Tag Archives: 2004 Stanley Cup Final

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Western Conference

In continuation with Monday’s Eastern Conference preview, here’s the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round preview many of you have been waiting for.

In the past, Down the Frozen River has covered every game of every series. This year, DtFR is changing things up a bit with a preview of every round and continued excellence in analysis on the DTFR Podcast as well as some Instagram Live sporadic thoughts throughout the playoffs.

P1 Calgary Flames (50-25-7, 107 points) vs WWC2 Colorado Avalanche (38-30-14, 90 points)

The Calgary Flames reached the 50-win plateau for the first time since the 1988-89 season (and just the second time in franchise history). For those of you who might be younger than 30-years-old, that’s also the last time the Flames won the Stanley Cup.

Yes, the Flames won a Cup. Also, it’s been 15 years since Calgary’s appearance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final or as it’s known to Johnny Gaudreau, “ten years before [his] birth.”

Only kidding.

Scotiabank Saddledome is ready to rock again as the Flames are fiery hot this season. So hot, they’re going to wear their throwback sweaters at home to rekindle the 1989 Cup run flame that burns deep inside the heart and soul of the C of Red.

Anyway, puns aside, Calgary is good. Very good.

Head coach, Bill Peters, has gotten the most out of his goaltenders, Mike Smith (23-16-2 record, 2.73 goals against average, .898 save percentage in 42 games played) and David Rittich (27-9-5, 2.61 GAA, .911 SV% in 45 GP), as they’ve racked up the wins.

Led by Gaudreau (36-63–99 totals in 82 games played), Sean Monahan (34-48–82 totals in 78 GP), Elias Lindholm (78 points), Matt Tkachuk (77 points) and potential 2018-19 Norris Trophy finalist, Mark Giordano (74 points), the Flames rose to the top and stayed there, laying claim to home ice all the way through the Western Conference Final– if not Stanley Cup Final, should the Tampa Bay Lightning be eliminated prior to then.

For Jared Bednar and the Colorado Avalanche, the Avs head coach rode the rollercoaster of injuries, out-of-this-world performances and pedestrian play as Colorado reached the top of the Central Division, fell to 6th place and resurfaced to playoff contention, snagging the 2nd wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Nathan MacKinnon finished one-point shy of the 100-point plateau with 41 goals and 58 assists (99 points) in 82 games this season, centering captain, Gabriel Landeskog (34-41–75 totals in 73 GP), and Mikko Rantanen (31-56–78 totals in 74 GP) on one of the best lines in hockey throughout the year.

Rantanen, of course, has been out of commission since March 22nd with an upper body injury, and remains a question mark for Game 1 against Calgary.

Back to MacKinnon for a moment, the 23-year-old sensation became the third 40-goal scorer since the Quebec Nordiques relocated to Colorado, joining current General Manager, Joe Sakic, and Milan Hejduk as the only players to do so.

Tyson Barrie led the Avs defenders with 59 points from the blue line.

In net, Semyon Varlamov (20-19-9, 2.87 GAA, .909 SV% in 49 GP) stole most of the games this season from Philipp Grubauer (18-9-5, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV% in 37 GP), who– despite getting off to a slow start– has really turned his play around as of late, notching three wins in his last five appearances.

Calgary swept the season series, 3-0-0, but the Avalanche kept every game close.

Both teams have hot hands and solid defenses, but there’s one common theme for each club– goaltending. Who’s going to get the starts? Who will rise above? And who’s going to flounder in the First Round?

Because of this, Calgary will likely get stretched to taking the series in six games, with or without a return of Rantanen to Colorado’s lineup.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 CGY at Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 9th, 6-5 CGY at Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 1st, 3-2 F/OT CGY at Pepsi Center on Oct. 13th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 COL @ CGY 10 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 COL @ CGY 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 CGY @ COL 10 PM ET on CNBC, CBC, TVAS2

4/17- Game 4 CGY @ COL 10 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 COL @ CGY*

4/21- Game 6 CGY @ COL*

4/23- Game 7 COL @ CGY*

*If necessary

P2 San Jose Sharks (46-27-9, 101 points) vs P3 Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7, 93 points)

The San Jose Sharks quietly lurked the waters working their way diligently to 2nd place in the Pacific Division this season after acquiring Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators and not destroying teams out of the gate as everyone expected.

Still, San Jose was led by Brent Burns (83 points) in what was yet another Norris Trophy worthy performance this season. The Sharks leading scorer among forwards was 25-year-old Tomas Hertl (35-39–74 totals in 77 GP), while Logan Couture (27-43–70 totals in 81 GP) continued to be a presence in the lineup.

There’s no question surrounding San Jose’s explosive offense and their world class defense. Rather, the Sharks goaltending seems to be the club’s only weakness.

Martin Jones (36-19-5, 2.94 GAA, .896 SV% in 62 GP) posted career-worsts in goals against average and save percentage, while backup goaltender, Aaron Dell (10-8-4, 3.17 GAA, .886 SV% in 25 GP) didn’t look so hot either.

For the Vegas Golden Knights, a slow start and a lot of injuries almost decimated their inaugural season success, but in true Golden Knights fashion, the comeback got rolling and Vegas stormed into a divisional spot for the postseason.

Granted, it doesn’t come with home ice, but still.

Vegas didn’t have a 40-goal scorer like last season, but Jonathan Marchessault still led the way with 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists), while his teammate, William Karlsson amassed 24-32–56 totals in 82 GP.

Reilly Smith put up 53 points in a “down” season, but Alex Tuch (20-32–52 totals) had a breakout year, so everything evens out in the end.

In the crease, Marc-Andre Fleury (35-21-5, 2.51 GAA, .913 SV% in 61 GP) remained in control of the Golden Knights starting job, but fell victim to the increased scoring around the league– notching his worst GAA and SV% in a season where he was the starting goaltender since his 2.65 GAA and .905 SV% in 67 games played with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009-10.

For Malcolm Subban (8-10-2, 2.93 GAA, .902 SV% in 21 GP) it was a season to forget for the backup goalie. The sophomore slump is real.

The Sharks lost to the Golden Knights in the Second Round last year and it’s not hard to imagine Vegas pulling out another improbable postseason run.

But this time around feels different.

San Jose split the season series, 2-2-0, but was outscored by Vegas, 18-10, in that span. Though the Sharks should be able to batten down the hatches and outlast the Golden Knights in what’s sure to be quite the entertaining matchup in the First Round, there’s no way it won’t go seven games.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT SJS at SAP Center on March 30th, 7-3 VGK at SAP Center on March 18th, 3-2 SJS at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 10th, 6-0 VGK at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 24th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 VGK @ SJS 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS2

4/12- Game 2 VGK @ SJS 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2

4/14- Game 3 SJS @ VGK 10 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 SJS @ VGK 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2

4/18- Game 5 VGK @ SJS*

4/21- Game 6 SJS @ VGK*

4/23- Game 7 VGK @ SJS*

*If necessary

C1 Nashville Predators (47-29-6, 100 points) vs WWC1 Dallas Stars (43-32-7, 93 points)

A year removed from winning the President’s Trophy, the Nashville Predators entered the final day of the regular season with the chance to grab the 1st seed in the Central Division. The Preds did just that, of course, and will promptly hold a banner ceremony worthy of AFC Finalists.

It’s fine for the local fan base to take pride in their team. It’s also fine for others in the league to poke a little fun at other organization’s unique quirks.

