Morning Skate: Can other NHL teams replicate Penguins' blueprint for success?

Morning Skate: Can other NHL teams replicate Penguins' blueprint for success?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while trying to stay out of the heat. It’s a scorcher in Boston when it gets to 95 degrees before noontime. 


*Jeremy Roenick had quite the man on the street odyssey for NBC Sports during the Stanley Cup Final as he ate hot chicken, got milk in his eyes and was tossed off a mechanical bull among other things. 


*I wholly agree with Pro Hockey Talk that other NHL teams can’t “model” their blueprint for success off what the Penguins have done over the last couple of seasons. It’s an extremely flawed premise with Pittsburgh. It all starts with having the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby, and you can’t copycat that next season, or the season after, or anytime soon unless you get really fortunate in the draft. You probably also have to bottom out to get that kind of lottery pick in the first place, and then make some really good choices on the roster. The Pens had no business winning a Cup without Kris Letang, and you won’t see any other teams doing it without a bona fide, stud No. 1 defenseman in his prime anytime soon. 


*The Golden Knights give you a “cribs style” tour of their new practice facility, which should be up and running once the season gets going. 


*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu might not be long for the Habs organization. He doesn’t feel like the kind of defenseman that’s going to be of much use to Claude Julien and his preference for big, strong D’s that can handle business at the point of attack. 


*The Columbus Blue Jackets will not be subjecting Scott Hartnell to the NHL expansion draft as he wasn’t approached about his no-movement clause.


*Here’s a really good piece on Scott Darling and his ability to overcome alcoholism and social anxiety while working his way up the ladder to the NHL. He has some really kind words for hockey agent Matt Keator as well, a great guy and obviously a loyal agent sticking with Darling through the tough times on his way to becoming a No. 1 goalie with the Carolina Hurricanes. 


*Looks like the Denver University hockey program is going to have another strong season with a talented incoming class after last year’s successful campaign. 


*For something completely different: Mark Hamill doesn’t know what his life would be like without Star Wars. Well, that makes two of us.

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

USA TODAY Sports Photo

David Krejci Line looks to shoulder their share of Bruins offensive burden

TORONTO – The Bruins top line totaled up 20 points in the first two games, and the B’s took both of those against the Maple Leafs. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had zero points in Game 3 on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, and the Bruins ended up dropping that game to the Leafs. 

So clearly the Bruins’ playoff fate could be strongly tied to the ebbs and flow of their top forward trio, but the hope with the B’s is that the formula won’t be that simple throughout the postseason. A big part of the reason the Bruins gave up a boatload to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash was to acquire another forward capable of shouldering a scoring load, and turn Boston’s second line into a much more dangerous group. 

All three members of the B’s second line, David Krejci, Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk, all have goals during the best-of-seven series, but they also came up empty in Game 3 with Krejci and DeBrusk only managing two shots on net between them. They know that they’re capable of more given the offensive talent on the ice, and given that so much defensive attention is being paid to neutralizing Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak rather than them. 

“We had lots of good looks. I missed a couple. We had lots of good looks that just didn’t go in,” said Krejci. “So we need to work extra harder [in Game 4] to bury those chances and have them end up in the back of the net. We need to stick to the game plan and respect the game plan.”


Nash had five shots on net and some pretty good chances, but the best scoring chance was a DeBrusk dangle and pass to Krejci wide open at the net. It looked like the puck hit a rut on the ice and Krejci was never able to settle it down for a shot despite the nice-looking pass, so that line is left biding their team for another chance to carry the offense. 

“I think that’s the main reason why we’re the second line. We all have attributes that can help this team. It hasn’t really come to the table yet, but I still thought that we generated chances [in Game 3], and I think our whole team did. It just wasn’t bouncing our way,” said DeBrusk. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time you take the positives from it. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to get harder from here on in. Hopefully our top line does their thing, but if not then we’ll be ready to hopefully help out in that category.”

The Bruins top line is ready, willing and able to shoulder the lion’s share of the scoring burden for the Black and Gold, and most nights they’re going to be able to live up to that kind of responsibility. But if the Bruins want to beat the good defensive teams and become a much more difficult team to play against in the postseason, they’re going to need to start getting production from a second line that should be built to play the power, puck possession game in the postseason.


Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

File Photo

Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for seventh straight season

TORONTO – At some point, they’re going to have to start thinking about re-naming the award after Patrice Bergeron himself.

The Bruins center was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night for the seventh consecutive season, and is going for his NHL-record fifth trophy for being the best defensive forward in the NHL. Bergeron was named a finalist along with Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Bergeron finished his 12th NHL season with 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with 26 penalty minutes and a plus-21 rating in 64 games.


He ranked fifth in the league in faceoff win percentage (57.3, min. 1,000 face-offs), 12th in face-offs won (784), third in even strength faceoff win percentage (58.0, min. 500 face-offs won) and first in shorthanded faceoff win percentage (58.3, min. 50 face-offs won). The 32-year-old forward also ranked second overall in the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential), with a 57.56%, which should make the fancy stat nerds very happy.

Some might argue there other more worthy candidates given that Bergeron missed 18 games due to injury this season, but he was also the center of a line that didn’t give up an even strength goal until January while putting up his customarily excellent stats. That being said, a guy like Aleksander Barkov also deserved plenty of consideration outside the top-3 finalists that all come in with equally strong chances of taking home the award.

Bergeron has won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If he wins the year's Selke Trophy, he will break the record held by four-time winner and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Bob Gainey. The Selke Award is given annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season, and will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.