Goons vs. stars, Capitals mature, hockey movies and more notes
A gentle reminder for Rangers coach
Hard to imagine anyone missed a fight between one of the league's leading scorers and one of its leading brawlers, but
Surprising? Sure. Gaborik can be a little feisty at times, but he's far from what anyone would call a physical player. He averages about one hit per 25 minutes of playing time and had one previous fight during his 551-game NHL career. (Interestingly, he tussled with current Flyer
But there he was, not just in the middle of a scrum, but instigating contact when Carcillo grabbed him from behind. The two grappled and appeared to drop the gloves simultaneously, signaling an apparent willingness to go. No surprise that Gaborik didn't fare too well, but he sure showed up.
Tortorella was livid after the game, but instead of pointing fingers he should have been questioning his own judgment. It was Tortorella, after all, who watched the Flyers get whistled for an icing that forced their fourth line to stay on the ice for a draw in the Philly zone. And it was Tortorella who decided to put his first line of Gaborik,
Tortorella's a fine coach, but moments like this serve to remind that in-game management isn't his strongest suit. As for Carcillo, he's bound to take a lot of heat for this, but look at the facts. He came into the scrum and removed Gaborik, who was about to double-team
And Gaborik, well, he demonstrated his level of commitment to the guys in the room. When the team's leading scorer is willing to answer the bell, that sets the bar for every guy wearing the sweater. This could end up being one of those galvanizing moments that defines the season for the Rangers.
And all because Tortorella screwed up.
The Washington Capitals didn't get a second chance to play Game 7 of their 2009 playoff series against Pittsburgh on Thursday night. But with their 6-3 dismissal of the Penguins, this year's edition of the Caps suggested that a potential 2010 postseason sequel might have a very different result.
In what was the most heavily hyped matchup of the season, the Caps overcame an early goaltending gaffe by
A sign of a maturing squad? In a week that also included find-a-way wins over the Flyers and Red Wings, this was a statement that the Caps are ready to take the next step.
It looked as though the game might go the Pens' way early when Theodore misplayed a dump, allowing the puck to deflect off his stick, through his legs and toward the gaping cage where it was slammed home by
It still lacks a certain presence, but the unit deserves credit. The Caps don't need their back end to win games -- they just can't lose them like they have so often in the past. While the offense has gone on a tear lately -- scoring at least four goals in eight of their last nine games -- the blue line has afforded them stability. You can still sense the need for an upgrade before the playoffs, but the growth is apparent.
And then there was
But the most promising sign for these Caps was their ability to finish off the Penguins. Washington has displayed an alarming tendency in the past to take its foot off the gas when it has the lead. Thursday night, the Caps played even harder with the advantage than they did while trying to tie the Pens earlier in the contest. They wanted this game more than Pittsburgh, and they earned it.
It's best not to read too much into one midseason meeting, but don't blame Caps fans if they feel a bit more hopeful. Their team might not be Cup-ready just yet, but it's growing up fast.
If you've got kids, or maybe an unhealthy obsession with
The discussion of this film led to a debate over the best and worst hockey movies of all time. Here's my take:
You have to believe a decision on the future of goaltenders
Moving Halak is a less risky decision for GM
It'd be a bold move, that's for sure. Price is viewed as having a higher upside, and a change of scenery might allow him to blossom in a way that haunts the Canadiens. At the same time, he may never reach his potential in this high-pressure environment. But that can't be Gainey's motivating factor.
Right now, Gainey has built himself a squad that's done little to distinguish itself from a herd of playoff wannabes. The Habs have no identity and little reason for excitement (
One performance won't change anyone's draft standing, but Wednesday's CHL Top Prospects featured a couple of eye-opening efforts that seem certain to increase the profiles of a couple of draft-eligible players as the season winds down.
One player who might have hurt his standing is
On the play, Wideman picked up a loose puck at his blueline and was moving back into the Boston zone when a collision with referee
"If he was not in the middle of the rink at the start of the play, he would have had time to get to the boards [and out of Wideman's path]," said one former NHL official after viewing the play.
Wideman's confidence is flagging and his involvement in that gaffe didn't help matters. It'll be interesting to see how he responds to the incident and to Julien's challenge.