For Nashville, it’s catfish (see, this classic moment from Puck Soup animated— fair warning, language) and banners (see, “Regular Season Western Conference Champions 2017-18”).

Anyway, real talk, the Preds are a legitimate team.

Their defense is still a colossal stronghold with Roman Josi (2nd in points on the roster, 15-41–56 totals in 82 GP), Mattias Ekholm (44 points and a team leading, plus-27 rating), Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban.

Their offense was led by Ryan Johansen (14-50–64 totals in 80 GP) this season with Filip Forsberg chipping in 50 points and Viktor Arvidsson reaching the 30-goal plateau (he finished with 34).

Their goaltending… oh. Is this when Juuse Saros (17-10-2, 2.62 GAA, .915 SV% in 31 GP) takes over for Pekka Rinne (30-19-4, 2.42 GAA, .918 SV% in 56 GP) as the regular starter?

Oh. Again. Never mind.

While Rinne has had the better year, statistically speaking, his goals against average and save percentage rank 10th and 13th, respectively, among goaltenders who played at least 20 games this season.

In the same respect, there were only eight goaltenders with a goals against average below 2.40.

Saros ranked 21st in GAA (among goalies with 20 GP) and 20th in SV%.

This is only relevant in the head-to-head aspect with the Dallas Stars, which, let’s take a look at their organizational depth this season, shall we?

Dallas’s forwards went from being “f—ing horse—-” to… well, at least Tyler Seguin reached the 80-point plateau this season with 33 goals and 47 assists. Alexander Radulov still had 72 points and Jamie Benn ranked third on the team with 27-26–53 totals.

On the blue line, John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen made a case for Sergei Zubov to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and reached 10-35–45 and 12-21–33 totals, respectively as Klingberg continued to emerge as a veteran and Heiskanen made quite an impression in his rookie season.

Not to be outdone, Esa Lindell notched 32 points from the backend this season.

But in the crease, the Stars had two quality stars.

Starting goaltender, Ben Bishop (27-15-2, 1.98 GAA, .934 SV% in 46 GP) put up a career-best season while fighting a lower body injury at times and backup goaltender, Anton Khudobin (16-17-5, 2.57 GAA, .923 SV% in 41 GP) split time with Bishop– taking on more time while the starter was injured– and had almost a mirror image in wins (16) and goals against average from last season.

As long as Bishop (1st in the league in SV% and 2nd in GAA among goaltenders who played at least 20 games) is healthy, yeah, the Stars take home that advantage. Big time.

Nashville has never won the Cup. Dallas won it 20 years ago.

Both franchises have a thirst to quench for their respective markets. Both clubs split the series with two wins and two losses– never winning or losing by more than two goals.

It’s anybody’s guess, but the Stars should upset the Predators in a seven-game stunner.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 NSH at American Airlines Center on Feb. 19th, 3-2 F/OT NSH at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 7th, 3-1 DAL at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 2nd, 2-0 DAL at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 27th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 DAL @ NSH 9:30 PM ET on USA, SN1, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 DAL @ NSH 6 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2

4/15- Game 3 NSH @ DAL 9:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS

4/17- Game 4 NSH @ DAL 8 PM ET on USA, SN, TVAS2

4/20- Game 5 DAL @ NSH*

4/22- Game 6 NSH @ DAL*

4/24- Game 7 DAL @ NSH*

*If necessary

C2 Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5, 99 points) vs C3 St. Louis Blues (45-28-9, 99 points)

After a surprising run to the Western Conference Final last season, the Winnipeg Jets struggled at times to find scoring from their top-six forwards, as well as the mythical runway that let their goaltending soar beyond expectations.

This season, the Jets had their ups and downs, while coming back to Earth in other areas.

Blake Wheeler (20-71–91 totals) led Winnipeg in scoring and established a franchise record– dating back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers– for most assists in a season, while Mark Scheifele (84 points) and Kyle Connor (66 points) rounded out the top-three scorers.

Despite a stretch of games without a goal, Patrik Laine still reached the 30-goal plateau and had 50 points on the season in 82 games played.

On defense, Jacob Trouba picked up the slack with 8-42–50 totals from the blue line while Dustin Byfuglien was limited to 42 games and 31 points due to injury.

In goal, Connor Hellebuyck (34-23-3, 2.90 GAA, .913 SV% in 63 GP) posted a career-worst goals against average (2.90) topping his previous worst 2.89 GAA in 2016-17 (56 GP).

Hellebuyck had his 2nd worst save percentage since his .907 SV% in 2016-17 as well.

Laurent Brossoit (13-6-2, 2.52 GAA, .925 SV% in 21 GP) posted decent numbers as a backup goaltender in his first season with the Jets, since joining the organization in free agency last July.

Winnipeg missed a major part of their defense for most of the season in Byfuglien and to some respects, that’s hampered their goaltending as a result. Tending the net is never solely about one person tending the crease, but rather a team keeping the puck out of their own zone.

However, Hellebuyck has shown signs of a “good year, bad year, good year, bad year” pattern in the past and might have just been victim to a bad year– statistically speaking.

The St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs last year, losing the final game of the regular season to the Colorado Avalanche and the last wild card spot in the process.

This year, the Blues redeemed themselves after almost completely embarrassing themselves. St. Louis was last in the Central Division, then they fired Mike Yeo and hired Craig Berube as interim head coach.

Berube began to right the ship, then Jordan Binnington (24-5-1, 1.89 GAA, .927 SV% in 32 GP) came along.

Binnington lifted the Blues to a franchise record 12-game winning streak and established the franchise record for most wins by a rookie goaltender (24)– surpassing the previous mark (22 wins) set by teammate and presumably the backup goaltender in the postseason, Jake Allen (19-17-8, 2.83 GAA, .905 SV% in 46 GP).

Don’t try to mess with what’s working.

Ryan O’Reilly led St. Louis in scoring with 28-49–77 totals in 82 games played. Meanwhile, Vladimir Tarasenko (68 points) and Brayden Schenn (54 points) compiled respectable totals in 76 and 72 games played, respectively.

Captain, Alex Pietrangelo, provided more than just leadership from the defensive zone. He added 13 goals and 28 assists (41 points) from the point to help guide St. Louis to a divisional playoff berth.

For the first time in franchise history, Winnipeg is making consecutive playoff appearances. Though they tied in points (99) in the standings, the Jets had the advantage in the regulation-plus-overtime wins tiebreaker, leading the Blues, 45-42, in that department.

Winnipeg won the season series 3-1-0, but is facing a Blues team that has completely shifted gears in the second half of the season. For that reason alone, it’s not impossible to predict St. Louis will be the series winner in five games as Binnington cements his status as a goaltender in the NHL– if not a Calder Memorial Trophy candidate at least.

Regular season outcomes:

1-0 STL at Bell MTS Place on Dec. 7th, 8-4 WPG at Enterprise Center on Nov. 24th, 5-4 F/OT WPG at Bell MTS Place on Oct. 22nd, 5-1 WPG at Enterprise Center on Oct. 4th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 STL @ WPG 8 PM ET on NHL Network, SN, TVAS3

4/12- Game 2 STL @ WPG 9:30 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS

4/14- Game 3 WPG @ STL 7:30 PM ET on CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS2

4/16- Game 4 WPG @ STL 9:30 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS

4/18- Game 5 STL @ WPG*

4/20- Game 6 WPG @ STL*

4/22- Game 7 STL @ WPG*

*If necessary

Game of the week: February 25-March 3

With the trade deadline passing by on Monday, there’s only one important date remaining this regular season: April 6, the season’s finale.

