1. The best thing going for the Islanders in Game 3 Tuesday night — apart from the intense Barclays Center crowd — is Thomas (Icewater) Greiss‘ neat goalie package of competence combined with cool when under fire.
2. With that said, MSG Networks’ Rick DiPietro hopes to hit the target on the Game 3 outcome when he asserts that Jack Capuano‘s goalie must not merely be good, but GREAT.
3. It would help the Brooklynites cause if they could figure out a way to break the gifted Triplet, Tyler (Now You See Me, Now You Don’t) Johnson.
4. Peewee Johnson is merely the fastest, best little man in the postseason. Tie up Tyler and that way we won’t be seeing so much of a smirk on Johnson’s mug.
5. The reasons why the Isles are finding Tampa Bay tougher than the Panthers — and will continue to do so — is because A) Goaltending: Ben Bishop is better than Roberto Luongo. B) Florida didn’t have a Victor Hedman on defense. C) “The Triplets” starring Peewee Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat together make one of the trickiest NHL trios. Trickier than anything the Cats could meow about.
6. Don’t look now, but I like Pittsburgh beating Washington and I have a hunch that such a win could eventually catapult the Penguins into the Stanley Cup Final.
7. Caps goalie Braden (The Pseudo Vezina) Holtby has yet to prove that he can win big in the postseason and the Pittsburgh-Washington series is his test of all tests. So far, so-so.
8. Meanwhile, the Penguins’ Matt (Double First Name) Murray is doing a Thomas Greiss imitation as ‘The Backup Who Wants To Be A Full-Time Starter.’ Right now, Double-M is as good as any puck-stopper in the playoffs.
9. Since I’m not Keith (Fire Away) Yandle‘s agent, I have a right to urge the Blueshirts’ highest-scoring defenseman to remain a Ranger. But, if the New Englander does leave, I’m more than comfortable with Brady Skjei filling the Yandle gap.
10. Over a 25-game span, Antti (Young Reliable) Raanta proved himself as a more than able successor to Cam Talbot.
11. Talbot was supposed to backstop Edmonton — at long last — into the playoffs, but he didn’t come close to doing the job. For the record, Raanta finished with a 2.24 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Talbot came up short on both counts, recording a 2.55 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
12. Now you know why I want to see Raanta back on Seventh Avenue next Fall.
13. San Jose’s Brent (BB Gun) Burns is my choice — going away — for the Norris Trophy. Should he win the prize, BB will set a record as an NHL Trophy winner with the longest beard. Matter of fact, it’s beginning to look more like a black carpet.
14. If I was Burns agent — which, of course, I am not — I’d rush Brent to the nearest barber, preferably one with a weed whacker.
15. While on the subject of San (Still Love Those Teal Uniforms) Jose, a forgotten offseason general manager gem pulled off by Doug Wilson was his acquisition of Joel (I Specialize In Clutch Goals) Ward.
16. Kudos to Ray Shero‘s Albany Devils now immersed in the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs with a reasonable shot at taking the trophy.
17. Like everybody outside the good City of Edmonton, I’m delighted that the Oilers did not win the Draft Lottery. Plus, I’m tickled that old pals Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan’s Toronto Maple Leafs did.
18. It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt that Larrupin’ Lou-Bustlin’ Brendan will pick Auston Matthews with their prize pick. Matthews is a big, front-line center who’ll slide into the NHL without missing a beat.
19. There’s a positive side to the sad firing of Anaheim’s colorful coach Bruce Boudreau. No question, but that Cousin Brucie is secure in the knowledge that he is a winner, playoff results notwithstanding.
20. My Figure Filbert pal, Steve (Toronto Sun) Simmons underlines the point this way, “Boudreau’s regular season win percentage is .659 in the NHL, best in history. Behind him is Scotty Bowman at .657.”
21. The coach-seeking Ottawa Senators ought to grab Cousin Brucie while the grabbing is good. Not that it really matters, but Boudreau has family in Canada’s capital city. Then again, that should matter to Bruce.
22. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to root against San Jose since old pal Peter DeBoer is coaching the Sharks. It was Pistol Pete who signed ex-Devil Dainius Zubrus last Fall when DZ seemed done as an NHLer. Zubrus finished the regular season with a thank-you-very-much-Peter, plus-four.
23. My Staten Island sidekick, Leo Scaglione, Jr. points out that Kansas City will host a Capitals-Blues exhibition tilt at Sprint Center next Fall. Leo notes, “Don’t forget that K.C. was awarded an NHL franchise the same year (1974) as Washington.”
24. Just for the record, the K.C. Scouts won 15 games under coach Armand (Bep) Guidolin. In desperation, the Caps had three coaches, Jim Anderson, Red Sullivan and Milt Schmidt. Together, they amassed eight — count ’em, eight — victories.
25. Speaking of coaches, Darryl (The Glare) Sutter’s contract is up in Los Angeles, but all signs indicate that he’ll be back. In St. Paul, general manager Chuck Fletcher is deciding whether to remove the “interim” label from John (Carrying The Torch) Torchetti. Seems like an even-money bet.
26. Can a coach double as a general manager these days? George (Punch) Imlach won four Stanley Cups doing that with the 1962, ’63, ’64 and ’67 Maple Leafs. The way things look in Arizona, Dave Tippett will have a reasonable facsimile of that kind of role.
27. If Jimmy Howard loses his job as Red Wings starting goalie — which, by the way, appears to be the case — he’ll be getting a good look from a couple of teams in the Eastern Conference.
28. MAILBAG: This from reader Jacob Valk in Merrick, LI: “Now that the Ducks are looking for a coach, I expect that general manager Bob Murray will pursue Marc Crawford.” The Maven counters that Crawford is more likely pursuing Murray than the vice being versa.
29. Put two-and-two together and what do you get? Expansion. Figure it out: A) The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed on an expansion Draft. B) Commissioner Gary Bettman has encouraged the Las Vegas franchise-bidders every which way. C) The league’s awards fete will be held in Vegas. D) Now there’s talk that Quebec City still may get in as well. Conclusion: Expansion is about to happen.
30. Four Coaches Who Could Easily Do Fine In The NHL: A) Travis Green, ex-Islander led underdog Utica Comets to Calder Cup Final last year. Did fine this season, too. B) Guy Boucher, once did well with the Lightning, most recently with Swiss Bern team. C. Randy Carlyle, won the only Anaheim Stanley Cup. D) Darryl Sutter, if he decides to exit LA.
31. Kris Letang got snubbed on the three-way Norris Trophy list (Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson) and that’s shameful. I say Letang over Karlsson because the Senators D-man still hasn’t learned how to play defense.
32. Talking about Burns, his coach Peter DeBoer says it better than anyone, “Brent can play in all situations, against anybody and always makes the right play.” Nobody who has ever coached Karlsson can say that about Erik.
33. Figure the first former top draft choice to be dealt by Edmonton will be Nail Yakapov. I say he still could find his A-game — never did in Alberta — with one of our Metropolitan area teams.
34. Lee Stempniak didn’t do what the Bruins had hoped he would — nudge them into the playoffs — but it wasn’t the upstate New Yorker’s fault. With that said, I’m still rooting for Ray Shero to re-import the right wing back to New Jersey.