Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Looks Like Jack Eichel Wants to Bet on Himself

During the summer we heard a lot of talk about the Buffalo Sabres being interested in locking up Jack Eichel long-term before he hits restricted free agency next summer.

It's not happening as quickly as many expected, and there's good reason for that.

The Sabres are likely angling to lock up Eichel on the maximum term of eight years, but prices are rising after Leon Draisaitl inked an eight-year, $68 million deal with the Oilers this summer.

How does Eichel stack up with Draisaitl today?

Both players averaged close to a point a game last season, and Eichel did it while driving his own line while Draisaitl spent much of his ice time flanking Connor McDavid.

How will Eichel stack up against Draisaitl next year, after his third full season in Buffalo?

Apparently, Eichel believes he'll compare favorably.

"I have no problem playing the year out," Eichel told WGR 550's Paul Hamilton earlier this week. "I'm adamant about staying a Sabre, I want to bring some new excitement to this town and the contract thing will take care of itself."

Sounds like Eichel and his agent, Peter Fish, are confident that the 20-year-old can increase his value next season. Either that or they want to make Sabres' GM Jason Botterill sweat a little bit. You can hear audio of Eichel talking about the contract--or lack thereof--here, or by clicking the link below.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Botterill Contines to Bolster Buffalo's Defense with Scandella Add

In a trade that looks like a win for both teams, the Buffalo Sabres added defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Jason Pominville while sending Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild clear some cap space to continue pursuing other needs, while the Sabres get a rugged defenseman that has three years left at a $4 million AAV in addition to a high-scoring winger that will come at a cost. Pominville, a former Sabre, comes with a cap hit of $5.6 million for the next two seasons. That fat contract, rather than his performance, is the biggest reason that Minnesota sought to deal Pominville. The 34-year-old had 47 points in 78 games last season and has amassed 261 goals in 905 NHL games.

Pominville spent the first 12 seasons of his career with Buffalo, and was captain for a spell in 2008.

Even after the deal the Sabres still have over $19 million in cap space. The team is reportedly working on getting star center Jack Eichel locked up long term.

The Wild are stacked on defense and struck a deal with Vegas to lay off their top five defenseman in the expansion draft, likely with this deal in mind. They shed $5 million in cap space but will likely pay to add the services of Foligno, a 228-lb winger that has the type of physical presence that the Wild were missing in the post-season this year. He becomes a restricted free agent today, and was previously signed at a $2.25 million cap hit.

The Wild need cap space to sign Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter to new deals. Both hit restricted free agency today, and both will come at a pretty high price tag after successful seasons.

According to Wild beat writer Michael Russo, the club wants to land a fourth-line center and a right-shot defenseman to replace Scandella.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Is Marc Methot Worth So Little?

The Vegas Knights dealt one of the biggest prizes of last week's expansion draft today to the Dallas Stars. That's not surprising. What is surprising is how little of a return general manager George McPhee was able to bring in for Marc Methot, a veteran defenseman who was integral in the Ottawa Senators Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Final this spring.

Sure, Methot played the majority of his minutes alongside Erik Karlsson, and that's perhaps the cushiest job there is on an NHL blue line these days. But the fact that Methot was dealt for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and a goalie prospect that was drafted in the seventh round of last weekend's draft (his name is Dylan Ferguson if you really must know) must have Senators' GM Pierre Dorion steaming. Dorion reportedly worked hard to make a deal with Vegas to keep them from picking Methot before the expansion draft to no avail. Then, when the writing was on the wall, he attempted to trade Dion Phaneuf and his much-publicized no-movement clause so that he could protect Methot from being picked.

Dorion's best intentions could not help him get any of the aforementioned done, and today he had to pick up the paper and read that Methot had been dealt for peanuts.

Peanuts, incidentally, was not what McPhee was asking Dorion to pay for the privilege of having him not select Methot in the expansion draft. According to Senators beat writer Bruce Garrioch (venerable), the ask was a first-round pick.

If that's the case then the market has soured a bit for McPhee and the many defensemen he drafted with the hopes of turning them into assets in the trade market. Methot was one of the biggest fish of his expansion draft picks, so Vegas and McPhee could be in for a rude awakening in the next few weeks as they try to unload Alexei Emelin, Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner. The Golden Knights selected 13 defensemen in total at the draft, and they were under they belief that defensemen were the hottest commodoties on the trade market. It may be true in general, but to be more specific, puck-moving defenseman (and exceptional ones) are the ones driving the market. The players in McPhee's stable right now are not exactly Paul Coffey-type players.

None of this likely matters to Pierre Dorion or the Senators right now. They lost the defenseman they wanted and Ottawa's loss is Dallas' gain.

Methot, 32, and earning $4.9 million for the next two seasons, should provide some good stay-at-home defense for a Stars team that badly needs it. Dallas swooped in and scored a win in this deal. Other teams eyeing Vegas defenseman might want to pony up and do the same. It may not take a whole lot to make a deal.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ducks Ink Patrick Eaves to Three Year Deal

The Anaheim Ducks locked up Patrick Eaves for three years and $9.45 million. The deal will pay Eaves $3.3 million next season, $3.15 in 2018-19 and $3 million in 2019-20.

Eaves, who scored 11 goals in 20 regular season games for the Ducks after being acquired at the deadline, finished his campaign with a career-high 32 goals. He was a good fit with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rackell last season and figures to be a big part of the Ducks top six forward corps and power play next season.

The 33-year-old did not test the free agent market, even though he might have commanded a bigger salary coming off such a solid season.

Apparently Eaves' neighbors were thrilled about the news as well:

John Chayka Comes up Big for Reeling Coyotes

Props to John Chayka.

The 28-year-old general manager of the Arizona Coyotes dug his heels in during a very turbulent time for the franchise and led the team into the second phase of its rebuild over the weekend.

With the 2017 entry draft looming the Coyotes were dealing with the aftermath of a horrible week that saw them deal their No.1 goalie and part ways with their longtime coach and longest-tenured player and captain on less than favorable terms.

It could have marked the beginning of a gloomy summer for the franchise.

Enter 28-year-old wunderkind Chayka, who proved this weekend that he can do more than crunch analytics and tick off his elders--he wheeled and dealed and gave the Coyotes and their fans some well deserved hope.

Chayka dealt the No.7 overall pick to the Rangers along with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo for No.1 center Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta.