However, we’re not quite focused on that date yet. Instead, let’s see what games this week had to offer:

NHL SCHEDULE: February 25-March 3
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN)VISITORHOSTNATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, February 25
7 p.m.BuffaloToronto3-5
7 p.m.MontréalNew Jersey1-2
7:30 p.m.Los AngelesTampa Bay3-4 (SO)
8 p.m.EdmontonNashville2-3 (SO)
9 p.m.FloridaColorado4-3 (OT)
10 p.m.AnaheimVancouver0-4
Tuesday, February 26
7 p.m.San JoseBoston1-4
7 p.m.Calgary FlamesNew York Islanders3-1
7 p.m.BuffaloPhiladelphia2-5
7 p.m.OttawaWashington2-7
7 p.m.Los AngelesCarolina1-6
7 p.m.PittsburghColumbus5-2
7:30 p.m.MontréalDetroit8-1
8 p.m.NashvilleSt. Louis0-2
8 p.m.MinnesotaWinnipeg3-2
9 p.m.FloridaArizona3-4 (SO)
10 p.m.DallasVegas1-4
Wednesday, February 27
7 p.m.EdmontonToronto2-6
7 p.m.CalgaryNew Jersey2-1
7:30 p.m.Tampa Bay LightningNew York Rangers4-3 (OT)
9:30 p.m.VancouverColorado2-3 (SO)
10 p.m.ChicagoAnaheim4-3
Thursday, February 28
7 p.m.Toronto Maple LeafsNew York Islanders1-6
7 p.m.PhiladelphiaColumbus3-4 (OT)
7:30 p.m.Tampa BayBoston1-4
7:30 p.m.EdmontonOttawa4-2
9 p.m.VancouverArizona2-5
10 p.m.FloridaVegas5-6 (SO)
10:30 p.m.DallasLos Angeles4-3 (OT)
Friday, March 1
7 p.m.PittsburghBuffalo3-4 (OT)
7 p.m.PhiladelphiaNew Jersey6-3
7 p.m.Washington CapitalsNew York Islanders3-1
7 p.m.Montréal CanadiensNew York Rangers4-2
7:30 p.m.St. LouisCarolina2-5
8 p.m.NashvilleWinnipeg3-5
10 p.m.VegasAnaheim3-0
10:30 p.m.ColoradoSan Jose3-4
Saturday, March 2
1 p.m.EdmontonColumbus 
4 p.m.ChicagoLos AngelesNHLN
7 p.m.New JerseyBoston 
7 p.m.BuffaloTorontoCBC, NHLN, SN1
7 p.m.PittsburghMontréalSN360, TVAS
7 p.m.OttawaTampa BayCITY, TVAS2
7 p.m.CarolinaFlorida 
8 p.m.DetroitArizona 
8 p.m.DallasSt. Louis 
10 p.m.Minnesota WildCalgary FlamesCBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360
Sunday, March 3
12:30 p.m.Washington CapitalsNew York RangersNBC, TVAS
3 p.m.Philadelphia FlyersNew York IslandersSN1, TVAS
4 p.m.VancouverVegas 
4 p.m.ColoradoAnaheim 
5 p.m.OttawaFloridaRDS2
7 p.m.WinnipegColumbusSN
7:30 p.m.NashvilleMinnesotaNBCSN
10 p.m.ChicagoSan Jose 

There were rivalries galore to choose from this week – nine, if you want to be precise. Buffalo and Toronto waged two editions of the Battle of the QEW, with the Leafs hosting on Monday and the Sabres returning the favor tonight.

In between those meetings, the Penguins made their first visit of the season to Columbus and the Habs squared off against the Wings (both on Tuesday) and Friday featured Montréal visiting the Rangers, the Caps visiting the Islanders and the Battle of the Turnpikes. Joining Toronto and Buffalo in rivalry action today are the Blackhawks and Kings, while the Caps and Blueshirts are waiting until tomorrow to stage their derby.

In a similar strain as rivalries, we were also privy to three rematches from last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota and Winnipeg rekindled their First Round animosity on Tuesday, ending with the Wild exacting revenge for their early playoff exit. The Bolts and Bruins were at it Thursday (with Boston pulling off the 4-1 victory), while Nashville and Winnipeg scrapped for first place in the Central Division last night (the Jets recaptured the division lead with a 5-3 win).

Finally, I always try to point out the biggest homecomings, and there were three this week. Of course, none was more anticipated than C John Tavares making his first trip to Nassau Coliseum as a member of the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Tavares enjoyed nine seasons with the Islanders, including five as the club’s 14th captain. His 621 points scored while wearing blue and orange ranks fifth in franchise history, but don’t let that fool you – Islanders fans did not treat him to a warm welcome.

Also making notable homecomings were current Penguin D Jack Johnson returning to Columbus on Tuesday and current Predator F Mikael Granlund returning to St. Paul tomorrow (considering he just experienced the birth of his child, there’s actually a chance he never left Minnesota in the first place). Both spent seven seasons with their respective former clubs before joining their current organizations (Johnson via free agency this summer and Granlund via deadline trade).

However, all of those things having been listed, there’s still one more event that demands our attention. For the third week in a row, a former great of the game is seeing his number raised to the rafters. Tonight, the Calgary Flames honor RW Jarome Iginla.

It can be easily forgotten that Iginla was not drafted by the Flames, but instead by the Dallas Stars. Only two seasons removed from their departure from the State of Hockey, the Stars selected the Kamloops Blazer 11th-overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Knowing what we know now, how Iginla fell all the way to 11th is hard to fathom. Only 10 total players from this 234-player draft class were ever named to even one NHL All-Star Game, of which only Iginla and nine-year teammate G Miikka Kiprusoff ever received end-of-season All-Star Team nods.

Regardless, Iginla likely never even thought about shopping for a Dallas apartment, as he was traded alongside C Corey Millen to Calgary (coincidentally in the same province as the city that hosted that edition of the draft: Edmonton, Iginla’s hometown) five months later for the rights to C Joe Nieuwendyk.

Nieuwendyk would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 – scoring two game-winning overtime goals on the way, including one in triple-overtime against former rival Edmonton – so perhaps this was a fair trade all-in-all.

Iginla made his NHL debut during the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs (he registered 1-1-2 totals in two games played) after the Blazers lost to Spokane in the WHL’s West Division Finals 4-2. As the reigning WHL Player of the Year, Iginla registered 1-1-2 totals in his first two postseason appearances before the Flames were swept by Chicago in the Western Quarterfinals.

Iginla played all 82 games of his rookie campaign in 1996-97, registering impressive 21-29-50 totals (including three game-winning goals) to finish second in Calder voting behind fellow traded 1995 pick D Bryan Berard of the New York Islanders (he was originally drafted first-overall by Ottawa).

Like many outstanding youths, Iginla faced a rather severe sophomore slump. The winger posted only 13-19-32 marks in 70 games played, but he hopped right back on his horse for Season 3 to reemerge as a 50-point player and start a run of scoring at least 50 points in 15 of 16 seasons (interrupted only by the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign) from 1998-2015, a run that extended beyond his time in Calgary.

Of course, implying that the Flames could only count on 50 points from Iginla is undoubtedly doing his reputation a major disservice. The 51 points he scored in the 1998-99 season was only the beginning of his meteoric rise. He notched 63 points at the turn of the millennium, followed by 71 in 2000-01.

