Welcome back, tough guy

Chris Neil welcomed back by Sens mates

He only played 2:26 in Game 5, and was given a misconduct penalty, but 37-year-old Chris Neil was welcomed with open arms by his Senators teammates in their overtime victory. He looks forward to another opportunity tonight in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.

Rangers tough guy Tanner Glass fought Senators skill guy Kyle Turris in Game 4 (a NY victory at MSG), so Neil was inserted into the lineup by coach Guy Boucher to great effect. It’s often said that enforcers do their best work when they don’t fight, Neil sent Glass a message in Game 5, offering to drop the gloves. When rebuffed, Neil received a misconduct penalty. Small price for the Sens to pay for sending a red alert to the Blueshirts.

“I just wanted to let him know that his fun was done,” said Neil. “(Glass) has done a good job out there as well. He’s played well, come in and made a difference…for me, I just don’t like guys taking liberties with my guys.”

Home ice is a curiosity for the Rangers, who have won four straight at MSG after losing their previous six consecutive playoff games at their own barn.

letestu

Oilers’ depth, new 1-2 punch down middle offers challenge

A new 1-2 punch down middle is a riddle the Ducks will have to solve in Game 7.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seeing most of the action vs. Ryan Getzlaf in Games 1-4, the Ducks’ center was very successful. Starting in Game 5, which would have been an Oilers victory if not for a miraculous comeback by Anaheim, Leon Draisaitl took over primary responsibility against the Anaheim center. In Game 6, Draisaitl recorded five points including a hat trick, with two even strength goals, one against Getzlaf, another vs. Antoine Vermette.

With Mark Letestu (above) seventh in playoff scoring (12GP: 5-6-11; 31 shots) behind only Evgeni Malkin, Sid Crosby, Phil Kessel, Jake Guentzel, teammate Draisaitl and Getzlaf. Vermette draws most of the responsibility for Letestu, and while the Ducks’ center is excellent on faceoffs (60.9%), he’s got only one point in ten playoff games.

With the depth scoring the Oilers are getting, the Ducks hope that Vermette, also Andrew Cogliano, Nick Ritchie, Nate Thompson and Chris Wagner have something up their sleeve.

pit08Did the Pens/Caps Series Turn on Crosby Injury?

Sidney Crosby was knocked out of Game 3 after just 2:11 TOI, then missed Game 4 due to a concussion. He returned for Games 5 and 6, and contributed an assist in each, both losses that evened the series at 3-3.

washington_capitals_2007-08thumbnailThe table is set for Game 7, but while momentum in the playoffs does not translate game-to-game, the home team, the Capitals, are picking up steam.

The Penguins, however, seem to really be feeling the effects of the loss of veteran d-man and puck mover Kris Letang as well as Trevor Daley, who exited Game 5 with an injury. Pittsburgh is having a bit more trouble moving the puck up ice. The Pens were held to 18 shots on goal in Game 6, a 5-2 loss, during which they also shot the puck just twice on three power play opportunities. Hard to believe that would happen with Letang quarterbacking the man advantage.

Crosby went hard, head-first into the boards in Game 6. Curiously, the concussion protocol was not ordered.

The Crosby injury has cast a pall over what could have been a five-game out for the Caps. Now, the Pens travel to Washington seemingly clinging by their fingernails.

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