Nick, Connor, Cap’n and Pete reveal the conclusion of their top-10 series, capping things off with the top-10 defenders in their lifetimes, as well as more arbitration and Columbus Blue Jackets talk.
The New York Islanders lost a heartbreaker at home in overtime by the score of 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second straight game that went past 60 minutes and where the Lightning came from behind to tie and eventually win in OT.
New York looked to avenge their 5-4 OT loss to the Lightning on Tuesday Night. Both teams had a couple bone crunching hits in Game 3, so everyone was wondering if that would boil over into tonight’s game. Besides that fact, tonight’s matchup will be intense for sure and I was not wrong.
Both New York and Tampa Bay started out very physical with the teams combining for 6 hits in the first 2:30 of the game The Islanders got the first chance to score in the opening frame with an opportunity in front that was shut down by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. After Bishop froze the puck, a big scrum ensued in front of the net with all the Islanders trying to poke the puck in. While all the Lightning players took offense to the Islanders poking their goalie and stood their ground.
From this scuffle the games first penalty was taken thanks to Lightning enforcer Mike Blunden getting called for a two-minute infraction for roughing on New York center Ryan Strome at 2:44 of the first. New York would go to their first manpower advantage of the game looking to strike early. The Islanders would get their wish thanks to Kyle Okposo aka Booker T. The Islanders chance to strike on the power play was winding down and things were not looking so good. Fortunately, Islanders center Frans Nielsen held the puck in at the left-hand dot and slid the puck down to fellow line-mate Nikolay Kulemin below the goal line. Kulemin spotted alternate captain Kyle Okposo in the slot and hit him with a one touch pass. Okposo wasted no time with the puck on his stick and roofed it high glove side to put the Islanders up 1-0 just 4:20 into the first. This was Okposo’s first goal since scoring in Round 1 Game 1 against the Florida Panthers.
The games next scoring chance would fall to the Islanders as well. Just five minutes later Islanders rookie Shane Prince came down the left-hand side and put a wrister on net. Prince’s shot was turned away by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, but he put the rebound right in the slot. Islanders superstar John Tavares picked the puck up and put a shot on net that beat Bishop blocker side but not the post and hit the iron and came right out. A definite chance that we will probably look back to as this game goes on.
Tampa Bay vet Ryan Callahan would then take a double minor for roughing Islander D-man Thomas Hickey. New York would go on a four-minute power play looking to cash in again to double their lead before the period ended. Although thanks to stellar penalty killing, Tampa Bay was able to kill off the long man advantage and only gave up 1 shot in the process. The first period ended with the Islanders up by the score of 1-0.
The second period started off just like the first one did with a penalty early. This time just 1:33 into the period, the roles were reversed and the Islanders went on the penalty kill with 4th liner Casey Cizikas getting a two-minute tripping call on Lightning star Ondrej Palat. To start the PP, New York goalie Thomas Greiss lost a skate blade and had to leave the ice for a repair. So New York was forced to call upon newcomer goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (first NHL playoff action) while Greiss is being attended too in the locker room. Tampa’s first power play of the game was ineffective as they only managed two weak shots and Berube shut them down so New York killed it off with poise.
Thomas Greiss was able to come back after only missing 4:47 in total time. Berube only faced two shots in his brief call to action and showed a strong confidence in himself. If he were to be called upon again, I am sure Islanders coach Jack Capuano will have a lot of faith in Berube to get the job done.
New York would get the next prime scoring chance again at the 10:22 mark of period two. Islanders 1st line center John Tavares dished some backhand sauce and sent Kyle Okposo in on a mini-breakaway in the slot. Okposo received the puck on his backhand and quickly turned the puck to his forehand and released a quick shot on net. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was up to the task and stoned Okposo with his glove and kept the score at 1-0 half way through the second frame.
The Lightning would get their second power play of the game with 11:42 gone as New York defender Johnny Boychuk slashed Tampa winger Ondrej Palat. New York penalty killers made that kill look easy and didn’t even allow a single shot and killed off the penalty. Then almost seven minutes later the Lightning would get their third power play and another chance to tie the game as they went back on the power play. Islander winger Brock Nelson got two minutes for tripping Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin. Just 17 seconds later, on the penalty kill no less, New York defenseman Calvin de Haan was in alone in front and tried going 5-hole on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Haan was robbed on the breakaway with Bishop’s pad. Bishop was able to keep his team’s deficit still at one.
