Category Archives: Hockey News

Bishop, Lehner, Vasilevskiy nominated for Vezina Trophy

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, New York Islanders netminder Robin Lehner, and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalists for this year's Vezina Trophy, the league announced Saturday.

The Vezina Trophy is given annually to the goalie voted best at his position. Here's a look at how the three netminders stack up:

GSAA = goals saved above average
Bold indicates league leader

Goalie GP W SV% GAA GSAA SO
Bishop 46 27 .934 1.98 32.24 7
Lehner 46 25 .930 2.13 26.24 6
Vasilevskiy 53 39 .925 2.40 26.40 6

Vasilevskiy finished third in last year's voting behind the Winnipeg Jets' Connor Hellebuyck and the winner, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Bishop is a two-time finalist (2014, 2016) but has yet to win. Lehner - who claimed the Jennings Trophy along with teammate Thomas Greiss for fewest goals against as a team this season - is a first-time Vezina Trophy nominee.

A win by Bishop or Lehner would mark the fewest games played by a Vezina winner in a non-shortened season since Tom Barrasso claimed the award as an 18-year-old in 1983-84.

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Hurricanes’ Svechnikov: Ovechkin started Game 3 fight

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov claims Alex Ovechkin initiated the lopsided fight in which he fell victim to the powerful right fist of the Washington Capitals' captain.

"He did ask me first for (a) fight," Svechnikov said in broken English, according to The News and Observer's Luke DeCock. "I am not (a) superhero, (not going to) ask first for (a) fight."

The 19-year-old Svechnikov was knocked out by his fellow countryman during the first period of Game 3 after the two dropped the mitts. He suffered a concussion and remains unable to return for Saturday's Game 5.

Here's a video of the bout:

"I just wanted to stand up for myself," Svechnikov continued, justifying his decision to accept the fight offer. He said the tilt resulted from "back and forth all series."

Ovechkin reached out to the rookie after the game to apologize for the outcome.

"He called me right after (the) game, we talked a bit," Svechnikov added. I said 'sometimes (that) happens, you never know.'"

Svechnikov skated at Saturday's practice with a non-contact jersey and says he "hopes" to return for Game 6.

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2019 IIHF World Championship commitment tracker

The 2019 IIHF World Championship run from May 10-26 in Slovakia. Follow along for all the recent roster commitments ahead of the tournament opener.

Canada

Roster

Player Position Team
Sean Couturier F PHI
Anthony Mantha F DET
Tyler Bertuzzi F DET
Carter Hart G PHI
MacKenzie Blackwood G NJ

United States

Roster

Player Position Team
Patrick Kane F CHI
Jack Eichel F BUF
James van Riemsdyk F PHI
Dylan Larkin F DET
Clayton Keller F ARI
Alex DeBrincat F CHI
Luke Glendening F DET
Colin White F OTT
Frank Vatrano F FLA
Chris Kreider F NYR
Ryan Suter D MIN
Brady Skjei D NYR
Quinn Hughes D VAN
Alec Martinez D LA
Cory Schneider G NJ
Thatcher Demko G VAN
Cayden Primeau G MTL

Finland

Roster

Player Position Team
Henri Jokiharju D CHI

Sweden

Roster

Player Position Team
Elias Pettersson F VAN
Oskar Lindblom F PHI
Adrian Kempe F LA
Marcus Kruger F CHI
Loui Eriksson F VAN
Mario Kempe F ARI
Jesper Bratt F NJ
Adam Larsson D EDM
Erik Gustafsson D CHI
Robert Hagg D PHI
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D ARI
Henrik Lundqvist G NYR
Jacob Markstrom G VAN

Russia

Roster

Player Position Team
Ilya Kovalchuk F LA
Vladislav Namestnikov F NYR
Evgenii Dadonov F FLA
Artem Anisimov F CHI
Alexander Burmistrov F UFA (KHL)
Alexander Kadeikin F UFA
Vladimir Tkachyov F UFA
Sergei Plotnikov F SKA (KHL)
Nail Yakupov F SKA
Alexander Barabanov F SKA
Ivan Provorov D PHI
Yegor Yakovlev D NJ
Artyom Zub D SKA
Dinar Khafizullin D SKA
Artyom Sergeev D UFA
Ilya Lybushkin D YAR (KHL)
Alexandar Georgiev G NYR

Czech Republic

Roster

Player Position Team
Jakub Voracek RW PHI

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By-committee execution propelled Maple Leafs to Game 5 victory

All Mike Babcock could do was grin.

