Wed Jun 19 02:00pm EDT
BOSTON – Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won 24 of the 28 faceoffs he took against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. NBC Sports analyst Eddie Olczyk, who took his share of draws in a 16-year NHL career, likened it to watching a pitching machine in batting practice – that’s how automatic Bergeron was all night.
He’s considered the best faceoff man in the NHL, leading the League in playoff faceoff percentage at 62.7 percent, an improvement on the 62.1 percent mark he had in leading all faceoff men in the regular season.
So why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“You should ask him. I’m not going to give anything away,” said center David Krejci.
But why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“He wins’em,” quipped Chris Kelly of the Bruins.
No, seriously: Why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“He does everything. It’s not just one thing,” said Kelly, who faces Bergeron in practice with the other Bruins centers.
“A lot of guys have a go-to move and he can read it your tendencies. Bergy switches it up. Very creative in the circle. He finds ways to win draws. It’s not just one thing.”
Like Pavel Datsyuk stickhandling, Bergeron has a bag of tricks in the faceoff circle and can beat you in several different ways.
Wed Jun 19 01:36pm EDT
It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Stars: Jesse Spector from Sporting News joins Wysh live from Boston as Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is hours away.
• What the Bruins and Blackhawks were saying before Game 4.
•Pass/Fail on the contracts for Datsyuk, Streit, Couture and Voynov.
• The Avs claim they're passing on Seth Jones.
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Wed Jun 19 12:47pm EDT
BOSTON – The way the Boston Bruins have quieted the Chicago Blackhawks’ offense is reminiscent of what they did in the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the other top stars for the Penguins went pointless in the four-game sweep. Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and Sharp are going through a similar drought.
The Boston Bruins experience, as the Rangers and Penguins discovered, isn’t a fun one. It’s the limiting of time and space and the layer upon layer of defensive pressure at all times. Chicago’s stars can’t shine because the Bruins are smothering them.
Still, for as much as Boston’s been controlling at times in this series, all it takes is a fortunate bounce to get the wheel turning the other way. The Blackhawks’ power play could wake up. Their stars could get going. The Bruins’ third line can quiet down. Corey Crawford could return the favor and shutout Boston in Game 4.
This is why the mood in the Blackhawks’ room was one of confidence, not urgency.
Wed Jun 19 11:32am EDT
Let us juxtapose what's going on right now on the bluelines of Pennsylvania.
In Philadelphia, the Flyers are so desperate for a puck-moving defenceman -- and so determined not to come out of this offseason without one -- that they've traded for the rights to a 35-year-old Mark Streit and are only a buyout (or two) away from signing him to a guaranteed contract worth $21 million over the next four seasons. That's a cap hit of $5.25 million, and one they won't be able to buy their way out of due to Streit's age. But they're willing to do it because they're desperate for someone with Streit's skillset.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, General Manager Ray Shero has reportedly decided he's willing to pay Kris Letang, 26, and fresh off his first Norris nomination, no more than $6 million per year -- less than a million more than Streit is in line to receive. What's more, because Letang can probably get more than that and Shero's well aware, the Penguins' GM is strongly considering trading him instead.
According to Rob Rossi, while Shero's been aggressive on his extensions so far this season, re-upping his entire coaching staff, inking Evgeni Malkin to a huge new deal, and even beginning talks with winger Pascal Dupuis, Letang's agent has yet to field a call from the Pittsburgh GM. From TribLive:
That is no accident.
Shero is fairly confident Letang has become a must-move player.
That is true because Letang is not the consensus best defenseman on the Penguins, at least in the eyes of management and coaches.
That is true because the Penguins are deepest on defense among top prospects, including a couple of first-round picks from last summer (Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta).
It would be absolutely stunning to watch one Pennsylvania team sign Mark Streit to that contract while the other is deeming Kris Letang expendable.
There's some sense in it from Shero's end, however.
Wed Jun 19 10:44am EDT
The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of things – history, popularity, the best jersey in hockey and at least one awesomely awkward blonde mullet.
But do they have a hip-hop anthem that sounds like Drake reading from an official game program? THEY DO NOW!
That’s Young Regime and his superfriends Windy City Beast and Tiggy-G, rapping on “Stanley Cup Swagger.” Sample prose:
“Stanley Cup swagger/You can tell by how we walk.”
“This team is all we talk about/Chicago Blackhawks.”
A few observations:
• The sleeveless Jonathan Toews shirsy needs to die spectacularly in a fire.
• We’re fond of this lyric: “My smile way too perfect/Duncan Keith can have my teeth.” But then again we're suckers for name-checks.
• We’re just going to pretend the AMP energy drink is a ’40’ of Steel Reserve.
• Oh man, the Chelsea Dagger break. The CHELSEA DAGGER BREAK …
Well, there it is: The hip-hop anthem for the Blackhawks no one was asking for, but that’s been handed to us by Young Regime. What say you?
Pass or Fail: Young Regime’s Stanley Cup Swagger featuring Windy City Beast & Tiggy-G
Wed Jun 19 10:11am EDT
BOSTON -- Wade Redden walked into the Boston Bruins' locker room after their morning skate on Monday and ran into top prospects Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Darnell Nurse. The four were at TD Garden for a media availability ahead of the NHL Draft later this month and were hanging around the Bruins' locker room when Redden stopped, still in his gear, to chat them up.
It was 18 years ago that the 36-year old Redden was one of those prospects inside Joe Louis Arena during the 1995 Stanley Cup Final doing the same thing: meeting NHL players, talking to the media and hoping one day he'd be where he is today: in the NHL, having a chance to win a ring.
