Tag Archives: Brenden Morrow

Look To The Rafters: Dallas Stars (Part II)

In the early days of DTFR, we made an educated guess as to who each team might honor in the future regarding retired jersey numbers. Since then, the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence and more than a few jersey numbers went out of circulation across the league. 

It’s time for an update and a look at who the Dallas Stars might honor by hanging their name and number from the rafters of American Airlines Center someday.

Dallas Stars Current Retired Numbers

7 Neal Broten

8 Bill Goldsworthy

9 Mike Modano

19 Bill Masterton

26 Jere Lehtinen

Did Anything Change In The Last Five Years?

Yes! Jere Lehtinen’s No. 26 was retired by the Stars on Nov. 24, 2017, and Dallas has plans to retire Hockey Hall of Famer, Sergei Zubov’s No. 56 next season (2020-21). Both are equally deserving of the highest honor bestowed upon them by the team.

Possible Numbers to Retire Someday

3 John Klingberg

If there’s one under the radar defender in the National Hockey League more than anyone else these days, it’s John Klingberg.

To the casual fan, the Stars might be easy to overlook and, as a result, Klingberg’s name often goes unnoticed with it, but in 425 career NHL games so far (all with Dallas), he’s amassed 58-233–291 totals.

Until the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2019-20 regular season, he never had fewer than 40 points in a season, which is a tremendous rate of production from a defender in today’s NHL.

Though he had six goals and 26 assists (32 points) in 58 games this season, Klingberg was on pace for about 45 points.

In 2016-17, he established a career-high in goals with 13 tallies in 80 games, then followed up wiht a career-year (so far) in 2017-18, setting career-highs in assists (59) and points (67) in a full, 82-game, season.

As one of the cornerstone defenders for the franchise (Miro Heiskanen being the other), there’s a chance Klingberg will endure lengthy success and translate that into more points on the scoresheet over the years. All of that is to say that the Gothenburg, Sweden native that was drafted in the fifth round (131st overall) by Dallas in 2010, is on the right track for a promising legacy in a Stars sweater that just might lead to No. 3 being raised to the rafters at American Airlines Center.

10 Brenden Morrow

Morrow spent parts of 13 seasons in Dallas, notching 243 goals and 285 assists (528 points) in 835 career games for the Stars from 1999-2013. 

On March 24, 2013, he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins with the Minnesota Wild’s 2013 3rd round pick (previously acquired, Pittsburgh selected Jake Guentzel) for Joe Morrow (no relation) and Pittsburgh’s 2013 5th round pick (Matej Paulovic).

After finishing the 2012-13 season with the Penguins, Morrow made stops with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14 and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014-15, before retiring from the NHL with 265-310–575 totals in 991 career NHL games.

Shawn Horcoff, Patrick Sharp, Martin Hanzal and Corey Perry have all worn No. 10 in Dallas since Morrow’s departure, so it would seem as though the Stars have already made up their mind about the winger’s career, but never say never.

There’s a chance that it just might take a little time before the former Stars captain is formally recognized for his contributions to the organization over the years since being drafted by Dallas in the first round (25th overall) in 1997, having the 5th most games played in franchise history, being tied for 8th in all-time franchise goals scored, as well as sitting 9th in all-time franchise points records.

14 Jamie Benn

The current longest-tenured player in Dallas, Benn has been around with the Stars since breaking into the league in the 2009-10 season after being drafted by Dallas in the fifth round (129th overall) in 2007. 

That draft pick, by the way, originally belonged to the Boston Bruins, who traded it to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Adam McQuaid, then the Blue Jackets flipped the pick, as well as two more 2007 5th rounders for Los Angeles’ 2007 4th round pick (previously acquired by Dallas, Columbus selected Maksim Mayorov).

Anyway, Benn made an impact with the Stars in his rookie season, scoring 22 goals and collecting 19 assists (41 points) in 82 games.

He has only had two seasons with less than 40 points so far– once in the lockout shortened, 48-game 2012-13 season, in which Benn amassed 12-21–33 totals in 41 games, and again in the premature end to the 2019-20 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in which Benn scored 19 goals and had 20 assists (39 points) in 69 games.

If you’re wondering, he was on a 66-point pace in 2012-13, had the season not been shortened due to a lockout and a 46-point pace this season prior to the pandemic cutting the 2019-20 regular season short.

In 2014-15, Benn took home the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading point scorer with 35-52–87 totals in 82 games, but he then went on to set career-highs in goals (41), assists (48) and points (89) the following season in 82 games in 2015-16.

The 31-year-old Victoria, British Columbia native has 300 goals and 388 assists (688 points) in 814 career games thus far for the Stars.

As one of their most consistent performers, it’s reasonable to think that No. 14 will be set aside forever and live in the rafters in Dallas after Benn hangs up his skates.

91 Tyler Seguin

There were a lot of fireworks on the U.S. Independence Day (July 4th) in 2013, as the Boston Bruins traded Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to the Stars for Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow.