After that mishap, Tampa was able to stay in the offensive zone for almost the whole power play. Tampa was only able to get two shots on net, and thanks to killer shot blocking from the Islanders penalty killers they were able to get back to full strength. The second period ended with the score still sitting at 1-0.
The third period started off with a 5-10 minute delay because the glass/stanchion was broken in the rink so they had to fix it. As the game resumed, both teams started out strong. New York and Tampa Bay traded shots and chances back to back but no team was really able to gain momentum.
Tampa Bay was finally able to break through and get one past Thomas Greiss. Tampa went to work behind the net in the offensive zone to try and get the puck. Lightning center Tyler Johnson was able to come out of the pile of players with the puck below the goal line. He found fellow 1st liner, Nikita Kucherov on the left-hand dot. Johnson delivered a perfect pass right in Kucherov’s wheelhouse. Kucherov one-timed the puck short side on Greiss to level the score to 1-1 at the 7:49 mark of the third. This was Kucherov’s league leading 8th goal of the playoffs.
After Kucherov’s tieing goal the Islanders and the Lightning had a couple prime scoring chances. Goalies Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop were both stellar and didn’t let anything get past them. The third period ended 1-1. So now the game will be decided in sudden death overtime, just like Game 3 did. Tampa won Game 3 in OT thanks to Dan Boyle so the Islanders were definitely looking for revenge.
Well, Tampa Bay and New York obviously did not want to play triple OT like the Predators and the Sharks did last night because it took just 1:34 into the first overtime frame to get a winner. Tampa Bay had ALL the pressure to start off the OT and that’s how they scored the game winner. Tampa defensemen Andrej Sustr corralled fellow D-man Jason Garrison’s blocked shot in the left-hand corner and slid up to the point. Sustr located Garrison at the right-hand point and threw a beautiful pass over into Garrison’s sweet spot. Garrison unloaded a nasty one-timer that beat New York goalie Greiss far side past his blocker to end the game. It was the shortest overtime played this postseason.
Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss saved 20 out of 22 shots for a .909 SV% as well as J.F. Berube stopped the two shots he faced in emergency relief. Tampa goalie Ben Bishop stopped 27 out of 28 shots for a .964 SV%.
New York led in shots (28-24), faceoffs (29-22), and hits (45-29). Tampa only led in blocked shots (22-10). While the teams tied in penalty minutes (6-6) and giveaways (13-13). The Islanders were 1/3 on the Power Play and the Lightning were 0/3.
Tampa Bay put a major dagger in New York’s playoff hopes with tonight’s win. Their win now has them leading 3 games to 1 in the series (3-1). These two teams will play again on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm in Tampa, Florida where the Lightning will look to end the series on home ice.
By: Nick Lanciani
Patric Hornqvist tallied a hat trick in the midst of a 4-point night and 5-2 victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup. Antti Raanta suffered the loss for the Rangers, having made 16 saves on 19 shots for a .842 SV% in 39:54 time on ice.
Wednesday night’s action was Jeff Zatkoff’s first career NHL playoff appearance and first career Stanley Cup Playoff win. He made 35 saves on 37 shots on goal for a .946 SV%. Zatkoff had a .896 SV% in his last five appearances during the regular season, dating back to January 18th. He took to the ice for warmups with Tristan Jarry as his backup as Marc-Andre Fleury was unavailable due to his ongoing recovery from a concussion.
New York Rangers goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, was injured late in the 1st period, after receiving a stick in the eye from his teammate and defenseman, Marc Staal. Lundqvist stayed in the game until the end of the period and made 10 saves on 11 shots against for a .909 SV% through 20 minutes.
During this final minute of play in the first, Patric Hornqvist (1) went hard to the net and received a pass from Conor Sheary (1) and sent the puck past Lundqvist to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead with 17.6 seconds to go in the period. Kris Letang (1) picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
The second period was similar in nature to the first period in that both teams swapped a couple of power play opportunities. Pittsburgh’s special teams weren’t able to capitalize on consecutive penalties to Rangers forwards, Chris Kreider and Dominic Moore, at nine seconds into the period and at 10:02, respectively. Meanwhile, New York’s power play was powerless on Trevor Daley’s tripping penalty with 8:14 to go in the 2nd.
At 18:56 of the second period, Sidney Crosby snapped a quick wrist shot past Raanta on a breakaway to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Crosby’s first goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs was assisted by Hornqvist (1).
After forty, the Penguins were leading 2-0 on the scoreboard, but trailing 21-18 in shots on goal to the Raners.
