Tag Archives: Brad Richards

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.

Listen to this week’s podcast on our Libsyn page (and/or on your favorite podcast listening app that snags our RSS Feed).

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

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending UFA Forwards

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players (ahem, Steven Stamkos) will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwards, UFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts.

Down the Frozen River- Smaller Circular Logo

1. C Steven Stamkos (36-28-64 totals with the Tampa Bay Lightning)– $7.500 million cap hit, 25 years old

Steven Stamkos is a franchise player. Period. He could stay in Tampa after all and crush every free agent fanatic’s dream of a player that hasn’t been seen since the 2004-2005 season lockout, or he could leave. While there are some teams that I could rule out— Las Vegas being one of them, since they don’t begin play until the 2017-2018 season— it’s anybody’s guess as to where Stamkos might end up.

His 312 goals in 569 career NHL games speak for himself. He’s a two-time 50 goal scorer, having amassed 60 in the 2011-2012 season, and he’s more than capable of increasing your team’s scoring ability all around with the right chemistry. Prior to having his season cut short due to a blood clot, Stamkos had 36-28-64 totals in 77 games.

Stamkos is destined to make anywhere from the same salary as this season up to $10 million AAV. Everybody wants him, if they’ve got the cap room or can make cap space. We might even see the NHL’s first sign-and-trade if a team makes the Lightning an offer they can refuse with Stamkos’s camp in agreement.

Steven Stamkos resigned with Tampa on June 29th- 8 years, $8.500 million AAV.

2. RW/LW Loui Eriksson (30-33-63 totals with the Boston Bruins)- $4.250 million cap hit, 30 years old

The big piece of the Tyler Seguin deal that the Boston Bruins acquired might very well be on the move at his own discretion, since Boston couldn’t get a deal done to Eriksson’s satisfaction, leaving the Bruins with Joe Morrow as the sole survivor of the failed Seguin maneuver.

But like Stamkos, there’s nothing that says the Bruins are out of the picture on this one, unless they are absolutely against giving Eriksson a much deserved raise for his 63 point season.

His 30-33-63 totals tied his 2008-2009 season performance with the Dallas Stars when he had 36 goals and 27 assists. The following three seasons, Eriksson went on to score 71 points or more. If history is any indicator, Eriksson has found his stride in the Eastern Conference and with the right chemistry, will return to his familiar form while hopefully avoiding the injuries that plagued his time in Boston.

Despite his age compared to some of the other top UFAs, there are no downsides to Loui Eriksson— unless you’re a team with plenty of 30 or older players already under contract and you’re trying to get younger.

3. LW Milan Lucic (20-35-55 totals with the Los Angeles Kings)- $6.000 million cap hit, 27 years old

The Edmonton Oilers might be the best situation and most attractive destination for Milan Lucic to return to Canada, play with Connor McDavid and reunite with former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli at the reigns of the Oilers, but if you can get a chance to offer him a deal, you might as well and see if he listens.

Lucic scored 30 goals in the 2010-2011 regular season en route to winning the Stanley Cup with Chiarelli in Boston and had 11 more points this season (55) with the Kings than he did in 2014-2015 with the Bruins (44).

While he’s sure to receive numerous offers of outrageous sums of money, one thing is for sure. The team that lands him will know exactly what they’re getting from him. A gifted power forward with timely goals when you need them, Lucic has been known to have a temper. But any team can utilize his temper in the right fashion if they have the right roster components to balance the load and control each game.

Someone like Leon Draisaitl suddenly becomes more of an opportunity for Lucic to mentor in Edmonton. Then again, a return to Boston would be welcomed by many TD Garden faithful too.

4. RW Kyle Okposo (22-42-64 totals with the New York Islanders)- $2.800 million cap hit, 27 years old

Players like Kyle Okposo are in high demand in this league and it is crazy to see the New York Islanders letting him go in such a fashion (then again, who isn’t in the Stamkos sweepstakes, if that’s their motivation). Okposo has scored 51 points or more in the last three seasons and is only entering the prime of his career. Where he plateaus is yet to be seen, but he’s got a chance to shine if, say he lands on a roster with Stamkos (or the like).

Teams should be all in on trying to land Okposo if they are in dire need of the elusive right winger as they are in trying to sign Stamkos, but with more realistic expectations.

With the exception of the shortened 2012-2013 season, he’s only failed to record 39 points or more once in 2010-2011 when he was limited to 38 games played due to injuries. The nearly 70 point scorer is highly underrated, but is about to be put into the spotlight due to the free agency affect— what with a large contract certainly heading his way.

There’s no telling what his 51 point season in 2014-2015 would have been if he got to play more than 60 games, in comparison to his 69 points in 71 games in 2013-2014 and 22-42-64 totals in 79 games this season.