Then less than an hour later he acquired Niklas Hjalmarsson for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin.

In a span of 60 minutes Chayka got his team a No. 1 goalie, a No.1 center and a top-pairing defenseman that will complement Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the Coyotes blue line.

Meanwhile, word spread like wild fire--the Coyotes were winning draft weekend.

The Coyotes began with a total teardown in Chayka's first year and have assembled one of the league's most impressive prospect pools (that prospect pool grew over the weekend as twice Chayka moved down in the draft, making deals to acquire multiple picks with the Flyers and Oilers) since. Many of those tadpoles have already cut their teeth at the NHL level, but the team was badly in need of some productive veterans who could lead both on and off the ice. No offense to the recently banished Shane Doan and Mike Smith, but both were past their primes and frankly not worth the salary that they would command. In Stepan and Hjalmarsson the Coyotes have a pair of veterans with playoff experience and character--but still a lot of mileage left in their tanks.

The Rangers soured on Stepan during the playoffs this year and Chayka swooped in and scooped up a player that was being undervalued by his current team. He'll be a key leader in Arizona, and if the Coyotes continue to improve he may end up as the perfect No.2 center.

In Hjalmarsson Chayka gets a blueliner with three Stanley Cup rings. The 30-year-old Swede wasn't a part of many trade rumors but Chayka went to Stan Bowman and the cap-weary Blackhawks with the perfect offer to lure him away. That's savvy dealmaking.

Arizona may not look like a playoff team yet, and the team still will see its arena deal expire at the end of the season, but as far as the on-ice product goes, the Coyotes are a lot further along than they were two weeks ago. Chayka's dealing has given a beleaguered franchise hope--and a shot of proven talent to boot.

With a few more deals and some more seasoning, we may finally see a contender in the desert. For now, at the very least, there's hope.

What's Next for Snow and Isles?

The Islanders and GM Garth Snow are going for a fast and furious revamp of the roster ahead of the opening of the free agency window on July 1, but it's not clear if the team has done enough to achieve the endgame of signing John Tavares to a long-term deal before the clock begins ticking on the final year of his six year, $33 million contract.

Adding much maligned winger Jordan Eberle straight up for Ryan Strome on Thursday was a nice start, but most thought that Eberle wouldn't be the only big name coming to Brooklyn.

So far, he is.

In a lot of ways the perception is just as important as the reality for the Islanders in the short-term. One would think that Snow wants to get Tavares under contract before temptation gets the best of his star center, because if he goes through the summer without a deal in place his value to the club will only decrease.

If Tavares makes it all the way to next July without a contract he'll be worthless to the team--and free to sign wherever he chooses. That would be a nightmare for the Islanders, and possibly career suicide for Snow, who has been trying to make up for a horrible year that saw him overpay for Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck (in addition to botching the management of the team's goalie trio) all in the final two weeks of June. On Saturday the Isles GM finally pulled the trigger on a Travis Hamonic deal, hauling in a first and second-rouund pick in next year's draft as well as another second-round pick for either 2019 or 2020, with Hamonic and a fourth-round pick in either 2019 or 2020 going the other way.

What it means for the Islanders is that they've temporarily restocked the cupboard with some draft picks that can either be used to make another deal or be saved for the future. The Islanders currently have two first-rounders and two-second rounders in next year's draft, and Snow did not rule out using them to make another acquisition for a team that is a) trying to get better and b) trying to sign John Tavares pronto.

“This was a situation that we felt we could capitalize on bringing in some assets, whether we use those in the future in the draft or use them as a currency in a future player transaction,” Snow said on Saturday. “That’s a good luxury for our organization to have.”

Starting with the expansion draft the Islanders have been one of the most active teams in the league. They dealt their first-round pick in the draft along with a second-round pick in the 2019 draft plus defensive prospect Jake Bischoff to get Vegas to take Mikhail Grabovski's $5 million cap hit off their hands (Vegas also selected J.F. Berube instead of one of the players they valued, also a good deal).

Then they spun Strome for Eberle in a move that added $3.5 to their cumulative cap but will surely pay offensive dividends.

And finally the Hamonic deal, which freed up another $3.875 in annual cap hit, bringing the Islanders total cap space to over $9 million.

The Islanders would probably (definitely?) like to make another deal for a forward, but other than the aforementioned draft picks and some prospects that appear to be untouchable, they don't really have any players of value.

Restricted free agent Calvin de Haan will need a new contract, and hopefully, Tavares will be next in line.

The problem is that on paper the Islanders don't look a whole lot better than they were two weeks ago. Hamonic, a key component of their defense despite the fact that he had a few subpar seasons, is gone. The team lacks a true No.1 on the blue line and Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are unproven commodoties who may be in over their heads next season.

To top it off, Eberle had his worst year as a pro and Edmonton wanted him gone, particularly after a post-season that saw him go goalless. He's an intriguing talent that could blossom with Tavares--the pair had chemistry at the 2009 World Juniors for Canada--but it's certainly not a guarantee that he'll be a revelation in Brooklyn.

There's still a lot of work to be done in Brooklyn to make the Islanders a contender. As crunch time nears Garth Snow is under the gun. His next deal will be the biggest of his 11-year tenure as the Islanders' GM. If it's a good one, it could open the door to a re-up from Tavares.

And make no mistake, that's what all this last-minute cramming from Snow is all about.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Coyotes Are Now Without Coach and Captain

The Arizona Coyotes dysfunctional family got smaller by one man on Thursday evening as the club announced that head coach Dave Tippett would not be returning. Tippett's departure comes just a week after the team told their captain Shane Doan that he would not be offered a contract for the 2017-18 season.

Tippett coached the Coyotes from 2009-10 to 2016-17, and guided Arizona to its first playoff series win and its first Conference Final.

“On behalf of the entire Coyotes organization, I would like to sincerely thank Tip for all of his hard work and the many contributions he made to our organization,” said Arizona Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway in a statement. “Tip is a man of high character and we are very grateful for his leadership during his tenure as our head coach. Ultimately, we have some philosophical differences on how to build our team. Therefore, we mutually agreed that it is in everyone’s best interest to have a coaching change in order to move our franchise forward.”

In his first year with the club, Tippett led the team to a 50-25-7 record and their first playoff birth in eight seasons. Tippett won the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL that season. He later guided Arizona to the Western Conference Final in 2011-12.

