Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekend wrap: Senators' OT magic (but the backlash is on the way)

In the NHL playoffs, as the old saying goes, you’re never truly in trouble until you lose one at home.

There’s a corollary to that: If you lose two straight at home, you’re probably screwed.

The Ducks were facing that fate last night, after dropping Game 1 against the Predators on Friday night. It looked like Nashville might head home with a 2–0 series lead; the Predators held a two-goal lead after just 10 minutes, and led 3–2 midway through the second. But the Ducks stormed back, helped along by an uncharacteristically shaky outing from Pekka Rinne.

The two teams will now head to Nashville tied at a game apiece, with the series resuming tomorrow night.

The Penguins will be looking to follow the Ducks' lead tonight, as they host the Senators in what feels close to a must-win game. The high-powered Pens couldn't get much going in Saturday's Game 1, trailing 1–0 for most of the night before Evgeni Malkin tied it up late to briefly wake up a largely comatose Pittsburgh crowd. That gave the Penguins an opportunity to steal a win in overtime, but instead it was Bobby Ryan who capped it off for the Senators.

Game 2 goes tonight, and a Senators win would send them back to Ottawa with a shot at a sweep. The Senators head into this one having won five of seven on the road in this year's post-season.

On to the weekend's power rankings...

Top Five

Celebrating the players, teams, storylines and themes that have had the best week.

5. The Ryan Kesler vs. Ryan Johansen rivalry: The NHL playoffs are always better with a little bad blood mixed in, and the Nashville/Anaheim series is providing plenty early on. Much of it has come courtesy Kesler and Johansen, who've spent most of the first two games matched up against each other.

Things boiled over last night, with Johansen ripping on Kesler after the game. The mini-rant came after he appeared to be on the receiving end of a Kesler elbow, among other battles, and at one point included Johansen telling reporters that "I don't know how you can cheer for a player like that."

You can understand Johansen's frustration, but you have to think those sorts of comments are music to Kesler's ears. For the record, he was relatively complimentary of Johansen immediately after the game. But Kesler has been down this playoff road a few times before, and he knows how to get under someone's skin. He's apparently already there with Johansen, and there are still up to five games left to go.

4. Ben Bishop: The Dallas Stars got a jump on the off-season by locking down the first big-name UFA of the summer, signing Bishop to a six-year deal worth $29.5 million after acquiring his rights from the Kings.

The deal represents a pay cut for Bishop, who'll average about a million dollars less per season than he did on his last contract. But the term will more than make up for that; Bishop is 30 years old and coming off an injury-plagued season, and the market hasn't been especially kind to goalies in recent years. The track record for bigger goalies aging well isn't great, so getting a six-year commitment from a team is a clear win for Bishop.

From the Stars' perspective, Bishop is a clear upgrade at a position that's been a problem for years. He didn't come cheap (and they also had to give up a fourth-round pick to acquire his rights), but at some point GM Jim Nill needed to address his goaltending issues. There's an excellent chance that the contract comes back to bite the Stars by the end, but right now Nill has a potential Cup contender in place, and going another season with the status quo wasn't an option. Let's tentatively call this one even from a Dallas perspective, at least until we see how they wriggle out from Kari Lehtonen and/or Antti Niemi's contracts.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

1 comment:

  1. Am I the only one that gets annoyed by commentators talking over highlights? Or background music? Can't I just watch the plays myself with the TV announcer and arena noise?