5. C Eric Staal (13-26-39 totals with the Carolina Hurricanes/New York Rangers)- $8.250 million cap hit, 31 years old

This summer could be the summer of reunions if Lucic goes back to Boston and 2006 Stanley Cup champion, Eric Staal, heads back to Carolina (it’s like he never left!), but as a general manager, didn’t you mean to get rid of the guy in the first place? Nothing against Staal here, but it’s just a thought about what it means to move on, move forward and find better success with— well, let’s face it— a better team, since the Hurricanes aren’t making waves just yet (though Teuvo Teravainen helps).

Carolina was great to the former 100 point scorer in 2005-2006 and 70+ point scorer up through the 2011-2012 season. But in 83 games between the Hurricanes and New York Rangers, the veteran center couldn’t find his scoring touch with 13-26-39 totals (down from 23-31-54 totals in 77 games in 2014-2015 and 61 points the year before that).

One thing is for sure, though, Staal’s status as a top-6 forward changed with his acquisition in New York, which impacted his play.

For a significant discount, Staal could return to form in the right organization, preferably one that’s a playoff contender, if not a Stanley Cup contender, similar to how Brad Richards spent a year with the Chicago Blackhawks (and won the Cup) in 2015. Staal rounds out my top-5 UFA forward list because there’s still a lot left in him, similar in nature to Joe Thornton, but he needs balance on the roster around him and the right fit.

Of note, Colby wanted me to mention that Staal would add a veteran presence and that he “understands how to be a franchise player.” I think he just wants me to say that Staal should sign with Toronto or Edmonton, but I can’t tell.

Honorable Mentions/ Well if the price is right (and the shoe fits)…

LW Thomas Vanek (18-23-41 totals with the Minnesota Wild)- $6.500 million cap hit, 31 years old

Thomas Vanek has never had a season below 41 points in scoring. In fact, the only other time Vanek scored 41 points was during his 20-21-41 total campaign in the 2012-2013 lockout shortened season with the Buffalo Sabres over 38 games played. Last season, of course, Vanek disappointed the Minnesota Wild with only an 18-23-41 effort in 74 games.

But at the right price of significantly less than $6.5 million, the prolific scorer could see a resurgence in confidence and playing ability. Vanek’s not getting any younger, but he’s still Thomas Vanek even at 31 years old. He might not be the next Jaromir Jagr, but he definitely carries a low risk-high reward potential just the same. Besides, maybe the right change of scenery is just what he needs.

RW Radim Vrbata ( 13-14-27 totals with the Vancouver Canucks)- $5.000 million cap hit, 34 years old

If you’re not sold on signing one of the top guys in free agency for ridiculous dollar amounts, why not try to grab an excellent depth scoring forward for just the right amount of money before he becomes one of the only remaining forwards on the UFA list and has his price inflated because of that whole supply and demand thing?

Okay, that was a long winded way of saying that Radim Vrbata is nowhere near the best player in the league by far, but for less than $5 million and with the right fit, Vrbata could be a quality asset pickup for any team looking to add a veteran presence in the locker room. At 34, Vrbata probably just wants to win and likely isn’t inclined to go after making the opportunity himself in a market where he’d be the main attraction. Coming off a 63 point season in 79 games played in 2014-2015, he fell off the charts for the Vancouver Canucks this year with 27 points in 63 games.

C David Backes (21-24-45 totals with the St. Louis Blues)- $4.500 million cap hit, 31 years old

David Backes plays David Backes style hockey. He hits hard, he plays hard and he’s a good center that finds his time switching between playmaker and scorer en route to usually accumulating at least 40 points a season.

For a team in a pinch to find a quality center to strengthen themselves down the middle for the foreseeable future, Backes would be a great option if you can’t land Stamkos. In 10 seasons with St. Louis, he only had three seasons where he scored 31 points or less. In fact, only his rookie and sophomore years were under 31 points until the 2012-2013 48-game season where he recorded 6-22-28 totals through all 48 games.

Coming off a 21-24-45 season in 79 games this year, his offensive production has dipped over the last three seasons from 57 and 58 point seasons in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons. But the soon to be former captain of the Blues still plays with all the fire inside him and could bounce back on a team that’s not strapped by the salary cap.

Ben Bishop’s Shutout and Alex Killorn’s Late Third Period Goal Help the Lightning Move On To Round 2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off the series and ended the Detroit Red Wings 2016 Playoffs early by a score of 1-0 Thursday night. The Lightning were led by 6 foot 7 goaltender Ben Bishop as he made a whopping 34 saves for his first shutout of the playoffs.Unknown-1

Tampa Bay looked to close out the series and get rid of the pesky Wings in front of their insane sellout crowd at Amalie Arena. The Red Wings turned to tendy Petr Mrazek for a third straight game after going 1-1 with a .930 SV% and a 1.52 GAA in Games 3 and 4.

Detroit looked to jump out early and quickly and gain as much momentum as possible. Just 2:51 into the game Detroit youngster Dylan Larkin spotted Wings D-man Niklas Kronwall jumping up into the rush and hit him with a nice pass. Kronwall let a nifty backhander go but was easily shut down by Bishop with no problem.