Tippet was also the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Coyotes. He is being offered a structured buyout from the Coyotes.

According to Coyotes insider Craig Morgan, Tippett was not on the same page as club management about the trade that sent Mike Smith to Calgary, as well as the handling of Shane Doan's last days as a Coyote.

As it stands now, the Coyotes and 28-year-old general manager John Chayka have a lot of work to do. Team owner Andrew Barroway bought out the rest of the team's minority owners in early June and now owns the team outright. But the Coyotes problems are not just on the ice or behind the bench. The orgnanization's current lease deal in Glendale is up after next season, so there will be tense negotiations and the threat of moving the club to another part of Arizona or out of the area entirely. According to Forbes, the team loses about $8 million annually and is valued at about $240 million.

Islanders Deal Strome to Acquire Eberle

The New York Islanders have acquired winger Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Strome.

Eberle, 27, has 165 career goals in 507 NHL games. The winger is signed through 2019 at an AAV of $6 million. He was much maligned in Edmonton after putting up 20 goals and 31 assists in 2016-17 for the Oilers, and only two assists in 13 playoff games.

The same could be said for Strome, who put up 50 points in his second season, but managed just 28 and 30 points in his last two campaigns. The 23-year-old is signed through 2018 with a cap hit of $2.5 million.

Rumor has it that Islanders' GM Garth Snow is not done dealing. The team appears to be in the hunt for another top six forward, and is likely targeting Matt Duchene of Colorado or Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens.

It's all a part of the plan to show John Tavares that the team is committed to becoming a cup contender with him as the centerpiece. The all-star center will be eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1st, and if he doesn't could become a free agent next summer.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Seventh Heaven for Kunitz, Penguins in Double OT

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup final for the second consecutive year.

Chris Kunitz sent a fluttering one-timer past screened Senators netminder Craig Anderson at 5:09 if the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins did it the hard way against an extremely resilient Senators team that twice battled back from one-goal deficits to force the extra sessions. After Kunitz gave Pittsburgh the lead at 9:55 of the second, Mark Stone answered 20 seconds later with his fifth goal of the playoffs and first of the series. Justin Schultz put the Penguins up 2-1 with a power play marker in at 11:44 of the third but less than three minutes later it was Ryan Dzingel who corraled a loose puck after Erik Karlsson's shot from the point rung the iron to level the Sens at 2-all.

Karlsson, who led all skaters with 39:33 of ice time, had two assists and finished his playoff season with two goals, 18 points and a plus-13.

The overtime was frantic, and Phil Kessel had a few golden opportunities to win it in the first extra session, but on one opportunity he missed the net from a point-blank shooting position and on the other he had a deflected rebound glance off his glove and just over the net.

Pittsburgh outshot the Senators 42 to 29, and 9 to 4 from the beginning of overtime.

Sidney Crosby, who finished the game with one shot on goal in 26:49, made the key play on Kunitz overtime winner. He corraled a puck below the Senators goal line before spinning away from Chris Wideman and setting up Kunitz with a tape-to-tape pass. Kunitz didn't get a clean shot off, but his fluttering one-timer had eyes and sailed right over the right shoulder of Anderson.

"Anderson was unbelievable," Crosby said after the game. "He was unbelievable the last few games, but especially tonight."

Ottawa dropped to 0-6 as a franchise in Game 7s with the loss. The Penguins improved to 10-7 in Game 7s and 4-7 at home.

The Penguins will be home at PPG Paints Arena on Monday night when they host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Final.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Toronto Grants Avalanche Permission to Speak to Kyle Dubas

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave the Colorado Avalanche permission to speak to Leafs' Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas, says Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. But nobody is quite sure of the specifics. Joe Sakic is still the Avalanche's GM, and Dubas is thought by many to be next in line for the General Manager job in Toronto when Lou Lamoriello steps down. The 31-year-old is also currently the General Manager of the Toronto Marlies.

Dubas' name came up in rumors last year, when his services were reportedly being sought by the Coyotes, and some thought he might be in the running for the Sabres General Manager job, which was recently awarded to former Penguins Assistant GM Jason Botteril.

Could this be a plan hatched by the Leafs to have Dubas go to Colorado, trade them Nathan MacKinnon for a bag of pucks, then return to Toronto in a few year's time?

Watch: Crosby Gets a Friendly Spear and a Squirt

After six games of intense playoff hockey, it's pretty clear that the Senators and Penguins are going to save the mutual respect for the post-Game 7 handshake. Here Marc Methot, who nearly had his finger whacked off by Sidney Crosby earlier in the season, pays his respects to Sid the kid with a few lovetap spears, while Mike Hoffman goes for the old squirt-water-up-the-glove trick from the bench.

Totally juvenile. Slightly annoying and disrespectful, but overall far lass egregious than an illegal check to the head.

And onward to Game 7 we go.

Sharks Sign Simek, Sanderson

The San Jose Sharks have turned to Europe to make a few depth signings.

The Club announced that Czech defenseman Radim Simek has signed a one-year deal, while Swedish forward Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal.

Simek, 24, recorded 11 goals and 13 assists in 42 games during the 2016-17 season with Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech League. He recorded two points in eight points for the Czech Republic at this year's IIHF World Championships.

Sandberg, 22, recorded 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17.

Here are the terms, per Kevin Kurz, Sharks insider:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brutal Hit on Viktor Arvidsson Gets Nick Ritchie Tossed from Game 6

Things went from bad to very bad in the first period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Final for the Anaheim Ducks. Already down 2-0 after goals by Austin Watson and Colton Sissons, Nick Ritchie took a five-minute major and was given a game misconduct for this nasty hit on Viktor Arvidsson.

The Predators did not score in the ensuing power play.

Jonathan Bernier, making his first career playoff start in relief of injured John Gibson, has stopped just two of four shots. Pekka Rinne was perfect in the first, stopping all 12 shots he faced. The Finn has been incredible at home in these playoffs.

In other news, Arvidsson was bloodied after the hit, in the shape of an "R." Not really sure why it's news, but it seems to be.

So there you have it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sweden Wins Worlds and Lundqvist Gets Mauled in Dangerous Celebration

Sweden defeated Canada to win the IIHF World Hockey Championships on Sunday, and Henrik Lundqvist nearly died.

Check out the celebration tackle by William Nylander after the victory was clinched in a shootout by the King.

