NHL

Cullen: Notes on Hamilton, Crosby, MacKinnon, Quick, more

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Scott Cullen
4/27/2014 1:40:27 AM
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The Bruins bury the Red Wings, Pittsburgh controls play against Columbus, Colorado's amazing comeback and the Kings stay alive; Scott Cullen has notes on Krug, Hamilton, Nyquist, Crosby, MacKinnon, Quick and more.

BRUINS FINISH RED WINGS

The Boston Bruins calmly dispatched the Detroit Red Wings, with a 4-2 win Saturday afternoon, wrapping up their first-round series in five games.

While the series was short, it was relatively competitive but, in the end, the Bruins simply had too much.

In Game Five, the Red Wings had a goal and an assist each from Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg -- and contributions from their superstars may have been their best chance for the upset -- but it wasn't enough. Boston got a goal and an assist from LW Milan Lucic and two assist from D Torey Krug on their way to the second round.

The tough part for the Red Wings is that they couldn't get any production out of the young forwards that had played such vital roles this season. LW Tomas Tatar, C Riley Sheahan and RW Gustav Nyquist were held off the scoresheet in all five games and the tendency might be to think that these inexperienced forwards were overmatched in the moment, but they were Detroit's best puck possession trio in the series, all three on for better than 58% of shot attempts at 5-on-5. Yet, there was ultimately some dissatisfaction from the Wings, who needed goals, not possession. In the series-deciding game, which Detroit trailed for 42 minutes, Nyquist played only 11:55, a threshold he surpassed in 44 of the previous 45 games.

Detroit's uphill battle was made steeper by the fact that G Jimmy Howard missed the last two games with a suspected concussion. Jonas Gustavsson actually played well, stopping 66 of 72 shots (.917), but it's tough to upend the Bruins with a second-string goaltender.

Datsyuk, playing on a bad knee, finished with five points in five games and was the only Red Wing with more than two points in the series.

The Bruins emerged from the series, relatively easily, even though David Krejci's line struggled in possession terms. It certainly didn't hurt to have G Tuukka Rask at the top of his game, stopping 146 of 152 shots (.961) in the series.

C Patrice Bergeron and Krug tied for the Bruins' team lead with five points in the series. Lucic, RW Jarome Iginla and D Dougie Hamilton each had four points. That the Bruins' young defencemen were able to contribute offensively proved to be a real advantage.

The series win sets up Boston for a matchup with their rivals from Montreal. The top-seeded Bruins will be favoured, but the head-to-head matchups with the Canadiens have been tumultuous, dramatic affairs (well, forever, but also) in recent seasons, so it should be a fascinating battle.

PENGUINS TAKE SERIES LEAD

Perhaps feeling a little threatened, with the series tied 2-2, the Pittsburgh Penguins came out firing in Game Five and dominated play on their way to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The margin could have been much if not for the play of Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 48 of the 50 shots he faced.

As the Penguins made a concerted effort to play Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together on the top line, it turned out that Pittsburgh's best possession numbers came from the second and third lines. Lee Stempniak, Brandon Sutter, Jussi Jokinen and Beau Bennett were each on the ice for more than 70% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts. Pittsburgh's depth was also boosted by the presence of C Marcel Goc, who played 10:34 in his first game since suffering an ankle injury March 27.

The possession domination for Pittsburgh, naturally, had a counter in Columbus, where Jack Skille, R.J. Umberger, Nick Foligno and Artem Anisimov were each below 30%.

Penguins D Brooks Orpik missed the game with an undisclosed injury, giving Robert Bortuzzo an opportunity to play his first NHL playoff game and Bortuzzo didn't hurt the Penguins in 13:36 of ice time.

While there has been criticism of Sidney Crosby for his play in this series, it needs to be said that his play is probably better than fine. After 11 individual shot attempts, and one assist, in Game Five, Crosby has five points and a in five games and has been on the ice for 60.1% of the shot attempts during 5-on-5 play. His LW, Chris Kunitz, had a goal and an assist, with seven shots on goal and six hits, in Game Five.

This hasn't been an easy series for the Penguins, by any stretch, and they're still trying to do it with the second-best goaltender in the series, but their skill advantage has been enough to give them the lead in the series.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY

Trailing 2-1 into the third period of Game Five, the Minnesota Wild scored twice in the first 6:25 of the third period to take the lead and appeared on their way to taking the game, before the Avalanche scored with 1:14 remaining to tie it, then finished matters 3:27 into overtime. In the end, the 4-3 overtime win gave the Avalanche a 3-2 series lead.

 

The winning goal was authored by Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon, who finished the game with a goal and two assists, giving him a playoff-leading 10 points thus far. He's three points away from Jaromir Jagr's scoring record for an 18-year-old rookie in the postseason. MacKinnon played 21:56 in Game Five, second among Colorado forwards, behind only Paul Stastny (22:38); MacKinnon, who averaged 17:21 of ice time per game during the regular season, has played more than 21 minutes in four of five games in the series.

The sequence leading up to the game-tying goal was contentious. There was an apparent holding penalty that was ignored in Colorado's defensive zone, with the net empty, and then the Avalanche appeared to be offside seconds before PA Parenteau buried the tying goal. This is what is known as "getting the breaks."

Avalanche LW Cody McLeod scored a goal, but was obliterated at even-strength, on for two shot attempts for and 17 against (10.5%). With McLeod off the ice, the Avalanche had 56.2% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts.

For the Wild, LW Matt Moulson, C Mikko Koivu and D Marco Scandella were on the ice for at least two-thirds of the shot attempts at 5-on-5, though Scandella was unfortunate enough to get beaten by McKinnon on the winning goal.

It's been a close series to this point, though the Wild have held the possession edge, and it shifts back to Minnesota for Game Six. Colorado may get a boost with C Matt Duchene nearing a return to the lineup. If Duchene is ready to go, that ought to help Colorado's cause.

KINGS KEEP ON KEEPING ON

Facing elimination for the second time in the series, the Los Angeles Kings stormed into San Jose Saturday night and outplayed the Sharks from the get-go, building a 3-0 lead 22 seconds into the second period before chilling out and taking that lead to game's end. The Kings had outshot the Sharks 19-6 by the time they had taken that 3-0 lead, chasing Sharks G Antti Niemi.

 

Not only did the Sharks lose the game, but also lost D Marc-Edouard Vlasic was hurt (upper-body injury) on a run-in with Kings C Jarret Stoll. It cost Stoll two minutes for roughing, but Vlasic did not return. If he's not able to play in Game Six, that's a huge blow to the Sharks..

Kings RW Justin Williams had a game-high seven shots on goal (11 shot attempts), leading the Kings on ice for 73.1% of shot attempts.

Kings G Jonathan Quick stopped all 30 shots sent in his direction, a decided improvement after some rough games earlier in the series. While the Kings are trying to make the unlikeliest of comebacks, from being down 3-0, if they manage to get good goaltending from Quick, maybe it's possible.

 

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Ryan O'Reilly Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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