Seguin already had 56 goals and 65 assists (121 points) in 203 games with Boston, as well as one Stanley Cup ring from his rookie season (2010-11), then things really took off with Dallas.

He had set a season-high 29 goals, 38 assists and 67 points in 81 games with Boston in his sophomore campaign of 2011-12, but in his first season with the Stars in 2013-14, Seguin scored 37 goals and 47 assists for a career-high 84 points in 80 games.

Eriksson, the biggest piece in return for Seguin, had a measly 37 points in 61 games with the Bruins in 2013-14. He didn’t find his stride in the Eastern Conference until he had 30 goals and 33 assists (63 points) in 82 games in 2015-16, but then the Bruins chose to let him walk in free agency and sign a massive six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1, 2016.

Nevertheless, the Stars won the Seguin trade– if not, for nothing else, because they got the bigger name in the deal (Seguin– you know, the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 Draft).

In seven seasons with Dallas, Seguin’s only had one year where he failed to reach 70 points. 

This season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting the regular season short, Seguin only had  50 points (17 goals and 33 assists) in 69 games. He was on a 59-point pace at the time of the pause– two seasons removed from reaching the 40-goal plateau in 2017-18.

In 538 games with the Stars so far, Seguin has 223 goals and 291 assists (514 points) as one of the greatest transactions in franchise history. That’s pretty good– so good, he’s 10th so far among Stars leaders all-time in assists and tied for 10th with Jere Lehtinen in franchise points.

The story writes itself, No. 91 will be in the rafters in Dallas someday.

Final Thoughts

Dallas has a few candidates in the immediate and/or near future to consider for jersey retirement nights. Yet, there’s perhaps a plethora of players that are really just starting out that cannot be ignored, but shouldn’t be held to higher than realistic expectations and standards.

Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov are four quality players to build a team around– combined with the veteran presences of Klingberg, Benn, Seguin, Joe Pavelski and Ben Bishop, well, the Stars should be a strong candidate for a deep playoff run, if not Cup contenders.

Heiskanen’s put up 20-48–68 totals in 150 games so far, but it’s not always about the points with defenders. Meanwhile, Lindell is quietly doing his own thing with 27-73–100 totals in 308 games with the Stars since breaking into the league with a four-game stint in 2015-16.

Hintz avoided a sophomore slump this season after scoring nine goals and 22 points in 58 games last season, he improved to 19 goals and 14 assists (33 points) in 60 games prior to the regular season being cut short in 2019-20. That’s 28-27–55 totals in 118 games so far while he continues to develop as a young NHL player.

Meanwhile, Gurianov just wrapped up a shortened rookie season, in which he had 20 goals and 29 points in 64 games. He was on pace for a respectable 26-goal rookie season after scoring one goal in 21 games in 2018-19, and first appearing in the league in one game in 2016-17.

Odds are at least one of these guys could end up in the next edition of this five years from now.

DTFR Podcast #136- We’ve Got The Future Blues

More on the Arizona Coyotes latest debacle with Seattle expansion looming, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith did something never done before, the Calgary Flames rise in the Western Conference and the St. Louis Blues dismal season. Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks made a few moves– signing Murray to an extension, claiming Chad Johnson off waivers and a minor trade.

Plus, Nick and Connor review the last 15 years of first round picks by the Pittsburgh Penguins and do a deep dive on their future and what it might look like.

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

Down the Frozen River Podcast #115- Welcome to Arby’s

Nick, Connor and Pete decide Connor should name his first kid “Tkachuk” while revealing their top-10 left wingers of their lifetimes. Also, Ray Emery, Arby’s and Marian Hossa.

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

January 16 – Day 93 – Defense vs. Offense

Happy Martin Luther King Day! What better way to celebrate than with hockey?

In all seriousness, he did a lot of powerful things for not only the United States, but the world as a whole. All people, regardless of color, ethnicity, race, religion or any other variable have a lot to thank King’s effort for.

Putting our attention back on hockey, seven games will be waged today, starting with two at 1 p.m. (the New York Islanders at Boston [SN] and Dallas at Buffalo). The matinees continue at 3 p.m. with Montréal at Detroit [RDS], followed an hour later by another pair of contests (Tampa Bay at Los Angeles [SN] and Winnipeg at San Jose). Washington at Pittsburgh (NBCSN/SN/TVAS) drops the puck at 7 p.m., with tonight’s nightcap – Arizona at Edmonton – waiting until 9 p.m. before getting underway.

Short list:

  • Montréal at Detroit: For those who love their Original Six hockey, here’s your game of the day.
  • Washington at Pittsburgh: Eastern Semifinals rematch? Check. Rivals? Check. Just met last Wednesday? Check.

I would apologize for featuring yet another CapsPens matchup, but the reason we watch these is because they’re always exciting. To PPG Paints Arena we go.

Washington Capitals Logopittsburgh_penguins_logo

 

Thanks to beating the Flyers 5-0 yesterday for their ninth-straight victory, the 29-9-5 Capitals are not only the hottest team in hockey, but also the best in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Conference and league.

