Allan Maki shares his opinion on the previous night’s NHL action and looks at the early news of the day Monday through Friday during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they are the three ice men of the apocalypse. David Krejci, Milan Lucic. Nathan Horton. The Boston Bruins’ unstoppable trio.
Nothing Toronto does can prevent Krejci, Lucic and Horton from unleashing their havoc. One smashes, one crashes, the other dashes. It’s like watching a triple tag-team demolition derby. It has to feel that way to the Leafs.
They were rammed and dented in an action-paced Game 4 on Wednesday that had its Toronto moments, enough to win on a lot of other nights. Just not this series against Krejci, Lucic and Norton.
When Krejci silenced the Air Canada Centre by scoring in overtime, it capped a hat trick showing and another dominant performance. Do the numbers; they’re frightening. Through four games, Krejci has five goals and five assists, Lucic has six assists and Horton has three goals and three assists. Add it all up and that’s 22 points. An average of 5.5 points per game night.
The Leafs have no match, no defensive pairing to counter the Bruins’ top line. On the winning goal, Toronto defenceman Dion Phaneuf made a bad decision going for a hit. Krejci sped away on a two on one with Lucic and finished it with a goal Toronto coach Randy Carlyle could only lament.
“We gave them an odd-man rush and they scored a short-side goal. That’s like a dagger,” said Carlyle.
A dagger to the heart. And if the domination of Krejci, Lucic and Horton hasn’t been enough to bear, Zdeno Chara just keeps dishing out the hurt. In the first period, he was on the ice for both Toronto goals. He went on to assist on all four Boston goals, play just over 33 minutes and finish plus-2.
The Leafs have no response for him, other than to shake his hand and wish him luck in the next round of the playoffs.
You have Slava Voynov in your hockey pool, right? Maybe you can fix that if you don’t.
The Los Angeles Kings’ defenceman took another skate in the spotlight Wednesday, netting the overtime winner in Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues. He made a good defensive play in his own end before jumping into the rush and converting on a feed from Anze Kopitar.
It was the second game winner for Voynov in the series; his other was the lone goal in Game 3. He has already scored more postseason goals in 2013 than he did in 20 games last year helping Los Angeles to its Stanley Cup title.
Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks scored twice in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. He now has four goals with his team boasting a 3-1 stranglehold on Minnesota. But that’s not why Sharp has been the ‘Hawks most crucial player.
Consider this: Chicago’s record with him in the line-up this season is a stunning 28-1-3. Whether he scores a goal, fails to get a point, takes a bad penalty, gets caught out of position, no matter. Sharp’s healthy; Sharp plays; the ‘Hawks’ usually win. In fact, the one loss came in Game 3 when the Wild prevailed in overtime. What did Sharp do that evening? He drew an assist on the Duncan Keith goal that forced OT.
Captain Jonathan Toews and mullet-haired Patrick Kane get all the attention but it’s Sharp’s presence as an offensive threat, a defensive specialist or a special teams player – all done with skill and speed – that makes him the consummate game changer and essential ‘Hawk.
P.K. to the emotional rescue
You have to admire P.K. Subban’s fervour. The Montreal Canadiens’ defenceman sees an advantage when everyone else sees pending disaster.
Montreal has lost its captain, Brian Gionta, for the rest of the series with a torn bicep. Forward Lars Eller is still recovering from his Game 1 flattening. Ryan White is hurt. Brandon Prust will be scratched for Thursday’s Game 5 against the Ottawa Senators. Out for sure is goaltender Carey Price, who suffered a lower-body (likely a groin) injury in the last seconds of regulation time in Game 4. That means Peter Budaj gets the start in net.
Now, you’d never expect a player chin deep in adversity to say, “Throw us a life line. We’re done.” Subban, though, took it one step further.
“We can beat these guys,” he said of the Senators. “We’re better.”
Better? Not in their current state. Still, Subban had to say it.
“Guys are going to realize when we’re coming out the gates and we’re flying that we’re the better team and there’s still life in this series for us,” he said. “But it takes the guys in this room to believe that.”
If you think the media is being tough on the Vancouver Canucks for being swept out of the playoffs, read what one fan had to Tweet: “When I die, I want the Vancouver Canucks to be my pallbearers. So they can let me down one last time.”