Pittsburgh began the third period playing a little catch-up hockey after amassing six penalty minutes just 2:08 into the period. Karl Hagelin was given a four minute double minor penalty for high sticking Rangers forward, Kevin Hayes, while Pittsburgh defenseman, Ian Cole, was sent to the box with a two minute minor for interfering with Eric Staal in front of Zatkoff.
New York was quick to capitalize on their 5-on-3 advantage, with Derek Stepan scooping up a power play goal on the rebound and cut the Penguins lead in half. Stepan’s first of the playoffs was assisted by Rick Nash (1) and Derick Brassard (1). But the Penguins were quick to answer back in a hurry, notching a short-handed goal scored by Tom Kuhnhackl (1) on a two-on-one from Nick Bonino (1) and Kris Letang (2). The goal was Kuhnhackl’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal and gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.
Patric Hornqvist followed up with a power play goal at 8:02 of the third period with his second of the night, assisted by Phil Kessel (1) and Sidney Crosby (1). Hornqvist poked the puck into the net before Raanta could figure out that it had slid behind him and gave the Penguins a 4-1 lead. Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault, used his coach’s challenge to review the goal for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice was upheld after Hornqvist had clearly allowed Raanta a chance to play the puck.
With lots of time left in regulation, Stepan netted his second of the night at 10:11 of the third, pulling the Rangers to within two once again. Dan Boyle picked up an assist on the goal. New York had been outshooting Pittsburgh 34-27 at the time of Stepan’s goal to trail 4-2.
Finaly, Patric Hornqvist completed his first career playoff hat trick with under three minutes to go in regulation on an empty net goal. The goal was assisted by Crosby and Trevor Daley. Hornqvist became the first Penguins player to score a hat trick in the team’s playoff opener and the first player to do so for any team since Alexander Mogilny did so with the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 9, 2003, per the NHL’s public relations department.
After 60 minutes of play, the Pittsburgh Penguins rejoiced in a 5-2 win and a 1-0 series lead over the New York Rangers.
This is the seventh time- third straight season in a row- that the Rangers and the Penguins have met in the postseason. New York was 1-2-1 in four games against Pittsburgh during the regular season. Having earned their only win in a 3-0 shutout by Henrik Lundqvist on February 10 at CONSOL Energy Center.
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM EST in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and can be seen on NBC, before the series heads up to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday for Game 3.
The New York Rangers were disappointed with their lack of success in the playoffs last year, and knew they were going to face a tough off-season with the salary cap issues and players needing new contracts. The Rangers needed to make moves, and they ended up trading Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for Emerson Etem and draft picks. Their moves continued as the Rangers then traded Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers for picks in the draft.
The Rangers lost a few more players to free agency, like Matt Hunwick going to Toronto. They experienced another loss when Martin St. Louis, retired after 18 years of professional hockey, one Stanley Cup, three Olympic medals and one Hart Trophy. He finished out his career with the Rangers scoring 22 goals and 38 assists during his 2 seasons combined.
The Rangers went on to resign players like Derek Stepan, Jesper Fast, and J.T. Miller. They also tried to fill the holes they created with the moves by acquiring Antti Raanta to replace Cam Talbot, and they signed free agents Viktor Stalberg and Jarett Stoll.
Going into the season, many believe the Rangers wouldn’t have the same level of success as they had last year. Obviously, Antti Raanta is not Cam Talbot. When Henrik Lundqvist went down last year, Talbot stepped up and play phenomenally to help lead the Rangers to the franchise’s third Presidents’ Trophy.
However, Raanta has started this season with an excellent performance, winning both of his starts and posting a goals-against-average of 0.50 and a save percentage of .987. Obviously, with the season being so young and the Rangers only having played 12 games, they seem to be continuing their success from last season.
But how is this possible? Viktor Stalberg and Jarrett Stoll aren’t Carl Hagelin, and Emerson Etem has only seen three games this season.
There are two main answers to this question: the defense core and the stepping up of the young role players.
The Rangers arguably have the best D-core in the league, with a solid 6: Marc Staal, Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle, Kevin Klein, Dan Girardi and the captain Ryan McDonagh. All these players have been in the league for so many years and have great experience. If any of these players were on a different team, they would all be considered to be on the top two defense lines. The Rangers’ defenseman and goalies have allowed the fewest goals this season and the six defensemen have 6 goals on the season. They are truly doing it on both ends.
The stepping up of players like Mats Zuccarello, Oscar Lindberg, and others are the reason the offense is continuing to flow in New York. Zuccarello is making up for the lost time in the playoffs last season by storming out of the gates with 7 goals and 2 assists. He might truly be the heart of the Rangers; when he went out last year, the offensive production of the team dropped dramatically.