Though it’s taken a little longer than many expected for them to reach that position in the table, they’ve done it on the back of their incredible goaltending that has allowed only 82 goals, the fewest in the NHL.

That goaltender is 21-8-4 Braden Holtby, winner of last season’s Vezina Trophy. He’s found his success on a .933 save percentage and 1.85 GAA – the third and second-best efforts, respectively, in the NHL with at least 17 appearances.

He’s certainly been good, but with blueliners like Washington‘s, all he has to do is act as a last-line-of-defense. Led by Karl Alzner‘s team-high 81 blocks, only 27.8 shots-per-game reach Holtby’s crease, sixth-fewest in the league.

That success has carried into the penalty kill, where the Caps are second-best in the league. Much of the reason they don’t yield a power play goal on 86.5% of opposing opportunities is due to Alzner’s 21 shorthanded blocks, the most on the club.

Playing host this evening are the 26-11-5 Penguins, the third-best team in the Metropolitan. Losers of their past three games, when the Pens find success they play some phenomenal offense. They’ve scored 143 goals already this season, the second-most in the league.

As we’ve come to expect since they started playing together in the 2006-07 season, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been the two-headed monster known as the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though they don’t share a line in even-strength play, both skaters have notched a team-high 46 points. Of course, Crosby has been the more dangerous of the two with a team-leading 26 goals to his credit.

As for the power play, Pittsburgh is also a very formidable foe. They’re successful on 22.8% of attempts, the fourth-highest conversion rate in the NHL. This is where Phil Kessel and his team-leading 18 power play points shine, but Crosby is once again the main goalscorer, with nine extra-man goals in his pocket.

The main spot the Penguins still need to improve on is their unattractive penalty kill. Even with Ian Cole‘s team-leading 19 shorthanded blocks, Pittsburgh prevents only 78.2% of opposing power plays, the sixth-worst rate in the league.

These clubs have already met three times this season, and Washington has a 2-0-1 lead in the series. Although the Capitals have beaten Pittsburgh by at least three goals the last two times they’ve met, both of those games were at the Verizon Center. Pittsburgh won on Opening Night on their home ice, albeit in a shootout.

Some players to keep an eye on include Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (26 goals [most in the league] among 46 points [tied for third-most in the NHL]), Kessel (28 assists [tied for sixth-most in the league]), Malkin (46 points [tied for third-most in the NHL], including 28 assists [tied for sixth-most in the league]), Matthew Murray (.925 save percentage [tied for fifth-best in the NHL] for a 2.28 GAA [10th-best in the league]) and Justin Schultz (+20 [tied for ninth-best in the NHL]) & Washington‘s Nicklas Backstrom (30 assists [fourth-most in the league] among 42 points [10th-most in the NHL]), Holtby (six shutouts [most in the league] on a 1.85 GAA [second-best in the NHL] and a .933 save percentage [third-best in the league] for 21 wins [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]), T.J. Oshie (+21 [tied for seventh-best in the league]) and Alex Ovechkin (21 goals [tied for third-most in the NHL]).

Thanks in part to having a home ice advantage this evening, Vegas favors the Penguins at -120. That being said, the Capitals are playing out of their minds right now and I expect them to complete the upset this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Brenden Morrow (1979-) – The 25th-overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by Dallas, this left wing played most of his 15-season career with the club that drafted him. By the time he hung up his skates, he’d notched an impressive 575 points.
  • Jason Ward (1979-) – Although drafted higher than Morrow at 11th-overall by Montréal in the same draft, this right wing did not find as much success. He only played eight seasons in the NHL to accumulate 81 points.
  • Jamie Lundmark (1981-) – This center was the ninth-overall pick by the Rangers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, and although he played most of his games in New York, he actually spent one more season in Calgary. He finished his six-year NHL career a point shy of 100.
  • Matt Duchene (1991-) – Colorado selected this center third-overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and with the Avalanche he’s played all his 532 games. Although he has 402 points over his career, this has not been a great season for assists. His .32 assists-per-game this campaign is the second-worst of his career.

Thanks to three-straight unanswered goals, the Wild can truly claim to be the best in the west, beating Chicago 3-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

It was the home Blackhawks who got on the board first, thanks to a wrister from First Star of the Game Patrick Kane (Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin) at the 4:33 mark. It was the lone goal of the first frame.

4:16 after returning to the ice, Chicago doubled their lead when Kane (Anisimov) buried another wrister, but it wasn’t long (2:07, to be exact) before Third Star Nino Niederreiter (Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin) scored a power play wrister to pull Minnesota back within a goal. With exactly nine minutes remaining in the second period, Chris Stewart (Jordan Schroeder and Ryan Suter) pulled the Wild even with a wrist shot. The two-all score held into the second intermission.

Only one goal was struck in the third period, belonging to Jason Pominville (Marco Scandella) 5:08 after play resumed for the winning goal.

