Some quick thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Monday night:
I don't think Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter is going to worry about Alex Ovechkin's ice time in Game 2 Monday night, which was a low 13:36, because Hunter has one thing on his mind and that is to win hockey games and win a playoff series.
The fact of the matter is, the last four years in the playoffs Alex Ovechkin has averaged between 23-24 minutes per game. They lost in four straight games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of last year's playoffs, they lost in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round two years ago, they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round three years ago, and they lost in seven games to the New York Rangers four years ago. This team has no playoff success.
Now, could Hunter minimize Ovechkin's ice time on an 82-game regular season? Not a chance in the world. Might it backfire on Hunter before this is over? It might, but if he comes out with a win and gets the Capitals to the third round of the playoffs and if Ovechkin's minutes are 13 minutes or 19 minutes - he's averaging better than 19 minutes going into Monday night's game - Hunter doesn't care. Hunter is so old school; he will do whatever it takes to win a hockey game and I don't think he's worried about his job. I don't know if he wants to come back next year, he just wants to win hockey games and he'll do it even if it ticks a lot of people off.
I don't think there's any question that this was what Los Angeles Kings president and general manager Dean Lombardi envisioned when he put together this team; with the physical domination the Kings had right from the get-go in Game 2, in terms of physical presents, but also the offensive explosion from key offensive players.
There was so much confidence to take from Game 2 for the Kings. Mike Richards scores his first goal since the first game of the playoffs and Anze Kopitar gets his second and third goal of the playoffs. Jeff Carter gets his first goal of the post-season and Justin Williams gets his first of the playoffs.
The line of Richards, Carter and Penner was a force all night long against the Blues, with Kopitar, Brown and Williams stepping up and getting their offensive wheels going. The Kings all year long played 1-0 and 2-1 games - sometimes on the right side and sometimes on the wrong side - and always relying on the goaltending. On Monday night, they got all the top offense going in a big way and that is a huge thing for the confidence of the Kings.