Oscar Lindberg, a rookie, has been one of the biggest surprises of the Rangers this year. He has had a few multi-point games thus far, including a two-goal game in his first few games this season. Lindberg has 6 goals and 3 assists on the season. In the first few games he made an argument for the Calder Trophy, however the success would have to continue all year for him to beat out Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel for this award.
Overall, the success will be there for the Rangers throughout the season if their players stay healthy and they find a way to get the puck in the back of net. (Yes, I know, that’s what every team needs) The defense and goaltending for the Rangers will be there all year long. So it won’t be surprising seeing them in the playoffs again this year.
2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 Recap
By: Colby Kephart
Tyler Johnson’s hat trick helped the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the New York Rangers 6-2 in a thrilling end-to-end battle. Tampa coach Jon Cooper made changes from Game 1 switching from 12 forwards and 6 defensemen to only 11 forwards and 7 defenseman. This proved to be confusing for the Rangers and Cooper juggled the lines all night and pulled off a big win at MSG.
The first period was full of special teams action and undisciplined hockey by both teams. Tampa started the period off pretty strong similar to Game 1, recording the game’s first few shots on Lundqvist. About 2 minutes into the first period Tampa took their first penalty- Brian Boyle for holding. Tampa got put in a horrible situation after taking another penalty just a minute later when Jason Garrison was called for delay of game.
But then the unthinkable happened. Martin St. Louis tripped with the puck at his stick and the red hot Tyler Johnson took it the other end and scored shorthanded just 5 minutes into the first period. Tampa Bay then managed to kill off the rest of the Rangers power play, but took another penalty a few minutes later when Brendan Morrow got 2 minutes for high sticking. This time the Rangers took advantage of their power play and Chris Kreider notched home a power play goal assisted by St. Louis and Dan Boyle.
Special teams performances didn’t change the attitude of the players as Kreider (roughing), Ryan Callahan (tripping), and Derek Stepan (tripping) all took penalties within minutes of each other. The result was a 4 on 3 power play, which Tampa capitalized on. Johnson got his second goal of the game- and league leading 10th of the playoffs- assisted by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
With just 5 minutes remaining in the period, Derick Brassard took a penalty for high sticking. The Rangers killed it off without giving up any real opportunities. Both teams had a few power play opportunities during the period with Tampa racking up 8 penalty minutes and the Rangers taking 6 penalty minutes. New York, despite trailing by one after the first period, outshot the Lightening eleven to nine.
The second period brought some discipline issues for Tampa just like in the first period; it started in the first minute with Braydon Coburn taking a roughing penalty. The Lightning managed to kill off the penalty and the game seemed to calm down as both teams finally played some 5 on 5 hockey.
Just 8 minutes into the second, fans back in Tampa, Floridawere throwing their hats at their TV’s as Johnson scored his 3rd goal of the game, assisted by Ondrej Palat and Kuckerov. This gave Johnson a goal even strength, shorthanded and on the power play and was his 11th of the playoffs.
About halfway through the period a freak injury to linesman, Brad Kovachick, occurred on a hit from Stamkos delivered to Kevin Klein, catching Kovachick by accident. It appeared as though Kovachick’s injury was to his knee.
Greg Devorski replaced Kovachick on the ice, and the Rangers resumed firing away on Ben Bishop. The Rangers began throwing the kitchen sink at the net and drew a questionable penalty on Cedric Paquette. New York converted with the man advantage as Bishop made two huge saves on Derek Stepan, but couldn’t make the third as Stepan bounced it off Tampa defenseman, Braydon Coburn, on another power play goal for the Rangers.
Stepan has recorded a goal in the last three games. The final two minutes of the period saw end-to-end hockey with chances for both teams. After two periods of play the Rangers still outshot Tampa twenty-two to fifteen.
The third period saw the opposite of the second period with the Rangers being the undisciplined team. Stepan took another tripping penalty in the first minute of the period. Even though the Rangers killed it off, the Lightning kept the puck in the zone as Killorn netted his first of the night, making it 4-2.
A few moments later Brassard took his second penalty of the game and got 2 minutes for high sticking. Tampa capitalized on the ensuing power play with Steven Stamkos deflecting a shot in front of the net by Lundqvist. At this point it became frustrating for the Rangers as Lundqvist allowed two goals on three shots. Things started to become edgy as Tanner Glass took a 2-minute minor penalty for roughing and a 10 minute game misconduct for a scrum in Tampa’s end.
