Monday Musings: Dustin Tokarski makes good on scout's promise | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Dustin Tokarski makes good on scout's promise

Posted: Monday, May 26, 2014 | 11:40 AM

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Canadiens backup goalie Dustin Tokarski has played admirably in place of injured star Carey Price. (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) Canadiens backup goalie Dustin Tokarski has played admirably in place of injured star Carey Price. (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

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The Monday Musings this week have the legendary scout Charlie Hodge stopping by to talk Dustin Tokarski. Also touched on is the play of P.K. Subban, Henrik Samuelsson, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson.

Some Monday musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:

  • The Western and Eastern conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs conclude.
  • The AHL Calder Cup East and West finals continue. The Toronto Marlies lead the West final 1-0 over the Texas Stars, while the St. John's IceCaps and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are tied at 1-1 in the East.
  • The NHL draft prospects combine begins in Toronto on Monday.

Tokarski does scout Hodge proud

Charlie Hodge, the scout who was responsible for Dustin Tokarski being drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fifth round in 2008, has closely watched the underdog goalie perform for the Montreal Canadiens in the East final against the New York Rangers.

"I'm just pleased for him," said the 80-year-old Hodge from his Vancouver-area home. "When Tampa drafted him he never really got a chance to play. It's nice to see him getting a chance and playing well."

Former Lightning owner Oren Koules was kind enough to join Rob Pizzo and myself on Hockey Night in Canada Radio last Friday and recalled what happened in 2008 at the Tampa Bay draft table.

"It was the year we drafted Steven Stamkos and by the time it reaches the fourth round it goes by pretty quick," Koules said. "There was an older, smaller man sitting beside me and I didn't know him until the week before. It was Charlie Hodge. You know, the guy who had won a Vezina [Trophy] with Montreal and won six Cups.

"He was kind of quiet and not really chipping in. But all of a sudden in the fourth round he starts banging on the table and nobody was paying attention. It's loud and kind of moving fast, so I said to him 'what's going on?'

"He said 'I'm a goalie. I don't care if he's small. He's a great goalie. He's a winner.' We talked for a few minutes and then I walked around the table -- we were three or four picks away -- and asked [then Lightning general manager] Jay [Feaster] 'what do we got?' He said 'we have this defenceman out of Finland.'"

Koules eventually convinced Feaster to instead take a chance on Tokarski.

"It was completely all Charlie Hodge," Koules said. "It was 100 per cent him and the fact that he won all those Stanley Cups with Montreal. It's neat that it has come full circle and that [Tokarski] is now playing for Montreal."

In the absence of an injured Carey Price, the 24-year-old Tokarski, a native of Watson, Sask., has played well in three games with a solid .917 save percentage. 

What did Hodge see in the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Tokarski back then?

"It's a big man's game now in goal with all that equipment," said Hodge, now retired from scouting, who was only 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds when he played for Montreal.

"The problem was [Tokarski] was small," Hodge continued. "But when I played I was the smallest. I didn't travel around back then, but I saw him play every time he came to Vancouver and he impressed me. He was a winner.

"Like I said, he needed a chance and it's nice to see him getting that chance with Montreal."

Subban needs to be better

P.K. Subban leads all defencemen in the playoffs with five goals and 13 points, and all skaters with four power-play goals, but he hasn't been as effective in the East final as he was in the previous two rounds.

Subban is a minus-four in the four games of the East final and he got caught too deep in the Rangers zone when New York's Carl Hagelin was sprung for a key shorthanded goal in the first period of Game 4 on Sunday.

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Subban played a game-high 33 minutes and 16 seconds in Game 4, but the 25-year-old Canadiens defenceman hasn't played with his usual high level of vim against the Rangers.

Subban will need to be more of a positive factor and control the puck better if the Canadiens have designs on getting back in this series. Montreal's power play not only has gone a dismal 1-for-17 with Subban at the point, the Canadiens haven't received any positive vibes from their man-advantage situations to build off of in future shifts.  

Meet the Samuelssons

Ulf Samuelsson and his son Henrik enjoyed quite an eventful and fruitful weekend.

Ulf, the 50-year-old Rangers assistant coach and two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was accused by Canadiens bench boss Michel Therrien of breaking a "gentlemen's agreement" by watching the Montreal practice on Saturday.

Then his son and the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings went out and beat the Guelph Storm in the Memorial Cup final on Sunday, hours before the Rangers snatched a 3-1 lead in the East final.

The younger Samuelsson, 20, enjoyed a two-goal, five-point game against Guelph and was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team with a tournament-leading eight points.

Samuelsson is a Phoenix Coyotes prospect. He played his minor hockey in Arizona before he enrolled to play for the 2010-11 United States development team program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and then for his father in Sweden for Modo the next fall. He joined the Oil Kings midway through the 2011-12 season.

By the way, there was another Oil Kings connection to the NHL's East final. Edmonton forward Mads Eller is the younger brother of Montreal centre Lars Eller.

Playoff gamers

Los Angeles Kings sniper Jeff Carter has scored a remarkable 22 times in his last three playoff runs, and now ranks second in goals scored over the last five post-seasons:

  • Daniel Briere: 30 goals (59 games)
  • Jeff Carter: 28 goals (73 games)
  • Patrick Sharp: 28 goals (73 games)
  • Patrick Kane: 26 goals (73 games)
  • David Krejci: 26 goals (75 games)
  • Patrick Marleau: 23 goals (55 games)
  • Patrice Bergeron: 22 goals (77 games)
  • Claude Giroux: 21 goals (51 games)
  • Milan Lucic: 21 goals (79 games)
  • Jonathan Toews: 21 goals (73 games)

Playoff games

When Los Angeles plays host to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the West final tonight it will be the 100th game for the Kings this season if you include their 82 regular-season and 18 playoff games in 2013-14.

Which team has played in the most post-season games in the last five years?

  • Boston: 79 (Nine series wins, 2010-11 Stanley Cup)
  • Chicago: 73 (10 series wins, 2009-10 and 2013 Stanley Cups)
  • Los Angeles: 67 (Eight series wins, 2011-12 Stanley Cup)
  • San Jose: 56 (Five series wins)
  • N.Y. Rangers: 55 (Five series wins)
  • Pittsburgh: 54 (Four series wins)
  • Philadelphia: 52 (Five series wins)
  • Detroit: 47 (Three series wins)
  • Montreal: 46 (Four series wins)
  • Vancouver: 46 (Four series wins)

By the numbers

2 -- Times the Canadiens have overcome a 3-1 series deficit. They beat Boston in the first round of the 2004 playoffs after trailing 3-1 and rallied to defeat Washington in the first round in 2010.

7 -- Points (three goals, four assists) in 25 career regular-season games for Kings forward Tanner Pearson.

10 -- Points (two goals, eight assists) in 16-career Stanley Cup playoff games for Pearson, a native of Kitchener, Ont.

8 -- Wins in eight games for rookie AHL head coach Steve Spott and his Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup playoffs so far.

2008 -- The last time a WHL team (Spokane Chiefs) won the Memorial Cup before the Oil Kings celebrated their junior championship on Sunday.

1966 -- The last time the Oil Kings franchise won the Memorial Cup, a team that included Garnet (Ace) Bailey, Al Hamilton and Ross Lonsberry, also of Watson, Sask.

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