Second Star Devan Dubnyk earned the victory after saving 33-of-35 shots faced (94.3%), leaving the loss to Corey Crawford, who saved 29-of-32 (90.6%).

Minnesota‘s victory is the the third-straight by the road team in the DtFR Game of the Day, setting the series record at 49-32-14 in favor of the hosts by four points.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Dallas Stars

By: Nick Lanciani

I continue to explore an important element of the game and what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

CJhyiLmKDallas Stars

Current Retired Numbers- 7 Neal Broten, 8 Bill Goldsworthy, 9 Mike Modano, 19 Bill Masterton

Recommended Numbers to Retire

10 Brenden Morrow

Whenever Morrow decides to hang up the skates, this would be a classy move from the Stars organization for a classy player that spent so much time with Dallas and his counterpart, Mike Modano.

14 Jamie Benn

When Benn retires, it’s likely that the Stars will retire his number as well- he’s that kind of a player for Dallas. I mean, he wasn’t the Art Ross Trophy winner for nothing last season.

91 Tyler Seguin

Seguin is sensational in Dallas and as long as he keeps out of trouble and spends the rest of his career, if not majority of his career, with the Stars, he’s a shoe in to have his number raised to the rafters in Dallas someday.

Vermette, Blackhawks, Chance to Clinch on Monday

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

Unknown-2Antoine Vermette scored yet another clutch game winning goal in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Heading into Game 5 the big story was Ben Bishop, having played through an injury in Game 3 and how he would continue handle it on Saturday night.

Aside from his early mess up that led to Patrick Sharp’s goal 6:11 into the 1st period, he seemed to have a solid game for being injured. However, Corey Crawford was the better goalie only giving up one goal on 29 shots.

The Blackhawks got off to an early start in the 1st period. It wasn’t surprising that they wanted to test the injured Ben Bishop. Bishop was there to answer early chances from Duncan Keith and Brandon Saad. It was one-way traffic in the first few minutes and it looked like Tampa forgot to show up at their own arena.

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

Nikita Kucherov had a chance as Corey Crawford made a mistake playing the puck and sent it right to Kucherov’s stick. Crawford dove back in front and stopped the surefire goal and run of play, a little over five minutes into the period. As Crawford froze the puck, Kucherov collided with the far post and left the game with an apparent shoulder injury.

Ben Bishop wasn’t so lucky on his mistake a minute later. As he came out to play the puck, he collided with his defenseman, Victor Hedman, while Patrick Sharp collected the puck and put into the wide open net, for his 5th of the post season. Teuvo Teravainen and Jonathan Toews were given the assists on Sharp’s goal.

Unknown-1By the halfway point of the period Chicago was outshooting the Lightning 11-3. Tampa wasn’t getting many shots, but they were throwing their weight around- outhitting Chicago 19-7. Faceoffs were split pretty equally with Chicago having a slight advantage, 13-10. The period ended with questions left unanswered by Tampa, especially since they only had 5 shots on goal compared to Chicago’s 15 shots on net.

The second period began with a penalty in the opening 47 seconds of the period, as Tampa’s Cedric Paquette was called for hooking. Tampa had a strong penalty kill and kept Chicago to very few chances. Except for Kris Versteeg’s great chance from the slot, but it was denied by Bishop.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The pace of the 2nd period was much more balanced than the 1st period. About halfway into the 2nd, shots on goal read 20-10 in favor of Chicago. Tampa was outhitting Chicago, 28-7, and leading in faceoffs, 14-13. 10:53 into the 2nd period Tampa evened the scoreboard with Valtteri Filppula netting his 4th of the playoffs, with help from Jason Garrison and Anton Stralman.

A few minutes later Brandon Saad took Chicago’s first penalty of the game as he got called for slashing on JT Brown.

The 2nd period concluded with both teams swapping chances, although neither could manage to find the back of the net. Tampa closed the gap in shots on goal trialing, 22-17. Tampa has also more than doubled Chicago in hits, 32-13. Chicago has continued to lead in faceoff wins, 19-16.

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

Third period action began with both teams exchanging chances as play went end to end. Brenden Morrow had a chance on a pass that somehow made it to him and went one on one with Crawford, who made a great save on the wrist shot.

Not even a full minute later, Chicago forward, Kris Versteeg carried the puck in on Bishop and threw a quick one off the Lightning goaltender. Antoine Vermette found the rebound and scored yet another big goal for the Blackhawks this postseason. It was his 4th of the playoffs with help from Versteeg.

The teams continued to exchange chances for most of the period, as Bishop and Crawford made big saves. Halfway through the final period Tampa was outshooting Chicago 27-24, while also outhitting the Blackhawks, 34-15. Chicago still had the faceoff win advantage, 26-21.

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

At 11:24 into the 3rd period Teravainen had a chance with a shot from the slot, yet Bishop was there to thwart a rebound opportunity and made a huge save to keep it a one-goal game.

Tampa began to bring their defensemen men into the attack, pinching further into the offensive zone and generating more odd men rushes. In the end, it didn’t make a difference as the Lightning couldn’t find a way to beat Crawford.