Killorn then capitalized on his second goal of the night in what was another power play goal for the Lightning. The Rangers continued to shoot on Bishop, but couldn’t find a hole. New York outshot Tampa for the entire game finishing with thirty-seven shots on goal compared to Tampa’s twenty six.
Game 2 saw an amazing performance by the league leader in playoff goals, Tyler Johnson. In Game 1 Johnson had 1 point with the assist on Ondrej Palat’s goal. In Game 2 he had a 3-point night by scoring his team’s first 3 goals of the game.
His actions woke his team up and the woke Tampa’s first line up as Alex Killorn had 2 goals and Steven Stamkos netted one on Monday night. Tampa’s stars decided to show up and let the Rangers what they are truly made of.
It was the opposite for the Rangers, despite Kreider and Stepan scoring goals, you have to wonder where are Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis in this series, let alone the playoffs as a whole. If it wasn’t for Kreider and Stepan how would the Rangers be in the playoffs? Both St. Louis and Nash had great chances in the game, but couldn’t seem to beat Ben Bishop.
The series is now tied at 1-1 and Game 3 will be in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday May 20th at 8 pm and will be televised on NBCSN.
By: Nick Lanciani
2015 Western Conference Finals
Game 1 Sunday, May 17 3 PM EST on NBC
ANA- Round 1- defeated WPG in 4 games. Round 2- defeated CGY in 5 games. First WCF appearance since 2007 (the same year they won the Cup).
CHI- Round 1- defeated NSH in 6 games. Round 2- defeated MIN in 4 games. Fourth WCF appearance in six years (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015).
Anaheim Ducks have home ice advantage.
Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford, two goalies that you probably wouldn’t expect to hear about in the same conversation, but they’ve made it anyway- all the way to the 2015 Western Conference Finals, in fact. It might not be as much to do with goaltending, as it has been to do with dominance all around for both the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks so far in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ducks have had plenty of offense from their star forwards Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, and others, and so have the Blackhawks in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa. Perry is the leading point scorer of the playoffs so far with 7-8-15 totals in 9 games played. Kane is second with 7-6-13 totals in 10 games.
Anaheim has the best power play completion percentage, 31.0%, while Chicago ranks 5th in the playoffs. Both teams have scored 3.20 goals per game or more (Anaheim again leads with a slight advantage, 3.89 goals per game, compared to Chicago’s 3.20 goals per game). Meanwhile, the Ducks also have an advantage in goals against per game, 2.00, compared to the Blackhawks 2.80, which ranks 11th out of the 16 teams in the playoffs.
Of the teams that have played at least 8 games in the playoffs, Anaheim has 5 skaters ranked in the top 10 in Corsi %, with Hampus Lindholm the highest ranking Duck in 2nd with a 58.84 Corsi%. The Ducks also have four players ranked between 11th and 20th in Corsi% with the same parameters as above. Chicago, on the other hand, has four players in the 11th through 20th range, leaving only Montreal’s Brandon Prust, and the New York Rangers, Dan Boyle, as the other representatives from other teams 11th-20th in Corsi%.
While Corsi is usually a good indicator of offensive production, in terms of shot attempts for, and defensive ability, in terms of lowering shot attempts against; Corsi has rendered all but useless thus far in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Seriously. The Calgary Flames made it as far as they did with the worse Corsi as a team (41.73 Corsi%) compared to the best in Corsi%, the St. Louis Blues (60.49)- and they lost in the First Round.
The bottom line- this series will be wide open and highly competitive. We’re in for some great hockey. Anaheim has a plethora of defensemen to enhance their stellar goaltending from Andersen and offensive ability from Perry, Kesler, and just about anyone else on any given night as they’ve shown since Game 1 against Winnipeg back in the first round.
Chicago has Kane, Toews, Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Crawford, and oh yeah- other clutch players- Johnny Oduya and well, practically everyone else on their roster. If needed, Scott Darling has proven that he can hold his own in times of trouble (or basically anytime Crawford gives up a lot of goals, high, glove side).
This series really won’t be about who is the better team, but rather, who has the puck luck at the right time. At the end of the day, whether it’s Anaheim or Chicago, either team has a much better chance of winning the Stanley Cup than the New York Rangers or the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If the Ducks are going to win this series, it’s going to be because everything kept clicking; Perry, Kesler, and Co. need to keep the ball rolling. If the Blackhawks are to win this series, it’ll be because Kane and Toews began putting on a show all on their own and controlled the Ducks.