Since Game 5 against the Boston Bruins started with back-to-back Maple Leafs stick infractions - first, a questionable tripping call on winger Zach Hyman, then a borderline hooking call on forward Patrick Marleau - the bench boss did what we all do when we feel wronged but can't change the outcome of the matter at hand.

He smiled, once for each perceived slight.

The opening-round series' on-and-off officiating controversy - which peaked during a whistles-away Game 2 - reappeared Friday. The Leafs powered through the noise, though, bagging two even-strength goals over a two-minute span in the third period before holding off a late Bruins surge.

Toronto won 2-1 and now leads the series 3-2. With a victory Sunday at home, the high-profile club can advance to the second round for the first time since 2004.

"Obviously, the hardest game to win is the fourth game to put the other team out, especially a proud group of guys," Babcock told reporters postgame, tipping his cap to the Bruins. "It is something that we haven't been able to do in the last three years."

This version of Boston-Toronto has been very tight. Both clubs have scored 14 goals and have mostly received quality goaltending. Truthfully, nobody's running away with the series.

TEAM ESG PPG OTHER TOTAL
TORONTO 9 3 2 14
BOSTON 7 5 2 14

[Other = penalty-shot, empty-net, or pulled-goalie goals]

The Leafs have been the better team at five-on-five, limiting the formidable trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak to three even-strength goals. The Bruins, meanwhile, have dined on special teams, collecting five power-play markers in Games 1 through 4 while holding Toronto to just three on the PP. (Neither team scored on the PP in Game 5.)

Since the Leafs' two goals on Friday were so clean and well-executed, and occurred in what could be the series' turning-point contest, let's take a closer look at both sequences:

1-0 (Auston Matthews)

This goal was a complete group effort.

Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev made a terrific pass to Hyman, sending the puck from the Leafs' hash marks all the way to the far blue line. Toronto loves its stretch passes, and this particular attempt led to a clean zone entry.

Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy then ran into Hyman, forcing him to find a streaking Kasperi Kapanen, who immediately handed off to Auston Matthews. Without puck support from Kapanen and Matthews, this play dies.

Matthews quickly deferred to Jake Muzzin hanging out at the point. Muzzin - who's having a tremendous series and became a father Thursday - wound up for a slap shot, faked it, then fed Matthews with an accurate pass. The big center had found a nice, open spot on his off wing and nailed the one-timer.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask had no chance on Matthews' series-leading fourth goal. "He's a big guy so when he opens up you see him out of the corner of your eye," Muzzin said. "And great finish by him."

Hyman's role in the goal triggered a challenge from the Bruins, however. Coach Bruce Cassidy claimed the workhorse winger interfered with Rask.

The Situation Room - the league's centralized video room - took over for the on-ice officials and determined, yes, Hyman did interfere with Rask but the act wasn't egregious enough to overturn what had originally been ruled a good goal.

The bar is high for the Situation Room to overturn good-goal and no-goal calls made at ice level, and Hyman's interference didn't pass its threshold. There was contact, but the contact was 1) outside the blue paint, and 2) not compelling enough to justify a change.

2-0 (Kasperi Kapanen)

In a Game 5 defined by a dearth of scoring opportunities from either team in the first 50 minutes, the Leafs managed to once again create offense by committee.

Two minutes after opening the scoring, Matthews swooped deep into Toronto's zone to receive a short breakout pass from defenseman Ron Hainsey. Matthews then found Hainsey's partner, Morgan Rielly, cruising through the middle of the ice.

Untouched, Rielly exited the Leafs' zone and entered the Bruins' zone in style before passing to winger Andreas Johnsson. When the Leafs are rolling as a cohesive unit, they're a runaway train. You could sense what was coming.

Johnsson went cross-ice to Kapanen and the 22-year-old Finn fired the puck into the open net. After accumulating 11 shots but zero goals in the first four games, Kapanen had his first of the playoffs. Babcock labeled it "huge" for the speedster's confidence.