With 8 seconds left in the game, poor judgment resulted in a too many men on the ice penalty for Tampa, sealing the fate of Game 5. With the win, Chicago now leads the series 3-2 with a chance to clinch the game on home ice for the first time since 1938 (their previous two Cups were won on the road in Philadelphia in 2010 and in Boston in 2013).

Game 6 is in Chicago at the United Center on Monday night at 8 PM EST. It will be televised on NBC in the United States and on CBC in Canada. Lord Stanley’s Cup will be in the building, on the chance that the Blackhawks win and need to skate with it. The Blackhawks will be looking for their third Cup in 6 years, while the Lightning will be looking to force a Game 7 back in Tampa on Wednesday.

Bishop, Lightning, 2015 Eastern Conference Champions

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

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

A Game 7 with emotions running high resulted with the Tampa Bay Lightning beating the New York Rangers 2-0. Alex Killorn scored the first of Tampa’s two 3rd period goals (his 7th of the playoffs), while the second came late in the period from Ondrej Palat.

Ben Bishop recorded his second shutout at Madison Square Garden in this series, stopping all 22 shots faced on Friday night. He also became the third goalie in NHL history to post two Game 7 shutouts in the same postseason, joining Patrick Roy (2002) and Tim Thomas (2011).

A high tempo, high energy, first period saw end-to-end action that ended scoreless. Both teams had their adrenaline pumping as the game experienced craziness with the fans screaming their heads off- right in tune with the game. The New York Rangers took a page out of Tampa’s book as they dressed 11 forwards and 7 defenseman (or so everyone thought).

Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, was experiencing some issues and had actually gone back to the locker room before the game began. McDonagh returned shortly into the 1st period. It was later revealed that he was playing with a broken foot for the last few games. The captain was usually carrying a heavy load on the blueline for the Rangers, but finished with a measly 3 shifts and 1:47 of ice time in Game 7.

Unknown-1Bishop and Henrik Lundqvist looked prepared for this big game, as they kept shot after shot out of their net. New York had a few quality scoring chances, despite having 5 shots on goal. The Lightning had more chances with 9 shots on goal. One opportunity forced a big save by Lundqvist as the shot deflected off of a New York stick, off Lundqvist’s glove, and over the net.

The goaltender battle continued during the second period as Tampa started with quick chances. Ryan Callahan gathered the puck on a rebound and threw it towards the net, but Lundqvist got his pad on it. The Lightning became undisciplined and unwound for a short period of time when Brenden Morrow took a questionable call for hooking at 3:41 of the 2nd period.

Ryan McDonagh got some time on the power play and generated a chance for his team off his hard shot, but Bishop was there to make the save and Tampa quickly cleared it towards the corner.

Tampa found themselves shorthanded again about four minutes later with a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 7:46 of the 2nd period. The Lightning’s penalty kill unit proved their worth and only allowed a few chances, including one from Keith Yandle as he skated down from the point and received a backdoor pass, but shot the puck wide of the net.

New York Rangers LogoThe last 5 minutes of the period saw both teams generating multiple chances as the action went all over the rink. The Lightning established the zone, giving Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov chances that Lundqvist could only shoulder away. Jason Garrison also had a great chance at 16:04, when he received a backdoor pass, only to be denied, once more, by Lundqvist.

McDonagh continued to get more minutes as he battled through playing with a broken foot. He had a little over ten minutes of ice time by the end of forty minutes of play, adding almost 9 full minutes in the period. At the end of two, the Lightning outshot the Rangers 19-11. Both teams were throwing their weight around pretty equally with New York slightly outhitting Tampa 22-21. Faceoff wins were one sided in favor of the Rangers 26-14.

The third period saw a fast start for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who scored 1:54 into the 3rd period. Alex Killorn snuck his backhand, five hole, between the pads of Lundqvist as the puck trickled across the line. The Rangers tried to answer by throwing pucks towards the net and hoping for rebounds, yet Ben Bishop remained strong with great rebound control and denied second and third chances. He finally gave up a few chances at the halfway point when a mad scramble ensued, but managed to freeze the puck.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tampa managed to double their lead at 11:17 of the period when a wrist shot from Ondrej Palat beat Lundqvist top shelf. Palat’s goal was assisted by Tyler Johnson and Ben Bishop. Momentum began swinging out of New York’s favor as the reality of being down 2-0 in Game 7 with not much time remaining- potentially in their season- set in.

Ben Bishop made numerous saves, stopping everything thrown at him. New York was forced to pull Lundqvist with 3:44 remaining in the game for an extra attacker. Bishop, once again, remained strong and withheld the Rangers from a goal on the scoreboard.