Iggy’s sixth season (2001-02) saw him set his career-high in goals with 52-44-96 totals, and everyone in the league took notice. Not only did Iginla earn his first of three First All-Star Team honors, but he also brought home more than his fair share of hardware from the NHL Awards, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award (now known as the Ted Lindsay Award).

Of course, all that hardware didn’t make up for one major hole in Iginla’s resume. Not only had he not yet won a playoff game, he hadn’t even made a playoff appearance since his NHL debut.

That changed in a massive way in 2004, Iginla’s first season as the Flames’ 18th captain in franchise history. With a 41-32-73 season that earned Iginla his first King Clancy Award and second Richard Trophy, he led the Flames to a sixth-place finish in the Western Conference and their first playoff appearance in eight seasons.

The success didn’t end there though: the Flames defeated all three of the West’s division champions, including the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Red Wings in the conference semifinals, to advance all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the East’s top seed.

As for Iginla, he hadn’t yet scored all the goals for his campaign, as he added 13 goals and 22 points in his 26 playoff games – including outstanding 5-3-8 totals in the quarterfinals against Vancouver. His 13 markers were the most by any player in the 2004 playoffs, but his side fell to the Bolts in seven games.

Iginla’s Flames would qualify for the next four playoffs after their Stanley Cup Final appearance (skipping, of course, the 2004-05 lockout-cancelled season), but each time they failed to advance beyond the First Round. During that run, the captain earned his last two nominations to the NHL’s First All-Star team, doing it consecutively in 2008 and 2009 with respective 50-48-98 and 35-54-89 seasons.

Iginla’s Flames career would end on March 28, 2013 when he was traded as a rental to Pittsburgh for LW Kenny Agostino, RW Ben Hanowski and a 2013 first-round pick that would eventually become LW Morgan Klimchuk. He would go on to play for the Bruins, Avs and Kings before being forced to hang up his skates after the 2016-17 season.

With 525-570-1095 totals in 1219 career games played for Calgary, Iginla holds franchise records for appearances, goals, points, power play goals (161) and game-winning goals (83). In terms of league records, Iginla is one of only seven players to score 30 or more goals in 11-straight seasons (all of which were with Calgary, and a streak that could have been longer if not for the 2012-13 lockout), one of 20 to reach the 600-goal plateau and one of 34 to manage at least 1300 points.

For these reasons, as well as every other detail and fact listed above, Iginla is bypassing Calgary’s “Forever a Flame” program (in which a player is honored, but his number not retired) and seeing his No. 12 rightfully join RW Lanny McDonald‘s No. 9 and G Mike Vernon‘s No. 30 as the team’s third (fourth if that Oiler’s No. 99 is included) sweater retired from circulation.

What a time to be a member of the C of Red, no? Not only is the organization honoring one of, if not the greatest to ever don the Flaming C (no disrespect intended to D Al MacInnis, McDonald and his mustache or Vernon), but this year’s team is also pretty darn exciting. They boast a 41-16-7 record that that leads San Jose for the Western Conference lead, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down with their seven-game win streak and eight-game point streak – both the best currently active in the NHL.

Dating back to Valentine’s Day, the Flames have played to a 7-0-1 record (they dropped a point to the Panthers in a shootout), largely as a result of their incredible defensive play. Entering play Friday (all stats will not take into account March 1’s eight games due to my work schedule), no team has allowed fewer shots than Calgary in the past 14 days. The Flames have allowed only 214 shots against in their past eight outings, which averages out to 26.75 shots against per game.

Leading that defensive charge has been none other than Calgary’s resident 3-H Club: D Noah Hanifin, who’s 10 takeaways since February 14 lead the team; D Travis Hamonic, who tops the squad by averaging two blocks per game during this run; and W Garnet Hathaway, the Flames’ leading body checker in the past 14 days by averaging three hits per game.

As would be expected, the most prominent place this solid defensive work is showing up is on the scoreboard, as the Flames have allowed a (t)fourth-best 1.75 goals against per game since February 14. As a result, 19-11-2 G Mike Smith has been having an easy go of it lately, made evident by his combined .93 save percentage and 1.98 GAA for his past six starts.

On the season, Smith boasts an .897 save percentage and 2.89 GAA, but his recent run of success means he’ll likely be in the crease this evening. Smith has a not-so-great 6-11-2 all-time record against the Wild, but he stopped all 31 shots faced the last time he saw them on December 6 to improve his career statistics against Minnesota to a .921 save percentage and 2.18 GAA.

Speaking of the Wild, they’re currently on a bit of a run themselves.

On the back of a four-game win streak (including wins against the Blues and Jets), Minnesota has amassed a 31-27-6 record that is currently (well, as of Friday morning) good enough for the Western Conference’s second wild card.

The main player in this recent success has undoubtedly been 25-21-5 G Devan Dubnyk, Smith’s former battery-mate with the Coyotes. Though he’s certainly received help from his defense (the Wild have allowed an average of 30.5 shots against per game in their last four outings, the 12th-best mark in the NHL in that time), he’s played lights out to allow only 1.5 goals against per tilt in his last four starts – the fourth-best mark in the league since February 21.

What makes this streak so impressive is that Dubnyk has been only a little better than average this season with his .912 save percentage and 2.59 GAA on the campaign. However, he’s elevated his game to his 2014-15 level in his last four outings to post a combined .951 save percentage and 1.49 GAA.

Impressive stuff.

Over his 10-year career, Dubnyk has squared off against Calgary 26 times and can boast a solid 11-8-4 record against the Flames. Combined, he’s managed a .923 save percentage and 2.7 GAA against Alberta’s southern franchise.

So if we’re in line for a goaltending duel, which will emerge with two points?

Personally, I like the Flames this evening. They have the advantage of playing at home with an excited C of Red behind them, as well as a better defense and more talented offense. Dubnyk might continue to stand on his head, but I think the Flames can find a way to sneak one more goal past him.

I’ll take Calgary 2-1.

DTFR Podcast #145- We Plan To Be Good In 2021-25

Evgeni Malkin did a bad thing, the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game broke attendance records and more trades happened in the NHL. Patrice Bergeron reached 1,000 games and David Pastrnak is injured for the Boston Bruins leaving Nick in a glass case of emotion.

Plus, Eugene Melnyk plans to spend money, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a new alternate sweater, Randy Carlyle was fired and Scott Niedermayer will have his number retired (again) this week. Finally, Connor has a new segment.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Caps win, 4-1, even series with Pens

pittsburgh_penguins_logoWashington Capitals Logo

 

 

Lars Eller (0-3—3) had the gifted playmaking hands in Washington’s 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at Capital One Arena as the Capitals evened the Second Round series, 1-1.

Braden Holtby made 32 saves on 33 shots faced for a .970 save percentage in the win, while Penguins netminder, Matt Murray, amassed 28 saves on 31 shots against for a .903 SV% in 57:48 time on ice.

Similar to Game 1, the Capitals scored the game’s first goal early in the first period as Alex Ovechkin (7) rocketed one past Murray just over a minute into the game. The goal was unassisted at 1:26.

Evgeny Kuznetsov took the game’s first penalty after tripping Pittsburgh’s Riley Sheahan almost seven minutes into the action. The Penguins did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby, was penalized for hooking Washington forward, Nicklas Backstrom, at 12:59 of the fire period and the Capitals went on their first power play of the afternoon.

Holtby initiated a breakout from Washington’s defensive zone with a pass up the ice to Lars Eller. Eller connected Jakub Vrana (1) with the puck on his stick and Vrana brought it point blank before firing a shot high-glove side past Murray for his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

Eller (1) and Holtby (1) notched the assists on the power play goal and the Capitals had a 2-0 lead late in the first period.

