Registered: Sep 2014
Local time: 01:44 AM
It was a night for NHL teams to even up their respective playoff series, as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks all won to get their series to 2-2. Scott Cullen has notes on Brandon Dubinsky, Jack Johnson, Shawn Horcoff, Alex Goligoski, Patrick Kane, Ben Smith and more. MY MORNING JACKETS The Pittsburgh Penguins coughed up a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets, leaving the series tied at two games apiece. To this point in the series, the most valuable Blue Jacket has been C Brandon Dubinsky who, in addition to spending his time matched up against Penguins star C Sidney Crosby, Dubinsky contributed a goal and an assist, giving him a team-leading six points in the series. Dubinsky has earned a reputation as a solid two-way forward who can play tough minutes, facing top-tier opposition but, in this series, hes been more assertive offensively and thats the kind of performance that the Blue Jackets need to knock off the higher-seeded Penguins. Crosby was held off the scoresheet, and had a negative Corsi, for the first time in the series in Game Four. Blue Jackets C Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist, giving him five points in four games, and his line -- with rookie LW Boone Jenner and journeyman RW Jack Skille -- got the better of Pittsburghs second line of Evgeni Malkin, Jussi Jokinen and James Neal. Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury was having a decent game, but turned the puck over leading to Dubinskys tying goal, then the winning goal was a 65-foot wrist shot from Blue Jackets LW Nick Foligno. Considering Fleurys dubious playoff history, he and the Penguins cant afford to have those kinds of gaffes appear with the game on the line. Blue Jackets D Jack Johnson played a game-high 31:12, mostly against Crosby, and, for the first time in the series, was break-even in terms of shot attempts for and against during 5-on-5 play. Score effects or not, given that they were chasing for much of the game, the Blue Jackets will take it. For the fourth consecutive game, Penguins D Paul Martin recorded a pair of assists. He has eight points to lead all playoff scorers. Blue Jackets D James Wisniewski also had a pair of assists and had nine unblocked shot attempts, his first points of the series, and had a game-high plus-15 Corsi. With the series even, the Blue Jackets arent carrying play, but theyre not getting dominated either. If G Sergei Bobrovsky can give them a few solid games, they can put pressure on Fleury and the Penguins. SHOOTING STARS The Dallas Stars evened their series with the Anaheim Ducks, taking Game Four by a 4-2 score, rallying to score four unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0. Anaheim came into the game with some lineup changes, making veteran RW Teemu Selanne a healthy scratch, and then missing C Ryan Getzlaf due to an upper-body injury. As a result, C Rickard Rakell and RW Emerson Etem were inserted into the lineup. Dallas line of Shawn Horcoff, Vernon Fiddler and Colton Sceviour was particularly effective. Horcoff and Fiddler each had two points and the trio was on for more than two-thirds of even strength shot attempts. Ducks D Francois Beauchemin, who played a team-high 27:14, got eaten up in terms of puck possession, finishing minus-14 (29.4% Corsi%) On the other hand, Stars D Alex Goligoski logged 32:48, scored a goal and, through the first four games, is running a 56.7% Corsi%. Needless to say, if the Ducks dont have Getzlaf back in the lineup, in a hurry, then they are really vulnerable to be upset. KANE COMES THROUGH Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the game, 11:17 into overtime, giving Chicago a 4-3 win in Game Four, tying the series at two games apiece. In the third period, the Blackhawks shifted Ben Smith into the middle on the line with Kane and Patrick Sharp, and that unit created several scoring chances before connecting on the winner. Smith had the best Corsi differential (+13), and percentage (74.1%), among Blackhawks forwards. Blackhawks defencemen Nick Leddy and Michal Roszival had a tremendous game, carrying possession against weaker competition. They matched up most frequently against the Blues line of Maxim Lapierre, Steve Ott and Chris Porter. While Lapierre scored St. Louis second goal late in the second period, that line was dominated possession-wise. Leddy was on for 26 shot attempts for and five shot attempts against (83.9%). When Leddy was off the ice, the Blackhawks were virtually even (50.6%) in possession terms. Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews added two assists, giving him five points through the first four games of the series. Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko continued to find the net, scoring a pair of goals to give him four goals in four games for the series. Having tied the series, the Blackhawks are likely in a slightly better position going forward, particularly as long as St. Louis C David Backes remains out of the lineup, but this is an even series. Literally, both teams have a 50.0% Fenwick Close (unblocked shot attempts) for the series. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ST. LOUIS - So much is at stake and with an entire offseason to recover, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz will make the Game 4 start on Sunday night. Hell be at less than full health, something with which hes become accustomed. "I dont think there is any risk there," said Buchholz. "My one thing that I have is to go and compete. Go out there for as long as John wants to leave me out there, and give the team a chance to win to the best of my ability." Buchholz had gaudy regular season numbers (16 starts - 12-1, 1.74, 1.025 WHIP) but he suffered through an injury-riddled campaign, missing exactly three months with a neck strain. He made four starts after his return on September 10 and in three postseason starts, hes recorded three no-decisions while posting a 5.40 ERA and 1.440 WHIP in 16 2/3 innings. Buchholz appears to tire relatively early in games, twice against the Tigers he couldnt get out of the sixth inning, and indications are hes experiencing tightness in his pitching shoulder. Buchholz promises to grind through. "Its going to be my first World Series experience being on the field, and I think that just the environment, the crowd, the adrenaline, thats going to help me out, too," he said. The 29-year-old has undergone rigorous treatment to prepare for Sunday night. Buchholz has been careful about his use of pain medication in the wake of a bout of esophagitis that put him in hospital last season. "I stayed away from the stuff that, the really strong aanti-inflammatories," said Buchholz.dddddddddddd. "Basically been on the same stuff since the first time during the season, whenever I went on the disabled list." Buchholzs problems of late have started around the 75-pitch mark. He will be watched closely by Bostons coaching staff. Left-hander Felix Doubront and right-hander Ryan Dempster, both starters during the regular season, would be available to work multiple innings if Buchholz needs the support. "We go into (Sunday) thinking that hes going to give us what hes been in the postseason," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than maybe weve seen back in April and May. But hes also been very effective and were fully anticipating that to be the case (Sunday.)" Itll be a fine balance for Buchholz, who will have to make an honest determination about the state of his arm on an inning-by-inning basis. "Being at this level, especially on this stage, its tough to take yourself out of a game. Ive never done that before," he said. "But with this scenario thats going on right now, Im going to tell them the truth. Its not going to be one of times where you might be feeling tired but still telling everybody that youre good to go. Like I said, Im going to compete and give my team the best chance of winning that I can and if something does come up that Im feeling a little rundown, then, yeah, thats something that Ill let them know." ' ' '