By: Nick Lanciani
2015 Eastern Conference Finals
Game 1 Saturday, May 16 1 PM EST on NBC
NYR- Round 1- defeated PIT in 5 games. Round 2- defeated WSH in 7 games. 3rd ECF finals appearance in 4 years (2012, 2014, and 2015).
TB- Round 1- defeated DET in 7 games. Round 2- defeated MTL in 6 games. 3rd ECF finals appearance in franchise history (2004, 2011, and 2015)- first time since 2011.
New York Rangers have home ice advantage.
Henrik Lundqvist is still searching for his first Stanley Cup. Yes, that’s hard to believe for a goalie of his caliber, but it’s true. He’s run into other teams on great runs, most notably the team the New York Rangers just beat on Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals. Some hockey writers argue that Braden Holtby has shown that he can be considered an elite goaltender.
He needs another year of performing just like he did this year to cement his status as a potential elite goaltender (fear not, Washington fans- before you bust out the fisticuffs- I think he is capable of doing it, he just needs one more year of stellar play to be considered elite).
But anyway, back to Lundqvist. He’s backstopped the New York Rangers and kept them in many games throughout the first couple of rounds of the playoffs and it seems as though they are beginning to understand now that you need to score in order to win. And scoring more than one goal is a good thing. Lundqvist has a .944 SV% and a 1.60 GAA in 12 games played so far, whereas Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, Ben Bishop, has a .931 SV% and a 1.81 GAA in 13 GP.
Both goaltenders have been superb. Bishop’s current run reminds me of Tim Thomas’s 2011 Stanley Cup run with the Boston Bruins in that he has been a large factor in Tampa’s game. The Lightning have had sparks of brilliance when all four lines and all three defensive pairs are rolling right along and things are absolutely fantastic to watch. The Triplet Line aside, the Lightning still have an incredible roster of youth, sprinkled in with some veteran talent and experience.
Also of note in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, there are numerous former Lightning players, now Rangers, and former Rangers, now Lightning, going head to head in this series. If that’s not enough alone to hype up, not only who won the trade (remember the Martin St. Louis fiasco?), but the sheer fact that those players were smart enough and lucky enough to leave one good team for another.
Despite the hype of the pure talent in the West, there is pure grit and heart in the East with amazing storylines of how careers came to be, were shaped, and how they currently are. St. Louis, Dan Boyle, and Dominic Moore all once spent time in Tampa. Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, and Anton Stralman have all spent time with the Rangers (please tell me you recall the St. Louis for Callahan trade now).
The Rangers are the current President’s Trophy champions are should show why they are, however have struggled to get the offensive power on full blast from a night to night basis. Their defense is solid and obviously their goaltending is the cream of the crop. Tampa, on the other hand, has leading goal scorer in the playoffs, Tyler Johnson, alongside the gifted goal scorer Steven Stamkos, and the rest of their powerful roster that can also score on any given night.
Tampa’s defense is similar to the Rangers, however Bishop certainly is no Lundqvist when it comes to the strength of their net. Should Bishop need to be pulled, Andrei Vasilevsky- A 20 YEAR OLD BACKUP GOALIE- certainly can play well, but is no match for New York’s backup, Cam Talbot (should Lundqvist have a rare off night when things count the most).
Forget Corsi in this series. Only three players (two from Tampa, one from New York) rank in the top 20 in the playoffs with at least 8 games played. But do remember goaltending, as New York ranks first in fewest goals against per game with 1.67 (Tampa ranks 5th with 2.15). Again, both goalies have left everyone in awe of their athleticism, but how will they respond facing even quicker teams than the ones they faced in the last round?
The Lightning have scored 2.62 goals for per game so far, meanwhile the Rangers only score about 2.00 goals for per game (15th out of the 16 teams in the playoffs, although technically they are tied for 13th, if that makes you feel better). Both penalty kills are evenly matched (NYR ranks 4th, TB ranks 6th) and as a matter of fact, so are their power play units (TB ranks 9th, NYR rank 11th).
No matter what, if the Rangers are going to win, they’re going to need their best players to start stepping up and holding their weight- Rick Nash. If the Lightning are going to win, they’re going to need to keep their momentum going and not get discouraged if Lundqvist robs them of a great scoring chance every now and then.
Recapping all of the signings from the entire day. Updated as necessary when newer deals are signed. Everything that is known is shown.
Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal worth $4 million with PIT.
Manny Malhotra signed a 1 year deal worth $850,000 with MTL.
Jori Lehtera signed a 2 year deal with STL.
Mark Fayne signed a 4 year deal worth $3.625 million a year with EDM.
