Puck Daddy - NHL

  • Torey Krug probably thought he was safe.

    His employer, the Boston Bruins, were an Eastern Conference team. His childhood idols, the Detroit Red Wings, were a Western Conference team. The only time that odd collision of NHL career and hockey fandom would occur was in the Stanley Cup Final.

    And then realignment happened.

    And then the Red Wings finished in the last wild card slot, and the Bruins finished with the conference’s best record, and the Livonia native and Michigan State product was suddenly preparing for a playoff date with the Red Wings.

    He was familiar with them, of course, having carried a broom around town as a kid when the Red Wings were on the verge of a sweep.

    “My favorite on ice memory was Steve Yzerman’s overtime goal against St. Louis in 1996. That was a pretty special moment. Just how it brought the city together, the community,” recalled Krug to the Detroit News, which is pretty impressive considering he was around five years old at the time.

    He was an Yzerman guy and a Lidstrom guy when he was younger. Before he had to expunge such admirations from his mind, he was a Pavel Datsyuk fan.

    "It's just his creativity. He makes himself special; obviously when you watch him on the ice, he's a special player," Krug told Mass Live in January. "They say he's magic out there; he can do a lot of things with the puck that no one else can do. I think it's the creativity side that gets me excited about it. You try to always open your eyes to something new in the hockey world, and he's a guy who does that."

    But love of the Winged Wheel takes a back seat to dedication to the Spoked-‘B’ these days for Krug.

    “It’s exciting to play in that building (Joe Louis Arena) during the playoffs, and you understand the tradition that’s going on, but I’m focused on the Boston Bruins organization and excited about the opportunity,” Krug told the Detroit News.

    Sure, whatever you say, sleeper agent. You know, the H.Y.D.R.A. logo is an octopus, too …

  • Beginning next week, a unique piece of sports memorabilia will hit the auction block. Mark Pavelich, a forward on the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team, is selling his gold medal via Heritage Auctions.

    The auction will run through mid-May and likely sell for a couple hundred thousand dollars, if the price of the only other “Miracle” gold medal to be sold is any indication.

    In 2010, the gold medal of defenseman Mark Wells, who previously sold it to a private collector, sold his  through Heritage Auctions for $310,700. Now, his teammate on that legendary hockey team is doing the same with family reasons in mind. 

    “I’m doing a lot for my daughter here,” Pavelich said by phone on Wednesday. “I want her to get a step forward in life. That’s probably the biggest reason.” 

    It’s not the first time Pavelich is selling something from those memorable Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York. He gave the jerseys he wore during that tournament to his nephews. One sold the jersey from the “Miracle” game against the Soviet Union at auction last year for over $130,000.  

    Pavelich said he has some other items from his hockey career that he may auction off in the future, but ones from his NHL days he said he’s going to keep. “I don’t think I’ll part with any Rangers stuff.”

    Two years ago, Pavelich’s “Miracle” teammate, Ken Morrow sold his jersey from Soviet Union game for over $104,000 as part of planning for he and his family’s future. The decision was an easy one in a way. He said that if he wasn’t taking the jersey out for a charity or school function, it was sitting on a hanger in his closet.  

    Pavelich’s decision to part with the medal was a similar one.

    “The only thing is you’re limited to what you can do with these things,” he said. “You keep it in a vault in the bank somewhere and you take it out once in a while and you look at it and you put it back in. You can’t put them in a house because it could burn or get stolen and it’s just gone and useless. It’s just an impractical thing.  

    “You can’t say that you never did win a medal just because you don’t have it anymore. You always can say that you got it.”

    - - - - - - -

    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • 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.

    • Fun with Google translations. [Expressen]

    • Steve Mason took shots Friday morning and said his goal is to start Game 2 vs. the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. [Philly Inquirer]

    • Brad Richards was talked about as being a potential buyout for the Rangers last summer. He came up big in Game 1. [Bleacher Report]

    • In praise of Steven Stamkos's "subtle genius." [National Post]

    • Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said that Ondrej Palat is probably not going to play in Game 2 as he deals with an upper-body injury. [Tampa Tribune]

    • This alleged prototype would have made for an interesting Lightning jersey. [Icethetics]

    • After Joel Quenneville's, uh, grabbing of himself while arguing a call Thursday night, the NHL is reviewing the situation and a fine could be handed down. [CSN Chicago]

