Thu May 23 12:01am EDT
No. 1 Star: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
As part of their 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 4, Neal scored twice, including a power play tally, and assisted on an another as the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead. The goal were Neal's first since Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
No. 2 Star: Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins
Iginla netted a pair, including one of Pittsburgh's two power play goals. He's now put up points in eight of the Penguins' 10 playoff games.
No. 3 Star: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Letang had a couple of bad turnovers, but did finish with four assists. He now leads all defenseman in scoring with 13 points.
Wed May 22 11:34pm EDT
There was a lot for Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean to be frustrated with after their Game 4 loss. The first period ended with the Senators ahead 2-1, but in the third the Pittsburgh Penguins offense erupted for four goals en route to a 7-3 win.
After the game, there would be no questions for MacLean from the media. He apparently didn't feel the need to add to the story that the gamesheet told:
If only he had dropped the mic before he walked off...
As Matt Kassian told our own Nick Cotsonika, MacLean knows just how to get through to his players, whether it's slipping in a joke during meetings to lighten the mood or, well, holding 13 second press conferences with the stern look of a drill sergeant.
It's worked up to this point. Will it for Game 5?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Wed May 22 10:53pm EDT
Game 4 began looking like it was going to be another one of those games for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You know those games by now, right? Sloppy play. Turnovers. Questions about their goaltending.
It started off just 2:29 into the game when Milan Michalek's shorthanded goal had Scotiabank Place buzzing. Later, after Kyle Turris pounced on a puck during a scramble in front of Tomas Vokoun's crease to give Ottawa a 2-1 lead -- and the Senators killed both power plays they handed the Penguins -- things were looking promising after one period. Craig Anderson was playing like he did in Game 3, making 15 saves in the first period to deny a flying Pittsburgh offense.
"We had to make sure we played the right way," said Kris Letang to NBC Sports Network's Brian Engblom about the Penguins' adjustments between periods. "We were a little on our heels ... We had to regroup."
Regroup they did, and in a matter of 40 seconds the game flipped on its head.
Wed May 22 09:45pm EDT
It doesn’t happen often in professional sports, so when a team comes back from a 0-3 deficit in a playoff series, it’s cause for much celebration. There will be plenty of celebrating in Wilkes-Barre as the AHL's Penguins achieved the feat over the Providence Bruins Wednesday night.
After a scoreless opening period, the Penguins dominated the second scoring four times and taking the wind out of the Bruins' sails. Providence was unable to solve Brad Thiessen as the Penguins goaltender recorded 34 saves for his second shutout in three games during the 5-0 Game 7 victory.
The Penguins became only the third team in AHL history to advance after being down 0-3 in a Calder Cup playoff series. The 1960 Rochester Americans and 1989 Adirondack Red Wings now have company. As does the Boston Bruins organization, who now have had teams blow 3-0 series leads at the NHL and AHL level, as Tim Rosenthal pointed out. (Wayne Whittaker also brings up the fact that poor Trent Whitfield was on the Bruins team that gave up a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.)
Games 1 and 2 were dominated by the Bruins, with 8-5 and 4-2 victories. They took Game 3 in overtime 2-1, but beginning with Game 4, it was Brad Thiessen time. The Penguins netminder took control and slowed the Bruins’ offense over the next three games making 31, 30 and 46 saves, respectively, forcing a seventh and deciding game, even after getting jumped by Graham Mink in Game 5 during a brawl.
Thiessen's shutout in Game 7 improved his already ridiculous stats. He leads all goaltenders with a 0.89 goals against average and a .970 save-percentage; he's also stopped 196 of 202 shots he's faced in seven starts. So, yeah, Thiessen's in some sort of zone right now.
The Penguins will now face the Syracuse Crunch in the Eastern Conference Final beginning Saturday night.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Wed May 22 05:18pm EDT
There are certain inalienable truths in hockey. Ice is cold. Skates are sharp. And Pavel Datsyuk is a [expletive] magician.
Via TSN’s SportsCentre, these were deemed the Top 10 Pavel Datsyuk goals of all-time, which is a bit like trying to narrow down the 10 best entrees ever served by Thomas Keller.
A few thoughts:
• Datsyuk owns the Nashville Predators. Just owns’em.
• We like to pretend that Datsyuk’s “change-up” goal in the shootout against Antti Niemi and the Chicago Blackhawks was a subversive satire about the shootout.
• We’re not sure what's more embarrassing for the goaltender on No. 1: that he got completely bamboozled, or that it happened in a Mooterus jersey.