Here's the save and the tackle:

And here's another angle, which is a lot scarier. William Nylander, you young whippersnapper, take it easy on the King.

In the first Gold Medal game that went to a shootout since 1994, Lundqvist stopped all four shots he faced while Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored for Sweden. It was Sweden's first victory over Canada in an IIHF World Championship final in four tries.

Both goalies--Lundqvist and Cal Pickard--were named Best Player of the game for their respective teams.

Nylander was named tournament MVP. He was not penalized for nearly killing his goalie. All's well that ends well.

Watch: Wingles Throws Elbow to Head of Scott Wilson

So, what should you do when your team trails by a touchdown late in the third period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final?

How about try to take Scott Wilson's head off?

That's what Ottawa's Tommy Wingels went with--and he nearly succeeded.

Will the NHL's Department of Player Safety make its presence felt? Stay tuned...

Karlsson Says He'll Be Fine for Game 6

A scary moment occurred for the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 when all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson twisted his ankle after a skate-to-skate collision with Pittsburgh's Scott Wilson in the second period. The Swede would leave the ice and not return for the remainder of the game, and no, it wasn't because he wanted to watch his fellow Swedes with the IIHF World Hockey Championship over Canada in Cologne, Germany.

Karlsson, who has been playing the postseason with two hairlines fractures in his left foot, told media he'd be fine for Game 6.

He'll need to be. The Senators aren't the same team without Karlsson, and they have zero momentum after suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat to the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

Only one of those goals came with Karlsson on the ice.

Pittsburgh went 3-for-3 on the power play and outshot the Senators 36-25.

Game 6 is Tuesday night in Ottawa.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rakell to Miss Game 5 with Lower Body Injury

It just keeps getting worse for both teams in the NHL's Western Conference Final.

Anahiem announced that winger Rickard Rakell will miss Game 5 with a lower body. He joins Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher and marquee names that started Game 4 but will not play Game 5.

Rakell was tied for second on the Ducks with 13 points, and he leads the team in plus-minus (+13) and is tied for the team lead in power play points with four.

From the looks of things, Nicolas Kerdiles will draw in at forward for the Ducks, and the top line will be comprised of Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Ritchie and Corey Perry.

Giant Hit: Stralman Rattles Rantanen with Open-Ice Beauty

I don't know if you guys have heard, but Sweden and Finland don't like each other very much.

Further proof of that theory is this hit by Anton Stralman, who absolutely tattoos Mikko Rantanen as the Finn attempts to enter the offensive zone during Sweden's 4-2 win over Finland. Rantanen was okay after the play.

Sweden will face Canada in tomorrow's IIHF World Hockey Championship Final in Cologne, Germany

Getzlaf Fined $10K for "Inappropriate Remark"

Ryan Getzlaf received a $10k fine for an inappropriate remark that the Ducks' center directed at an on-ice official during the Ducks 3-2 Game 4 win over the Predators in Nashville on Thursday night.

Reportedly, he called a ref a "Fu**ing **cksucker."

Here's the NHL's full statement about the incident. No suspension is forthcoming.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ryan Johansen out for Rest of Playoffs after Emergency Thigh Surgery

The Predators will be without their leading scorer and possession driver for the rest of the playoffs. The club announced on Thursday that Ryan Johansen injured his thigh and had to undergo emergency surgery after the Predators 3-2 overtime loss to the Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Here is the club's statement:

Apparently Johansen was initially injured late in the second period of Game 4, per this tweet:

Johansen would take 14 more shifts and finish the game with 27:28 of ice time.

The 24-year-old leads the Predators with 13 points in 14 games and is the leading scorer in these playoffs at 5-on-5 on a points per 60 minute basis.

The Predators also could be without center Mike Fisher for Game 5. The captain took a head shot when Josh Manson left his feet to lunge for a puck during a goalmouth scramble in the third period. He did not return to the game and will be reevaluated by Predators medical staff.

At this point it's not really clear who will draw in for the Predators at pivot if Fisher can't go. Vernon Fiddler has been the club's fifth center in these playoffs and he has played five games and scored one goal. But the Predators will have to go lower in the depth chart for their next option.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Statisfaction: Ducks Win, Perry Ties NHL Record for OT Goals in Single Season

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Tonight we'll discuss Corey Perry's OT heroics, Cam Fowler's all-around awesomeness and the Ducks improved penalty kill. Stats via Natural Stat Trick, Corsica Hockey and

1. Perry Ties for Most OT Goals in Single Playoff Season

Corey Perry's unassisted overtime winner at 10:25 of the first extra session gave the Anaheim Ducks a split in Nashville and leveled the Western Conference Final at two games apiece. It was a huge goal for the Ducks, and it was a milestone tally for Perry. The goal ties the 32-year-old with Mel Hill (1939) and Maurice Richard (1951) for most overtime goals in a playoff year.

In the history of the NHL playoffs, only four players have scored more overtime winners than the Ontario native, who now has four. Joe Sakic (8), Maurice Richard (6) Glen Anderson (5) and Patrick Kane (5) are the four.

Perry needed a little puck luck to get it done tonight. His shot from the board caromed off the stick of P.K. Subban and up over Pekka Rinne.

2. Nashville's home playoff winning streak ends at ten

The Predators became the first NHL team to win 10 consecutive home playoff games at home in 19 years with their Game 3 win over the Ducks, and the 15th to achieve the feat in history. The last two teams to do the trick (1997-98 Avalanche and 1996-97 Red Wings) each won the Cup.

3. Cam Fowler on Fire

Cam Fowler was a big reason the Ducks had a dominant first period on Thursday. He was flying all over the ice and a big reason that the Ducks were able to tilt the ice in their favor in the first period. Fowler, who leads all Ducks defensemen with eight points, did not stop there. He paired with Josh Manson and the two managed a plus-10 5-on-5 Corsi and a plus-1 overall. Manson led all Ducks with a 63.04 CF% (29CF, 17CA) and he was on for 10 scoring chances for and 6 against. Fowler has been primarily paired with Sami Vatanen in the playoffs, but the insertion of Kevin Bieksa into the lineup forced some changes on the Ducks blue line. Bieksa skated with Vatanen and they struggled badly in possession. With the Bieksa / Vatanen pairing on the ice at even strength, the Ducks managed 11 shot attempts for and 22 against.