"It doesn't matter who you are, at times when it isn't going good for you, you question yourself a little bit," the coach said. "That is what the National Hockey League is about. It takes your confidence away at times. You just keep grinding. I thought he was great tonight."

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

The game itself wasn't great Friday. It was slow and devoid of action until midway through the third. But it picked up, and following the Leafs' goals, Boston's David Krejci scored with Rask pulled to launch a short-lived comeback.

Combined with a shutdown performance from John Tavares, Matthews has been a gigantic difference-maker this series, especially since third-line center Nazem Kadri's been sidelined due to a suspension.

If Kapanen, Matthews, and the rest of the Leafs can replicate that Game 5 performance on Sunday, there's a strong chance the Leafs will be seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the next round.

Wouldn't that bring a smile - of a different variety - to Babcock's face.

John Matisz is theScore's National Hockey Writer. You can find him on Twitter @matiszjohn.

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Both No. 1 seeds ousted in Round 1 for 1st time in expansion era

The Colorado Avalanche eliminated the Calgary Flames from the postseason in five games Friday night with a one-sided 5-1 victory. Along with the Tampa Bay Lightning's sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, it marked the first time both No. 1 seeds lost in the first round in the expansion era.

The NHL expanded from six teams to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season, marking the beginning of the expansion era. With only six teams in the league before 1968, there was only one division, and thus only one top seed.

Calgary and Tampa didn't just lose, the two teams were completely outmatched, combining to win just one playoff game.

The Avalanche will now play the winner of the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights in Round 2. Vegas currently leads the series 3-2.

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Flames goal disallowed due to goalie interference call

It was only a matter of time before goalie interference reviews left their mark on the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After a goal stood earlier in the evening during Game 5 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, the Calgary Flames were unable to overturn an on-ice goalie interference call in their win-or-go-home tilt with the Colorado Avalanche. Goalie interference giveth, and goalie interference taketh away.

Flames winger Sam Bennett was called for interference while wrestling with Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson in front of the net. Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau was able to slip home the wraparound while Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer was down and out of position. Here's another look:

In its explanation upholding the call, the league stated that Bennett's actions caused Johnson to make contact with Grubauer before the puck crossed the line.

The goal would've brought the Flames within one, but instead, the Avs rode the momentum to an even larger lead.

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Flames goal disallowed due to goalie interference call

It was only a matter of time before goalie interference reviews left their mark on the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After a goal stood earlier in the evening during Game 5 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, the Calgary Flames were unable to overturn an on-ice goalie interference call in their win-or-go-home tilt with the Colorado Avalanche. Goalie interference giveth, and goalie interference taketh away.

Flames winger Sam Bennett was called for interference while wrestling with Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson in front of the net. Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau was able to slip home the wraparound while Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer was down and out of position. Here's another look:

In its explanation upholding the call, the league stated that Bennett's actions caused Johnson to make contact with Grubauer before the puck crossed the line.

The goal would've brought the Flames within one, but instead, the Avs rode the momentum to an even larger lead.

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Bruins’ Cassidy: Matthews’ goal ‘looked like goaltender interference’

The Toronto Maple Leafs earned a critical road victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night, winning 2-1 while taking Game 5 in somewhat controversial fashion.

The Bruins challenged Auston Matthews' go-ahead goal with just over eight minutes left in the game for goaltender interference after Leafs forward Zach Hyman appeared to make contact with Tuukka Rask. The goal was upheld, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy disagrees with the decision.

"From my viewpoint it clearly looked like goaltender interference," Cassidy said postgame, according to The Athletic's Joe McDonald. "The call didn't go our way and it's 1-0 with eight minutes to go. We have time to get ourselves back in the game and regroup, unfortunately we weren't able to do that."

Hyman, who was jockeying for position with Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and backed into Rask accidentally, holds a different opinion.

"I was battling in front and I might've got bumped into him, but I don't think it caused much of anything ... I thought it was a good goal," Hyman said, according to TSN's Mark Masters.

In its explanation, the league said the review was inconclusive and the call on the ice was confirmed.

Maple Leafs speedster Kasperi Kapanen added another goal just over two minutes later that stood as the game-winner.

Toronto can eliminate the Bruins at home in Game 6 on Sunday, and also secure the franchise's first playoff series victory since 2004.

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