    • With Barry Trotz now gone from Nashville, will the Predators be replacing goaltending coach Mitch Korn anytime soon? [Tennessean]

    • If he had the chance to, Patrick Roy would probably pull his goalie in the first period. He's certainly not shy about making the move earlier than the norm. [SB Nation]

    • It sounds like the New York Islanders will be keeping their first pick this year and giving the Buffalo Sabres their no. 1 in 2015. [Islanders Point Blank]

    • Ben Scrivens, David Perron and Sean Monahan head up the first group of players committed to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships. [Globe and Mail]

    • A former junior goaltender of Patrick Roy's wasn't too happy with his coaching. “He never tried to help me. By far one of the worst people I’ve ever met.” [Buzzing the Net]

    • Patrick Kane sure has matured over the years. [CBC]

    • Taking a deeper look at the Calgary Flames' one-goal games this season. [Flames Nation]

    • It's not too late to hop aboard an NHL team bandwagon for the playoffs. Here's a helpful guide to get you started. [The Active Stick]

    • Ranking Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys from worst to first. [Pensburgh]

    • Finally, via Les Satiriques, it's a Marc Bergevin dance party!

  • In 1993, the NHL named its first commissioner in Gary Bettman, a former general counsel and senior vice president for the NBA. Among the motivations for the move was to change the very image of the League to attract a young, hip American audience.

    And what better way to accomplish this than with a young, hip American commissioner, right?

    This original black and white photo from the archives of The Sporting News was auctioned and quickly sold on eBay for $22.99.

    And no, it’s not Michael Scott representing Dunder Mifflin at the 1993 NHL All-Star Game – it’s actually Gary Bettman!

    Pretty amazing that even on his first day in office, Bettman was already supporting a cap for the NHL …

    Here's hoping the winner of this incredible keepsake is able to get it autographed.

    By either Bob Goodenow or Chris Chelios, we mean …

    Puck Treasures looks to find those hidden hockey treasures from the past and present, and gives them their proper remembrance. Seen an interesting piece of hockey apparel? Send us an email at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.

  • (Ed. Note: With its new playoff format, the NHL is seeking to create passion for fans and teams through forced, bracketed relationships. But hey, at first glance, the matchups are pretty sexy. All of this led to one ideal theme for our 2014 Playoff Preview: Tinder, the social media dating app. We hope you swipe right this postseason ...)

    The Boston Bruins had an Eastern Conference playoff spot wrapped up quite early in the season. Having been on cruise control for much of the final half of the regular season, the Bruins were able to give players rest and prepare them for what they hope is another long run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

    After a few scary moments and some doubts, the Detroit Red Wings extended their extraordinary playoff streak to 23 years. This was all done with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk playing only 45 games and the team as a whole finishing second overall in the NHL with 417 man-games lost to injury.

    They’re not fully healthy, but they’re getting there. Can the Red Wings force a first round upset?

    Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

    April 18: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m. ET.
    April 20: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins, 3 p.m. ET.
    April 22: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET.
    April 24: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, 8 p.m. ET.
    April 26: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins, 3 p.m. ET*
    April 28: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, TBA*
    April 30: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins, TBA*
    *if necessary

    FORWARDS

    Good balanced scoring has been the recipe of the Bruins’ recent success. That continued in 2013-14 with nine players recording 40 or more points and five with 20-plus goals. Boston was one three teams to finish with an average of three-plus goals for per game (3.15). They take a lot of shots (2613), so they’re going to score a ton as well. 

    The top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla combined for 73 goals, with Iggy — this year’s Old Guy Everyone Will Root For To Win The Cup — leading the way with 30. Behind Krejci down the middle is likely Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, who posted his best offensive season in some time with 30 goals and 62 points. He was also third in the NHL in the face-off circle winning 58.6-percent of his draws.

    The reason why the Bruins have been so successful is their secondary scoring. Brad Marchand (25 goals) and newcomers Loui Eriksson (37 points) and Reilly Smith (20 goals, 51 points) will be relied upon to contribute. After playing only two games last spring, Carl Soderberg (48 points) is expected to step up as well.

    Also, what kind of contributions can the “Merlot Line” of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille bring after last year?

