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By Joe McDonald at 17 June, 2013, 9:43 am
You knew the Rangers would do the right thing here. And with the hiring of Alain Vigneault, it seems like they have.
After the tough love and abrasive approach of John Tortorella, the Blueshirts needed a change and Vigneault’s soft but firm approach seems just right for the team right now, so much so that those who do sports betting on NHL may just pick the Rangers to win the Cup in 2014.
His former assistant with the Vancouver Canucks, Rick Bowness, who was recently hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning to be an that team’s top assistant, said in an interview with the New York Daily News, Vigneault was a special person.
“Ten minutes into the interview, I knew I was going to hire him, (because of) his honesty, straightforwardness, strength of character,” Bowness said to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. “You knew he was going to be very loyal, very committed and very hardworking. You could just tell.”
One of the biggest complaints of Tortorella’s regime was that he stifled offensive creativity in favor of a defensive blocking shots approach. That cost him this year with the Rangers power play going in the tank during the playoffs.
But defense wins championships and Vigneault was able to balance both offense and defense to allow the Canucks to become a powerhouse, winning two President’s Trophies and reaching the Finals once.
“You’ve got to let your players play, you’ve got to let them run, and at the same time you can command commitment to team defense, which we were able to do and then went to the Finals,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “We never lost our focus on team ‘D’, but we certainly loosened the reins up and let them run a little bit as time went on.”
Plus after coaching in hockey hotbeds like Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault should have no problem adjusting to New York. In fact, it may be easier because unlike the Canadian markets, the pressure can be a little less in the states.
“He’s been through a lot of pressure situations,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “He can handle a lot of pressure. All the heat that he’s had to put up with in Vancouver, he’s handled it extremely well, and it never seemed to bother him.”
And that includes working with the New York media, which was very hostile under Tortorella.
“The media will not intimidate him one bit,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “I never saw one thing that there was something in the media that rattled him. He has thick skin, and he doesn’t care. The media will not get to him one bit.”
It’s too early to tell if Bovada sportsbook for hockey has the Rangers as the 2014 favorite, but hiring Vigneault is definitely a good start for the Blueshirts.
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By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 28 April, 2015, 12:35 am
There they were, right in the front row, wearing red hockey jerseys, pounding on the glass just like any fan might, and urging other spectators to cheer loudly for the NHL’s Capitals in Game 7: Paul Pierce and a trio of other players from the NBA’s Wiz…Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 28 April, 2015, 12:30 am
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By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 10:22 pm
WASHINGTON, DC – He’s not jaded, nor overwhelmed by the expectations and disappointments that eventually crush the confidence of the Washington Capitals in seemingly every postseason. Maybe Evgeny Kuznetsov didn’t realize Game 7 is where the Capitals’ journeys end, where their Stanley Cup dreams wither and die. Or maybe he’s just too new, too fresh and too blissful to know better. “He has joy in his game. Joy in playing, joy in being at the rink,” said coach Barry Trotz of Kuznetsov, who sent the Capitals to the Metro Division finals against the New York Rangers with a Game 7 goal that eliminated the New York Islanders, 2-1. “We always grow up and lose the boy in us, but he’s got the boy in his game and his attitude, and he’s got the maturity of a good young man.” His game-winning goal captured that dichotomy. There was Kuznetsov on the right wing boards. A veteran player might not think to just flip on the jets and skate to the middle of the ice like he’s being controlled in a video game, the middle of the ice where few players had room to operate all night. But Kutznetsov went there. A veteran player might have fired from the slot, hoping to beat the seemingly unbeatable Jaroslav Halak while square to him. But Kuznetsov kept the puck on his stick. “More patience that 95 percent of the guys in the league [in that spot],” said defenseman Brooks Orpik. He waited, until Halak was sprawled in his crease, until Johnny Boychuck had toppled to the ice in desperation. He waited to find the room to fire the puck where he wanted to put it – top corner. “I saw the room between goalie and post. I saw Boychuck go down. That’s why I shot high,” he said. It was a perfect shot, at the perfect time: 12:42 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie, and eventually serving as the game-winner. And it was a move out of the mind of a 22-year-old player, with the poise of a scorer mature beyond his years. “It’s just the way he creates. Some guys give up the puck earlier. He’s just got so much confidence right now. He creates time and space. He’s probably the most improved guy from start of the season until now,” said Orpik. This is the first Stanley Cup postseason for Kuznetsov, who was drafted No. 26 overall in the 2010 Entry Draft but only debuted with the Capitals last season. He spent a few seasons in the KHL, where he earned big money and some viral video fame with a collection of goal celebrations that ranged from playing dead to rowing an invisible kayak. Some assumed he’d be a showboat in the NHL. Trotz said that’s been anything but the case. “Kuzy’s one of those guys that loves to laugh, but he’s very, very humble. He wants to learn. He’s a student of the game,” he said. His improvement through the season has lead to dynamic start this his playoffs: Three goals and an assist in seven games against Jaroslav Halak and to the Islanders.He briefly played with Halak last season when the goalie joined the Capitals via trade, and learned a bit about his tendencies. “He always asked us to shoot as hard as we could in practice. To simulate a game shot,” said Kuznetsov. “I understand that this is a good goalie. But [Braden] Holtby played better. And this is why we have Holtby.” It appeared it might be “same old Capitals” after Holtby gave up a soft goal to Frans Nielsen to tie the game. But Kuznetsov is the kind of difference maker all of those other Capitals teams that failed to win Game 7s – they were 1-4 on home ice in them since 2008 – lacked. “He’s so good with the puck and not scared of making plays either. Beautiful goal there,” said center Nicklas Backstrom. “He’s a young guy. He’s learning every day about the system and the game over here. He’s taken a lot of steps since last year. We need everyone on board, everyone to produce.” In the most important moment of the season, that’s what Kuznetsov did, in front of friends and family that came to watch him at Verizon Center. And now, they have a chance to watch him battle the Rangers in Round 2, perhaps even traveling to Madison Square Garden for Game 1 later this week. “I know tickets are very expensive,” said Kuznetsov. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTSRead More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 10:02 pm
Unburdened by the catastrophes of past Game 7s littering the Washington Capitals’ playoff history, rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov delivered a breathtaking, series-clinching goal that got Alex Ovechkin’s seal of approval. ”Pretty sick,” Ovechkin declared. …Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 8:47 pm
No. 1 Star: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals The rookie forward’s goal with 7:18 left in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and helped the Capitals beat the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 7. They now advance to face the New York Rangers in the second round, the fifth time the two franchises will meet in the postseason since 2009. No. 2 Star: Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning Johnson scored twice as the Lightning forced Game 7 Wednesday night with a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The center is now tied with Vladimir Tarasenko for the goal scoring lead with six. No. 3 Star: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning Kucherov had a hand in three Lightning goals, including both of Johnson’s. Honorable Mention: Braden Holtby needed only 10 saves … Nicklas Backstrom was 16-for-21 in the face-off circle … Not only did the Capitals go home happy, so too did members of the Washington Wizards … Petr Mrazek’s stop on Brian Boyle: save of the year? … Tomas Tatar scored a pair in a losing effort for Detroit. Did You Know? “This was the eighth time in 10 playoff series involving Ovechkin that went to a Game 7, and his team was only 2-5 in such contests until Monday.” (AP) Dishonorable Mention : John Tavares was held without a shot on goal and Islanders forwards combined for three shots … The Islanders’ elimination also means the end of Nassau Coliseum. The team will move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning next season … New York still has not won a playoff series since 1993 … Will Niklas Kronwall hear from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after his hit on Kucherov? MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 8:20 pm
April 28 (Infostrada Sports) – Results from the NHL Play-offs Quarterfinal games on Monday (home team in CAPS) 1 2 3 T DETROIT 0 1 1 2 Tampa Bay 2 1 2 5 (The best-of-seven series is level at 3-3) 1 2 3 T WASHINGTON 0 1 1 2 NY Islanders 0 0 1 1 (Washing…Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 8:08 pm
WASHINGTON, DC – To win Game 7 against the New York Islanders, the Washington Capitals had to overcome Jaroslav Halak and history. They turned to a player that had never faced the pressure of either in the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov, playing in his first postseason, scored his third goal of the playoffs on an awesome individual effort at 12:42 of the third period, giving the Capitals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish to eliminate the Islanders in seven games, 2-1. “This is a new group,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. “All that old stuff? Get rid of it. Let’s build something. We could feel the energy [from the fans]. We weren’t going to let that game go.” Kuznetsov took the puck on right wing and just flipped on the afterburners, skating through the slot with Frans Nielsen of the Islanders giving chase, out-waiting Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak and then scoring on an unstoppable shot to the top corner of the net. Since Alex Ovechkin arrived in Washington, the Capitals had played seven Game 7s. They had won just two of them, and were 1-4 on home ice in Game 7s since 2008. “I think the reason we lost those Game 7s was that we weren’t desperate enough,” said center Nicklas Backstrom. “We came out hungrier tonight. We were quick. We wanted to win. I think you can tell that watching the game too. The last few years when we lost Game 7s, we came out a little flat. But not tonight.” Coming into Game 7 on Monday night, Halak (24 saves) was 4-0 in games in which Washington could eliminate his team. He was the netminder that led the Montreal Canadiens back from a 3-1 deficit to shock Washington in 2010, winning Game 7 as a No. 8 seed at Verizon Center. He was the goalie that was 2-0 with a .963 save percentage in Game 7s in his career. From the opening whistle, the Capitals brought the thunder, throwing the body. Controlling the puck. Playing with more confidence, and less panic, than they had in previous series finales. “It seemed like we were worried or on our heels a bit. We didn’t want to make a mistake, and I think in these games you’ve got to play a little bit more aggressive,” said Islanders captain John Tavares, who didn’t have a shot in Game 7. The first 40 minutes were some of the most dominating hockey the Capitals have played in recent memory: a 70.6-percent team corsi-for in the first, a 69.7-percent corsi-for in the second, where the Capitals controlled the Islanders in their own zone on several shifts. “We didn’t turn the puck over like we did in Game 6. In Game 6, we tried to make plays through the neutral zone and that’s a recipe for disaster,” said defenseman Brooks Orpik. “They were tired. You could see it on some of the guys.” The Islanders were on the ropes. It felt like a matter of one play, one bounce for the home team to get the lead. They had a few close calls, none closer than a wide-open net for trade deadline acquisition Curtis Glencross with just over eight minutes left in the period. He waited too long to pull the point-blank trigger, then whiffed on the shot, meekly pushing it into Halak’s pads. The Capitals’ next point-blank chance wouldn’t miss. They took the lead at 18:35 of the second period, as Alex Ovechkin sent the puck to Brooks Orpik at the left points. Meanwhile, Joel Ward and Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuck were doing battle in front of the crease. Ward shoved Boychuk out of the way as Orpik released the shot. Halak gave up a short rebound, Ward tucked it through his pads and into the net, and Verizon Center exploded in well-earned bedlam. The Islanders tied the game on a bad goal surrendered by Holtby. Tomas Hickey cut through the top of the zone, before dishing to Nielsen. He took a low wrist shot that Holtby dropped to his knees to deflect … only to have the puck trickle through to the back of the net. The Islanders celebrated. The crowd did not. The Capitals outshot the Islanders 11-3 in the first, and 10-4 in the second. The penalties called in the first two periods? Zero and zero. Whistles were swallowed during the game, as obstruction reigned and brutal hits went unpunished, none more brutal an Alex Ovechkin hit square in the numbers on Hickey: no call here either pic.twitter.com/nABwzQXsOT — Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 28, 2015 Hey, it’s Game 7. They let’em play until a John Carlson roughing penalty with less than three minutes to go in the game. But the story of the game was the Capitals vs. Halak, who played brilliantly for the Islanders, especially in the third after his team tied the game. There was a funky bounce to Jay Beagle that he flashed his right pad out to stop. There was an awful turnover by Nik Kulemin to Troy Brouwer, who fired the puck by was robbed by Halak. But that’s just what Jaro Halak does in Game 7s. It was nearly enough. For the Islanders, it was a hard-fought series. In the end, their Game 6 win will go down as the last Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum until their move to Brooklyn next season. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEYRead More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 6:18 pm
Synergy! That’s the name of the game in Washington, DC, as Ted Leonsis’s Washington Wizards closed out the Toronto Raptors on Sunday and then sat against the glass on Monday to watch Teddy AOL’s Washington Capitals play in Game 7 against the New York Islanders. Now, if you had to guess which Wizards player would enthusiastically taunt the Islanders oh forget it you know it’s Paul Pierce: The Truth had a huge grin on his face as the teams lined up for a draw and he got his glass-bang on. Granted, Pierce still saves his best material for vanquished NBA foes , but hey, in the end, it’s pretty much just mocking a bunch of Canadians right? Now, how do we get John Wall on the Zamboni… Images via Mike Honcho.Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 4:17 pm
It’s Game 7 between the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals from Washington, DC, and we’re live chatting it! Can the Caps overcome their Game 7 disasters? Can the Isles keep Nassau open with another round of playoff games (this time against the Rangers)? The fun begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT. You bring the funny; we bring the insight, odd rugby photo on the template and the Hamburger Women. Live Blog Game 7 – Islanders vs. Capitals live chat!Read More >>
By Yahoo! Sports - NHL - New York Islanders News at 27 April, 2015, 3:49 pm
The Washington Capitals host the New York Islanders in Game 7 of their Metro Division semifinal series on Monday night. The Islanders successfully avoided losing their last game at Nassau Coliseum; they need to win to squeeze out a few more games in the old barn. The Capitals meanwhile, are looking to overcome a decade of Game 7 failures, many of which had come at home. Here are four keys to Game 7: 1. Forget The Past Alex Ovechkin’s first Game 7 at Verizon Center was my first Game 7 at Verizon Center: Joffrey Lupul, scoring an overtime winner on the power play in 2008. That game had something I’d experience in the other Game 7 losses for the Capitals: a creeping sense of dread throughout the game, and then a collective panic when adversity struck. Game 7s in DC tend to create a sold-out building and a home bench full of clenched sphincters from the opening whistle on. Coach Barry Trotz has asked the Capitals to learn from losing five of seven Game 7s during the Ovechkin Era; they’re better off just trying to forget they’ve ever happened, or else repeat the sins of the past. Speaking of Ovechkin … 2. Backstrom and Ovechkin vs. Tavares Backstrom has been the Capitals’ best player this series, maybe this season, with six points in six games, winning 56 percent of his faceoffs in 21:40 per game. This star-making, MVP-level run has to continue in the series’ most important game. Ovechkin has 2 goals and 2 assists, but it’s his Game 7 output that has Capitals fans worried: He’s been held without a goal and was limited to five shots in the last three Game 7s he’s played in (two against the Rangers, one against the Bruins). His playoff frustrations are legendary, to the point where he hinted at an officiating conspiracy after Game 7 in 2013. The captain has to lead in Game 7. Captain John Tavares, meanwhile, has six points in six games in the series (2 goals, 4 assists) and this is just as much his time to shine. He had four overtime winners in the regular season to lead the Islanders, and had 45 points in 41 road games. He’s as clutch as they come; now, for the first time in his career, he has a chance to advance his team to the semifinals. 3. The Halak Factor According to ESPN, Jaroslav Halak is 4-0 when facing elimination against the Capitals and has stopped 169 of 173 shots in those games for a .977 save percentage. Of course, that incudes the three games in 2010 when he backstopped the Canadiens to a stunning 1-vs.-8 upset of the Capitals, rallying from 3-1 down. Which is to say that he’s won a Game 7 in Washington before. He’s 2-0 in his career in Game 7s with a .963 save percentage. 4. Maybe Someone Would Like To Establish a First-Period Lead? In the previous six games, there’s been exactly one contest in which the Islanders or Capitals left the first period with a lead: Game 2 in Washington, when the Capitals rallied from the Isles’ 1-0 opening stanza for a 4-3 win. Four times, they’ve been tied 1-1; the outlier was Game 3 at Nassau, when the first period was 0-0. We only mention this because Washington was habitual about getting up early: 26-2-2 when leading after the first period in the regular season, and 4-14-5 when trailing after one. Score first. Score often, for the Caps. Prediction: Islanders, 3-1, continuing the Halak and Game 7 misery trends.Read More >>