At least, the Capitals thought they had a two-goal lead at 14:54 of the first period until Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, almost put a stop to that, having used his coach’s challenge on the goal on the basis that Brett Connolly made enough contact with Murray prior to the goal being scored that would otherwise negate the goal (on the count of goaltender interference).

The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice was confirmed. Vrana had indeed scored his first career postseason goal and Pittsburgh lost their timeout.

Entering the first intermission, Washington was leading, 2-0, and outshooting the Penguins 2:1 (20 shots on goal to Pittsburgh’s 10 shots on goal).

Connolly (1) found himself on a breakaway early in the second period after collecting a stretch pass from Eller and fired a shot on Murray’s glove side. Despite catching a chunk of the puck, the vulcanized rubber biscuit deflected off of Murray and into the twine behind the Penguins netminder.

In what was yet another first, Connolly, had his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and the Capitals had a 3-0 lead at 2:08 of the second period. Eller (2) had his second assist of the afternoon.

Almost midway through the period, Tom Wilson caught Penguins defender, Brian Dumoulin, up high with what appeared to be an elbow to the head. Dumoulin did not return to Pittsburgh’s lineup.

Just past the halfway mark of the second period, tensions continued to escalate between the division rivals after the whistle as Patric Hornqvist and Dmitry Orlov began mixing things up with the gloves firmly glued onto their hands.

Both players received matching roughing minors and play continued.

Kris Letang (2) found the back of the net behind Holtby at 13:04 of the second period and put the Penguins on the scoreboard— cutting Washington’s three-goal lead to two.

Justin Schultz (4) and Jake Guentzel (10) had the assists on Letang’s goal.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Capitals led, 3-1, and shots on goal were even (26-26). Washington led in hits (29-26), takeaways (12-3) and giveaways (12-3), while the Penguins dominated the faceoff dot, winning 58-percent of the faceoffs taken through two periods. Pittsburgh was 0/1 on the power play and the Caps were 1/1 on the man advantage after two.

T.J. Oshie was guilty of interfering with Crosby early in the third period.

Pittsburgh thought they had found revenge on the scoreboard after Crosby wrapped around the goal, fired the puck off the side of the net and Hornqvist banked it off of Holtby’s right leg pad.

However, there was no indication on the ice that a goal had been scored, nor was there a signal (red light) from the goal judge behind the glass in the first row of seats. The play was immediately reviewed.

Although it appeared as if the puck had crossed the line and gone in from an angle that NBC showed on television, the league determined otherwise.

The call on the ice was confirmed after review. There was no conclusive angle, despite the fact that white space could be seen between the puck and the goal line from the aforementioned NBC angle. Yet, there was a snow pile on the goal line (making things difficult) and the overhead camera angle was further inconclusive.

Perhaps now is the time to reference once again that game back in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, whereby Calgary… Well, let’s not bring up those memories and instead make a quick plug for goal line technology to be implemented— considering it’s 2018 and all.

Additionally, technically speaking, shouldn’t the ruling have been “inconclusive” instead of “confirmed” since there was no indication prior to review that a goal had not been scored?

It was a rough few minutes for Kuznetsov after the goal that never actually happened, as Letang had held him (and received a minor penalty) and Derick Brassard had tripped him up (also a minor penalty).

Despite not converting on the man advantage, Kuznetsov took it upon himself to commit the next penalty (slashing against Letang) and see if Washington’s penalty killing units were any better.

Sullivan pulled his goaltender for the extra skater with about two minutes remaining in regulation.

Matching roughing minors for Devante Smith-Pelly and Hornqvist forced Murray back into the goal briefly as the Penguins had to work the puck out of their own zone.

With roughly 80 seconds left in regulation, Murray, once again, vacated the net and Pittsburgh looked to do the impossible.

Washington put the game away with an empty net goal thanks to Backstrom (3) with about seven seconds remaining. Wilson (4) and Eller (3) had the assists on the goal that made it, 4-1, Capitals and assured the home team of the win in Game 2.

After 60 minutes had been played, Washington tied the series, 1-1, with a 4-1 victory and trailed in shots on goal, 33-32. The Caps led in blocked shots (31-24), hits (33-31) and giveaways (17-4). The Pens led in faceoff win percentage (56-44) and finished the afternoon 0/3 on the power play. Washington went 1/3 on the man advantage in Game 2.

The series shifts to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night. Puck drop is expected to be a little after 7:30 p.m. ET and United States viewers can tune in on NBCSN. Fans in Canada can get their share of the action on Sportsnet or TVAS2. The winner of Game 3 will take a pivotal 2-1 series lead.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #92- Our Canada Wins Gold

After NHLers were not allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Games and due to the success of last week’s episode, Nick and Connor decided to create rosters with NHL players anyway for Team Canada. Also discussed, Alexandre Burrows, Max Domi and the New York Rangers plan for the future.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and/or on Stitcher.

TRADE: Colorado sends Iginla to LA

The Colorado Avalanche have traded 39-year-old forward Jarome Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional 2018 4th round draft pick.

Pending the Kings’s playoffs situation or if Iginla does not re-sign with Los Angeles the conditional pick disappears altogether.

Unknown-3Iginla is in the final year of a three-year contract worth $5.333 million AAV and is a pending unrestricted free agent. The veteran right winger had 8-10-18 totals in 61 games this season with Colorado and is third among active NHL players in points behind Jaromir Jagr (1,903) and Joe Thornton (1,381).

In 1,535 regular season games over 20 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Avs, Iginla has amassed 619 goals and 672 assists (1,291 points).

Unknown-1In 81 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Iginla has recorded 37-31-68 totals with Calgary, Pittsburgh and Boston. He played a vital role in helping the Flames reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

The Avalanche retained 50% of Iginla’s salary in the transaction.

Fun fact, the Dallas Stars drafted Iginla 11th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Tampa Bay Lightning

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-1Tampa Bay Lightning

Current Retired Numbers- None

Recommended Numbers to Retire

4 Vincent Lecavalier

Prior to being bought-out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2013, Vincent Lecavalier was crucial to the heart and soul of the franchise. Lecavalier’s leadership and craft left quite an impact on the Lightning, having won a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the franchise. Throughout Lecavalier’s storied career he has had eight 60-points- or more- seasons, all with Tampa, as he has recently battled a rash of injuries and healthy scratches with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Regardless, Lecavalier remained faithful to the Lightning during his time in Tampa. Rumors had swirled and a trade was nearly complete in 2009, that would have sent him to his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens, but Lecavalier was determined to stay in Tampa for the rest of his career. He wore number 4 with the Lightning out of respect for two of his all time favorite players- Montreal’s Jean Béliveau and Boston Bruins defenseman, Bobby Orr.

In Tampa, he made number 4 his own. When the time comes for Lecavalier to call it quits, the Lightning will undoubtedly call it quits on using the number 4 and raise it to the rafters of Amalie Arena.

The 1st overall selection of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft was the first success story of all things regarding scouting and player development in Tampa and preceded the 1st overall selection, ten years later, that is the current face of the Lightning- and another center- Steven Stamkos.

26 Martin St. Louis

St. Louis spent so much of his career proving people wrong about size in hockey. When many were calling for the sport to get bigger, taller, and quite possibly stronger (by default), Martin St. Louis with his 5’8” frame and dominated the game in so many underrated ways. We all know how much of a stale taste was left in the mouths of everyone after the way he left Tampa, but we all know that Lightning fans would be the first to welcome him back for his number retirement ceremony. I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long before number 26 is hanging from the rafters of Amalie Arena.

