 3-0 loss to Boston, but it might as well be according to Eric Wilbur.

    • The core of the Kings has been together for half a decade, but the team’s struggles against the Sharks suggest that L.A. could be heading for a postseason breakup. If GM Dean Lombardi needs inspiration, he need look no further than across the ice. San Jose made a bold call to drop some of their thump in exchange for speed two years ago. Don’t think their GM, Doug Wilson, has spent a moment regretting that decision.

    They’re ready to string up Matt Cooke in Minnesota, which doesn’t bode well for his chances with the Department of Player Safety on Wednesday.

    • The Wild’s Darcy Kuemper earned a shutout in his first NHL playoff start. That deserves a song, right?

    • In a rare interview Matt Duchene hints that he could be close to returning to the lineup for the Colorado Avalanche.

    • A 2010 first rounder whose career was all but written off after a series of concussions could make his NHL debut tonight in Minnesota.

    • Worried that Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored yet against the Blue Jackets? Don’t be. Advanced stats suggest he’ll break out of his slump soon.

    Unless this changes for the Blackhawks, they’re going to have a hard time coming back in their series against the Blues.

    • Injury-riddled St. Louis could get a big boost ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 4.

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • 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 playoffs: Montreal Canadiens sweep Tampa Bay Lightning

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    By Sarah Kwak

    Max Pacioretty had been searching, scavenging for his opportunity all game long — well, no, it had been more like all week. Goalless for six-plus games, he was approaching his longest scoring drought of the season. While he watched Canadiens teammates Brendan Gallagher and Rene Bourque make their mark on this postseason series against the Lightning, Pacioretty waited patiently and stuck to his game. Though Montreal coach Michel Therrien encouraged him, praising the 25-year-old winger’s play, sometimes it’s hard to believe words when the numbers don’t follow.

    But finally, in the waning seconds of a 3-3 game, one in which Tampa Bay tried valiantly to avoid an embarrassing sweep, Pacioretty got his first playoff goal. On a late power play, he did the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He made the right plays to keep the puck moving in the zone, so when Thomas Vanek’s shot deflected in the slot and remained loose in front of Lightning goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, Pacioretty was right there to punch the puck in with 43 seconds remaining. The Bell Centre erupted. The Canadiens finished off Tampa Bay with a 4-3 victory.

    That’s a balayage pour les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

    Here are some observations from Game 4:

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2014
  • Matt Cooke suspended with long rap sheet of NHL suspensions and dirty hits

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    By John Rolfe

    Try as he might to live down his hard-earned reputation as the NHL’s dirtiest and most dangerous player, Matt Cooke can’t seem to escape the long shadow of suspicion. That becomes an increasingly difficult task when he continues to deliver potentially catastrophic hits like the knee-on-knee shot (one of the most common weapons in his dark arsenal) that will sideline Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie for four to six weeks. Cooke’s misdeed in Game 3 of Minnesota’s first round series against Colorado on Monday night moved the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to summon the Wild forward for a little face-to-face in New York City on Wednesday. Cooke, who had drawn praise and even defenders for supposedly reforming his ugly game, had managed to stay out of the hoosegow, so to speak, since March 2011, but an in-person hearing usually heralds a stretch of more than five games. And sure enough, he got seven.

    It wasn’t the longest suspension of his checkered (black and blue) career, but should it have been?

    Cooke’s rap sheet — which is as long as your proverbial arm — couldn’t be ignored. The NHL was allowed to consider him a “repeat offender” under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining agreement, which scrubs a player’s record every 18 months only with regard to how much pay he’ll forfeit.

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  • Published On Apr 22, 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.

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: Corey Crawford leads the Blackhawks back to basics

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    Corey Crawford regained his form and the Blackhawks followed suit. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    On home ice, Corey Crawford regained his form and the Blackhawks followed suit. (Bill Smith/Getty Images)

    By Brian Hamilton

    CHICAGO – A goaltender’s mind can be a delicate and peculiar thing, so Joel Quenneville typically stays out of it. The Blackhawks’ coach may have two Stanley Cups to his credit, but others on his staff are better equipped and better trained to maneuver through that mental labyrinth. On Sunday, though, it was time for him to meet with Corey Crawford. Twice the defending Stanley Cup champions had held last-minute, one-goal leads in St. Louis during their opening round playoff series. Each time, Chicago had lost the lead and subsequently the game.

    After the second frustrating defeat, Crawford said he needed to play better.

    And after Crawford made that admission, Quenneville flatly agreed. His words were an unmistakable challenge that brought him face-to-face with his netminder the next day. But there was no ultimatum, no red-faced diatribe. There was only reassurance. Quenneville told Crawford that he recognized the goalie was taking responsibility and commended him for it. Down two games to none on Easter, it was time to focus on resurrection.

    “The task at hand was pretty obvious,” Crawford said. “And the performance we needed was obvious, too.”

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  • Published On Apr 22, 2014


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