4. Ducks Penalty kill improving as playoffs progress

The Ducks allowed 6 power play goals from 16 times shorthanded against the Flames, then allowed seven power play goals from 26 times shorthanded against the Oilers, but they have tightened things up significantly against the Predators. Thus far they have only allowed 1 power play goal from 19 times shorthanded, good for a 94.1 percent kill rate.

The killed off all five Predator power plays in Game 4, includin a 5-on-3 for 1:31 late in the third.

5. Johansen leads the playoffs in points per 60 minutes at even strength.

Ryan Johansen's line continues to get the best of the battle of the Ryans in this series, and his numbers show that he has been one of the best players at even strength all playoffs long. In fact, Johansen leaads the NHL in points per 60 in these playoffs at 5-on-5. Pity that he could not help the Predators score in his 6:28 of power play ice time tonight. Johansen got just one shot on goal in 27:28 of ice time in Game 4, but he was a plus-1.

Czech Defenseman Jan Rutta Looking at NHL Offers

It looks like Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is coming to the NHL.

According to his agent, Allan Walsh, Rutta will make a decision on NHL offers soon:

TSN Insider Darren Dreger reports that the 26-year-old Czech is garnering big interest from the Edmonton Oilers and perhaps the Calgary Flames.

The 6'0" 210-lb defenseman scored 32 points in 46 games for Chomutov Pirati of the Czech League last season.

Rutta just finished up playing for the Czechs in the IIHF World Hockey Championships, and was named the Czech player of the game in the Czech Republic's quarterfinal loss to Russia on Thursday.

Isles Hire Luke Richardson as Assistant Coach

The New York Islanders have added former NHL defenseman Luke Richardson as Assistant Coach. Richardson, who played 1,417 NHL games for six different NHL teams, retired in 2009. He worked as an assistant in Ottawa before becoming the head coach at AHL Binghamton in 2012.

Richardson coached at Binghamton until the end of last season but left his post in pursuit of NHL coaching jobs. He coached Canada to a victory at the Spengler Cup in 2016.

“I applied for a few jobs, didn’t get them and had to reset a little bit,” said Richardson. “And when I talked to Doug about this job, he was so excited coming off the success he had when he took over. It didn’t take a lot of convincing.” Spengler and Islanders head coach Doug Weight were teammates at Edmonton.

According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, the Islanders are expected to hire more coaching help this summer. Kelly Buchberger, another former teammate of Weight, and Scott Gomez, are the names at the top of the list.

In other news, the Islanders confirmed that Bob Corkum would not be back as assistant coach.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Statisfaction: Sens Crush Pens in Game 3

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll look at Ottawa's Game 3 rout of the Penguins, covering face-offs, Erik Karlsson, Sidney Crosby and a few other topics. Tonight's stats via Natural Stat Trick, Corsica Hockey and

1. Malkin lost 10 of 11 face-offs in Game 3

Not good, Geno. In total the Penguins won just 20 of 57 draws on Wednesday. There's been a lot of talk from the analytics community about the gap between perceived and real importance of face-offs these days, but I mean, you lose that many you are asking for trouble. Particularly during the playoffs for a team like Pittsburgh which probably suffered in terms of getting matchups and bench flow with all those lost draws.

Crosby won 9 of 23 for the Pens, and the only Pittsburgh player to win half was Matt Cullen, who won five of ten.

Derick Brassard was 14 for 16 and Jean-Gabriel Pageau was 12 for 17 for the victorious Senators.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped five of nine shots

Rough night for the Pens' netminder, who entered the game with a .931 save percentage and saw it drop to .924. Not all that bad, considering how horrible tonight's first period was for Fleury, though it really wasn't any fault of his. And it may cost him his starting job. Not surprisingly, everybody and their mother is calling for Matt Murray to get the start in Game 4. The 22-year-old stopped 19 of 20 shots and yes, he did guide the Pens to the Stanley Cup last season, but is one bad partial period enough for Mike Sullivan to sit Fleury down? What happens if you lose Game 4 with Murray in the net? Right back to Fleury?

No matter what happens, the fact that we're talking about a change (this is one of 7,000 articles that have popped up since the game ended) is absolutely crazy. Fleury has been an absolute god b the pipes for the Pens in the playoffs. It's crazy that 13 minutes of defensive lapses and bad bounces might send him to the bench.

3. Sidney Crosby Was a Minus-3 at Even Strength

Now there's something you don't see every day. Sid was on the ice for the second, fourth and fifth Ottawa goals. Crosby did chip in a power play goal in the third to make it 5-1. Since returning from his concussion in Game 5 of the Capitals series, Crosby has not been a little off his usual god-mode form. He is a minus-4 with four points. He was held pointless with four shots on goal in the first two games of the series.

4. Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot doing what they do

Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot were on the ice for Ottawa's last four goals. Karlsson has been on ice for 20 goals for and 8 against at even strength since the playoffs started. To bring that number more into perspective, Ottawa has scored 10 and given up 19 at even strength when Karlsson isn't on the ice. The Swede was averaging 28:55 of total ice time per game, but Guy Boucher was able to get him some rest on Wednesday. He skated 28 shifts and finished with 22:28 of total ice time. Karlsson has 14 points in 15 games in the playoffs, tops among all defenseman in the playoffs.

5. Craig Anderson has a .964 Save Percentage in the Conference Final

Craig Anderson has quietly been the Senators best player in the first three games of this series. Yes, the Sens have done a fantastic job of shutting down Pittsburgh's banged-up lineup with their swarming nuetral zone 1-3-1 cauldron, but Anderson has been there whenever Pittsburgh has found its way past the D. He has stopped 80 of 83 shots and has a 0.98 GAA.

Watch: German Commentators Go Nuts as Team Beats Latvia in Shootout

So much for remaining neutral.

Check out these two crazed lunatics, who were on the call for Germany's 4-3 IIHF World Hockey Championships victory over Latvia on Tuesday in Cologne. The Germans blew a 2-0 lead to the upstart Latvians and leveled with a power play goal with :33 seconds left to force overtime.

Then they went to a shootout, and well, you don't need to understand German to tell who won. Here's what it looked like on the ice:

Germany advances to face Canada in Thursday's quarterfinals. Here's the full lineup:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oilers' Sekera out 6-9 Months with ACL Tear

The Oilers will be without a key defenseman to start the 2017-18 season. GM Peter Chiarelli informed media today that Andrej Sekera had suffered a torn ACL during his collision with Ryan Getzlaf in Game 5 of the Oilers series with the Anaheim Ducks. He will be out for six to nine months.

