Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Final between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers had some intrigue. WHL standout Mark Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings made his NHL debut. There weren't huge expectations for the kid. Sure, he was great at the World Junior Championship for Canada, and sure he'd put up back to back 100+ point seasons in the WHL, but this was the Stanley Cup playoffs. Besides, he was lining up with Zenon Konopka and Jim O'Brien on the fourth line, so it was unlikely fans would see very much of him. There were rumblings he may get a shift on the power play, but that was it.
So, when less than ten minutes into his first NHL game he found himself on the ice with Ottawa's first line of Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, he did what any rookie would do: made an all-world seam pass to set up Jason Spezza for what would prove to be the game winning goal. He played only 8:43 of time on the ice that night, and finished a +1 with no shots on net.
Normally that would be enough to stay in the lineup coming back to Ottawa for game 6. Sadly for Stone, Silfverberg fever had arrived on Sunday night. Paul MacLean was swept up by it and decided he was going to put "the best player in Sweden" into the game Monday night at home. Only thing was, the situation was much different. The hype surrounding Silfverberg was wild. His post practice media scrum (on the Senators website) was nearly twice as long as any of the other players. Longer even than MacLean's. A Swedish media crew flew over to be part of the post practice media. Not only that, but instead of the low expectations put on Stone, it was said outright that Silfverberg would be lining up as Spezza's triggerman on the first line.
The kid ended up playing 9:02, with one shot on goal and an even rating. He looked scared and overwhelmed at times, but you could tell he has good skills and strong instincts. According to Wham City at the 6th Sens, he was on for 2 scoring chances for the Senators at even strength, and none for the Rangers.
However, the Senators lost. Is that Silfverberg's fault? Most certainly not. While he took one of the Senators 7 minor penalties that cost the Sens in game six, it was a cheap call, and the Rags didn't capitalize.
MacLean has a choice to make. Either go back to Stone, give Silfver another shot now that he's had time to get a little more accustomed to Ottawa, or go with Bobby Butler, who played decently in his time in the line up.
For what it's worth (read: not very much), Corey Pronman, who writes for Hockey Prospectus and does prospect work for ESPN, thinks that Stone will eventually be a slightly better player than Jakob. RIght now, however, it's up to Paulrus. Its his choice to make.
Nichols of The 6th Sens said it best on on Twitter yesterday, though: if we are counting on either one of these kids to win us game seven, we have serious problems.
Links after the jump!
- As referenced above, here is Wham City's compilation of last game's scoring chances. Silfverberg was the only forward other than Nick Foligno to finish +2 in scoring chances at even strength. Jared Cowen was a team best +3 at even strength. [6th Sens]
- In his first controversial move as head coach of the Senators, Paul MacLean benched his entire top power play unit at one point in the third period of Monday's game. This caused Daniel Alfredsson to lose his mind on the bench. MacLean, however, is unapologetic. [Allen Panzeri]
- If you missed Bobby's fantastic prospect round up this morning, I don't want to know you. So you should fix that, by reading it here. Also, it ties in beautiful with the topic of today's Nuggets! SILVER SEVEN SUBJECTS! [SilverSevenSens]
- "Mac's done a great job of finding a spot for everyone, getting them involved in the game, and it makes everyone feel important out there." Quote from Chris Neil in this Dave Lozo article about how Paul MacLean has turned this team around since the Clouston-era. [NHL.com]
- I love Ian Mendes, but he may be grasping at straws in this blog post. Here he is with 7 stats that should make Sens fans optimistic heading into game 7, but instead make me a little uneasy. [Ian Mendes]
- In a sweet segue into the league links, NHL.com has released its round of 16 for the NHL 13 cover athlete vote. Erik Karlsson made it through the round of 32, and is pitted as an underdog against Henrik Lundqvist. As much as I think it would be cool to see a goalie on the cover (has that ever happened?), I urge you all to stuff the ballot box at NHL.com for Erik. [Puck Daddy]
- Best article I will link here today. Puck Daddy has featured an anonymous "Player" blogging for them occasionally throughout this season. I am so intrigued as to who this player is, because he is very well spoken in his articles. This particular post is a mail bag of questions. Player answers everything from questions about media, about PEDsS and You Can Play. Worth the read! [Puck Daddy]
- Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne have all been nominated by the leagues general managers as the finalists for the Vezina trophy. It really is becoming a goaltenders league, with those three being dominant but also great cases to be made for Mike Smith, Kipper and others. [NHL.com]
- One of my absolute favourite guys to read, Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated (really, he writes beautifully and does great interviews), does a great piece on LA Kings captain Dustin Brown. Worth your time! [Sports Illustrated]
- Travis Zajac was out most of the year for the New Jersey Devils. Last night made all the rehab worth it as he scored in overtime to extend the playoffs for the Devils for at least one more game. Good article by Dan Rosen here. [NHL.com]
- Lastly, here is a story by James Mirtle about what the Canucks can expect in return for Roberto Luongo. If you missed it yesterday, Luongo had one of the classiest exit interviews I've ever seen. He called Cory Schneider a superstar and said it would be best if the team went with Cory. He also said if management asks him to waive his no-trade clause, he wouldn't stand in their way. Not bad for a guy who has been treated so poorly by both fans and coaches. I wish him luck wherever he lands. [Globe and Mail]
- EDIT: Here are Elliott Friedman's 30 thoughts. Too good not to include. [HNIC]
- Update: Mark Borowiecki skated with the team today at practice and will make the trip to New York. No word on if he'll play, though. [Garrioch]