Happy Monday. Warmth has finally reached the B-lo (for now). Here's your look around the NHL and the Memorial Cup ...
*With the sharp-passing Sedin twins, plenty of players with big shots and a gold-medal winning goalie, the Vancouver Canucks are tough enough to beat in normal situations. That task becomes nearly impossible when they have two extra skaters on the ice.
The Canucks converted three successive five-on-three power plays in a span of less than two minutes during the second period, with Sami Salo scoring twice and Ryan Kesler adding the third, to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Sunday in Game Four of the Western Conference finals to take a 3-1 series lead.
"We kept marching to the box, they kept scoring," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
*The Boston Bruins know they must concentrate on every shift. They have to focus even harder right after Tampa Bay scores. The Lightning have packed key goals into quick bursts that have sent them into Game Five of the Eastern Conference finals tonight tied at 2-2.
In the opener, they beat goalie Tim Thomas three times in 1 minute, 25 seconds - including twice in 19 seconds - in the first period and won 5-2. In Saturday's 5-3 win, the Lightning scored three more times in a 3:58 span of the second period to wipe out a 3-0 deficit.
*Rob Flick and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors remain very much in the mix at the Memorial Cup. Flick had a goal and an assist Sunday to lead the Majors to a 2-1 win over the Kootenay Ice. The victory was the first of the tournament for Mississauga (1-1) and moved it into a first-place tie with the Saint John Sea Dogs (1-0) and Owen Sound Attack (1-0), who square off tonight. The first-place finisher advances directly to the tournament final with the second- and third-place teams qualifying for the semifinal round.
Brayden McNabb, who signed a three-year contract with the Sabres last week, was suspended for Sunday's Memorial Cup game after injuring an opponent Saturday with an open-ice hit. The Kootenay defenseman stepped up to check Owen Sound's Joey Hishon late in their tournament opener, and McNabb's elbow caught Hishon in the head, leaving the forward dazed and bloodied.
(So here's my brief rant about the Memorial Cup. I'd been looking forward to seeing it for years because of its rich history and reputation for stellar hockey. Well, Exhibit A on Sunday featured sloppy, uninspired hockey. The crowd was lifeless. Plus, Mississauga and Canada world juniors coach Dave Cameron lived down to his reputation as an [insert nasty comment here], and the babysitters for Kootenay and the Canadian Hockey League decided McNabb -- a 20-year-old captain who has signed a pro contract -- shouldn't be allowed to talk to the media. In other words, it was a disappointing, boring and infuriating day at the old Memorial Cup.)
*NHL.com writes that while most of the attention of the hockey world is focused on the conference finals, five teams -- the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars -- have their view in other places. Those are the only teams with coaching vacancies, and as the summer nears, those five teams are zeroing in on potential candidates.
*The Winnipeg Free Press has a special section dedicated to the possible relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Manitoba. The move is reportedly set to happen Tuesday. (I sat behind several employees of the Thrashers on Sunday at the game. One of them was greeted by an old acquaintance, who asked where he was working. The reply: "In Atlanta, for the next two days anyway.")