Henrik Lundqvist in what became his final game of the season, brushed aside 23 of the 25 total shots on goal by the Lightning. Both teams shook hands with ease and tradition, as is long established in sportsmanship, after the long seven game battle for the Eastern Conference championship. Former Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan, shook hands with the man who he was traded for, Martin St. Louis, with Callahan moving on and St. Louis, for the second year in a row with the Rangers, failing to capture one more Cup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals for their second time in franchise history. The last time Tampa made the Stanley Cup Finals, in 2004, they won the Cup. The Stanley Cup Finals start June 3rd at 8 PM with national broadcast information to be released soon. The Lightning will face the winner of Saturday night’s Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Rangers Force Game 7, Win 7-3 in Game 6

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

New York Rangers LogoThe New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Amalie Arena. The first line for The Rangers combined for 13 points with Derick Brassard earning 5 points, with a hat trick and two assists. The Rangers chased Ben Bishop from the game early in the third period.

The first period witnessed the Rangers making the most of their chances facing elimination. The game started with teams exchanging chances, including an early breakaway by Jesper Fast that was broken up by Victor Hedman. The Lightning then brought the puck to the other end and Alex Killorn tried a wrap around that was blocked by Dan Boyle. At 3:36 of the 1st period, Derick Brassard received a great pass from JT Miller and shot it five hole on Ben Bishop, scoring the game’s first goal. It was Brassard’s seventh goal in the playoffs, and tied him for the team lead with Chris Kreider.

Puck luck began to bounce in Tampa’s favor as they got a variety of chances from many players. Hedman had a few chances as he began skating the puck into the offensive zone and putting shots on goal, but Henrik Lundqvist had the answer every time. Another chance came from Ryan Callahan, after he took and sent a shot towards the twine. Again, however, Lundqvist made the save. A few moments later, Marc Staal took the game’s first penalty and was sent to the box for holding the stick of Brenden Morrow.

On the following power play, Steven Stamkos got a point blank opportunity, which was denied by the pad of Lundqvist. The Rangers then killed off the penalty and used the momentum of the moment to go the other direction and score another goal. This time it was a shot from Keith Yandle from the point, which found the back of the net by screens.

This sparked Tampa’s first line as they began throwing their weight around with hit after hit. Steven Stamkos delivered a questionable hit on Ryan McDonagh, which made Chris Kreider try to take disciplining Stamkos into his own hands thereby taking a cross checking penalty. A scrum ensued between Stamkos and Derek Stepan and as a result, both took cross checking penalties with 3 minutes remaining in the period, giving the Lightning a power play.

Unknown-1Ben Bishop sent the puck to Anton Stralman, who found Ryan Callahan on a breakaway. This time Callahan didn’t make a mistake and put it by Lundqvist on the backhand. Tampa had dominated the offense in the first period outshooting New York 16-7. The Rangers made the most of their chances and had the 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

The second period was a quiet period, except for the crashing of the bodies into the boards. The physical play escalated quickly into the gams as from the opening faceoff of the second period. The teams exchanged chances with both Ben Bishop and Hendrik Lundqvist playing excellent; keeping both teams off the boards in the early minutes of the period.

About seven minutes into the period, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov took a hooking penalty and gave New York a power play, which Tampa was able to kill off. The Lightning had some chances after the penalty kill, as Brian Boyle and JT Brown each had chances that were turned aside by Lundqvist. With 3 minutes left in the 2nd period, Brenden Morrow was sent to the box for hooking. On the dying seconds of the penalty kill, Tyler Johnson got a chance, but Lundqvist shut the door and denied a goal. Tampa is still outshooting the Rangers by a big margin, but Lundqvist has been there to answer all of the shots. Lundqvist to this point has stopped 28 of 29 in the game.

New York dominated the third period from puck drop. The Rangers ran out and amassed chance after chance. The Rangers doubled their lead when JT Miller scored his first playoff goal with assists from Brassard and Rick Nash. The Rangers weren’t done yet as James Sheppard got his first of the playoffs at 6:02 of the 3rd period, after winning a battle in the crease.

New York continued to pour it on Tampa as Brassard picked up his second of the night, a minute and fourteen seconds later, with a tap in. The Lightning finally had enough and had to pull Ben Bishop and replace him with Andrei Vasilevskiy, in what was Vasilevsky’s second appearance in the playoffs.

Tampa, discouraged, got going a little as a minute later Nikita Kucherov added his 8th of the playoffs off a faceoff won by Tyler Johnson. Tampa’s Nikita Nesterov took a penalty for slashing Derick Brassard. This time, New York’s power play unit was successful, putting out Tampa’s spark, as Rick Nash scored a PP goal with help from Yandle and Miller halfway through the period, making it 6-2. Unlike the rest of his teammate’s, Nikita Kucherov didn’t give up as he scored again from a beautiful saucer pass from Tyler Johnson to make it 6-3.

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

With almost 6 minutes remaining in the period the Lightning pulled their goalie for a man advantage. At 15:36 of the 3rd period, Dan Girardi took a penalty for delay of game giving the Lightning a power play and a two man advantage with the net empty. The Rangers killed off the penalty and 18:19 of the 3rd, Derick Brassard hit the empty net to complete the hat trick and cap off a 5 point night.