• We’re sure that this video was in no way a response to Glenn Healy’s claim that Datsyuk doesn’t have “god-blessed talent” on rival CBC. Nope. No way.
Wed May 22 04:11pm EDT
Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis didn’t mince words during his postseason press conference, calling the team’s 2012-13 campaign a “terrible season” after their ouster at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in Round 1.
"We’re going to have to reinvent ourselves and do things differently in order to be successful. The macro look at this team is that changes have to be made,” said Gillis.
On Wednesday, changes were made: According to Louis Jean of TVA, head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown were all fired by Gillis in a massive house cleaning for the franchise.
It was later confirmed by the Canucks:
“We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown of their coaching duties today,” said Canucks President and General Manager, Michael D. Gillis. “Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success. I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”
Vigneault coached the Canucks from 2006-2013, winning 313 games. He captured the Jack Adams in 2006-07, and coached Vancouver to the playoffs in six of those seasons, including that Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
Wed May 22 03:44pm 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.
• Alex Ovechkin got his KHL medal for Dynamo Moscow's Gagarin Cup win. And you said he never wins anything. Wait, what's that? He left the team before they won? Well. Still. [Dmitry Chesnokov]
• The NHL's most stylish men. Yes, Henrik Lundqvist is on the list. [Sharp]
• Sidney Crosby was nearly killed by a mozza stick. [Sportsnet]
• Nick Cotsonika on Paul MacLean's "fun" approach to coaching. [Yahoo!]
• Meet Tim Thompson, the guy who makes CBC's awesome playoff hockey montages. [National Post]
• Stephen Walkom, Game 3's referee, coached Mario Lemieux's daughter. Is this a conflict of interest? I highly doubt it. Have you ever coached a bunch of kids? By the end, you hate them all and you hate their parents for making them. Or maybe that was just my experience. [Senshot]
• Speaking of officiating conspiracies, the New York Rangers' last penalty call at home came in Game 4 versus the Washington Capitals. [CSNNE]
• Elliotte Friedman's 30 thoughts, which includes this wild notion: "Conspiracy Theory: Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasn't going to trade Dan Boyle at the April 3 deadline, but he wanted Boyle -- and his other veterans -- to think he might. There's been a lot written and said about Extreme Makeover: San Jose edition, but the more I look back at it, it's not just about increasing Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski's roles. He wanted Boyle and Joe Thornton, among others, to believe, 'If this doesn't work, I'm next.'" [CBC]
• Cory Conacher comes out for the Senators in Game 4, and Mark Stone draws in. [Senators Extra]
Wed May 22 02:13pm EDT
Daniel Alfredsson had the diagnosis for what ailed the Ottawa Senators penalty kill in Game 1 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“The goals they got were scramble goals,” he said after the 4-1 loss, in which the Penguins tallied two power-play goals. “We've got to be stronger in front of our net."
Stronger, the Senators have been: They’ve shut down the best power-play unit still playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (27 percent conversion rate) to the tune of one goal in their last 12 chances. Ottawa's penalty kill went 6-for-6 in Game 3, and has gone 9-for-9 overall. That included a 5-on-3 kill against the Penguins in the second period, during which they only had two shots.
Oh, yeah: There was also the matter of that Daniel Alfredsson shorthanded goal that knotted Game 3 with 29 seconds left. That too.
Again, this is a Senators team stifling a Penguins power play that has slightly fewer stars than “This Is The End.” The kind of all-star unit you’d compile through trades, create-a-player and waiver wire chicanery on a hockey video game.
Can the Senators keep the kill going in Wednesday night’s Game 4?
Wed May 22 01:48pm 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 Star: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Harrison Mooney of Puck Daddy and Jesse Cohen of All The Kings Men, a Los Angeles Kings podcast, join Wysh as he rolls solo.
• Is this the end of John Tortorella?
• The Dustin Penner No-Goal in Game 4 for the Kings.
• The Kings Twitter feed fiasco.
• Previewing Game 4 between the Pens and Sens.
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 May 22 12:32pm EDT
Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek had some good fortune this season, scoring 22 goals (a career best) and winning the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP.
For his sake, it’s good to see that fortune has apparently extended to the offseason.
According to Sport.cz, Voracek “mishandled” his Ferrari on Wednesday morning in Kladno of his native Czech Republic and crashed into a tree.
According to Sporttovni Noviny, Voracek “was driving too fast for a truck that wanted to turn and did not stop in time” and that the “luxury car then crashed into the left side of the truck, drove off the road, where it hit a power line pole and tree."
Damage to the car is estimated at $147,715 US.