The native of Laval, Quebec did not disappoint over the years. In fact, in the years after winning the Cup in 2004, St. Louis put up some even more impressive regular season scoring numbers. It’s too bad we only got to see this phenomenal advocate of the game play in 9 Stanley Cup Playoffs out of his 17-year career. St. Louis was always the underdog you’d root for, because his foundation of class was taller than anyone else on the ice at all times. His clutch performances with the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, although ultimately disappointing in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, will never be forgotten.

19 Brad Richards

Richards spent the most amount of time with the Tampa Bay Lightning in his entire career and would surely receive consideration for retiring his number in Tampa, where his game stood out better than any other place he’s been since. While his connection between the Lightning and everything he did for them is surely fading, it is important to remember how much of a role he played for Tampa on the road to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

Until this year, Brad Richards held many playoff records for the Lightning. His 12-14-26 totals in 23 games played in the 2004 playoffs were never seen before by the franchise and not replicated until Tyler Johnson had 13-10-23 totals in 26 games played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ultimately the question that will be asked when considering retiring the number 19 in Tampa will look something like this- does being a valuable member of the franchise’s first championship, merely a little more than a decade in existence, translate into having your number retired regardless of how the rest of your career panned out?

91 Steven Stamkos

There is little question that number 91 will be retired one day by the Lightning. That is as long as they can keep Stamkos around long enough. The only thing that might put retirement celebrations on hold in Tampa is the looming contract extension agreement that may or may not still occur between Steven Stamkos and the Lightning. Again, as long as they have him for longer than the seven years he’s already been with the club, his number is a shoe in someday to be retired by the organization.

The Chicago Blackhawks are 2015 Stanley Cup Champions

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2Dynasty. That’s the first word that comes to mind when anyone has to reflect on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions, once again, for the 3rd time in 6 seasons. 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Duncan Keith, scored the Stanley Cup winning- game winning- goal and Patrick Kane ensured the win with his goal in the 3rd period that made it 2-0 Chicago.

Corey Crawford made 25 saves en route to a Stanley Cup clinching shutout, while Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop, stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced in the Lightning’s loss.

Despite entering the night as the only team in the NHL that hadn’t lost 3 games in a row at any point in the season, Joel Quenneville and the Chicago Blackhawks handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first three game losing streak of the year. Quenneville improved to 10-0 in his career as the Blackhawks head coach in Game 6’s when leading the series 3-2.

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Your 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Photo: Getty Images

The game began with a furious pace as the Blackhawks quickly led the Lightning in shots on goal, 4-2 at 8:35 of the opening period. The 8:35 mark also acknowledged the first penalty of the game as Tampa forward, Cedric Paquette, was called for tripping Chicago captain, Jonathan Toews.

Teuvo Teravainen nearly had a power play goal, but sent the puck just wide of the goal, similar to how Marian Hossa had done so earlier in the series. The Lightning’s penalty killers were able to get the job done and finished off Chicago’s power play opportunity without allowing a goal on the scoreboard.

At 13:53, Brian Boyle took the second penalty of the game and was sent to the box with a minor penalty for roughing. The Lightning killed the penalty. Toews had a remarkable chance late in the 1st period as he fell to his knees and nearly redirected the puck in the net with the shaft of his stick, but sent one wide instead. Paquette had a similar chance a couple of minutes later for Tampa.

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40 year-old, Kimmo Timonen, raises the Cup for the first and last time in his career, becoming the oldest defenseman since Ray Bourque (2001) to win the Cup. Photo: Getty Images

After twenty minutes of play, Chicago was outshooting Tampa, 13-4, leading faceoff wins, 12-5, and blocked shots, 9-5, while Tampa was tied in hits, 16-16. The Blackhawks had gone 0/2 on the power play in the 1st, while the Lightning had yet to see a man advantage opportunity.

Nearly a minute into the 2nd period, Steven Stamkos found himself on a breakaway. His backhanded shot was denied by the sprawling pads of Corey Crawford and the lack of puck luck continued to haunt Stamkos.

Both teams swapped numerous chances as the tremendous battle of spectacular goaltending continued. Chicago broke out with a sting of 4 shots on goal in an eight-minute span, while holding Tampa to a single shot on goal.

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Duncan Keith receives the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Photo: Getty Images

At 17:13 of the 2nd period, Duncan Keith collected a rebound and scored the game’s first goal of the night. The 1-0 lead for the Blackhawks came on Keith’s 3rd goal of the postseason, with help from Patrick Kane and former Lightning forward, and member of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning team, Brad Richards.

With the goal, Keith tied Chris Chelios for most points by a Blackhawks defenseman in a single postseason with 21 points. Chelios had accomplished the feat in 1992. Chicago was leading shots on goal, 20-11.

22,424 Blackhawks fans at the United Center broke out in unison, chanting “we want the Cup” repeatedly for a few minutes after Keith’s goal.

Ondrej Palat took a minor penalty for elbowing at 19:13 of the period, giving the Blackhawks another powerplay opportunity that carried over into the 3rd period, as a result of not scoring in the remainder of the 2nd period.

After forty minutes of play, Chicago led 1-0 on the scoreboard and was leading just about everything else. The Blackhawks led shots on goal 23-11, faceoff wins 25-15, and blocked shots 14-8. Meanwhile, the Lightning were outhitting Chicago, 40-23.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images
Captain’s Jonathan Toews (left) and Steven Stamkos (right) shake hands at the end of Game 6. Photo by Bruce Bennett/ Getty Images

The final frame of the 2014-2015 NHL season began just as the game had originally begun, with complete domination from the Chicago Blackhawks. The fatigue of 26 playoff games was apparent as the young Tampa Bay Lightning squad chased the well-decorated veteran Blackhawk players around the rink.

With 9:34 remaining in the 3rd period, the Lightning were being outshot 30-18. On Chicago’s 31st shot of the night, Patrick Kane worked his playoff magic and gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with his 11th goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (and first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final). Kane’s goal was assisted by Brad Richards and Brandon Saad.

The United Center was delirious, all but assured of their first Stanley Cup championship won at home since 1938- back when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President- and rightfully so, with the impressive skill and teamwork of the Blackhawks that has powered them in the Kane and Toews era, burning pages into the history books.

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Corey Crawford looks on during the action in Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Chicago was so confident, in fact, that when Andrew Desjardins was sent to the sin bin for tripping Tampa defenseman, Anton Stralman, it looked as though they weren’t even playing shorthanded at 16:31 of the 3rd period. The Blackhawks killed the penalty with ease, as Crawford denied every shot on Tampa’s only power play of the night.

The seconds ran out and the Blackhawks had captured the Cup at home for the first time since Fitchburg, Massachusetts native, Bill Stewart, was the first American-trained head coach to win the Stanley Cup in 1938 with Chicago. 1938 was also the final time the Stanley Cup Final was a best of 5-games series.

Chicago finished the night with dominating faceoff wins 42-20, blocked shots 25-12, and shots on goal 32-25, while Tampa led in hits, 56-32. The Blackhawks ended the night 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Lightning finished 0 for 1 on the man advantage.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Ben Bishop (30) sprawls to make a save on Andrew Desjardins (11) in Game 6. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There are 17 players on the Blackhawks roster now with multiple Stanley Cups. Corey Crawford picked up his 45th career playoff win, tying a Blackhawks record held by legendary goaltender, Tony Esposito. Crawford also became the first Blackhawks goalie to win multiple Cups in a Chicago uniform.