The games first penalty went to the Lightning with a little close to 4 minutes gone in the first period with a two many men on the ice call. This blunder sent the Wings to their mediocre power play, coming into Game 5 Detroit were a disastrous 1/21 on the manpower advantage. So they looked to change their luck early in the game. Lucky for them, Tampa defenseman Jason Garrison took a foolish penalty and got a trip to the sin bin to feel shame. Garrison cross checked Detroit left winger Justin Abdelkader in front of the net just 46 seconds into their first PP. Detroit looked to grab the game’s first goal on an early 5 on 3 power play.

Detroit got the game’s first excellent scoring chance on that same 5 on 3 power play. Right Winger Brad Richards corraled the puck at the left side blue line and then sent a pass across the ice to vet Pavel Datsyuk who was posted up down low on the right-hand side. The Magic Man, as he’s called, received the pass and fired a swift wrister up high that beat Bishop high glove side but caught the cross bar and came right back out. This was the last scoring chance as Tampa killed the PP off with stellar shot blocking.

Now it was the Lightning’s turn to break the scoreless deadlock. Tampa 4th liner Eric Condra picked off a terrible pass from Wings D-man Jonathan Ericsson in the right corner and spotted defender Jason Garrison making a b-line to the net. Condra rocketed a pass across the slot and Garrison grabbed the puck and fired a wrist shot on net. Mrazek made an insane left pad kick out for his best save of the game so far.

Now it was Tampa’s turn for their first power play of the game. This time, it was Detroit left winger Gustav Nyquist getting the call just 9:06 into the game for slashing D-man Braydon Coburn. Nothing came from this power play as Detroit easily killed it off, but Tampa got another chance with just 38 seconds left in the first period. Lightning young buck Jonathan Drouin used his blazing speed to draw a hooking call from Wings defender Niklas Kronwall. The period ended with Tampa still on the PP.

Lightning fans were urging their team to start the second period off right with a power play goal. Nothing came from this PP because the Lightning only managed 2 weak shots. Just 2:53 later Tampa was back on the man advantage with Wings rookie Dylan Larkin getting a two-minute call for tripping Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn. This sent Tampa to their 3rd power play of the game but they maintained no shots. They did give up a short-handed breakaway opportunity to Detroit winger Riley Sheahan as he intercepted Victor Hedman’s D to D pass and went in all alone. Sheahan tried beating Bishop five-hole, but Bishop wasn’t having any of that and turned it away.


Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings took the games next penalty as he got called for hooking Tampa star Nikita Kucherov 9:47 into the second period. The Lightning weren’t able to get anything going again on their PP and only threw one shot on net during the two minutes. Then with just over eight minutes remaining Detroit defender Danny DeKeyser sprung Wings left winger Darren Helm on a breakaway with a blue line to blue line pass and sent Helm in all alone. Bishop was up to the task and turned Helm’s shot away with his right pad like it was nothing.

Detroit would then get their second power play of the game. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman got the trip to the box after holding Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg 14:01 into the second period. Just like the Lightning, it was Detroit’s turn to give up a prime shorthanded opportunity just 58 seconds into their PP. Lightning grinder Brian Boyle came down the left-hand side and picked out streaking defender Jason Garrison. He then threw the puck in the direction for Garrison to skate into. Garrison skated to the bouncing puck sitting in the slot and swatted at it with one hand and redirected the puck on goal. Unfortunately, Mrazek made a spectacular pad save to keep it tied 0-0.

Then with just 1:30 remaining in the second period, Lightning defender Matt Carle overskated the puck at center ice. Detroit’s 19-year-old Dylan Larkin grabbed the sitting puck and was off the races all by himself. As Larkin came in on goalie Ben Bishop, he tried to fool hiUnknown-1m with a little stick handling. Bishop was unfooled and stoned Larkin with his blocker. This was Detroit’s third breakaway of the second period alone. Then jus 15 seconds later, Wings Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the offensive zone and picked his head up and saw a cutting Pavel Datsyuk. He hit Pavel with a mini breakaway pass and for some reason Datsyuk thought he could beat Bishop high like Larkin thought. Well, this did not work as Bishop shut down Datsyuk’s chance and calmly turned it away with his blocker.

The third period got off to a very slow start, the two teams traded shots back and forth, but nothing major. The first chance came with 2:53 remaining in the game thanks to Detroit new comer Mike Green. Wings right winger Tomas Tatar came flying into the zone and laid out a nice drop pass behind him. The pass found the stick of Mike Green and he took a couple steps in and fired a laser of a wrist shot, but Ben Bishop, once again, didn’t break a sweat and easily swallowed the shot up.

Now with just 1:43 remaining in the game, the first and only goal was scored. Lightning right winger Ryan Callahan cleverly picked off goalie Petr Mrazek’s behind the net pass. He then, quickly, turned around and fired a pass to top line left winger Alex Killorn who was sitting in the slot and he slammed the puck into the wide open net to give the Lighting the late 1-0 lead. This goal was Killorn’s 13th career playoff goal and 4th goal in 5 playoff games this year.

