Was it shocking the Vancouver Canucks
would fire coach John Tortorella
one year into a five-year contract?
Not really. It was more shocking they hired Tortorella in the first place. Tortorella's brash style and defensive demands were never going to fly with the Sedin twins.
"Daniel, what does he mean when he says we have to block shots?"
"I have no idea, Henrik."
The Canucks were one of the NHL's most underachieving teams this season, and Tortorella paid the price.
Tortorella is a good hockey coach, but his antics -- squabbling with reporters, walking out of press conferences because somebody's cell phone rang, charging down the hallway of an arena to try to get at an opposing coach -- make him a hot potato. Perhaps too hot for a team to roll the dice on now.
Tortorella needs to step back for a while and take a critical look at his behaviour the past few years. If he concludes that he doesn't always have to be the whole show and tempers the drama that seems to follow him wherever he goes, there is a very good chance he will coach again in the NHL.
He certainly can have a positive impact on a team. That was evident in 2004 when, with the rest of the NHL playing the neutral-zone trap and left-wing lock, Tortorella encouraged his players with the Tampa Bay Lightning to use their speed and skill. Naturally they had to maintain a defensive posture when the other team had the puck, but the Lightning's motto was: Safe is death. Thanks to Tortorella's wonderful coaching, the Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
We have not seen the last of John Tortorella.Crosby injured?
With no goals and six assists in six playoff games, the question has to be asked: Is Sidney Crosby
It certainly appears he is. Crosby has not had his usual fire and high level of compete thus far in the post-season. He averaged 27.3 shifts and 21:50 of ice time in the first round and managed just 19 shots on goal. It would not surprise me when all is said and done to find out he was playing despite an injury.Gone, but not forgotten
Their teams were eliminated in the first round, but a few players made lasting impressions in defeat. They include:Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche:
The impending unrestricted free agent scored five goals and 10 points in seven games, squashing any doubts about his ability to make a positive impact this time of year.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche:
The 18-year-old rookie looked like a seasoned veteran, scoring two goals and 10 points in his first NHL playoff action.Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers:
When was the last time anybody could say the Flyers are set in goal? Mason made great strides toward getting his career back on track, and based on his solid play against New York in Round 1, the team is set in goal moving forward.First-round stars
The race for the Conn Smythe Trophy is on. Leading contenders for the playoff MVP include:Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks:
The Blackhawks captain and leader scored three game-winning goals in the first round.Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks:
He took a well-deserved three-game suspension, but when he has played, he has looked spectacular, scoring two goals and six points in three games.Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks:
Despite taking a puck in the face that caused him to get more than 50 stitches, Getzlaf's dream season has continued with three goals and seven points in five games.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings:
This guy gets penalized at awards time because he plays on the west coast. With a goal and seven points in six games, Doughty is showing he will eventually win the Norris Trophy.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings:
The big centre already has more points (10) in seven playoff games than he registered last season (nine) in 18 post-season games.All the Kings' men
The Los Angeles Kings
have plenty of star power, but when it comes to winning in the playoffs, it's a couple of grinders -- Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll -- who help get the job done.
Williams, who has won Cups with the Kings and Carolina Hurricanes, saves some of his best hockey for the playoffs. He had four goals and six points in the first round and now has 25 goals and 59 points in 96 career playoff games. Stoll, meanwhile, doesn't score as often, but plays a solid defensive game and makes a huge physical impact.
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