    Henrik Zetterberg likely won’t play in Round 1, but could return to the Red Wings should they upset the Bruins. Pavel Datsyuk is back and should be close to his normal self once the series kicks off Friday. Detroit’s overcome an array of injuries this season, so any turbulence experienced against Boston shouldn’t be an obstacle for them.

    Despite the losses of their two top stars, the Red Wings did see others step up in their absence. Nyquist was the big story, with his month of March vaulting him up the team scoring lead (48 points) finishing one point behind Daniel Alfredsson (18 goals, 49 points). He was also Detroit’s only 20-goal scorer (28), but the likes of Tomas Tatar (19), Johan Franzen (16) and Darren Helm (12) helped carry the load. 

    Free agent acquisition Stephen Weiss was limited to only 26 games, so GM Ken Holland went out and traded for David Legwand to help their depth and add some secondary scoring.

    From there, Babcock will rely on kids Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco to contribute.

    Advantage: Bruins.

    DEFENSE

    The Bruins were struck a blow when they lost Dennis Seidenberg to a torn ACL. Even without him, Boston finished with the second fewest goals allowed in the NHL, averaging 2.08 goals per game because they still have Zdeno Chara. The 37-year old scored 17 goals and posted 40 points. He was also a heavy driver of possession and relied upon for defensive zone starts.

    Helping Chara from the back offensively was Torey Krug, who came on the scene a year ago in the playoffs. His 40 points tied Chara for the most among Bruins defensemen and his 19 power play points were best from the back. Also, Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk had strong possession numbers, while combining for 12 goals and 48 points.

    While injuries hit their forward group hard, the Red Wings defense fared a tad better in the health department. It all begins with Niklas Kronwall, who saw 25 of his 49 points come via the power play and led the team in ice time averaging 24:18 per game. He’ll be paired with Brendan Smith (53.9-percent Corsi rating) with Jonathan Ericsson sidelined after finger surgery.

    Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey will handle a load matching up with one of Boston’s top lines. Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff will head up the third pairing. Quincey, Lashoff and DeKeyser will also play roles on the penalty kill, which will have its hands full trying to move Chara from out in front of Jimmy Howard.

    Advantage: Bruins.

    GOALTENDING

    Tuukka Rask will more than likely be one of the three Vezina Trophy finalists after posting seven shutouts and finishing with a .941 even strength save percentage. After last season’s deep run and representing Finland in the Olympic Games, Rask was given plenty of time to rest during the regular season, thanks to the emergence of Chad Johnson as a solid no. 2. 

    Along with many of his teammates, Jimmy Howard fought through several injuries this season. But when he Red Wings need him down the stretch to squeeze into one of the East’s wild card spots, he came through winning seven of his last 11 starts. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a team that finished with the fifth-most shots for in the NHL.

    Advantage: Bruins.

    HOTNESS

    The Bruins were well in control of their playoff destiny for weeks, so giving guys a rest meant a 5-3-2 finish to the season.

    Detroit has been playing playoff hockey for weeks just to get in and finished strong with a 6-3-1 record, extending their streak to 23 years.

    Advantage: Red Wings.

    COACHES

    After coming close to forcing a Game 7 in last year’s Stanley Cup Final, Claude Julien and his charges fought off a hangover and cruised to the Eastern Conference regular season title and the Presidents’ Trophy. A number of his players have been under his leadership since their 2011 Cup conquest. They know what to expect and Julien knows exactly what buttons to push to get the most out of them.

    Mike Babcock faced his toughest test this season dealing with an onslaught of injuries that ravaged the Red Wings’ lineup all while threatening their playoff streak. They fought off the choppy waters and clinched a wild car spot, just as the trainer’s room begins to get less and less crowded. Like Julien, Babcock has a Cup ring and knows just how arduous the journey is through four rounds of playoff hockey.

    Advantage: Even.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Jimmy Howard will have a fun time trying to see the puck while shorthanded with Zdeno Chara blocking his view. The Bruins’ captain led the team with 10 power play goals this season and helped them to finish third overall in power play success at 21.7-percent.

    Missing some of their top offensive players throughout the season helped see the Red Wings’ power play drop a bit to a 17.7-percent success rate. Despite playing only 45 games apiece, Zetterberg and Datsyuk combined for 29 power play points, something that will only improve once both are fully healthy.

