No. 1 Star: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
As part of their 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 4, Neal scored twice, including a power play tally, and assisted on an another as the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead. The goal were Neal's first since Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
No. 2 Star: Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins
Iginla netted a pair, including one of Pittsburgh's two power play goals. He's now put up points in eight of the Penguins' 10 playoff games.
No. 3 Star: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Letang had a couple of bad turnovers, but did finish with four assists. He now leads all defenseman in scoring with 13 points.
Honorable mention: Chris Phillips made the save of the game, robbing Sidney Crosby with his toe:
Milan Michalek's shorthanded goal that opened the scoring was a beauty:
Pascal Dupuis and Crosby both finished with a goal and an assist ... The Penguins power play scored on two of their five opportunities. They lead all teams with 12 power play goals and a 28.6 percent success rate ... Pittsburgh scored goals 40 seconds and 31 seconds apart, the latter as part of a three-goal surge over 1:45 in the third period ... Daniel Alfredsson's goal was his 100th career playoff point ... Paul MacLean gave a great press conference afterward.
Conn Smythe Watch: 1. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. David Krejci, Boston Bruins; 3. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks; 4. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins; 5. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings; 6. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; 7. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators; 8. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks; 9. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings; 10. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings.
Dishonorable mention: Craig Anderson was pulled for the second time in three games after allowing six goals on 32 shots.
Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis didn’t mince words during his postseason press conference, calling the team’s 2012-13 campaign a “terrible season” after their ouster at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in Round 1.
"We’re going to have to reinvent ourselves and do things differently in order to be successful. The macro look at this team is that changes have to be made,” said Gillis.
On Wednesday, changes were made: According to Louis Jean of TVA, head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown were all fired by Gillis in a massive house cleaning for the franchise.
It was later confirmed by the Canucks:
“We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown of their coaching duties today,” said Canucks President and General Manager, Michael D. Gillis. “Alain, Rick and Newell worked tirelessly to lead this team to great on-ice success. I am personally grateful to each of them and their families for their commitment to the Canucks and the city of Vancouver and wish them continued success in future.”
Vigneault coached the Canucks from 2006-2013, winning 313 games. He captured the Jack Adams in 2006-07, and coached Vancouver to the playoffs in six of those seasons, including that Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
But he guided the team to back-to-back first-round playoff losses over the last two seasons, as the Canucks were humbled by both the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. Vancouver’s offense went stone cold in both series.
The Canucks were viewed as a Stanley Cup contender in both seasons; they didn’t come close either time, and Vigneault was reportedly shown the door.
There are likely as many fans who called for the head of Gillis as called for the head of AV. The notion of total regime change for Vancouver probably didn’t make sense to ownership, who see the window still open for this edition of the Canucks to win. But the mismanagement by Gills – being too focused on the blue line, adding offensive pieces that didn't pan out – is as much a factor in Vancouver’s underwhelming results as anything the coach did.
But it’s Vigneault who was always going to pay the price for that. He won’t be out of work long, with both the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche openings a possibility for his next move. And what about a Chicago Wolves reunion with Craig MacTavish in Edmonton, if the Oilers decided to make a change?
As for the Canucks: If they’re “win now,” and one assumes they are, could the next move be former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff? What about Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, who is now allowed to listen to offers with the AHL team’s season over? Would they turn to Guy Boucher, recently dropped by the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Here's an idea: Perhaps it's time to add the Canucks to the Dave Tippett Watch, if the veteran coach doesn't remain with the Phoenix Coyotes?
And hey, if the Canucks ever decide to upgrade the GM spot: Don Maloney. Just sayin'.
The bottom line: Roberto Luongo outlasted Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Who saw that coming?
L.A. had a groggy first period, but battled back late. It wasn't nearly enough to earn a victory, but are there any positives to take from game 4?
Dustin Penner's wrongly disallowed goal looms large, but the Kings' performance in the first two periods does them in as San Jose ties the series.
The Kings open Game 4 with an awful period, fall further behind in the second, fall victim to a quick whistle, and can't make up for it despite outshooting the Sharks 14-2 in the final frame. Back to Staples for a pivotal Game 5.
Let's catch up on some of the underlying numbers for the Kings in the series thus far.
This is a well-earned nomination for a player beloved by all.
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