Five from the Kings-Devils

781624.jpg

Five from the Kings-Devils

NEWARK, NJ Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Kings leading the Devils by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the Prudential Center.

1) A thing of beauty by Drew Doughty in the first period when he weaved through three Devils defenders and buried a shot to the blocker side of Martin Brodeur. Drew comparisons of Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Scott Neidermayer on twitter and rightfully so. Hes something special.

2) A lot more nasty for both the Devils and the Kings in Game 2. A much tighter game with better flow as both teams predicted over the last two days. Devils actually managed 10 shots, which nearly matched their total from Game 1.

3) Martin Brodeur looks a little shaky bobbling pucks and not catching anything cleanly. The shot he gave up to Doughty wasnt the greatest stop in the world, and he finished with five saves.

4) Jonathan Quick, on the other hand, continues to look dominant. Ten saves in the first 20 minutes and a couple of solid stops on a shift where Zach Parise turned on the jets and looked determined to get the puck past him. Hes still the odds on favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

5) Awful Eurohousegymnastics routine music played for the New Jersey Devils during warm-ups. Whatever happened to ACDC?

SECOND PERIOD:

1) One shot on net for Ilya Kovalchuk through two periods of play. Two giveaways, two missed shots and one that was blocked. He looks very passive when he gets the puck and every skating stride looks extremely labored. The word is that its some kind of back problem, and if thats the case Devils are in extreme trouble if he doesnt start feeling better.

2) Jonathan Quick is very, very good. The Kings were a little more helter-skelter dealing with New Jerseys forecheck in the second period, but Quick was able to make another nine saves in the middle 20 minutes. According to NHL.com compadre Shawn ORourke Quick has given up one goal in his last 149:32 dating back to the Western Conference Finals. He doesnt look like hes prone to break down any time soon either.

3) Martin Brodeur looked much better in the second period, and made a couple of flashy glove saves that appeared to get him back into the flow of the game. The angry, dismissive glove save on Justin Williams appeared to be the turning point.

4) Four shots on goal for Mike Richards leads. Both teams. The depth on the Los Angeles Kings is something to be reckoned with along their front lines.

5) Kings have done a very good job roughing up Zach Parise in the first two games of this series. One shot in 12:10 of ice time and he was jacked up by Trevor Lewis at the end of the second period. Appeared a little dazed when he finally got up and off the ice.
THIRD PERIOD:

1) The Devils are going to be hard-pressed in this Stanley Cup Final if they dont start getting some production from Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Kings are effectively shutting them both down.

2) No shots on net in 21:28 tonight for Dustin Brown. Three hits but hes been largely quiet. Kings could use a lot more out of their tone-setter than theyve received thus far, and his ill-conceived pass to the front of the net at the end of the third almost turned into an Ilya Kovalchuk goal. Kings are very casual throwing the puck in front of the net and will get burned at some point because of that.

3) Devils fourth line has been keeping then in these games. Ryan Carter high tip on a Marek Zidlicky point shot beats Jonathan Quick. Thats the only line that Pete DeBoer didnt mess around with between second and third period, and with good reason.

4) Not a lot separating these two teams when the Kings are on the road, but that makes you think Los Angeles might just blow Jerseys doors off at the Staples Center. Doesnt it?

5) The 25th overtime game of the playoffs, and the second straight in the Finals for the Devils and Kings.

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

red-sox-xander-bogaerts.jpg

Sunday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineup: Ortiz a late scratch

David Ortiz was a late scratch from Sunday's lineup because his left foot is sore after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. Travis Shaw moves up to the fourth spot in the order at first base, Hanley Ramirez becomes the DH and Josh Rutledge will bat seventh at third base.

After extending his streak to 21 games Saturday, Xander Bogaerts faces a familiar foe in R.A. Dickey. So far the matchup has been favorable for the shortstop, batting .364 through 35 at-bats against the knuckleballer. 

Dickey, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of matchups against Boston since joining the Blue Jays. In 2016 alone, he's allowed eight runs in 9.2 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox. He faces a lineup that has five players who are hitting .275 or better against him through at least 10 career plate appearances against the righty. Shaw leads that charge, going 4-10 so far off Dickey with a homerun and two doubles. Rutledge is the lone Red Sox hitter yet to face Dickey.

The lineups:

BLUE JAYS:
Jose Bautisa RF
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B
Darwin Barney SS
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera LF
Josh Thole C
---
R.A. Dickey P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF
---
David Price P

The price of being the ace

red-sox-david-price-040516.jpg

The price of being the ace

David Price has a chance for his first “ace” moment to show Boston he’s truly the pitcher they paid for.

The bullpen is spent after giving up the game late Saturday, to go with the team dealing with a three game skid -- the longest since their three-game losing streak from April 17th – April 19th.

On top of the Sox not having lost four-straight yet in 2016, Price is back at the Rogers Centre for the first time since his playoff run with the Blue Jays last year.

So this game should have a playoff feel to it -- as much as one can in late May -- especially with the Toronto picking up steam.

And lastly for Price, he’s started to figure things out since making a mechanical adjustment following his atrocious 4.2 inning start against the Yankees earlier in the month.

But he hasn’t had to throw against a top of the line offense yet.

The lefty dominated Houston, much like everyone has this year and also did well against Colorado.

In between those two he did face a strong opponent in Kansas City, but the Royals still haven’t completely gotten things together (although they did mount a ridiculous comeback Saturday against the White Sox).

Toronto’s scored over seven runs in three of their last four, winning all four of those games and seven of the last 10 contests -- putting them four games behind Boston in the AL East standings.

Price does have a few things going for him entering Sunday’s contest.

He threw well against his old team earlier this year -- seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts and zero walks -- when his mechanics weren’t where he wanted them.

Also after being traded to Detroit from Tampa Bay in 2014, Price was dominant in his returning start at Tropicana Field.

Although he took the loss 1-0, the lefty dealt, chucking a one-hitter over eight innings, striking out nine without walking a batter -- and the one run off of him was unearned.

Price has yet to pitch at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers, so that’s something Boston may deal with later in the year, too.

Now Price has to block all of this from his mind and execute pitches, in what is his biggest test this point in the season.

A lot for him to ignore in what could’ve easily been a regular start had Boston’s bullpen done its job Sunday -- but then again, this is a part of the price of being an ace.

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like I was watching the Heart of a Champion in that Golden State/Oklahoma City game last night. That Klay Thompson is something else.

 

*PHT writer James O’Brien wonders what the next step is for Troy Brouwer now that he’s ready to hit free agency, and the ride has finally come to an for the Blues this season.

 

*Excellent piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Paul Dupont on the sad story of Kevin Stevens, and the drug addiction demons that have had him in their clutches for a long time. I’ve known about Stevens troubles for a while, and it’s too bad because he really is a gregarious guy when you get to know him.

 

*Allan Muir speculates on the future of Steve Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning now that the offseason has begun for both of them.

 

*P.K. Subban doesn’t sound like he’s got any hard feelings about being left off Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey, and said he’ll still be rooting them along.

 

*Pat Hickey mentions the Subban snub, but is incredulous that Habs center Alex Galchenyuk was left off Team North America.

 

*Larry Brooks breaks down how exactly former Bruins head coach and New York Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan was able to emerge from John Tortorella’s shadow some 10 years later.

 

*For something completely different: sad story all around in Cincinnati where they had to had to shoot an endangered gorilla dead when a four year old child fell into his enclosure.