Benoit Pouliot signed a 5 year deal worth $4 million a year with EDM.
Chad Johnson signed a 2 year deal worth $1.3 million a year with the NYI.
Milan Michalek signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with OTT. (Resigned)
Petr Mrazek signed a 1 year deal with DET. (Resigned)
Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal worth $7 million a year with STL.
Mike Camalleri signed a 5 year a deal worth $5 million a year with NJ.
Justin Peters signed a 2 year deal with WSH.
Tom Gilbert signed a 2 year deal worth $2.8 million a year with MTL.
Brad Malone signed a 2 year deal with CAR.
Jussi Jokinen signed a 4 year deal worth $4 million a year with FLA.
Mason Raymond signed a 3 year deal worth $3.167 million a year with CGY.
Dan Boyle signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 a year with NYR.
Jiri Sekac signed a 2 year deal worth with MTL.
Dave Bolland signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with FLA.
Clayton Stoner signed a 4 year deal worth $3.25 million a year with ANA.
Mike Weaver signed a 1 year deal worth $1.75 million with MTL. (Resigned)
Joe Vitale signed a 3 year deal worth $1.117 million a year with ARI.
Ryan Miller signed a 3 year deal worth $6 million a year with VAN.
Al Montoya signed a 2 year deal worth $1.050 million a year with FLA.
Anders Lindback signed a 1 year deal with DAL.
Ales Hemsky signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with DAL.
Blake Comeau signed a 1 year deal worth $700K with PIT.
Thomas Greiss signed a 1 year deal worth $1 million with PIT.
Jeremy Gregoire signed a 3 year deal with MTL.
Brian Gionta signed a 3 year deal worth $4.25 million a year with BUF.
Brooks Orpik signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with WSH.
Keith Aulie signed a 1 year deal worth $800,000 with EDM.
Mathieu Perreault signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with WPG.
Shawn Thornton signed a 2 year deal worth $1.2 million a year with FLA.
Jonas Hiller signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 million a year with CGY.
Adam Larsson signed a 1 year deal with NJ (Resigned).
Thomas Vanek signed a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million a year with MIN.
Stephane Robidas signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with TOR.
Dominic Moore signed a 2 year deal worth $1.5 million a year with NYR. (Resigned)
Tanner Glass signed a 3 year deal worth $1.45 million a year with NYR.
Mike Kostka signed a deal with NYR.
Bruno Gervais signed a 1 year deal with COL.
Nick Holden signed a 3 year deal worth $1.65 million a year with COL. (Resigned)
Derek Mackenzie signed a deal with FLA.
Brett Sutter signed a two way deal with MIN.
Matt Moulson signed a 5 year deal worth $5 million a year with BUF.
Martin Havlat signed a 1 year deal worth $1.5 million with NJ.
Phil McRae signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.
Brett Regner signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.
Cody McCormick signed a 3 year deal worth $4.5 million with BUF. (Resigned)
Nick Drazenovic signed a 2 year deal worth $550K with PIT. (Resigned)
Marcus Foligno signed a 2 year deal with BUF. (Resigned)
Jarome Iginla signed a 3 year deal worth $5.333 million a year with COL.
Leo Komarov signed a 4 year, $2.95 million contract with TOR.
Jiri Tlusty signed a 1 year, $2.95 million deal with CAR. (Resigned)
Peter Regin signed a 1 year $650K deal with CHI.
Anton Stralman signed a 5 year deal worth $4.5 million per year with TB.
Steve Bernier signed a 1 year, $600K deal with NJ. (Resigned)
Mike Angelids signed a 1 year, two way, contract with TB. (Resigned)
Chris Mueller signed a deal with the NYR.
Deryk Engelland signed a 3 year deal, worth $2.9 million a year with CGY.
Cody Bass signed a 1 year contract with CHI.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie signed a 1 year deal with CHI.
Scott Darling signed a 1 year with CHI.
Steven Kampfer signed a two-way contract with the NYR.
Kevin Porter signed a two-way contract with DET.
Jesse Winchester signed a 2 year deal with COL.
Scott Clemmensen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal with NJ.
Mike Blunden signed a two-way deal, worth $600K, with TB.
Andrej Meszaros signed a 1 year, $4.125 million, contract with BUF.
Ray Emery signed a 1 year, $1 million, contract with PHI. (Resigned)
Ron Zepp signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with PHI.
Matt Hunwick signed a 1 year deal, worth $600K, with the NYR.
Devan Dubnyk signed a 1 year deal, worth $800K, with ARI.
