Some Monday musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:
Bell Centre beckons
It will be interesting to see how the Montreal Canadiens respond on Tuesday, two days after their two-goal lead turned into a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins in the final 10 minutes of Game 2 on Saturday.
Montreal head coach Michel Therrien and his players have done their best to put a positive spin on the third-period collapse.
They point out that the Canadiens held the Bruins to only seven shots in the final 20 minutes.
They point out that two of the goals came from unlucky bounces off of Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher and his teammate Francis Bouillon to get past goalie Carey Price.
They point out they have connected for four power-play goals in their two outings in Boston.
They point out that the Canadiens now have home-ice advantage after gaining their split in Boston.
In total, home teams have won 36 of 55 games so far. The Habs have gone two-for-two at home in the 2014 playoffs, while the Bruins have managed to go two-for-two on the road.
"If you analyze the third period in the first 10 minutes, they only had one shot on goal, so I don't think we were a team that was sitting on a lead," Therrien said. "We were putting a lot of pressure on the puck carrier and we were in complete control. You need breaks to win games, and when you look at Bergeron's goal, the puck took a bad bounce in front and went over the shoulder of Price.
"It's definitely disappointing to have let that game slip away, but we have to look at the big picture. We came out of Boston with the series tied and we're back in Montreal. If we would have said that at the beginning of the series we would have been very satisfied. I'm approaching this with a lot of confidence, to be honest. We managed to take the lead. Boston showed a lot of character to come back in both games, but we still took that lead."
Bryan Bickell, 28, hoped to build off his strong playoff performance of a year ago with his best regular season yet.
The Chicago Blackhawks rewarded the native of Orono, Ont. with a four-year, $16-million US contract extension a week after he scored the late game-tying goal in the Stanley Cup-clinching game last June.
He finished his championship run with nine goals and 17 points in 23 games and he also got married later in the summer. But Bickell struggled in the regular season.
The former Ottawa 67's forward managed only 15 points in 59 games. Bickell, however, has wiped out the struggles of the regular season with an outstanding playoff run so far with five goals and eight points in eight games with a Blackhawks team that has reeled off six consecutive wins.
"I don't know, this is a crucial time," Bickell told reporters when he asked about his playoff success. "I want to play in the regular season the way I do [in the playoffs]. It just seems like good things happen at this time of season. I'm happy to contribute and do whatever it takes to help the team."
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville remarked that Bickell, who has been playing on a line with captain Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, picked up the pace late in the regular season.
"His play all year long was ordinary until the end of the year when he was trending, looking like he was going to play like he did last year in the playoffs," Quenneville said.
Bruins blue-line success
The Bruins have been without veteran defencemen Adam McQuaid (ankle) and Dennis Seidenberg (knee) for the entire playoffs and yet haven't skipped a beat. Youngsters like Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller - as well as an old warhorse like Zdeno Chara - have contributed to the cause.
Chara was a plus-five in the Bruins come-from-behind victory over Montreal on Saturday, becoming only the fifth player since 1998 to check in with a plus-minus rating of plus-five or higher. The others were Buffalo teammates Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder (both plus-six on May 2, 2006), Philadelphia defenceman Matt Carle (plus-five May 7, 2010) and Flyers forward Max Talbot (plus-five on April 13, 2012).
With his five-game point streak, Hamilton has become the first 20-year-old or younger blueliner to accomplish the feat since April 1984 when Calgary's Al MacInnis enjoyed a six-game point streak at age 20.
Of the eight remaining teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Chicago's defencemen have produced the most total points, but Boston's blue line has scored more goals.
Blackhawks - 6 goals, 29 points (eight games)
Penguins - 5 goals, 24 points (eight games)
Kings - 5 goals, 22 points (eight games)
Bruins - 7 goals, 20 points (seven games)
Canadiens - 4 goals, 18 points (six games)
Wild - 6 goals, 14 points (nine games)
Ducks - 2 goals, 10 points (seven games)
Rangers - 2 goals, 10 points (nine games)
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been a postseason lightning rod the past few playoffs, but he certainly came up big for the Penguins in their 3-0 win over the New York Rangers at home on Sunday to earn his seventh career shutout.
The win also was Fleury's career 50th in the playoffs. Only 16 others have won more NHL postseason games.
When Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne scored for the first time in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs on Sunday the 43-year-old became the third-oldest NHLer to score in the postseason.
By the Numbers
8 - Game point streak for Los Angeles centre Anze Kopitar to begin his playoff run. He has four goals and 13 points during this stretch.
13 - Times in a row the New York Rangers have had a series lead and then lost the next game.
45 - Different defencemen that have scored goals in the 2014 playoffs.
40 - Different defencemen scored in the playoffs a year ago.
180 - Different players have scored goals in the playoffs this spring and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has yet to score.
172 - Different players scored in the playoffs in 2013.
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