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.
It was one of those Stanley Cup moments: Colin Greening, the evening’s overtime hero, doing a televised postgame interview with an open bloody cut on his cheek courtesy of a stick slash.
It happened in the second period, and the force of the stick had left small pieces of fibreglass embedded in Greening’s left cheek for the balance of the game.
No matter. Greening did the interview with a smile on his face before heading to the dressing room so a doctor could fix him up.
On a Sunday night that saw the Ottawa Senators score late in regulation time, it was Greening’s rebound tally that sealed the 2-1 victory and a chance for Ottawa to stay close to its playoff foe, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The goal came at 7:39 of the second overtime and prevented the Senators from being down 3-0 in the series, a count that would have been far more serious than the gash on Greening’s face.
Instead, we now have a contestable matchup and for that the Senators can thank goalie Craig Anderson, who made 49 saves, captain Daniel Alfredsson, who scored the tying goal in a shorthanded situation, and one of the playoffs rising stars, scar face Greening.
His work with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Erik Condra has been sensational all postseason. The trio has eight goals and eight assists in eight games. They’ve been Ottawa’s most consistent line and Greening, who hails from St. John’s, Nfld., is now on a three-game goal-scoring streak.
Greening was asked to describe the goal shortly after netting it. “I just tried to whack at (the puck) as hard as I could. I just got lucky.”
Greening wasn’t so lucky in the second period when he caught a high stick. A team doctor took the large splinters of fibreglass from his cheek but left the smaller pieces until later. Later took longer than expected, what with the two teams battling it out through almost 1 ½ periods of OT. In the end, scoring the biggest goal of his NHL career proved to be the best pain killer of all.
You have to love a Stanley Cup story with stitches and a happy ending.
Call ‘em as we smell ‘em
Once in a while it would be nice if John Tortorella threw himself under the bus and told the hockey world he stunk. Not his players, him. The head coach of the New York Rangers.
But that rarely –if ever – happens because Tortorella always strategizes brilliantly, executes flawlessly. It’s his players who can’t seem to get it right, like Carl Hagelin, the skilled winger who gets little powerplay time because, according to his coach, “He stinks.”
Tortorella said that before Sunday’s Game 2 of the New York-Boston Bruins series. By the end of Game 2, Hagelin wasn’t the only one smelling like an unwashed hockey bag. The final score, 5-2, was indicative of just how well Boston played and how poorly the Rangers were, especially in the third period.
Through the final 20 minutes, New York gave up two goals, its star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, was continually under siege and its top defenceman, Dan Girardi, finished with a minus-4. As for that nose-pincher of a powerplay? It went zero for five and has scored just twice in 36 opportunities this postseason. In fact, it was so hand-strung Sunday even Hagelin got a stint on it.
The Rangers’ players have been careful to say the right thing. Lundqvist bit his tongue after losing Game 1 in overtime: “Have I played well in overtime? No. Can I score? No. Is it frustrating? Yes.” After Game 2, he said it again, carefully – he and “the guys in front of me have to step it up.”
While the players know they can’t pop off to the media, in case it backfires and hurts the team, that same consideration doesn’t apply to Tortorella. Sure, he’s the coach. He gets more latitude. But the complaint is how he uses that leeway. He’ll rag on his players when they go public with issues or differences then singles them out at news conferences when it suits his advantage. It’s a tired act and forever self-serving.
And did you catch the live-from-the-bench interview Tortorella did during the second period? Asked what he thought of Ryan Callahan’s goal for New York, Tortorella answered: That’s a huge (deleted) goal he scored, that’s what I think.”
Why give this guy a microphone? Unless he’s willing to say he can coach better, there’s nothing more we need to hear from J. Tortorella.
In praise of Krug
Torey Krug is writing a Colin Greening-type story of his own: undrafted 22-year-old defenceman makes his postseason debut with the Bruins and plays like a star in the making.
In two games, the former Michigan State Spartan has scored twice, added an assist and averaged more than 14 minutes of ice time. That he has looked so comfortable not only belies his inexperience but also his size – 5 foot 9, 180 pounds, which is why he wasn’t drafted.
Krug’s efforts, and those from fellow Stanley Cup rookies Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski, have covered nicely for the loss of injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden. The question is: what does head coach Claude Julien do when his vets are ready to go? The kids have supplied energy, aggressiveness and offence. That can’t be under-estimated.
The quote of the playoffs goes to Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask. He was asked about the electricity at Sunday’s game in Boston’s TD Garden.
“The lights were fine,” he said.
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