Detroit pulled their goalie Mrazek with 1:12 left in the game desperate for a tying goal. They even got help, because Lightning D-man Jason Garrison took his second senseless penalty of the game. He cross-checked Henrik Zetterberg with 43 seconds remaining in the game and the Wings got a 6 on 4 man advantage. This advantage did not help at all as Detroit were only able to achieve 1 shot total.

Killorn’s late period goal stood as the game and the series winner. Tampa Bay now moves on to face the winner of the Florida/New York matchup that is currently tied 2-2 in the series.

Detroit goalkeeper Petr Mrazek finished the game saving 23 out of 24 shots for a .958 SV%. While Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was unbeatable stopping 34 out of 34 shots for his first perfect game of the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s top points leader was Nikita Kucherov with 8 points in 5 games (5G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was Kucherov (5G), and the top apple (assists) leader was Tyler Johnson with 5. The Lightning also had defender Victor Hedman who averaged 27:01 TOI (Total On Ice) per game, while Ben Bishop finished with a 4-1 record, a .950 SV%, and a 1.61 GAA in 5 games. The Detroit Red Wings top points leader was Tomas Tatar with 3 points in 5 games (0G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was an 8 player tie for first with one goal (Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Brad Richards, Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm, and Andreas Athanasiou), and top apple (assist) leader was also Tomas Tatar with 3. The Wings TOI (Time On Ice) leader was Danny Dekeyser who averaged 21:48. Jimmy Howard finished with a 0-2 record, .891 SV%, and a 3.59 GAA in 2 games. Detroit’s star goalie Petr Mrazek finished with a 1-2 with a .945 SV%, and a 1.35 GAA in 3 games.

The Lightning will now wait until their next series starts while the Red Wings will start their golfing season earlier than they hoped for. Meanwhile, every Red Wings fan will be on the edge of their seat this offseason. As they await word from Pavel Datsyuk to see if he is going to play in the NHL next year, or go back to Russia and play in the KHL. Tampa Bay ended up winning the series in 5 games by a total of 4-1.





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.

2015 NHL Free Agency- July 1st Signings Recap

– Nick Lanciani

This post will be updated throughout the day as signings are officially announced. Be sure to check out Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) for all of the latest signings, news, and analysis throughout the day.

Free agency begins at noon (12:00 PM EST) on July 1st. All that is known is shown and will be updated throughout the day. More analysis will come later as the day wraps up.

F Artem Anisimov signed a 5-year, $22.75 million extension with the Chicago Blackhawks worth an AAV of $4.5 million.

D Kevin Bieksa signed a 2-year, $8 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks.

F Mike Ribeiro signed a 2-year, $7 million extension with the Nashville Predators.

G Kari Ramo signed a 1-year $3.8 million extension with the Calgary Flames.

F Patrick Eaves and the Dallas Stars agreed to a 1-year, $1.15 million contract extension.

The Detroit Red Wings resigned F Andy Miele to a 1-year, $575,000 contract.

The Minnesota Wild announced that they have resigned F Mikael Granlund to a 2-year, $6 million ($3 million AAV) contract.

F Stanislav Galiev signed a 2-year, $1.15 million, contract extension with the Washington Capitals.

D Yannick Weber signed a 1-year, $1.5 million extension with the Vancouver Canucks.

G Tom McCollum resigned with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed D Matt Hunwick to a 2-year deal, $2.4 million contract worth an AAV of $1.2 million.

The New York Islanders signed G Thomas Greiss to a 2-year, $3 million deal.

D Francois Beauchemin signed a 3-year, $4.5 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

D Taylor Chorney signed a 1-year deal, worth $700,000 with the Washington Capitals.

D Adam Pardy and the Winnipeg Jets agreed to a 1-year, $1 million contract extension.

F Matt Halischuk signed a 1-year, two-way, $750,000 deal with the Winnipeg Jets.

The New York Islanders and D Thomas Hickey agreed to a 3-year contract (resign).

D Nate Prosser signed a 2-year extension with the Minnesota Wild.

D Paul Martin and the San Jose Sharks agreed to a 4-year contract worth $4.85 million AAV.

The Edmonton Oilers signed D Andrej Sekera to a 6-year deal worth $5.5 million in AAV.

F Blake Comeau signed a 3-year, $2.4 million AAV deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

NYI signed 2008 draft pick, Kirill Petrov, to an entry-level contract.

Edmonton also signed F Mark Letestu to a 3-year, $5.4 million contract.

The Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a 2-year deal with G Michal Neuvirth.

D Chris Butler resigned with the St. Louis Blues, 1-year, $675,000.

F Brad Richardson signed a 3-year, $6.25 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Chicago Blackhawks and F Viktor Tikhonov agreed to a 1-year, $1.04 million deal.