Sekera, who finished with a goal and two assists in 11 playoff games, finished the regular season with 35 points and a career-best plus-14 in 80 games for Edmonton. He was primarily paired with Kris Russell and is expected to be a big part of the Oilers defense again next season.

Chiarelli said he was scheduled to have surgery on Thursday and given the timetable, Sekera could return to the lineup in anywhere from November to next February.

That will open up a temporary spot on the Oilers blue line. Could it be Griffin Reinhart that gets a shot? The former first-round pick in the 2012 draft (4th overall, New York Islanders) did not play a single regular season game for the Oilers but was called for duty during the playoffs, making an appearance against the Ducks on May 7. Reinhart had 21 points in 54 games for AHL Bakersfield this season.

Predators Win on Late Josi Goal, Take 2-1 Series Lead over Ducks

The Nashville Predators took a 2-1 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks in their best-of-7 Western Conference final on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena with a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Roman Josi drove home a power play goal at 17:17 of the third period to cap a third-period comeback that saw Nashville battle back from a goal down and continue to push for the game-winner despite having two goals disallowed due to goaltender interference.

The Predators have now won 10 consecutive home playoff games since they lost Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series with the Ducks last season. Nashville improved to 2-1 in these playoffs when trailing after two while the Ducks dropped to 5-1 when leading heading into the third.

Nashville outshot the Ducks 40 to 20 and did not allow a shot on goal in the final 11 minutes and 23 seconds of the game. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Predators finished with 28 scoring chances to 11 for the Ducks.

Anaheim opened the scoring on a power play goal from Corey Perry, his first of the series and third of the playoffs, at 15:35 of the second. The veteran sent a wrister from the goal line that somehow got past Rinne, who had trouble getting his positioning against the post on the play.

Nashville leveled at 3:54 of the third on Filip Forsberg's 6th goal of the playoffs. Forsberg won a loose puck from Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, dished it out front to Ryan Ellis for a chance and then banged home the rebound as Anaheim goalie John Gibson was falling beneath the weight of Viktor Arvidsson, who was sent into the goalie on a check from behind by Vatanen.

"We never stopped believing," said Filip Forsberg after the game. "We were taking over after that goal."

The Predators kept coming late and finally broke through after Chris Wagner was sent to the box for high-sticking at 16:05. Mattias Ekholm's point shot was stopped by Gibson but the rebound caromed off of Arvidsson right to Josi who deposited into the open net for the eventual game winner.

With the roof virtually coming off the Bridgestone Arena, the Ducks could not manage a single shot on goal down the stretch, even with Gibson pulled for an extra skater for the final minute and 22 seconds.

Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.

Watch: Predators Have Two Goals Disallowed Nine Seconds Apart

Ducks goalie John Gibson has been spending a lot of time on the ice tonight. On his arse, to be more specific. But it has been productive time because it seems like each time Nashville crashes the crease and puts Gibson on the seat of his pants, Nashville and its fans suffer a heart-crushing, momentum-slaying wash-out.

Twice in the third period, in a nine-second span, the Predators had goals waved off. That didn't please the fans at Bridgestone Arena, who threw some debris on the ice after the second wash-out. Not the classiest of moves, but can you blame them? When you live with your team you die with it.

If you're scoring at home, both calls appeared to be correct. Neither player was pushed into Gibson, and both took him out of the play before the goal was scored (full video of both above). In today's NHL, goaltender interference is frowned upon, and we think that's a good thing.

Jared Boll Laughs it up as Anaheim Scores First Goal of Game 3

Jared Boll has been enjoying some ice time for the Ducks during their Western Conference Final with the Nashville Predators--and he's also enjoying his off-ice time. The checking forward put a big hit on Harry Zolnierczyk late in the second period (full video below) and was immediately asked to fight by surly enforcer Cody McLeod. Boll Obliged, McLeod got the instigator penalty and the rest is history.

Just hilarious, if you're Boll.

But pretty unecessary if you're McLeod. The playoffs are not the time to take an instigator penalty and McLeod learned that the hard way tonight. Corey Perry's goal from an impossible angle has given the Ducks a 1-0 lead, and they'll have the momentum heading into the third.

McLeod would have had many chances to seek retribution without taking an instigator, and that's on him.

Here's the play in its entirety, and the fight (which was a decent one).

And here's the goal:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ryan Johansen rips into Ryan Kesler after Game 2 Loss

After just two games of dealing with Anaheim Ducks' shutdown center and No.1 pest Ryan Kesler, Ryan Johansen is fed up.

The 24-year-old had some choice words for Kesler after the Ducks defeated the Predators 5-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final to level the series at a game apiece.

"I don't know how you can cheer for a guy like that," Johansen said, adding: "I'm just going out there to try and play hockey and it sucks when you have to pull a stick out of your groin every shift."

Johansen has thrived despite the pestilence from Kesler. He has a goal and three assists to lead all Predators in scoring in the first two games of the series. And he even got his digs in early in Game 2 when he got his stick into the face of Kesler after a face-off, which sent Kesler to the ice for a spell.

But Kesler, as is typically the case, got plenty of shots in as well. Like this:

Game three should be a real doozy between these two clubs, but since Nashville will be home and therefore have the last change prior to each face-off, they might be able to get Johansen some time away from Kesler.

Sounds like he could use it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Saucer Pass Hockey Podcast, Episode 6

Today we celebrate 7th heaven in these NHL Playoffs, talking about tonight's matchups.

One thing we did not mention in the podcast is the Penguins record on the road in Game 7s, which is 5-0.

Here are some other topics discussed in today's podcast:

1. Some Game 7 NHL History
2. Clever roster decisions by Barry Trotz and Todd McLellan gives their teams an edge
3. Should Sid the Kid even be playing?
4. A look at the goalie matchups
5. A funny quote from Randy Carlyle
6. Predictions
7. See you next time!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Could this be the beginning of a storybook Cup run for the Caps?

Are the Washington Capitals about to shed their playoff loser label once and for all?

