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from Jose de Jseus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If you struggled to recognize the Blues on Friday night, you’re not alone. Those may have been the same players who eliminated the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round, but they definitely weren’t the same team.
They were slower, a tad behind most of the night and completely missing in the first two periods against the Dallas Stars. By the time it was over, they were fortunate to have lost Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals by a mere 2-1 margin at American Airlines Center.
The Blues hardly resembled the team that beat the Blackhawks in a thrilling, seven-game classic in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
“They outplayed us,” captain David Backes said. “They deserved to win this one. We got to regroup and find our game and play for a full 60 the way we did in the first series and we’ll be just fine.
Watch the game highlights below...
And San Jose, which has suddenly become the hockey punditocracy’s popular choice for Stealth Team Nobody Wants To Play, had conquered a few more fence-sitters. True, the Sharks remain the most anomalous of playoff teams in that it has a hideous home/absurdly strong road record combo, but unless Nashville can find what abandoned it Friday night, the Sharks may create a little elbow-room in what has been a very Warrior-centric world.
-Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea where you can read more on the Sharks 5-2 win over the Hashville Predators.
Game highlights are below...
SHARKS MATCH FRANCHISE RECORD IN COMEBACK WIN
The Sharks scored five times in the third period, sparked by Joel Ward (1-1—2) who factored on each of San Jose’s first two goals as the club rallied to defeat Nashville in the opener of their Second Round series.
* The Sharks matched a franchise playoff record for goals in one period, achieving the feat for the first time on home ice. The only other time San Jose scored five goals in a single period during the postseason was in Game 3 of the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals at LAK, when they erased an early four-goal deficit with five markers in the second period of an eventual 6-5 overtime win.
* Ward, who played three seasons with Nashville from 2008-11, scored his first career goal against the club (10 GP, regular-season and playoffs). He compiled 40-58—98 in 230 career regular-season games with the Predators and added 9-8—17 in 18 playoff appearances.
* Logan Couture posted his third career multi-goal game in the playoffs and first since Game 3 of the 2013 Conference Quarterfinals vs. VAN (2-2—4). His first tally stood as his second game-winning goal of this postseason (also Game 2 at LAK).
NEW YORK (April 29, 2016) -- Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators are the three finalists for the 2015-16 James Norris Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2016 NHL Awards, hosted by actor Will Arnett, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, in alphabetical order:
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Do they really need another centre in Auston Matthews?
Do they need Matthews to saddle up with their other three young horses up the middle in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
They’d have to shop the No. 1 pick, right? Or would they take Matthews and try to move King Leon instead for a ready-made defenceman?
Teams are calling more on Draisaitl than Nugent-Hopkins because he’s bigger.
There are other draft scenarios in play, of course.
There are three separate lotteries Saturday and the Oilers could get the No. 2 pick or the No. 3 and still take the left-shooting right-winger Patrik Laine, who is like the Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne only bigger at No. 2, or fellow Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who is more like an all-round Jari Kurri type at No.3 and be perfectly happy to keep either of those choices because they can play immediately, and either could play with McDavid.
The Oilers are the one team that could take Laine first overall and play him with McDavid and still have Draisaitl at centre, but Matthews would get them that sorely needed defenceman in a trade.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The top two seeds in the Central Division get started tonight in Dallas, as the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues square off at 8 p.m. in Game 1. Here’s what to watch for as each team tries to get the early edge:
The Blues advanced in large part because they shut down Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as they eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. It doesn’t get any easier for St. Louis this round, as Stars captain Jamie Benn has been red-hot this postseason. Only the New York Islanders' John Tavares has more points in this postseason than Benn's 10. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he’ll look for every opportunity to get Benn on the ice in a favorable matchup with the series starting at home.
“I’ve got options,” Ruff said Friday morning. “I can drop him on a different line, not tipping my hand. There’s different places I can play him … whether that means more offensive zone starts, less defensive zone starts, double shifting, not following a rotation, a lot of different things. It’s something we’ve been doing since day one.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will attempt to get forward Alexander Steen on the ice as often as possible against Benn’s line.
from the Anaheim Ducks,
Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray discussed the dismissal of head coach Bruce Boudreau and the state of the franchise on Friday, April 29....
When did you first determine that this move had to be necessary?
I started worrying in Games 1 and 2. I started really worrying. We sort of rallied, although I didn’t think we played that well. I thought our goaltender played really good. And then we won three in a row. Game 6, we didn’t play well whatsoever. As I said, the right passion was there in Game 7.
It’s easier to replace a coach than it is to replace 20 guys, but when you look at your two best players – their performances in these Game 6s and 7s over the last three seasons, is it a matter of having to change the core in any way?
There are definite concerns in that area. The core has to be held responsible. They have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time.
What are you looking for in your next coach, and when would you like to have one in place?
I’m not in any hurry whatsoever. Yesterday, I met with the family. We had talked the night before after the game. I went down to San Diego, and I just decided, in fairness to Bruce, that this happen now.
"You'll find that he's not as quiet and introverted as maybe he leads on. He's the leader in our room, he's one of the funniest guys in our room, he's involved in a lot of the stuff that goes on in our room...He's a big part of our room. He truly is a natural leader, the way he plays and the way he acts, we're lucky to have a guy like him, and you can see him grow into it even more. You go out and win the scoring title and then follow it up where he finished second this year. I think he has the inner belief that he is one of the best top five players in the game. Whether people talk about it or not, we know it and he knows it, and I think that confidence kind of rubs off on everybody."
-Jason Spezza of the Dallas Stars on Jamie Benn. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has many quotes from the Dallas players before tonight's game agains the St. Louis Blues.
NEW YORK (April 29, 2016) – Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been fined $2,403.67, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during Game 1 of the teams’ Second Round series in Washington on Thursday, April 28, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
See the hit below if you missed it.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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