The Arizona Coyotes agreed to a 1-year, $1.75 million deal with F Steve Downie.

D Matt Bartkowski signed a 1-year, $1.75 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Carolina Hurricanes resigned F Riley Nash to a 1-year, $1.15 million deal.

D Zybnek Michalek signed a 2-year, $6.4 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Calgary Flames signed F Michael Frolik to a 5-year, $4.3 million AAV contract.

G Anders Lindback signed a $875,000 contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Jori Lehtera signed a 3-year, $14.1 million contract extension with the St. Louis Blues.

D Rasmus Rissanen resigned with the Carolina Hurricanes on a 1-year, two-way contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed D Jaccob Slavin to a 3-year entry-level contract.

G Jhonas Enroth agreed to a 1-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings worth $1.25 million.

D Barrett Jackson agreed to a 2-year, $4 million contract with the Nashville Predators.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Greg Pateryn to a 2-year, $1.6 million contract extension.

F Alexander Burmistrov and the Winnipeg Jets agree on a 2-year contract extension worth $1.55 million AAV.

G Mike McKenna signed a deal with the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers signed D Sena Acolatse to a contract.

F Shane Harper signed a deal with the Florida Panthers.

F Ryan Carter signed a 1-year, $625,000 contract with the Minnesota Wild.

D David Warsofsky signed a 1-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Raphael Diaz signed an extension with the New York Rangers.

The Vancouver Canucks signed G Richard Bachman to a contract.

F Erik Condra signed a 3-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth an AAV of $1.25 million.

F P.A. Parenteau signed a 1-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $1.5 million.

The New York Rangers signed F Jayson Megna to a contract.

F Matt Lindblad signed a deal with the New York Rangers.

F Cody Hodgson signed a 1-year, $1.05 million, deal with the Nashville Predators.

F Cal O’Reilly signed a 2-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, worth $700,000 per year.

The Ottawa Senators agreed to a 1-year, two-way, contract with F Eric O’Dell worth $700,000 at the NHL level, $300,000 in the AHL.

The Buffalo Sabres signed D Matt Donovan to a 1-year contract.

The Dallas Stars signed F Curtis McKenzie to a 2-year contract extension.

D John Moore signed a 3-year deal with the New Jersey Devils.

F Zach Stortini signed a 2-year, two-way, contract with the Ottawa Senators.

F Blake Coleman signed an entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils.

The Vancouver Canucks signed D Taylor Fedun.

F Derek Grant and the Calgary Flames agreed to a two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level.

The New York Rangers agreed to a contract with F Viktor Stahlberg worth $1.1 million.

F Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres agreed to a 3-year entry-level contract.

F Ruslan Fedotenko agreed to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Joel Hanley to a 1-year, two-way, contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed D T.J. Hensick to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Sergei Plotnikov agreed to a 1-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Mike Kostka agreed to a two-way deal with the Ottawa Senators.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Richard Panik to a 1-year extension worth $975,000.

The New York Rangers signed F Brian Gibbons.

F Conor Sheary agreed to a 2-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Kael Mouillierat and the Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to a 1-year contract.

The Minnesota Wild resigned F Jared Knight to a 1-year, two-way, $761,000 contract.

D Mike Green signed a 3-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings worth $6 million AAV ($18 million total).

F Kevin Porter signed a 1-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Boston Bruins resigned F Ryan Spooner with a 2-year, $1.9 million contract.

D Cameron Gaunce agreed to terms with the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers also signed D Brett Regner.

The Arizona Coyotes signed D Dylan Reese to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Mark Arcobello agreed to a 1-year deal, worth $1.1 million, with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Minnesota Wild signed F Zac Dalpe to a two-way contract.

D Steven Oleksy signed a 1-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Paul Thompson signed a 2-year, two-way, extension with the New Jersey Devils worth $575,000 a year.

The Minnesota Wild signed F Marc Hagel to a contract extension.

F Brad Richards signed a 1-year, $3 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The St. Louis Blues agreed to terms with F Pat Cannone.

The Buffalo Sabres signed F Jason Akeson to a two-way deal.

The Minnesota Wild signed G Steve Michalek to a two-year, entry-level contract.

In a bundle of signings, the Washington Capitals signed F Carter Camper, F Sean Collins, D Mike Moore, and D Aaron Ness to 1-year, two-way, contracts.

The Anaheim Ducks signed G Matt Hackett to a 2-year contract and F Chris Mueller and D Joe Piskula to 1-year contracts in a bundle of their own.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed Tim Brent and D Davis Drewiske to 1-year, two-way, contracts and Chris Conner to a 2-year, two-way contract.

F Gregory Campbell signed a 2-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth $1.5 million AAV.

The Montreal Canadiens signed D Mark Barberio to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 contract.

The Tampa Bay Lightning agreed to terms with D Matt Taormina on a 1-year, two-way, contract.

F Matt Beleskey and the Boston Bruins agreed to a 5-year, $19 million ($3.8 AAV) contract. NMC on the first 2 years.

