On Tap For Today — Montreal at Winnipeg; 6:30 pm CDT; USA, CBC, TVAS, SN & Colorado at Vegas; 7:00 pm PDT; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN
WINDS OF CHANGE: The Hurricanes clawed within a game of the Lightning after Jordan Staal tipped home Game 3’s overtime winner, 5:57 into the extra frame. Petr Mrazek appeared in his first playoff game this season, turning away 35 of 37 shots en route to Carolina’s first win of the series.
MARCH-AND DANCE: Boston’s Brad Marchand scored an overtime winner of his own on Thursday, potting the Bruins’ Game 3-winner, his second of these playoffs. Game 4 is Saturday on Long Island, as New York looks to even the series.
A MARK ON THE RECORD: Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele was suspended four games for his hit on Jake Evans at the end of Game 1 on Wednesday. Evans was not hospitalized and is reportedly improving, but is out indefinitely with a concussion.
NORTH AMERICAN BATTLE: USA’s triumph over Slovakia, along with Canada’s thrilling overtime win over ROC, sets up an IIHF World Championship semifinal meeting between the Americans and Canadians on Saturday. Team USA beat Canada 5-1 in the preliminary round earlier in the tournament.
With more than 150 writers across North America, The Hockey Writers offer something for everyone. While Pat, Kristy, Ben and I love bringing you content every morning, we wanted to spotlight some of our other writers. Below is a special contribution from one of our talented members.
Price Writing Another Chapter in Storied Career With Canadiens — Melissa Boyd
Melissa Boyd has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media Community Manager. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup, and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for more than 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.
Between his inconsistent play and injuries, it was a rough regular season for Carey Price. His backup, Jake Allen, propelled the Canadiens into the playoffs down the stretch — enticing several pundits and fans to call for him to start Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. If the first playoff meeting since 1979 between the Habs and Leafs taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate the underdog — or the greatness of Montreal’s star netminder.
“Playoff Price” lived up to his postseason reputation yet again, and led his team to a remarkable comeback against their archrivals. His numbers in the series speak for themselves — posting a .932 save percentage, with a 2.24 goals against average and is now 12-0 in the postseason when the Habs score three or more goals.
Canadiens fans get upset when Price steals a game because it’s somehow less cool than scoring a hat trick — but that is literally what he is paid to do. The Canadiens’ franchise player outplayed Toronto’s franchise players, simple as that. “He’s the best I have ever seen,” Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said after Game 7.
It’s still hard to believe that Montreal pulled off this upset. An emotional text exchange with my uncle on Monday night — a lifelong Canadiens fan who passed his passion for the Habs onto me — made me realize just how special the moment was. Montreal’s most significant series win since their 24th Stanley Cup championship in 1993. It also reminded me how thankful I am that Price is on the Canadiens, and how badly I want him to capture the franchise’s 25th Stanley Cup.
Until then, the legend of the greatest Canadiens’ player of this generation continues to grow, and his critics continue to be silenced.
Young Guns Shine at IIHF Worlds
Unlike other IIHF events, there are no age restrictions placed upon participation at the World Championships. But that still hasn’t stopped youth from being served in Latvia. Each of the four remaining semifinalists at the tournament have seen their fortunes boosted by at least one young countrymen — turning the annual international showdown into something of a glimpse into hockey’s future.
Here are the remaining young difference-makers who are growing their international profile at an annual event that typically skews more veteran savvy:
Those hoping to see 2021 NHL Draft top prospect Matty Beniers take the World Championships by storm and cement himself as the front-runner for No. 1 overall might be disappointed to date. Beniers has just one goal for the tournament, despite the Americans recording 23 goals through seven games.
However, the 18-year-old forward has successfully exhibited a different dimension of his game — tenacious grit. The University of Michigan star has fit well on a grind line alongside 36-year-old Brian Boyle and San Jose Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski. While it may not be a sexy role for those hoping to witness Beniers’ offensive exploits, it’s the type of performance that will catch the eye of NHL scouts seeking well-rounded hockey talent.
The Germans’ unlikely run at the tournament will continue into the semis on Saturday after they battled back from a 2-0 deficit against Switzerland. Germany forced overtime with only 44 seconds remaining in regulation, and earned a thrilling shootout victory on Marcel Noebels’ Forsberg-esque shootout winner.
While Lukas Reichel didn’t hit the scoresheet during Germany’s quarterfinal shocker, their run would not be possible without the contributions of the 2020 first round pick (17th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks). The 19-year-old nephew of former NHL centerman Robert Reichel has produced two goals and four assists over seven games for the Germans.
While three assists in eight games is perfectly respectable, it has been the defensive responsibility of 18-year-old Owen Power that has stood out. So trusted is the potential No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming draft, that Team Canada head coach Gerard Gallant kept him on the ice for 24:02 in Thursday’s 2-1 overtime semifinal triumph over Team ROC. Only Troy Stecher (25:51) spent more time on the ice for Canada.
Thanks to Canada’s quarterfinal win, Power will have more opportunities to impress scouts — beginning with a rematch against University of Michigan teammate and competing No. 1 rival Beniers and Team USA on Saturday. Buffalo Sabres brass will — no doubt — be watching.
Finland hasn’t shown an awful lot of flash and offensive firepower along the way to the semifinals. Fresh off a 1-0 quarterfinal shutout against the Czech Republic, the Finns have now scored just 20 goals in eight games — although they’ve only surrendered 10 goals against — playing strong, two-way hockey and outworking their opponent. Anton Lundell, the 12th overall pick in the 2020 Draft, has carried the bulk of the scoring load for Finland while buying into the club’s defensive mindset.
The Florida Panthers prospect has four goals and two assists to go along with a team-best plus-6 — an indication of his responsible, 200-foot game. If Lundell can play a central role in Finland winning a gold medal before his 20th birthday, it would be another major milestone for the young career of the former World Junior champion.
Saturday will see Canada’s Power faceoff against USA’s Beniers, followed by a clash between Reichel’s German squad and Lundell’s Finns. With draft positions set for the first 15 sections, there will surely be no shortage of NHL scouts looking on.