Mike Rupp's punch to Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise's few days with the media, the Coyotes' brand of hockey, the Kings' success on the road, and the world champs are the five items that make up Trending this Week, a compilation of some of the biggest stories in the NHL's world that are generating some buzz in the Twitterverse:
New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur was pretty funny following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday when he was talking about getting punched in the chest by the Rangers' Mike Rupp 6:18 into the third period of the Devils' 4-1 victory.
Brodeur said it was the first time he could recall getting punched like that after a whistle. He said there was no way he was going to punch back, and certainly he didn't expect it from Rupp because he's not going to talk trash to a guy who is 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds. Brodeur also chided a reporter who asked if he was hurt by saying, "I'm a tough guy." He said the blow stung him a bit, but added, "Now I know I can take a punch."
Rupp, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. He did not make himself available to the media to talk about why he threw the punch at Brodeur. His absence led to speculation on the part of the Devils and the media that Rupp and the Rangers were frustrated by how things were unfolding in Game 4, and really in the series.
In fact, if you're looking for a sign of how the Rangers feel right about now, that Rupp punch to Brodeur is it. It might as well be a sign with bright flashing lights because it just seems so obvious.
Rupp doesn't do that to Brodeur if the Rangers are the ones finding a way to be the aggressors in the series. He doesn't do that to Brodeur if the Rangers are close in Game 4.
The scoreboard read 3-0 in favor of the Devils at that time. It might as well have been 13-0 by the way the game was unfolding.
Rupp's punch, as unnecessary as it looked, also can be viewed as a message. His team is tied in the series, but for some reason appears on the ropes heading into Game 5 Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Maybe Rupp was just trying to stir the pot to get his teammates excited.
However, even if all of that is true, the Rangers will have to figure out a better way to send a message in Game 5.
Here's a thought: Playing a better first period would do the trick. The Rangers haven't been very good in the first 20 minutes of any game in this series to date, getting outscored by a total of 3-0.
Zach Parise is right when he says "some people were making a big deal out of nothing, really."
The Devils captain didn't speak to the media after Game 3 Saturday, and it was the first time all season that happened following a game. He does deserve a pass and he seemed 100-percent genuine when he said he opted not to talk because he was afraid of saying something stupid following a frustrating 3-0 loss.
Parise, though, answered every question after practice Sunday and again Monday morning before letting his play do all the talking in Game 4.
Parise was his team's on-ice leader in a monster way, with two goals and an assist on Travis Zajac's game-winner. He blew past Michael Del Zotto, making the Rangers defenseman look like a pylon stuck just inside the blue line, to create a two-on-one that Zajac finished with a blast past Henrik Lundqvist.
When the Devils needed a power-play goal in the worst way to take a 3-0 lead early in the third, Parise was there to smash the puck through Lundqvist from the slot. He capped the night with an empty-net goal.
Parise didn't have to wait for the media to come to him after Game 4. He was the first star of the game and got to sit at the podium, to the right of goalie Martin Brodeur, and answer questions.
No big deal is right.
The Phoenix Coyotes finally were able to play the game the way they want to play it for 60 minutes in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday. It worked for a 2-0 win that was in large part due to goalie Mike Smith dominating with 36 saves, similar to the way Lundqvist played against the Devils in Game 3 of the East Finals.
That's all well and good, and the Coyotes should feel good about staving off elimination at Staples Center and forcing a Game 5 at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But to think they they're going to be able to win three more games just like that against the Kings would be wrong.
The Kings are too good, too big, too talented and too deep to lose four in a row in that fashion. The Coyotes would be happy to duplicate the way they played in Game 4 when they take the ice for Game 5 Tuesday, because that's how they have won throughout these playoffs, but it's fair to wonder if they can win even one more game against the Kings playing that rope-a-dope, bend-but-don't break brand of hockey.
They tried to do it in Game 1 and it nearly worked, but only because Derek Morris scored on a 98-foot slapper, a shot that Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will let past him maybe once in 100 times. The Kings dominated all of Game 1 and won it 4-2.
The Coyotes again tried to play that rope-a-dope style in Game 2, and it was working somewhat until they got into deep penalty trouble, and the final score saw the Kings win it 4-0. Game 3 was better for Phoenix if only because they only lost 2-1.
So, sure, they were able to make Coyotes Hockey work in Game 4, just as they did to win four of six against Chicago and four of five against Nashville. The Kings are different, however, and they will not lose sleep over losing a game.
After all, Kings Hockey has been more effective in the playoffs than Coyotes Hockey.
Here's another reason why the Kings should still feel confident that they can close out the Coyotes in Game 5 after losing Game 4:
They are 7-0 on the road in the playoffs, and have won nine straight road playoff games dating back to Game 2 against San Jose last season in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Other than clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Final, the Kings can set a couple of NHL records for road success in the playoffs with a win in Game 5 Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena.
No team ever has won more than seven consecutive road games in a single postseason. No team ever has started a postseason with an 8-0 road record. And no team ever has won more than nine consecutive road games in back-to-back postseasons.
The Kings are 10-3 on the road and just 5-7 at home since in the last three postseasons. It's not all that shocking considering they are 63-44-16 in road regular-season games since the 2010-11 season.
And, hey, if they win Game 5, they'll take their undefeated road record into either Prudential Center or Madison Square Garden for the start of the Stanley Cup Final.
Comfort apparently comes in all buildings and hotel beds.
Say what you want about the competition at the IIHF World Championship, but Russia is the only country that can call itself a world champion in hockey today.
OK, so every country doesn't send its best players because they either are still playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or they simply decide not to go because of injury or rest needed after the grind of an NHL season. The United States, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic and Slovakia are among the countries that were playing without some of the most talented players normally at their disposal for a big international event, like the Olympics.
Imagine, for example, a U.S. team with Jonathan Quick, Zach Parise, Ryan Callahan, Dustin Brown and Ryan McDonagh. What about a Swedish team with Henrik Lundqvist in net instead of Viktor Fasth or Jhonas Enroth?
Among the plethora of players Canada didn't have is Sidney Crosby, but Mike Smith, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Brad Richards were among those not available. Marian Gaborik and the injured Marian Hossa couldn't play for Slovakia. Patrik Elias, Marek Zidlicky and Martin Hanzal couldn't go for the Czech team.
However, Russia didn't have Ilya Kovalchuk or Anton Volchenkov, and it won the tournament by winning all 10 of its games in regulation, becoming the first team since the Soviet Union in 1989 to do that.
Evgeni Malkin picked up right where he left off in the NHL regular season and was dominant. He was named the tournament's MVP with 19 points in 10 games.
Alex Ovechkin played like he was a player happy to be freed from former Washington coach Dale Hunter's defense-first style and was brilliant with four points in three games after coming in late following the Capitals playoff loss to the Rangers. Alexander Semin joined him and did one better with five points in three games. Pavel Datsyuk had seven points and Semyon Varlamov was 8-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average.
Maybe the tournament doesn't carry the same type of muscle as it would if all the best players in the world participated, but Russia earned its celebration by being the most dominant team on the biggest stage outside of North America.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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