D Kevin Gravel signed an extension with the Los Angeles Kings with a 2-year deal.

The Montreal Canadiens and F George Halloway agreed to a 1-year, two way contract.

F Daniel Winnik returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a 2-year deal, with an AAV of $2.25 million, after splitting time with Toronto and Pittsburgh in 2014-2015.

The Arizona Coyotes signed D Dakota Mermis to an entry-level contract. Arizona also signed F Dustin Jeffrey to a 2-year contract.

F Antoine Vermette and the Arizona Coyotes reached an agreement on a 2-year contract, worth $3.75 million AAV.

The New Jersey Devils signed F Jim O’Brien to a 1-year, two-way contract.

F Shawn Horcoff signed a 1-year, $1.75 million, deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

G Nathan Lieuwen signed his qualifying offer from the Buffalo Sabres, agreeing to a 1 year, $605,000, two-way contract.

The San Jose Sharks signed John McCarthy to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 contract.

G Jeremy Smith and the Boston Bruins agreed to a 1-year, two-way, $600,000 extension.

The New York Islanders signed Joe Whitney to a 1-year, two-way, $750,000 contract.

F Justin Williams signed a 2-year deal with the Washington Capitals worth $6.5 million ($3.25 million AAV).

Trades made on July 1st:

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded F Phil Kessel, F Tyler Biggs, D Tim Erixson, and a conditional 2016 2nd round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for F Nick Spaling, D Scott Harrington, F Kasperi Kapanen, a 2016 3rd round pick and a conditional 2016 1st round pick. Toronto retained 15% of Kessel’s salary ($1.25 million a year).

The Vancouver Canucks sent F Zack Kassian to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for F Brandon Prust and a 2016 5th round pick.

F Max Reinhart was traded to the Nashville Predators by the Calgary Flames in exchange for a conditional 4th round pick.

The New York Rangers acquired G Magnus Hellberg from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2017 6th round pick.

The Boston Bruins sent F Reilly Smith and the contract of F Marc Savard to the Florida Panthers in exchange for F Jimmy Hayes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Blackhawks Win 5-2, Force Game 7 in Anaheim

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 6 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2In front of 22,089 fans at the United Center on Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 on Saturday night in Anaheim with a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Kane’s 10th goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the game winning goal in the Blackhawks winning effort as Corey Crawford made 30 saves on 32 shots against to pick up the win.

Anaheim’s, Frederik Andersen, made 18 saves on 22 shots faced in the loss. Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith had impressive efforts as well, with Shaw scoring two goals and Keith earning three assists on the night.

A scoreless first period ended with 10 shots on goal for Anaheim and 6 shots on goal for Chicago. The Blackhawks also dominated faceoff wins 15-4, while the Ducks led hits 18-15 and blocked shots 13-5. Both teams went 0/1 on the power play as Anaheim couldn’t capitalize on a too many men bench minor against the Blackhawks, 1:59 into the period, and Chicago couldn’t score on their power play opportunity as a result of Corey Perry’s hooking penalty at 7:06 of the 1st period.

At 8:23 of the 2nd period Brandon Saad raced down the ice on a breakaway and landed a shot past Andersen and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead. The goal was Saad’s 5th of the playoffs and was assisted by Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. A little over two minutes later, Chicago went ahead 2-0 on a goal from Marian Hossa with help from Keith and Brad Richards. Finally, at 12:08 of the 2nd period, Kane picked up his 10th goal of the postseason with Keith earning his 3rd assist of the night, cementing a 3-0 Blackhawks lead a little past halfway into the period.

UnknownBrad Richards took a hooking penalty at 14:08 of the 2nd period, resulting in a Ducks power play. Anaheim stopped some of the bleeding with a power play goal from Patrick Maroon via crafty work by Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. For now, at least, the score was 3-1 and the Ducks successfully displayed a sign of life. Ryan Kesler gave Chicago their third and final power play opportunity of the night after tripping goaltender, Corey Crawford, setting the standard for a little more contact with both goalies in the 3rd period.

Shots on goal were deadlocked at 19-19 and hits were tied, 30-30, by the second intermission. Anaheim led blocked shots 18-8 and were 1 for 2 on the power play, while Chicago continued to dominate faceoff wins, 29-11, and were 0 for 3 on the man advantage.

Andrew Shaw celebrates one of his third period goals in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals in Chicago. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Andrew Shaw celebrates one of his third period goals in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals in Chicago. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 3rd period got off to a quick start for the Ducks, showing signs of a potentially thrilling comeback, as Clayton Stoner notched his 1st goal of the playoffs at 1:57 of the period. Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg were credited assists on Stoner’s goal. Silfverberg, in fact, clipped Crawford’s glove as he was skating in front of the net, causing some to argue for goaltender interference, but the fact of the matter was that 1) Silfverberg was well out of the crease 2) knew where Crawford was in relation to where he was heading and 3) Crawford might have stuck his glove hand out to bat Silfverberg away, thus hampering his own chances at being fully able to make a save.

