Devils fight back Kings, 2-1

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Devils fight back Kings, 2-1

NEWARK, NJ It looks like the Stanley Cup coronation of the Los Angeles Kings might be on hold for the time being.

The New Jersey Devils continued to push upward off the mat after falling down 0-3 in the Stanley Cup Finals, and forced a critical Game 6 with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at the Prudential Center. Bryce Salvador notched the game-winner in the second period when his left point shot bounced off Slava Voynovs backside -- and wobbled into the back of the net.

Los Angeles is now 0-2 with Lord Stanleys Cup present and gleaming in the building, and appeared frustrated and shaken for the first time in the series. The Devils have now amazingly beaten the Kings as many times in this series as the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes combined in the first three rounds of the postseason.

New Jersey also handed Los Angeles their first road defeat in these playoffs after 10 straight Kings wins.

All of those add up to growing trouble for hockey royalty.

Its the first true push Los Angeles has endured through their entire playoff season, and the cracks are starting to show.

Meanwhile the Devils are gathering strength while dropping Los Angeles into a pressurized situation: the Kings need to win Game 6 at the Staples Center or risk winging all the way back to the East Coast for a winner-take-all hockey game at the rink that Brodeur built.

You look across this room right now and you know that everybody else is going to get the job done. Thats the attitude we take into the next game, said Alexei Ponikarovsky. Were still down 3-2 in the series. Marty Brodeur was huge for us tonight again and Zach Parise scored a big goal.

They have a lot of pressure now going back to their building. Obviously they dont want to come back here. This is a tough place to play for them.

The Kings outshot the Devils by a 26-19 margin and poured it on at the end, but the New Jersey Devils are a formidable foe when Parise and Brodeur find their footing.

With Ilya Kovalchuk ailing and largely ineffective in the series aside from an empty net goal in Game 4, Jerseys franchise players need to excel if they hope to keep extending the series.

Thats what happened in Game 5 with Parise notching his first point of the Cup Finals on a hustle goal in the first period, and Brodeur stopping 25 of 26 shots including yeoman efforts in the first and third periods.

The Parise score was the byproduct of a rare Jonathan Quick botch.

The Kings goaltender tried to clear a puck away from the net and instead threw it right on Parises stick. Jerseys captain beat Quick in a race back to the net and stuffed a shot inside the right post before the LA goalie could recover.

Meanwhile the 40-year-old Brodeur was turning back time while the Devils worked through neutral zone mishaps early in the must-win game. It wasnt the Devils best hockey, but the combined efforts of Parise and Jerseys Hall of Fame goaltender washed nearly all their mistakes away.

Our best players were our best players tonight: Brodeur and Parise, Kovalchuk. That's the key this time of year, said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. I wish I was that eloquent that I had more ways to phrase it for you. I mean, what else can you say?

Being able to say theyre still alive is probably more than enough for DeBoer and his Devils.

What was once a foregone conclusion with the Kings dusting off the Devils in four or five games as theyd done to each team in the Western Conference becomes a bona fide series. The Devils are starting to feel it a little bit in a good way, and Brodeur has seen this playoff momentum swing before.

For us it's a matter of us now going into a tough environment in L.A. to try to ruin the party again, said Marty Brodeur. I think they're so close to winning the Stanley Cup that I'm sure it's getting to them a little bitto be able to have all these chances and not capitalize on them.

We're looking to just stay alive. Weve got to win one more game. Whats the scary part for the Kings?

The Devils have gained momentum and improved on each playoff series as theyve marched deeper into them. New Jersey is a mediocre 4-7 during Games 1-3 in this years playoff journey, but they have gone an impressive 10-1 in Games 4-7 while pinpointing weakness in opponents and exploiting matchups.

Were feeling more confident with each passing period, said Devils defenseman Mark Fayne, who suffered Jerseys biggest mistake of the night when he failed to challenge Justin Williams on his second period goal for Los Angeles. I think its the same for everyone. At the beginning of series were kind of feeling a team out. That hurt us, but now its do or die. Were leaving everything out there.

Kings players like Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter hurt New Jersey early in the series, but they were effectively shut down in Game 5.

Kopitar had zero shots and was a complete non-factor in 22:02 of ice time, and many of their big offensive guns were eliminated from the equation. Instead grinders like Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll were left with the best chances to score, and Brodeur wasnt budging on shots from mere mortals.

New Jersey owns the momentum, their key players are coming alive and its no longer an automatic crowning for the Kings as the plot thickens in the Cup Finals.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.