    The penalty kills are similar, with the Bruins holding a 0.6-percent advantage (83.6-percent vs. 83-percent), but Boston did score nine shorthanded goals, with Brad Marchand potting five.

    Advantage: Bruins.

    SERIES SLOW JAM

    "Thinking About You", by Frank Ocean

    Very topical, with its central line of "Or do you not think so far ahead?" The Bruins shouldn't overlook their first-round opponents.

    Players to watch.

    SWIPE LEFT ON... Brad Marchand. The “Noseface Killah” had another strong regular season, but we’re still waiting for him to regain his scoring touch from the 2011 Cup run. Over the last two postseasons, Marchand has scored only 5 times in 29 games.

    SWIPE RIGHT ON... Gustav Nyquist. At some point, Nyquist is going to fall back down to Earth hard. It may have started with him going goalless in Detroit’s final six games, but if he can get on another streak, well… we saw what that did for the Red Wings in March.

    PREDICTION

    Goaltending and defense is what helps you win playoff series and Stanley Cups. The Bruins have that over the Red Wings in this series. Trying to beat a rested Tuukka Rask and exploiting Zdeno Chara in an early round match-up will be too tough for Detroit to overcome. But this Red Wings team has met every challenged faced this season, so it won’t be an easy ride to the second round for Boston.

    Bruins in six.

  • Guys get hurt in hockey. Obviously.

    It's a tough sport and like the National Football League the injury rate in the NHL has to be pretty damn close to 100 percent. Even if you play all 82, you don't get through a whole season of checks and blocked shots and slashes and errant high sticks and crashing into the boards without picking up a knock or two along the way.

    It happens. A lot.

    But it seems that this year, it happens far more often than it should, at least in terms of impacting guys who are — or were — going to be able to make a big difference for their teams in these playoffs. There are a number of “name” players who are going to miss all or at least part of their teams' early playoff runs, and some more who are straight-up done for the year.

    The St. Louis Blues were never a particularly great team, for example, but they're also not the catastrophic failure of the last few weeks. Missing guys like TJ Oshie and David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko and Vladimir Sobotka, and, yes, even Brenden Morrow, is going to hurt a team's chances to compete. Some of those guys were ready for Game 1, others were not, and the result was that St. Louis's bottom six looked really ugly on paper. You looked at the line chart and said, “Who are these guys?” By my count, a little more than three dozen guys from the 16 teams in these playoffs are questionable, doubtful, or ruled out with various injuries. And it's too bad.

    Part of the reason this is bad for hockey is that you want to see the best players play. The Blues without Backes or Oshie, for example, are a shadow of themselves, and therefore barely worth watching. No one pays money or tunes in on television to see Jaden Schwartz, good young player though he may be, get significant minutes. Not that the Blackhawks would be unhappy with that turn of events, of course, since that kind of lineup is what led the Blues to get decked for two straight 3-0 losses in Games Nos. 81 and 82.

    It's not just the Blues. The Bruins' defense is makeshift and reliant on a number of guys who wouldn't normally be trusted to play in games of this gravity. The Penguins' already-thin third and fourth lines have to make do. The Avs are without Matt Duchene. Henrik Zetterberg will only play in this postseason if the Red Wings advance. Columbus is without Nathan Horton, New York sans Chris Kreider, Dallas missing Rich Peverley. The Wild are on their third-string goalie, the Lightning are absent a potential Vezina candidate, and the Flyers are resorting to Ray Emery. The list goes on and on.

    The other problem with this is that having all those players out missing makes for convenient excuses when teams lose. Not that anyone will ever outright say the absence of Zetterberg, for example, was what led the Bruins to crush the Red Wings in this first round — and believe me, they're going to — but there will be a lot of “what if” scenarios thrown around. Steve Mason's inability to play all of this first-round series against the Rangers will 100 percent become a storyline if the Flyers falter early, even if Emery's goaltending isn't the problem in and of itself. The Wild aren't a very good team, but if they had their real goalies instead of Ilya Bryzgalov and John Curry, etc. etc. etc.

    But the bigger problem with these playoffs, and this too is unavoidable, is how awful the format is, and how painfully clear the gimmick behind it was. The NHL spent the last several days making sure that everyone knew they could fill out their playoff brackets and isn't it so much fun to fill out your playoff brackets and you only have a few hours left to fill out your playoff brackets before you won't be able to fill out your playoff brackets any more.