At least, those might have been a few things that crossed the referee’s mind in not making a call and reversing the goal on the ice.

Kesler and Silfverberg’s bumps into the goalie weren’t the only ones in the game. Nearly a minute and a half after Stoner’s goal, Chicago’s Andrew Desjardins was sent to the box for goaltender interference in a clear disregard for the established “don’t touch the goalie” rule after knocking down Frederik Andersen in the crease, perhaps in retaliation for the Ducks called and uncalled run ins with Crawford.

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

The pace of the game settled in until there was about three and a half minutes to go, when the intensity really picked up as Anaheim desperately tried for a tying goal. Instead, Desjardins had a quick breakout with Andrew Shaw, who began to put away the hopes of a Ducks comeback in Game 6 with his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 16:28 of the period.

The Blackhawks had amassed 22 shots on goal, seven fewer than the Ducks, and yet had a 4-2 lead and were closer to a Game 7 than the Ducks were to a comeback. It wasn’t long before Anaheim was outshooting Chicago 31-22 and had an offensive zone faceoff with Andersen already pulled and 1:05 remaining in the game.

At 19:11, Shaw put away an empty netter for his 2nd goal of the night, assisted by Desjardins, and gave the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead. The Ducks ended the night with 32 shots on goal and Chicago wrapped up the game with 23 shots on net. Anaheim continued to display a much more physical game, leading in hits, 43-38- although that usually means that the more physical team spent less time with the puck.

Chicago amassed 33 faceoff wins in the game, compared to Anaheim’s 17 faceoff wins, and reduced the differential in blocked shots to 4, with Anaheim leading 23-19. Anaheim finished the night 1 for 3 on the power play, while the Blackhawks were 0 for 3 on the night.

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

With the 5-2 win at home, the Chicago Blackhawks tied the series 3-3, sending the Western Conference Finals to a Game 7 on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM on NBC.

The winner will not only be the Western Conference champion, but will have the advantage of knowing who they will face in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, as the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning battle in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

This year marks the first time since 2000, that both conference finals have gone all the way to Game 7’s to determine the Stanley Cup Finalists. Fifteen years ago, the New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers to represent the Eastern Conference, while the Dallas Stars topped the Colorado Avalanche to represent the Western Conference.

Vermette Scores in 2OT to Win it for Chicago, ANA Scores 3 in 37 seconds in 3rd

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 4 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2A sold out crowd at the United Center was rocking the arena’s foundation to its core on Saturday night as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks squared off in Game 4 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The building was sent into a frenzy many times and experienced plenty of lows at other times, but somehow the Blackhawks prevailed 5-4 in double overtime as Antoine Vermette scored his first game winning playoff goal since April 25th, 2006- back when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators.

Corey Crawford, with the win, made 47 saves on 51 shots against, while Frederik Andersen saved 35 of 40 shots on goal. Chicago improved to 6-1 at home in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs as Anaheim fell to 4-2 on the road in the playoffs. The series, meanwhile is now tied 2-2.

Chicago led in many categories at the end of the 1st period, finally dominating the dominators of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far, the Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks had 14 shots on goal compared to the Ducks 6 shots on goal. Chicago also led faceoff wins 9-7 and takeaways 4-3. The physical game was also much closer at the end of twenty minutes in Game 4 than all of the previous games in the series as the Ducks lead 22-16 in hits.

With 2:20 to go, Brent Seabrook took a minor penalty for slashing Anaheim’s, Ryan Kesler, and gave the Ducks their first power play opportunity of the night. Marcus Kruger had an important defensive zone faceoff win that led to the Blackhawks clearing the puck and killing time on the penalty. Anaheim was never fully able to gain an entrance into the offensive zone and caused a turnover that led to Chicago moving the puck past a stumbling Francois Beauchemin- who had tripped after making contact with referee, Chris Rooney- and to the tape of Brandon Saad.

Saad prevented a diving Anaheim defenseman from knocking the puck off his stick and put one past Andersen for his 4th of the playoffs and the 1-0 lead at 19:13 of the 1st period. The Blackhawks came out as a much better team in Game 4 than they had been in Game 3, however, the Ducks further proved why they are a sixty minute effort team as they began to open things up in the 2nd period.

UnknownShortly after Jonathan Toews’s high sticking penalty had come to an end, the Anaheim Ducks got on the scoreboard with a redirected goal from Emerson Etem (his 3rd of the playoffs) assisted by Kyle Palmieri and Francois Beauchemin. After two periods of play, both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play. The Ducks continued to lead in hits, 35-32, and blocked shots, 16-12, but Chicago was still dominating on the faceoff dot, 26-14.