The Rangers line of Brassard, Nash and Miller had a tremendous night with Brassard leading the way with 3 goals and 2 assists. However, Nash and Miller helped out too, with each getting a goal and 3 assists. Henrik Lundqvist also had a decent performance, with help from the Rangers defensemen. The Rangers numbers abounded broken up passes and Tampa’s offense couldn’t get anything started when every pass was broken up. Game 7 will be at Madison Square Garden on Friday, May 29th, 2015 with coverage on NBCSN at 8 pm.

Rangers, in Dominant Fashion, Take Game 4 and Tie Series 2-2

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

New York Rangers LogoThe New York Rangers bounced back from Game 3 to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 in Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Friday night. The stars for the Rangers showed up with two goals from Rick Nash and one from Martin St. Louis. Henrik Lundqvist had 38 saves, while only allowing one goal. The Rangers also managed to keep Tampa’s Triplet Line off the scoresheet altogether.

The first period saw a better defensive performance from the Rangers as they limited the chances for Tampa. The Lightning’s first true scoring chance came 4 minutes into the period when Nikita Kucherov found the puck in front of Hendrik Lundqvist and shot it over the net. New York took the first penalty of game 8 minutes into the first period when Martin St. Louis was sent to the sin bin for interference.

Tyler Johnson then got a great chance on the power-play, as he found the puck in the front of the net and rang it off the post. About 4 minutes later, Tampa’s Anton Stralman took an interference penalty of his own on a hit delivered to Kevin Hayes. Tampa managed to kill the penalty without even allowing on shot on Ben Bishop. With under 3 minutes left in the period Rick Nash snapped his cold streak with a power move, in which he slid the puck past Bishop’s leg pad into the net. Both teams finished the first period equal in shots on goal with seven apiece.

The second period saw the undisciplined Rangers show up from the first minute when Marc Staal took a holding penalty on Cedric Paquette. While on the penalty kill the Rangers had a great chance with a 2 on 1 that ended up with Nash trying another power move that was denied by Bishop’s pad. Just a few seconds later, Alex Killorn had a breakaway from a stretch pass sent by Victor Hedman on the power play and was denied by Lundqvist. The Rangers killed the penalty, but a few minutes later Killorn got another chance while on a 2 on 1, but the puck slipped off the end of his stick and went wide of Lundqvist.

Unknown-1At this point in the game, it was all one way traffic in favor of Tampa. The Rangers found themselves down a man again, when Chris Kreider took a penalty for tripping Brenden Morrow. Tampa had a few chances on the power play, but the Rangers managed to kill it off again. The Lightning couldn’t be kept off the board long after that though, as Steven Stamkos managed to beat Lundqvist with a slap shot from the slot.

The game didn’t stay tied for long, however, as just 3 minutes later New York regained the lead. Kreider managed to find his 7th goal of the playoffs on what was yet another rebound goal. The Rangers weren’t done however, as two minutes later Keith Yandle got his first of the playoffs, sending a shot that bounced off Hedman past Bishop.

Tampa continued to fire at the net, but Lundqvist remained superior and continued to shine through two periods. After forty minutes of play, Lundqvist had 25 saves on 26 shots. While at the other end of the ice, Bishop was having a rough game, stopping only 10 shots on 13 shots against.

The third period started similar to the second period, as Tampa continued to shoot without any rewards to show for it. The Lightning took their second penalty of the game just 4 minutes into the period with Nikita Nesterov high sticking St. Louis. On the ensuing power play, St. Louis finally got his first of the playoffs, putting a shot in the open side of the net on a back door pass from Derick Brassard.

Halfway through the period Tampa’s Brenden Morrow was called for hooking. The Rangers capitalized again with Yandle’s shot from the point deflected on goal by Kevin Hayes and banged home on the rebound by Nash, past the legs of Bishop, for his second of the night.

The game finished with a lot of scrums from frustrated Lightning players, culminating in a barrage of penalties. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan McDonagh all received roughing penalties. Severl game misconducts were handed out to a few players, including Nikita Kucherov, Kevin Klein, Morrow, Tanner Glass and Paquette. Eventually time expired, ending Lundqvist’s great night- stopping 38 of 39 shots on goal. It also brought the end of Ben Bishop’s rough night- only stopping 19 of 24 shots on goal.

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

This game saw the appearance of all of the Rangers superstar’s, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, and Henrik Lundqvist. All of them had amazing games in Game 4. St. Louis finally got the all-important first goal of his playoff run, and his play changed immediately afterwards, as he continued to create chance after chance.

Rick Nash had a two goal night, and his form looked as it did during the regular season. Keith Yandle also had a terrific night with a goal and two assists in the best performance of these playoffs for him. The first star of the game still goes to Lundqvist who had a huge bounce back after Game 3’s uncharacteristic performance.