Patrick Kane now has 114 points in 116 career playoff games and gave the series its lone two-goal lead after more than 350 minutes of one-goal leads or tied games. Chicago improved to 43-14 overall after Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Kane/Toews/Keith era.

Marian Hossa also capped off his 3rd Cup in 5 Stanley Cup Final appearances in the last 8 years. Hossa lost the Cup as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and as a Detroit Red Wing in 2009, but has won all 3 Stanley Cups in his career with the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013, and 2015).

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Duncan Keith (2) scores the game winning goal on Ben Bishop (30) in the 2nd Period of Game 6 as Andrej Sustr (62) looks on. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Among notoriety, this year’s Conn Smythe winner, Duncan Keith is the first defenseman in NHL history to win 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Gold medals, 2 Norris Trophies, and 1 Conn Smythe Trophy. Keith also joined the likes of Larry Robinson, Brian Leetch, Bobby Orr, and Nicklas Lidstrom as the only defensemen in history to have won at least 2 Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe.

Duncan Keith was, by far, the Conn Smythe Trophy leading candidate, having been on the ice for 46 of the Blackhawks 68 goals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The next highest on Chicago was Jonathan Toews, with 29. Keith also became the 2nd defenseman since 2005 with more than 20 points in a single postseason, joining Chris Pronger (2006) in that impressive feat.

Keith also became the first defenseman to win the Conn Smythe since Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer won it in 2007.

Unknown-1The Blackhawks became the first team since the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs to score 2 or fewer goals in all 4 wins of a Stanley Cup Final series. And just like in 1938, the Stanley Cup was late to the party. Delayed because of the weather, the Cup received a police escort to the United Center after leaving the hotel shortly after puck drop. For the record, then NHL President, Frank Calder, did not think Chicago would win the Cup that night, so it wasn’t even presented to the winning team.

After the loss, the Tampa Bay Lightning revealed some of the injuries the team had suffered, including those to goaltender, Ben Bishop- who had been playing with a torn groin since Game 2- and Tyler Johnson, who had been playing with a broken wrist.

Jonathan Toews became the first captain with 3 or more Stanley Cups by the age of 27 since Wayne Gretzky captained the Edmonton Oilers to 4 Stanley Cups in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988.

And on one final note, after 250 days, the 2014-2015 NHL season and playoffs witnessed 1,319 games played, 6,997 goals scored, 67,417 hits, 78,997 shots on goal, and 81,082 face-offs.

Paquette Lifts Lightning Late in 3rd for 2-1 Series Lead

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning were unafraid of the United Center and the 22,336 Chicago Blackhawks fans inside as they pulled off a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. Tampa now leads the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Bishop made 36 saves on 38 shots faced in the sixty minute effort, while losing goaltender, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, saved 29 of the 32 shots he faced. Cedric Paquette’s 3rd goal of the playoffs at 16:49 of the 3rd period was enough to be the game winning goal and steal a win in Chicago for the Lightning.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Game 3 opened up with a frantic pace from opening puck drop. At 5:09 of the 1st period, Ryan Callahan sent one past Crawford for his 2nd of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead for Tampa. Callahan was awaiting entry in the offensive zone at the far blue line as Victor Hedman found him from the defensive end and sent a great pass up and across the ice, giving Callahan a clear shot to the net.

Hedman got his first of two assists on the night from Callahan’s 1st period goal and J.T. Brown registered his first assist of the playoffs on the goal as well. Tampa had been leading shots on goal, 5-3, by that point, but the Blackhawks were about to go on a shooting spree, without allowing a shot on goal by the Lightning, since Callahan’s goal.

It was the 3rd straight game in which Tampa scored first.

4 on 4 action saw some time at 8:12 of the opening frame as Tampa’s Braydon Coburn was sent to the box for tripping Marian Hossa and Chicago’s Brandon Saad saw the sin bin for cross checking Valtteri Filppula. Hossa missed a wide-open net as he was brought down by Coburn’s errant stick.

Coburn wouldn’t keep his name off the box score under penalties for long as he went back to the sin bin at 12:42 for hooking, as Coburn’s stick tugged on Saad’s jersey shortly after the two of them were released from the box minutes before. The Lightning nearly killed the penalty, but former Lightning star, Brad Richards, had other plans in mind.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Richards received a pass from Hossa in the high slot and fired the puck past Bishop with Andrew Shaw perfecting the screen in front.

The power play goal was the 3rd goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Richards and was his first goal in the Stanley Cup Final since Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final as a member of Tampa Bay against Calgary.

The 1st period ended with the scoreboard reading 1-1 and shots on goal, 19-7, in favor of Chicago. Tampa had double the hits than the Blackhawks (18-9) and led in blocked shots 9-4. The Blackhawks had a slight advantage in faceoff wins over the Lightning, 14-10. Chicago had also gone 1 for 1 on the power play in the first twenty minutes, whereas Tampa had yet to have had a power play opportunity on the night.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Penalties abounded in the 2nd period. Nikita Kucherov put Chicago on the power play after tripping Johnny Oduya 8:53 into the period. The Blackhawks were unable to convert on the man advantage. Tampa went on the power play at 15:18 of the 2nd period when Chicago forward, Bryan Bickell, was given a roughing penalty.

The Lightning then had a 5-on-3 advantage as Brandon Saad returned to the penalty box for his second time of the night, this time for goaltender interference at 15:52 of the period.

Despite tightening the shots on goal advantage, Tampa could not muster enough on the puck during the 1:26 of the 5-on-3 power play they had to beat Crawford. The Blackhawks killed both penalties and resumed full strength play, finishing the period with a 26-24 shots on goal advantage.

Although they trailed in shots at the end of the 1st period, the Lightning had a 17 shots on goal in the 2nd period, compared to Chicago’s 7 shots on goal.

It wasn’t long before the action really picked up in the 3rd period. Riding the momentum of end to end action, including an Antoine Vermette breakaway that was denied by Bishop, the Blackhawks didn’t waste time to get going and feed off of the energy of the crowd.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At 4:14 of the 3rd, Brandon Saad snuck his 7th goal of the postseason past Ben Bishop with the help of Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith for a 2-1 Blackhawks lead.

But the Madhouse on Madison wasn’t shaking for long. 13 seconds later, Ondrej Palat answered with a goal of his own for the Lightning at 4:27 of the 3rd period. Kucherov and Tyler Johnson were credited with assists on Palat’s 8th of the playoffs.

The pair of goals were the 3rd fastest span of goals swapped between two teams in Stanley Cup Final history. Suddenly, the game was back to a tie, only this time it was 2-2.

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The minutes began winding down, with the seconds ticking quickly, as each minute passed. After a stoppage shortly after the halfway mark of the period, Chicago was outshooting Tampa, 34-29.

With 3:11 remaining in the game, Cedric Paquette capitalized on a Blackhawks blunder and scored his 3rd of the postseason, with help from Hedman and Callahan. It was now a 3-2 lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Per the NHL, 61.6% of playoff games this year have been either tied or within one goal entering the final 5 minutes of regulation and Game 3 was no exception.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

What’s more is that 8 of the last 10 games between the Blackhawks and the Lightning have been decided by one goal dating back to 2011, and including all three of this year’s Stanley Cup Final games so far.