Luke Gazdic signed a 2 year deal with EDM. (Resigned)
Adam Cracknell signed a 1 year contract with LA.
David Van Der Gulik signed a 1 year contract with LA.
Brad Richards signed a 1 year, $2 million, deal with CHI.
Cedrick Desjardins signed a contract with the NYR.
Matt Niskanen signed a 7 year contract worth $40.25 million ($5.75 million a year) with WSH.
Willie Mitchell signed a 2 year deal, worth $4.25 million a year, with FLA.
Patrick Eaves signed a 1 year deal with DAL.
Joey MacDonald signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with MTL.
Brian Boyle signed a 3 year contract, worth $2 million a year, with TB.
Jon Landry signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.
Mike Moore signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.
Chris Breen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal (worth $600K NHL/$175K AHL) with BOS.
Stu Bickel has signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with MIN.
Marcel Goc signed a 1 year, $1.2 million, deal with PIT. (Resigned)
Matt Frattin signed a 2 year deal with TOR. (Resigned)
Evgeny Nabokov signed a 1 year deal with TB.
Taylor Chorney signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with PIT.
Drew MacIntyre signed a 1 year, two-way, (worth $600K if in the NHL) contract with CAR.
Harry Zolnierczyk signed a 1 year, two-way, $600K deal with the NYI.
Guillaume Gelinas signed an entry level contract with MIN.
Cory Conacher signed a 1 year contract with the NYI.
Jason LaBarbera signed a 1 year contract with ANA.
Zach Redmond signed a 2 year deal with COL.
Ben Street signed a 2 year deal with COL.
Kyle Quincey signed a 2 year, $4.25 per year, deal with DET. (Resigned)
Jack Skille signed a two-way deal with the NYI.
Chris Conner signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.
For a complete and official list of Free Agent signings, check out this.
Be on the lookout for updates on our Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) and our analysis right here on Down the Frozen River!
Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal, worth $4 million, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and kicked things off for free agency this year. This is a great deal for both sides as Ehrhoff won’t be tied down to PIT, should things not improve, and PIT won’t be tied down to Ehrhoff in this, the salary cap world.
Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal, worth $28 million ($7 million cap hit), with the St. Louis Blues. Stastny returns home to STL and becomes the third Stastny to play with STL (his brother Yan and his father Peter both played for St. Louis at one point in time). This is a lucrative deal for Stastny, who gets what he wants and the terms he wants it on, and for St. Louis, which adds strength down the middle in a solid veteran.
Dan Boyle signed a 2 year, $4.5 million per year, contract with the New York Rangers. Strength on the blue line continues for the blue shirts, however, with Rick Nash still on the team as a forward, this proves their offensive strength stills needs to be worked on.
Ryan Miller signed a 3 year, $6 million per, contract with the Vancouver Canucks today and led the charge for free agent goalies, both in the sense that he was the best available and in the fact that several goalies then followed and signed with many teams immediately after Miller’s announcement. The irony in Miller going to Vancouver, of course, is that 2010 wasn’t very kind to him in the Olympics that were held there. The fact that it is a short term deal does not surprise me, but rather makes a good point of if things don’t work out, VAN doesn’t have to hold on as long as they did with Roberto Luongo.
Brooks Orpik crossed enemy lines and went to the Pittsburgh Penguins rival, the Washington Capitals on a 5 year contract, worth $5.5 million a year. Just think, Brooks Orpik and Mike Green, well that’s just like Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang. Defensive defenseman with an offensive defenseman.
Thomas Vanek signed a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million, per year, with Minnesota and reunites with Jason Pominville (like what everyone expected in the past). Look for many more wrist shots coming from Minnesota now.
Jarome Iginla went to Colorado on a 3 year, $16 million, deal and left better chances of winning the Cup with Boston for the Av’s who appear to be at least two to three years out of being a serious Cup contender- ironically the length of his contract. Or basically, Iginla said to the Bruins, “I like you, but I don’t like you, like you (again).”
Everyone has been waiting on what Matt Niskanen would do all afternoon, so it came as no surprise when a deal was announced. Niskanen and the Washington Capitals came to an agreement on a seven year contract worth $40.25 million and the Capitals bolstered their blue line. It is tough to choose from which is the bigger signing for the Capitals between Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, regardless, they should have no trouble at all getting used to one another in Washington and facing their rival, and former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins next season. If you asked me, though, and I were starting a team and could only pick one of them, I’d take Orpik.
Other big signings will appear shortly. Check out the newest post for a recap of all the deals.