It sure feels like it after the Capitals banged their way past a slow-footed Penguins team in Game 6 on Monday night at PPG Paints Arena to force Game 7. Washington has all the momentum in the series and they will look to capitalize on it by completing an improbable comeback in the deciding game of this series on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center. If they do it they'll become the 29th team in NHL history to battle back from 3-1 down to win a series.

They'll also be the first team with Alexander Ovechkin on the roster to make it to a Conference Final, which is utterly ridiculous when you think about it.

The very fact that the Caps have come level in the series, coupled with the level of intensity in their collective game on Monday, is a sign that Washington is ready to take the next step. This is a team that flirted with disaster in the first round when they were one goal away from going 7 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then they fell behind 3-1 against the Pens, losing Game 4 against a Penguins team that was without Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary.

Braden Holtby, typically one of the Capitals best players every postseason, struggled mightily, putting up a .857 save percentage in the first four games of the series.

Washington looked ripe for another inexplicable postseason flameout, but somehow they've pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and pressed on. The Caps have dominated this series from a possession standpoint, with a 5-on-5 Corsi of 62.24% while collecting 64.23% percent of the scoring chances, but it wasn't enough in the first four games because Holtby was flat and Marc-Andre Fleury was on fire.

That has changed dramatically in the last two games.

While Holtby has started to flourish, Fleury allowed nine goals on 58 shots in Games 5 and 6 for a save percentage of .845 and a GAA of 4.59. Either the Caps have solved him or he's simply lost his mojo. Can he get it back for Wednesday's winner-take-all contest in DC?

It's going to be tough.

Whatever momentum the Penguins had in this series has been all but squandered. Washington has outscored them 8-2 in the last four periods, and Sidney Crosby has not been the same player since he returned from his concussion to play Game 5. There's further worry about Crosby's health after he took a dangerous fall into the boards late in the first period on Monday and had great difficulty picking himself up and getting off the ice.

Many felt that Crosby should have been pulled from the game for examination by the NHL's concussion spotters, but he was allowed to play on. It created some pretty bad optics for the NHL and it may have been the wrong move to let Crosby continue without an immediate evaluation. Look, everybody knows that the NHL product is a far better one with Crosby in the lineup, but his concussion struggles have cast a gloom over the series. Instead of watching him create that otherworldly magic he's known for, we're watching every hit he takes while holding our breath, hoping that it isn't the one that sends him off the ice for good and puts his career in further jeopardy.

The Penguins have been decimated by injuries this season, and it might be too difficult for them to get up off the canvas against this Capitals juggernaut for Game 7, given how bad they were physically outplayed in Game 6.

Game 7's are supposed to be toss-ups. But it sure feels like the Penguins only chance to win this series went out the window in the third period of Game 5. They held a 2-1 lead and a 43-1-1 record when leading after two periods in their last 45 regular season and playoff games combined at that point. There was reason to believe the end was near for the Caps but they stormed to victory, pumping three unanswered goals past Fleury to flip the script in this series.

But anything can happen in Game 7, and Washington must beware of letting their foot off the proverbial gas pedal. They put themselves in a bad position by falling behind 3-1 and they are by no means out of this series yet now matter how well they played in the last two games. One bounce could decide this series.

One fluky goal could end a decade of frustration for Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals, or it could be the next painful body blow in a long line of playoff failures for a Capitals organization that specializes in breaking its fans' hearts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Isles Set to Offer Tavares Mega Money

The New York Islanders are set to offer their star center John Tavares a big contract this summer.

As in, very big.

Arthur Staple of Newsday reports that the Islanders are prepared to offer Tavares $10 million per year for eight years, if Tavares tells the Islanders that he's interested in staying.

The 26-year-old is set become a free agent in the summer of 2018.

Here's the details from Staple's piece:

He is eligible to sign a new deal on July 1 and the Islanders, from owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky on down, have spent the better part of a year keeping the lines of communication open with his agent, Pat Brisson, about the organization’s plans.

The Islanders are likely to offer Tavares an eight-year contract worth upward of $10 million per season.

If Tavares tells the club he’s not interested in signing this summer, Snow likely will be forced to entertain trade offers for his superstar before July 1 arrives. Even with a year left on his deal, the Islanders can’t wait to see what happens in the 2018 offseason and risk seeing their franchise player walk away with no compensation.

Staple also reported that Tavares had surgery on his right hand last month and is expected to make a full recovery by the beginning of next season.

Tavares is still in a cast, but is proceeding as scheduled in his recovery and should have the cast removed next week.

Watch: Crosby Tumbles Face-First into Boards

Just in case you wanted to know the type of things to avoid in your second game back from a concussion, we have an example of that for you here.

DEFINITELY avoid the type of head-first collisions with the boards that Sidney Crosby just endured (see video above) during the first period of the Game 6 of the Capitals-Penguins series at PPG Paints Arena on Monday night.

And also avoid getting sticked in the face by the guy that cross-checked you in the head in Game 3:

It's been a rough one for Crosby and the Penguins thus far. The Capitals have just taken a 2-0 lead on a goal by Andre Burakovsky at 6:36 of the second period. The Penguins hold a 13-5 edge in shots as we approach the mid-way mark of period two.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Foiled by the Oil: Ducks Drop Game 6 with a Thud

The Edmonton Oilers weren't about to let another one slip away.

After a heartbreaking Game 5 loss that saw them blow a three-goal lead in the final three-plus minutes, the upstart Oilers came out with a vengeance in front of the Rogers Place faithful on Sunday night in Edmonton.

The scored early.

They scored often.

Then they scored some more.

Leon Draisaitl recorded a hat trick and Mark Letestu scored twice to power the Oilers to a 7-1 victory. The win sets up a Game 7 at Anaheim's Honda Center on Wednesday night, a building that has seen the Ducks lose a Game 7 in each of the last four seasons.

"Obviously the season was on the line and we all had to step it up a notch and the whole group did," Draisaitl said after his three goals pushed his totals to 6-10-16 for the posteason.

The German struggled at the start of the playoffs when an illness sapped his strength in the first four games, but he has hit his stride since. He becomes one of just five Edmonton oilers in history to record two four-point playoff games in a single postseason with his effort tonight.

The Oilers potted three goals on their first six shots to chase Ducks goalie John Gibson from the game.

After winning in dramatic fashion on Friday in Anaheim, the Ducks will face even more pressure as the return home to reverse a concerning playoff trend. The Ducks were eliminated in the first rounds of 2016 (Nashville) and 2013 (Detroit), the second round of 2014 (Los Angeles) and the third round of 2015 (Chicago) in seventh games at the Honda Center.