A little under two minutes left in regulation, Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford in hopes that an extra skater for the Blackhawks would be enough to at least salvage an overtime effort in front of their home crowd. Despite multiple chances on offensive zone faceoffs, Chicago was unable to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The Blackhawks finished the game with 38 shots on goal compared to the Lightning’s 32 shots on net and led faceoff wins 39-28. Meanwhile the Lightning led in hits, 46-27, and blocked shots, 19-14. Chicago was 1 for 2 on the power play for the night, while Tampa went 0 for 2 on the extra man advantage.

Jonathan Drouin was once again out of the lineup for Tampa in favor of nonfactor, Nikita Nesterov. For Chicago, Bryan Bickell made his presence known, but Trevor van Riemsdyk had a quiet game, as the two replaced David Rundblad and Kris Versteeg in the lineup.

Unknown-2Game 3’s final outcome marked the first time since 2010 that the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final were all decided by a goal. In 2010, Chicago beat Philadelphia in Game 1, 6-5, and 2-1 in Game 2. The Flyers defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime, in Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

The fourth installment of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final will be Wednesday night at 8 PM EST in Chicago, live from the United Center on NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning head into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Triplets Dominate, Bolts Even Series in Game 2

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Everyone chipped in en route to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, so it seems.

Despite Tampa’s harsh ticket policy, Amalie Arena had a noticeably red hue contrasting all the Lightning diehards in blue, but it was the home fans that went home happily assured of a victory in the Stanley Cup Final that evened the series 1-1 and ensures at least one more game at home.

Jason Garrison’s game winning power play goal at 8:49 of the 3rd period proved to be enough to give Andrei Vasilevskiy his first career playoff win. That’s right; Vasilevskiy was the winning goaltender from Saturday night. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was in and out of the action briefly in the 3rd period, ultimately being unable to return, leading many to wonder if he had simply needed a bathroom break. Head coach, Jon Cooper, confirmed after the game that the need for a restroom was not the case and wouldn’t delve further into the situation.

Vasilevskiy made 5 saves on 5 shots on goal in 9:13 time on ice, while Bishop made 21 saves in 24 shots against in 50:33 playing time. Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 20 saves on 24 shots against in the loss.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images

Cooper inserted the youthful Jonathan Drouin into the Lightning’s lineup for the first time since Game 4 against Montreal in Round 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With Drouin in, Nikita Nesterov became a healthy scratch.

The 1st period began with a frantic pace and high tempo hockey. The Lightning swapped opportunity for opportunity with the Blackhawks but remained scoreless in the first ten minutes of the game.

At 12:56, Cedric Paquette finally broke the ice and scored the games first goal. Paquette’s 2nd goal of the playoffs was assisted by Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman.

Hedman went on to have a superb rest of the game, while Callahan continued to be a playmaker the rest of the night. A little after the eighteen minute mark of the opening frame, Blackhawks defenseman, Johnny Oduya took a minor penalty for tripping. The Lightning were unable to capitalize on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Shots on goal were relatively even heading into the first intermission with Tampa holding a slight advantage, 12-11.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A string of events sent the game into frenzy early into the 2nd period. First, Andrew Shaw netted his 5th of the playoffs with help from Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins at 3:04 of the 2nd period.

About a minute later Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, was called for hooking former Lightning star, Brad Richards, giving Chicago their first power play opportunity of the night.

Teuvo Teravainen quickly made Killorn and the Lightning pay for their undisciplined effort and pocketed a power play goal at 5:20 of the 2nd period. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp set up Teravainen’s 4th goal of the playoffs and gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the night.

It wasn’t 2-1 Chicago for very long, however.

Nikita Kucherov tied things up at two goals apiece with his 10th goal of the 2015 playoffs at 6:52 of the period with help from Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn. Both teams were shooting the lights out of Amalie Arena in the first half of the 2nd period, compared to the first 20 minutes of the game. Tampa was leading shots on goal 18-15 by the midpoint of the period, just after Coburn took a penalty for holding.

For once, however, things cooled off in the 2nd period. Chicago wasn’t able to score on the power play and for a few minutes both teams settled in.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

At 13:58 of the 2nd period, Tyler Johnson scored his first goal since Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

Johnson’s 13th goal of the playoffs set a franchise record for the Lightning for the most goals in a single postseason. Kucherov was once again on the scoresheet with the lone assist on the goal.

Tampa was leading 3-2 heading into the 2nd intermission and led shots on goal, 22-19, and hits, 28-18. Chicago was dominating faceoff wins, 23-14, and blocked shots, 9-6.

The 3rd period began with a quick surge for Chicago. A little over three and a half minutes into the period, Brent Seabrook blasted one past Bishop for his 7th of the playoffs. Jonathan Toews and Johnny Oduya picked up the assists on Seabrook’s tying goal, but the game wouldn’t remain knotted at 3-3 for too long.

Unknown-2It had appeared as though Antoine Vermette might have interfered with Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop, however the contact was ruled as incidental and the goal was confirmed.

Bishop appeared fine, but may have suffered some sort of an injury on the play that bugged him for the remainder of the period. Either that, or he had pulled something on a save earlier in the game. Whatever it was, ultimately forced him out of the game. Bishop was replaced by twenty year-old backup, Andrei Vasilevskiy, with less than eight minutes to go in regulation.

Patrick Sharp took a couple of penalties in a row, one at 4:59 of the period for slashing and another at 7:17 for high sticking.

It was on the latter power play opportunity that Tampa exploited the man advantage with a power play goal from Jason Garrison at 8:49 of the 3rd period. Garrison’s goal was his 2nd of the playoffs and was assisted by Hedman and Callahan. Shots on goal were even at 24 shots apiece.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Lightning fans were unmoved at the threat of whatever was plaguing Bishop, but certainly had their share of a heart attack when Andrej Sustr sent the puck straight out of play and thus received a delay of game penalty with under seven minutes to go in regulation.

But the Bolts defended their one goal lead and held the Blackhawks to one shot on goal on Chicago’s power play. With about two minutes left in the game, Corey Crawford vacated his goal for an extra attacker as the Blackhawks looked to tie the game.

Toews, who had nearly stunned the Honda Center in Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals after scoring two late third period goals to force the Anaheim Ducks into overtime- only to lose anyway 45 seconds into overtime- was prowling to do nearly the same thing to the Lightning.

His chance was denied by Vasilevskiy and the Blackhawks ran out of time. Tampa had won the game 4-3 in regulation.

The Blackhawks finished the game with 29 shots on goal compared to the Lightning’s 24 shots on goal. Chicago also dominated faceoff wins, 35-19, and topped off blocked shots, 12-9. Tampa led in hits, 33-28. Both teams finished the night 1 for 3 on the power play.

The Lightning improved to 6-1 when leading after the 1st period in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vasilevskiy made a mark on the history books earning his first career playoff win in just his 3rd appearance, while making the fewest saves made (5) in a Stanley Cup Final game, en route to winning, since shots on goal became an official stat in 1967.

Vasilevskiy also became the first goalie since 1928, to win a Stanley Cup Final game in a relief appearance.

Both games this year in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final have been comeback wins. In 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 1 to the Calgary Flames, but won Game 2 and went on to win the Cup in seven games. And since 2004, only one other series has been tied 1-1 (the 2013 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks).

This will be the 16th straight Stanley Cup Final to not be swept by either team. The last team to sweep in the Final was the 1998 Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Washington Capitals in four games to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Detroit was also the last team to repeat as champions having won in 1997 and 1998.

Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final will be Monday night at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM EST with coverage on NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.