If the first period was all Blackhawks, then the second period was all Ducks, who limited Chicago to just 6 shots on goal in the 2nd. Anaheim, meanwhile, nearly doubled their shots on goal total in that period and tightened the total shots on goal to a close 20-19 statistic in favor of the Blackhawks. Despite the second period dominance from the Ducks, the Blackhawks did have one thing going in their favor- Corey Crawford’s reflexes.

Crawford denied Matt Beleskey on a brilliant opportunity on the rebound with quick reflexes and athleticism that at the time held the 1-0 lead for Chicago, until Etem tied it later in the period. The 1st period was dominated by Chicago, the 2nd period was dominated by Anaheim, and the 3rd period, was wide open and one for the ages.

Nearly three minutes into the 3rd period, Jonathan Toews fired home a wrist shot that beat Andersen and made it a one-goal lead for Chicago. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa picked up assists on Toews’s goal. The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead and were outshooting the Ducks 26-19 nearly seven minutes into the third.

Brent Seabrook added his fourth of the playoffs on a slap shot from the point, giving Chicago a 3-1 lead, as Saad picked up his 2nd assist on the night and Toews earned his first. Saad wound up with a goal and two assists for a three-point night and a solid effort alongside Toews and Hossa on the Blackhawks first line.

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

And then the magic happened. The Anaheim Ducks scored 3 goals in 37 seconds, going from trailing from 3-1 to leading 4-3. Ryan Kesler scored his 5th of the playoffs with help from Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano at 8:42 of the third, then Matt Beleskey added his 6th of the playoffs on an individual effort at 9:05, and finally Corey Perry pocketed his 9th of the playoffs with his goal at 9:19 of the 3rd period, assisted by Ryan Getzlaf.

The United Center went from the euphoria of a 3-1 lead to the silence and chaos of trailing 4-3.

Anaheim’s miracle 3 goals in 37 seconds were the 2nd fastest three goals scored in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. Only the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs did so faster in a playoff matchup with the Atlanta Flames- it only took them, an NHL record, 23 seconds.

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

It wasn’t long before the Ducks took a penalty at 12:23 of the 3rd period, though. Silfverberg was sent to the box with a two-minute minor penalty for holding and the Chicago Blackhawks went on the power play for the third time on the night.

You know as they say, the third time’s a charm, and it was for the Chicago’s power play unit as Patrick Kane tied the game 4-4 with a power play goal on a nice set up from Brad Richards and Duncan Keith. Kane’s 9th of the playoffs came at 12:39 of the period and capped off a span of 6 goals scored between both teams in a 10:01 span.

At the end of regulation, Chicago led the shots on goal department, 33-31, and faceoff wins, 39-26. Anaheim, meanwhile, led in hits 44-42, and blocked shots 23-13. An exciting overtime was set after the intermission allowed for the Zamboni’s to resurface the ice and fans were able to regulate their heartbeats once again.

The first overtime saw end-to-end action, as well as battles all over the ice. The Ducks had 10 shots on goal before the Blackhawks got their first shot on goal in overtime. At 9:44 of overtime, Sami Vatanen took a holding penalty and gave Chicago their fourth power play opportunity of the night. Fortunately for the Ducks, the Blackhawks were not able to capitalize on their man advantage and Anaheim killed off Vatanen’s penalty with ease.

Neither team was able to score as the intensity wore off and the pace settled in. The end of overtime assured that for the 2nd time in the 2015 Western Conference Finals there would be at least double overtime before determining a winner. Anaheim had finally overtaken Chicago in shots on goal with 47-38 at the end of the first overtime. The Ducks were still out hitting the Blackhawks, 58-49, and blocked 32 shots compared to Chicago’s 18 blocked shots.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, still had a faceoff advantage having led faceoff wins 44-37 after four periods of hockey. In terms of special teams, neither team took another penalty in the game, so the Blackhawks were also winning that department by virtue of having scored a power play goal.

Both teams emerged from the locker rooms for the second overtime and began with noticeable difference in energy. Perhaps still fatigued by the marathon triple overtime- nearly quadruple overtime- Game 2, neither team could get a grip on controlling the game-flow.

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

At 5:37 of the second overtime, Antoine Vermette- acquired before the trade deadline in March by the Blackhawks- scored the game-winning goal on a rebound off of Anaheim goalie, Frederik Andersen.

The goal was Vermette’s 2nd of the playoffs and was assisted by Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen. In keeping with typical Stanley Cup Playoffs fashion, the overtime winning goal was scored by an unexpected hero who had in fact, came up clutch when least thought possible, after having been a healthy scratch for Chicago in Game 3.

The final shots on goal outcome was 51-40, in favor of Anaheim, who also led hits, 60-52, and blocked shots, 34-20, at the end of the night. Chicago laid claim to faceoff wins 48-40 and the more important, final score, 5-4 in double overtime.

With the Blackhawks win the series is now tied at 2-2. Game 5 is Monday night at 9 PM EST at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The series is now virtually a best of three game competition with at least two more games to be held.

One thing is for sure, these two teams are bringing out the best in each other- and that’s exciting hockey to watch.