The difference between those losses and this year? Randy Carlyle is in has head coach for Bruce Boudreau.

"Half of the guys in here haven't been here for that stuff," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said after the game.

When asked what what wrong in Game 6, Ducks coach had a simple answer: "Everything."

He added: "It's not the same group, and I wasn't here. So don't pin any of the Game 7's on me. Simple as that. This is a different group. ... We're not afraid to go into our building and play a solid hockey game, and that's what is going to be required.

Simply Smashville: Predators Reach First Conference Final

It's been a long time coming. 19 seasons, if you're scoring at home, but the wait is over in Nashville, as the Predators reached their first Western Conference final by clinching their best-of-7 series with the St. Louis Blues in six games on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

More Saucer Passes: Caps Dominating Fancy Stats But Holtby Hurts

The Predators battled back from a 1-0 deficit, scoring three unanswered goals to raise the roof at Bridgestone Arena and validate the savvy moves of GM David Poile, who swung big deals to land top center Ryan Johansen and defenseman P.K. Subban last year.

Those deals have paid huge dividends for Nashville, as Johansen has led the team's top line and Subban has raised him game in the playoffs, playing shutdown defense with his partner Mattias Ekholm.

Nashville trailed after one, but surged early in the second as Ekholm saucered a perfect pass to Roman Josi, who took the cross-ice feed and rifled home his fourth goal of the playoffs from just below the left face-off circle to tie it at 1-1. Nashville's defense has now been involved in 15 of the team's last 19 goals, and the blue line has produced nine goals this postseason, tops in the NHL.

The Predators also took the initiative early in the third when Viktor Arvidsson saucered a nice feed to Johansen on a two-on-one and the Predators' center deked and slid his second goal of the playoffs past Jake Allen to give Nashville a 2-1 lead at 3:15. Calle Jarnkrok added the empty netter 19:00 of the third to put the game out of reach.

Nashville has now won eight of ten games in the playoffs and they have allowed just 14 goals in those games.

The Predators are now 4-0 in elimination playoff games played at home.

Their were many heros for Nashville, none bigger than their goaltender.

Pekka Rinne finished the game with 23 saves on 24 shots. The 34-year-old Finn has been absolutely on fire in these playoffs with two shutouts and a .951 save percentage which leads all goalies.

Since 1968 only one goalie that played seven games or more has finished a playoff season with a save percentage higher than that -- Rogie Vachon, who had a .953 save percentage while sharing the net with Gump Worsley for the Canadiens during their 1969 Cup run.

"Right now it means everything," said Rinne. "Like I said before we haven't gone further than this. It's a great feeling. ... We all know that we have what it takes and everything is in our hands. It's a good feeling -- it's why you play this game."

"He was unbelievable again," said Josi in the locker room after the game. "Probably every game he was our best player and he was our best player tonight again."

Rinne added an assist on Jarnkrok's empty netter, giving him three for the playoffs.

"He's so confident back there," said Josi. "He's confident in making saves and he's confident in passing the puck. He's been unbelievable for us."

Rinne entered this post season with a .912 lifetime save percentage in the playoffs to go with a 2.51 GAA and one shutout. Thus far in 2017 he has a 1.37 GAA and two shutouts to go with his .951 save percentage. But he'll have to continue his stellar play for the predators to reach their first Stanley Cup final. They'll fave the winner of Wednesday's Game 7 between the Oilers and Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

"He's obviously the biggest reason we are moving to the third round," said Johansen. "And he's going to have to keep playing that way, too. He's the backbone of our club, we've said that all year."

Bird No Longer the Word for Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov riled up the haters with his bird celebration after scoring in Game 1 of the Washington Capitals best-of-7 series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now he's shut it down, telling reporters (see video above, at the end) it was "bad karma" after Washington's Game 5 victory at Verizon Center.

God forbid anybody should have too much fun after scoring a goal in the NHL playoffs.

That said, the celly wasn't one of our faves.

Kuznetsov, who has five goals in the playoffs including goals in three straight games against the Penguins, will hope to lead his team's offense again on Monday night when the Capitals travel to Pittsburgh for Game 6.

Statisfaction: Caps Dominating Fancy Stats but Holtby Hurts

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll begin with the Washington Capitals statistical domination of the Pens.

1. Washington Dominating Possession, but on the Brink

So, the Caps are seemingly in control of the puck, the shot attempts and the run of play against the Penguins, but they are still on the brink of elimination and barely survived Game 5 on the strength of a three-goal outburst vs. the Penguins at Verizon Center on Saturday. Could it mark the beginning of a turn of fortune for the Caps? Many waited for that same thing to happen for the Minnesota Wild against the Blues in the first round, but it never did. We don't know how it will play out, but we do find these numbers interesting.

At 5-on-5 Washington has a 63.4 CF% and a 60.44 FF% in the five games of this series. They also have managed to own 64.71% of the scoring chances in the series, per Natural Stat Trick. And yet, they have only scored 10 goals to 9 for Pittsburgh at 5-on-5. Is it because Pittsburgh is so good at countering and scoring on the rush? The Penguins have a 10.46 shooting percentage while the Capitals have a 7.46.

2. Braden Holtby not really cutting the mustard for Caps

Holtby had a great third period for Washington on Saturday night, but prior to that he has really struggled in net in this series. He has put up a .901 save percentage in the series, which is far below his career playoff lifetime save percentage of .932.

Here are Holtby's playoff stats from this year compared to his lifetime playoff stats.

3. Predators D Playing a Part

Nashville's defensemen have points in 14 of the team's last 16 goals. The Preds will look to book their first trip to a Conference Final on Sunday vs. St. Louis. One thing to note: Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi have struggled as a pair against the Blues.

The below table shows how much Josi and Ellis have struggled in several key categories in this series:

4. Pens Blow a Late Lead

The Penguins were 43-1-1 in games that they held a lead after two periods heading into Saturday night. But the Capitals broke through with three goals to stay alive. Will it prove to be a turning point?

5. Crosby Leads Playoffs in 5-on-5 Points per 60

And next on the list is Tanner Glass! Also interesting to note how effective Colton Sissons has been for Nashville.

Below are the top five playoff performers in terms of points per 60 mins, via Corsica: