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Breaking news: Peter Mueller will not make the road trip to play games one or two. He will miss the first two contests. I think Game 3 is a strong possibility, but who really knows for sure.
The DobberHockey Panel prediction charts have been updated (see headline article), including my own picks and the consensus picks (that are eerily accurate over the years).
Tarik El-Bashir is reporting that Nicklas Backstrom was injured on Saturday (this is a surprise to everybody – undisclosed of course). He was not in practice today and is questionable (in my mind doubtful) for Game 1. Brendan Morrison was on Alex Ovechkin’s line in practice.
If your playoff pool counts plus/minus, you may want to take a real close look at WAS defenseman Jeff Schultz. Not only was he plus-50 on the year, but he was also a plus-11 in his final three games.
Almost a third of Boston rearguard Dennis Wideman’s points (nine of 30) came in the last 12 games.
Pittsburgh blueliner Kris Letang is pointless in his last 11 contests. With Jordan Leopold on board, Letang has been filling a more defensive role. He’ll still be a rearguard who possibly pots 50 points, but you may not see it for two or three years. Gonchar leaving should help (and yes, I am guaranteeing that he is gone this summer).
Jaroslav Halak is winless and has given up nine goals in his last three games. he has started five in a row. We have seen him dominate when he gets in the zone, but as of right now he is not in that zone. I would be concerned about Carey Price stealing the job from him if I was a Halak owner. Both goaltenders will be on a short leash and I wouldn’t touch this situation in hockey pools if I can help it. Price, by the way, is also winless in his last three starts and has started just twice since March 4.
Reason No.1 why Nashville is my favorite Cindarella team for a first round upset – Pekka Rinne’s numbers over the last 14 games: 10-3-1, 1.75, .940
Since returning from a terrible wrist injury, NJ defenseman Paul Martin has nine points in 13 contests. He has also stepped up in past postseason play.
According to the Gazette, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Chris Kunitz AND Matt Cooke will all be back for Game 1. That means Eric Tangradi has been returned to Wilkes-Barre Scranton, along with any dark horse hopes. It was a long shot anyway. Cooke, for one, is a surprise to me because of his concussion. They may call it a “head injury”, but they can call it a “salami sandwich” for all I care. I call it a “concussion” and he’s coming back too soon.
The Penguins signed Brent Johnson to an extension (two years). Barring a miracle (or massive injury), John Curry’s underdog success story stops here. He had made Boston University as a walk on, then stole the starting job, then dominated the NCAA, then was signed by the Pens and sent to the ECHL, then he dominated that league. He was brought up to the AHL as a backup when the Pens needed Ty Conklin. He proceeded to steal that starting job and has 56 wins over the last two seasons there. This year was a rough one though and at 26 years of age he will need some bounces to go