    Would you like to see how some “celebs” (and when you're counting the Minnesota Wild's color analyst among them, you're stretching the definition of the word “celebrity” to its logical breaking point) filled out their playoff brackets?

    And yeah I guess having the ability to fill out a bracket is a thing some sports fans (see also: Not necessarily hockey fans) like, but in no longer re-seeding after each round, and committing to this ludicrous divisional playoff format, the league all but insured that there's likely to be some bad teams still playing while good ones are told to pack their things and hit the golf course. The only place you're going to get a strong case in point is out west, because there are a maximum of two or perhaps three good teams in the Eastern Conference, and only Boston is the clear favorite.

    Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the fact that Los Angeles and San Jose have to play each other in the first round is absolutely ludicrous.

    These are two of the four best teams in the league, and it's not like this is one of those situations like two years ago, in which the Kings underperformed for most of the season and stormed into the playoffs as an unbeatable No. 8 seed. It just so happens that the two best teams in the Western Conference got a little bit unlucky and did not finish ahead of the Ducks, who got an extraordinarily large number of favorable bounces for most of the season. That first-round Sharks/Kings series is going to be a war, and whoever limps out of it is going to be in tough. Meanwhile, in the other first-round matchup, one of the two teams which are demonstrably the worst (Minnesota and Colorado) are guaranteed a trip to the next round while the moribund Blues and reigning champion Blackhawks duke it out.

    This is a system that essentially assures the best teams will not play each other in the most meaningful games, which is counterintuitive to what we think of the playoffs as being, in general. It's no longer the Great Arbiter which separates out the great teams from the merely good ones.

    By this definition, the Wild or Avalanche teams which advance to the second round will have been better than the Sharks or Kings, which is a ludicrous thing to think about.

    Failure to advance out of the first round is a thing that often gets coaches fired if their teams had greater aspirations than that, and therefore anyone who, a few years from now, points to Mike Yeo or Patrick Roy's coaching record and says, “Well he got the team out of the first round, so...” as a means of defending him — and you know it'll happen; people in Toronto defend Randy Carlyle's awful coaching job with “He won a Stanley Cup” nearly a decade on — then all will have been rendered critically devalued.

    The league can't avoid injuries to anyone, even top-level players, and if they occasionally pile up like this, well that's just part of the bargain. But it could very easily have avoided this awful postseason system, which remains impossible to succinctly explain, by the way, and ensured that the Stanley Cup Playoffs were as good as they possibly could be.

    Instead it didn't, and the competition over the next few weeks will be poorer for it.

    Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

  • The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues both won their Game 1s in overtime on Thursday night. Both games had moments in which skaters arguably saved their respective teams’ bacon by preventing goals. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

    Here’s defenseman Erik Johnson of the Avs, skating back and swiping away a Minnesota Wild clearing attempt from his team’s empty net with the Wild up 4-3.

    Now, was the puck rolling wide? Would it have hit the post? Perhaps. If it had gone in, would Paul Stastny been able to play the hero moments later in Game 1? Absolutely not.

    Solid hustle play from Johnson. And apologies to all of you U.S. women’s hockey fans that are currently experiencing PSTSD (Post-Sochi Traumatic Stress Disorder) while watching that rolling puck.

    Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Lapierre was the best goalie on the ice for the Blues:

    That’s a beauty of a save by Lapierre, preventing an overtime goal from Kris Versteeg. Although we suspect Versteeg would have hit Miller with the puck had he not seen an opportunity to rifle rubber at Lapierre. You don’t pass up those chances.

    So who wore it better? Johnson or Lapierre?

  • No. 1 Star: Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche

    Stastny is one of the few Avs players that actually has playoff experience. The vet tied the score with 14-seconds left, and won the game just 7:27 into overtime. Both of Stastny's goals and a Ryan O'Reilly goal, were all setup by Nathan MacKinnon playing in his first NHL playoff game. Impressive 5-4 (OT) come from behind victory for the Colorado kids.