One year ago, that hope didn't seem like it would ever materialize again for Redden, who watched the Kings-Devils final after completing his second season with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. Redden and his $6.5 million salary were demoted in a salary cap-saving move by the New York Rangers before the 2010-11 season. He didn't complain. He didn't request a trade. He just came to the rink every day and played, but kept the hope that one day he would be back in the NHL.
"I think that's what I had in my head to motivate and push [me]," said Redden. "I knew I could come back and I wanted to get an opportunity. I don't think I ever would have predicted it, but definitely that's what you want to have in your mind."
"I went down to Hartford and had a positive experience there. I enjoyed the game down there, even though it was a tough situation. Once I got over that, I tried to approach the game the way I always have. And that's the way I've got to keep doing it."
Wed Jun 19 08:52am EDT
When the Colorado Avalanche won the draft lottery and the right to select defenceman Seth Jones -- the top-ranked prospect, according to central scouting -- most had the immediate sense that this was probably what they would do.
After all, the Avs got six goals from their blueline in 2013, and only one defenceman, Tyson Barrie, scored more than one (he scored two). A franchise defenceman -- say, a Seth Jones type, not unlike, I don't know, Seth Jones -- would do them a lot of good.
But they won't be drafting Seth Jones. According to Executive VP of Hockey Operations (and sort-of GM) Joe Sakic, the Avalanche will likely be drafting one of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, or Alexander Barkov.
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Sakic told the Denver Post, adding, "We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."
Well. I'm having a hard time with this.
Tue Jun 18 04:45pm EDT
The Los Angeles Kings announced Tuesday that they've locked up defenceman Slava Voynov for the next six seasons.
It's a deal worth $25 million over six years, which is great value for the Russian blueliner, especially when it was speculated back in late May that the extension might come in closer to $5 million a year. Voynov's great playoffs certainly had the look of an extension-inflating run.
Instead, the Kings have Voynov for $4.16 million per year.
The Kings, on what Voynov gave them this season:
Voynov, 23, shared the Kings postseason leadership in both goals (six) and total points (13), and he also co-led the Kings in plus-minus rating (plus-9) while appearing in all 18 postseason games for the Kings during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 6-0, 190-pounder from Chelyabinsk, Russia also established new Kings playoff records for most goals scored by a defenseman in one playoff year (six), and most game-winning goals scored in one playoff year (four), while finishing third on the team in average time-on-ice per playoff game (21:54).
Voynov skated in all 48 games with the Kings during the 2012-13 regular season, totaling new career highs for points (25) and assists (19), and two of Voynov’s six regular season goals served as game-winners (tied for sixth among NHL defensemen). He also hit a career milestone by appearing in his 100th career NHL regular season game at Minnesota on April 23.
Voynov's deal is only slightly more than Roman Josi received from Nashville, and for one year fewer. Voynov certainly seems like a more complete defenceman than Josi, so this is a favourable comparable for LA.
Even more favourable: it's still a smaller cap hit than Jack Johnson, who Voynov rendered expendable late in the 2011-12 season.
If there's a concern at all here, it's on term. Voynov and Drew Doughty's contracts now expire at the same time. That should be a fun year.
Tue Jun 18 03:55pm EDT
Thanks to Daniel Paille's overtime goal, the majority of Chicago Blackhawks fans at the Saturday night's Game 2 left the United Center in a sour mood. But not so for the family of Sergeant Dale Dick.
Sgt. Dick had been away on deployment with the National Guard in Afghanistan for nine months, and nothing could spoil the evening for his wife and two children after they were surprised to see him standing next to Jim Cornelison during the national anthem.
What followed, as you can imagine, was a tearful and emotional reunion in the concourse:
Like many soldiers returning home from deployment, Sgt. Dick wanted to make the moment extra special for his family, so he reached out to the Blackhawks to see if they could make it happen. They did. His wife and children were called and invited to the game without being told what was in store for them.
Making the moment even more special: just before leaving for the Middle East, Sgt. Dick and his wife conceived a son. Saturday night marked the first time that he got to hold his newest child.
Appropriately, Father's Day was Sunday.
Tue Jun 18 03:18pm EDT
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Credit to Getty Images photographer Harry How for this incredible picture of Tuukka Rask, who looks about as heavenly here as he's been playing through the first three games of the Final.
• Doc Emrick's terms for "pass" get the Daft Punk treatment. This is incredible. [Deadspin]
• "Before this Stanley Cup Final is over, the Bruins will be our Boys of Summer — on skates. And at this hour they are a feel-good team on a par with the 1967 Red Sox, the 1970 Bruins, and the 2001-02 Patriots." [Boston Globe]
• Justin Bourne wasn't a big fan of how Jonathan Toews was used last night. "It’s pretty clear in hindsight that the idea was to trade Toews’ minutes as a wash versus Chara’s (anything gained is a bonus), and leave the rest of the talent to try to beat the Bruins. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong." [Backhand Shelf]
• Tim Hunter is unlikely to return as an assistant coach for the Washington Capitals. He's been given permission to seek employment elsewhere. [Washington Post]
• The Calgary Flames acquire prospect Corban Knight from the Florida Panthers. [Flames]
• If you're wondering how Martin St. Louis can be so effective at 38 years old, consider the dude's commitment to fitness: he started his offseason workout plan back in May after taking just two weeks off. [Tampa Bay Times]
• The New York Islanders are in the mix for Jonathan Bernier. [Newsday]
• Nine guys that might be paid to go away next month. [Last Word on Sports]
• Speaking of buyouts, Dany Heatley's injury troubles may make him ineligible for one.[Star Tribune]
• Is the branding for the AHL's Utica Comets too derivative of their parent club? I think it is. I'm not a fan of AHL teams looking like the baby version of another club. [PITB]