Tampa’s Triplet Line and big stars had a lot of chances, but couldn’t find a way to put the puck to the back of the net. Ben Bishop struggled and the puck didn’t bounce in his favor on Friday night. The series is now tied at 2-2 with it now effectively becoming a best of 3 to see who will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2015 Stanley Cup finals. Game 5 is Sunday at 8 PM with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Lightning Strike 6 Times, Triplet Line Dominates in Overtime Win: Tampa Leads Series 2-1

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 Recap

*Editors Note: I delayed this post because I was watching Letterman. Thanks, Dave. -NL

By: Colby Kephart

Unknown-1The Tampa Bay Lightning triumphed the New York Rangers 6-5 in overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The game was a wild shootout with both teams lighting up the scoreboard. The goalies weren’t the story in Game 3, but both teams can’t question the offense. Nikita Kucherov scored the winner just 3:33 into overtime. Tampa, for the first time in the series outshot the Rangers 40-28.

The first period saw a fast start to the game for the New York Rangers. Tampa didn’t help themselves out when Cedric Paquette took a roughing penalty only 26 seconds into the first period. Derick Brassard capitalized on the ensuing power play, scoring a power play goal assisted by Dan Boyle and Derek Stepan just over a minute into the first period.

Tampa had a chance to answer with a power play of their own after Dominic Moore took a cross checking penalty 3 minutes into the game. The Rangers managed to kill the penalty and the physical play picked up a notch with big hits from Steven Stamkos and Keith Yandle. A few minutes later, Jesper Fast turned over a pass from Chris Kreider, and exchanged it for a breakaway; scoring a beauty with a great deke past Ben Bishop.

The Rangers had reached their post-season goals-a-game average with 2 goals in the first period. But a minute after the Fast goal, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn got a 2 on 1 and Stamkos scored on the rebound off Killorn’s shot. This got the Lightning on the board and made the game 2-1 New York. The Rangers were behind in shots 12-9 heading into the second period.

The second period saw goals on goals on goals and the continuation of lack of discipline with both teams. The period started without Tampa’s, Matt Carle, who was not on the bench and unable to return. Then Tampa took a too many men on the ice penalty just 2 minutes into the period. Tampa managed to kill off the penalty, but found themselves shorthanded again just 4 minutes later. The penalty kill for Tampa got it done again, killing off another New York Rangers power play.

New York then took a penalty about halfway through the period- Derick Brassard for hooking- but didn’t have the same luck as Tampa on the penalty kill as Ondrej Palat scored just seconds after the penalty was taken. A few minutes later Brenden Morrow (Tripping) and Keith Yandle (holding) took coincidental minors resulting in 4 on 4 hockey for 2 minutes. Tampa made good use of fewer men on the ice with the playoff leading scorer Tyler Johnson scoring again.

This gave Johnson 4 goals in just 3 games of the Eastern Conference Finals and tied a franchise record for goals in the post season (12). Tampa doubled their lead a few minutes later with Alex Killorn scoring a beautiful goal, as he stalled and moved the puck through a few defenders before releasing a shot past Henrik Lundqvist. Tampa had scored 3 goals on just 10 shots at this point of the game.

New York Rangers LogoJust when it looked like Tampa would dominate the game, Jesper Fast scored his second goal of the game on a rebound off of Kevin Klein’s shot. This was one of the few times the Rangers have scored more than 2 goals in the playoffs this year. 3 goals were scored in a little over a 7-minute span in the second period. Tampa was up one after two and still outshot the Rangers 24- 16.

The third period started similar to the first period. Andrej Sustr took a tripping penalty 2 minutes into the period. New York figured out their power-play issues when Ryan McDonagh’s one timer beat Bishop. This was the Rangers second power-play goal of the game, with assists came from Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle. The game then slowed down to 5 on 5 hockey for a decent amount of time. With 5 minutes remaining in the period Ondrej Palat scored his second of the night with a great effort to beat Lundqvist.

At this point it looked like Tampa would take Game 3, but then the Rangers got ready to pull Lundqvist with 2 minutes left and found a way to answer. Keith Yandle drove a shot from the point deflected by JT Miller and Dan Boyle got his stick on the puck and forced it to the back of the net sending this game into overtime. At the end of regulation, Tampa outshot the Rangers 35-22. Tampa was also outhitting the Rangers 37-27.

Overtime saw an explosive start by Tampa as they were skating well. The first chance came from JT Brown, who was denied by Lundqvist just 2 minutes into the period. Then the final triplet scored the game winner. Nikita Kucherov sniped one from the slot and beat Lundqvist from distance.

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

The “Triplet Line” of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov made up for 4 of the 6 goals scored by Tampa. These 3 men were together for most of the season and played this well for most of it. In Game 3 the Triplets had a 7 point night; Palat had two goals and an assist, Johnson had a goal and an assist, and Nikita Kucherov had the most important goal and an assist.

This game didn’t fit the New York Rangers style of play, because they don’t score a lot of goals. If Games 4 and 5 are like this you might see the Rangers going out in 5 games. The Rangers need the goaltender battles and the close game to force this series deeper and stand a chance to make the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 4 will be Friday May 22nd at 8 pm still in Tampa, Florida. Coverage will be on NBCSN.