Is the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup record of 10 consecutive overtime victories in danger this spring? That amazing run in 1993, which was accomplished on the road to the Habs last Stanley Cup championship, could face a challenge this spring as the Sharks are half way there with five OT wins, and half way to the Stanley Cup. They tried to force a sixth OT on Friday night against the Red Wings, but Detroit emerged with a late 4-3 win. It was the first time in eight games that San Jose didn’t win a one-goal decision.
Here’s a video reminder of the Habs great run in ’93…
…which featured the Conn Smythe Trophy goaltending of Patrick Roy, climaxing in the Finals when the Habs won three consecutive OT games, Game 2 at the Montreal Forum on an Eric Desjardins goal after the infamous Marty McSorley illegal stick penalty late in the game, and Games 3 and 4 at the Los Angeles Forum on goals by John LeClair.
In the 10 overtime victories, Roy did not allow a goal through 96 minutes and 39 seconds of sudden-death without allowing a goal — equal to more than a game and a half — and stopped 65 shots.
The Sharks have gotten two OT goals from Devin Setoguchi and one each from Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and rookie Benn Ferriero. Unlike Roy, goalie Antti Niemi has not been in the net the whole way so far for San Jose. In Game 3 of the Sharks first round series against the Kings, one of the wildest games of a wild opening round, Niemi was pulled early in the second period after the Kings scored their fourth consecutive goal to take a 4-0 lead. With Antero Nittymaki replacing him, the Sharks fought back to tie the game 5-5 by the end of the second period. Nittymaki made 11 saves before Setochuchi scored at 3:08 of overtime to win the game 6-5.
So Niemi’s overtime shutout streak stands at 33:30 over four games and he had to stop only 17 shots in extra time.
Bruins Droughts End: Two long scoreless streaks ended for Boston in their last two second round games against the Flyers. After going 0-for-30 on their power play in the post season, Milan Lucic with less than two minutes remaining in Game 3 during a 5-on-3 advantage. Boston had gone 0-for-21 in the seven games against the Canadiens, becoming the first team in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to win a seven-game series without the benefit of a power-play goal.
And in Game 4 against the Flyers, Milan Lucic scored his first goal in 20 games. In fact, he got two. The first was on the power play, giving the B’s a 2-for-37 mark after two rounds. Following a 30-goal regular season, Lucic’s dry spell had to be a concern for the Bruins and if he’s now back in the groove, that could mean trouble for Tampa Bay in the Conference Championship.
Since losing the first two games to the Canadiens, the Bruins have gone 8-1. Since losing three of the first four to the Penguins, the Lightning have gone 7-0. Could be a great matchup.
Claude Julien probably saved his job by guiding the Bruins into the Conference Championships, and after yesterday’s defeat of the Flyers, Lucic praised Julien for his calm after the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the first round to the Habs. “It almost seemed like those first two games against Montreal we came out real tense,” said Lucic. “He just said, just relax. Go out there and play our game. Play with poise and play with confidence. After we were able to take a step back and start playing with confidence, having a positive attitude, which I think has been a big thing for us that Claude has been doing well. Keeping that attitude in the dressing room there, that positive attitude.”
The Coaching Carousel Spins: There has been speculation all season that Kirk Muller will likely leave the Canadiens coaching staff for a head coaching position someplace in the NHL. Pat Hickey is convinced that his destination is Dallas, where Kirk played in his final four seasons, but not much else has leaked out on that situation since the Stars ownership situation is unresolved.
(There was a flurry of rumors yesterday that the Stars might be moving, sparked by a story in The Dallas Business Journal, but that was shot down by the Stars. Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News has the details here and the sale of the team to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi, who will keep them in Dallas, seems to be proceeding. The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts reported yesterday that Gaglardi will have a purchase agreement with the team’s creditors within the next two weeks and he could take control of the team by June.)
Rick Moffat of CJAD speculated this week that Muller might be headed to the Caps since Muller was once captain of the Devils when McPhee played there (although McPhee’s Devils career consisted of six games over two seasons).
Elsewhere, Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal reported Thursday that former Oilers coach Craig MacTavish is a candidate for the vacant job behind the Wild bench. MacT was interviewed by GM Chuck Fletcher two years ago but ultimately hired Todd Richards, who Fletcher fired after this past regular season.
The Wild are still in the early stages of the hiring process and Bruce Brothers in The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported today that Fletcher would not divulge specifics on his search for a new coach, saying only he’s talking to candidates and others, “but there’s certainly no rush. Nothing’s changed.”
Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who also reported on MacTavish’s discussions with Fletcher, added “Former Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who scouted for the Wild last season, is said to be interested in the Wild vacancy.”
Brothers phoned Mike Keenan to see if Fletcher had contacted him, but it seems as if that hasn’t happened, although Keenan would like to coach again. Ken Hitchcock, who is currently coaching Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships, is also available and his name has been brought up in the media in connection with the vacant job in New Jersey.
Besides Dallas, Minnesota and New Jersey, there are current coaching vacancies with the Senators and Panthers. And while McPhee has said he’d like to have Bruce Boudreau return in Washington, owner Ted Leonsis has yet to be heard on that question.
In addition to Muller, MacTavish, Hitchcock and Keenan, the names of other coaching candidates reported to potentially be circling these teams include Habs assistant Perry Pearn, former Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti, Blues assistant Brad Shaw, Ducks assistant Dave Farrish, Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean and Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors head coach Dave Cameron. Ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel turn.