    No. 2 Star: Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues

    Jaden Schwartz tied the game at 3-3 with 1:45 remaining. Unlike the Colorado game, the winning goal would come much, much later. 24-seconds in to the THIRD overtime, Steen sent the game winner past Corey Crawford. Blues beat the 'Hawks 4-3 (3OT)

    No. 3 Star: Brad Richards, New York Rangers

    What kind of idiot would healthy-scratch Richards during the playoffs? (Hint: that idiot is in Vancouver, for now.) Capitalizing on a high-sticking double-minor by Philadelphia's Jason Akenson, Richards scored what would go down as the game-winning goal on the on the first half of the power play. Derek Stepan's power play goal ended the second half of the penalty soon after. Both PPGs were set up by Martin St. Louis. Rangers went on to win, 4-1.

    Honorable mention: Rick Nash was credited with a team high seven shots-on-goal. There is a guy with an awesome name on the Rangers - Jesper Fast ... Jay Bouwmeester missed the entire second overtime with a stinger (?) from blocking a shot; he returned for the third OT ... Corey Crawford made 48 saves in the loss ... Nate Guenin credited with eight hits for Colorado. In addition to his goal and assist, Ryan O'Reilly had four takeaways ... San Jose Sharks were up 5-0 on the Kings after two periods; LA scored three in the third before SJ iced it with an empty-netter, 6-3 ... Anze Kopitar was credited with the team-high nine (9!! Kopi!!) hits, Dustin Brown and Robyn Regehr tied for second with eight.

    Did you know? Hitting the three overtime mark set a new Blues franchise record for longest game.

    Dishonorable mention: Philly had only 15 shots-on-goal. New York figured out the best way to beat Ray Emery is to get him moving laterally (see: Nashville/Ducks playoff series) ... Ryan Miller not goaltending when he should be ... Minnesota was up 4-2 after two periods before Colorado scored three-straight; Ilya Bryzgalov looked to be having a good night in net and then it all fell apart ... Jonathan Quick was pulled after two periods where he gave up five goals on 28 shots ... Finally, Joel Quenneville has great balls of fire over an incident in the Blues/Blackhawks game.

  • With only 1:45 remaining in the game, the St. Louis Blues were down by a goal and about to go down by a game in their series to the defending champs. Jaden Schwartz decided he wasn't ready to call it a night, and scored the equalizer.

    Soon he and his teammates would soon be playing in the longest playoff game in franchise history. It took not one, not two, but 24-seconds into a third overtime for St. Louis to get the win.

    David Backes skated the puck pretty much unhindered from the Blues zone, through the neutral zone, and made a quick backwards pass to Alexander Steen a couple feet after the Blues captain crossed the blue line. As soon as Steen touched the puck he sent it on net as Backes rushed towards Corey Crawford.

    The rebound off Crawford slowly floated behind the net where Backes intercepts, and sent another backwards pass towards the front of the net. Steve Ott was stationed next to the crease with his back to Crawford when he caught, settled, and slid the puck to an open Steen on his right.

    In turn, Steen popped the puck up into the net, and the game was (finally) over.

    The win had to come as a relief to Blues netminder Ryan Miller. Not only does he already have the hopes and dreams of an entire fan-base on his shoulders, he let in a Patrick Kane breakaway-goal earlier in the game that made Miller look like a statue from Madame Tussauds.

  • Paul Stastny played the hero in Game 1 of the Colorado Avalanche’s divisional semifinal against the Minnesota Wild – twice.

    The center scored with just over 13 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 4-4 and send it to overtime; then, at 7:27 of the extra session, he struck again to give the Avs the playoff win.

    Here’s the tying goal:

    “YOU JUST KNEW IT WAS GONNA HAPPEN!” That is some homer-rrific homerism right there, Colorado.

    Erik Johnson’s shot from the left circle was deflected away by Ilya Bryzgalov, right to Stastny, whose bad angle shot found its way through with 13.4 remaining.

    Then, in overtime, this happened:

    “THERE IT IS!” Yes, there it was, Avs announcer. There is was.

    Tyson Barrie makes this play happen, beginning with a keep at the blue line through his barreling through two Wild defenders – Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke – to open up Stastny for a point blank shot, reminiscent of Dale Weise’s goal for Montreal in overtime of Game 1 of their series vs. Tampa Bay.

    It’s a truly special, truly important moment for Stastny. As the Avalanche rose to the top of the Central, there was always chatter about where he fit in, if he’d be traded and his general future with the Avs. He’s a UFA after this season.

    But for one night, he’s the King of Colorado.

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