Tag Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

October 9 – Day Three – “All my exes live in… Toronto?”

Last night’s Game of the Day between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Dallas Stars ended poorly for the road team, as the Stars won 3-0.  Dallas had the game won after only a minute of play when Antti Niemi and Ales Hemsky assisted Mattias Janmark to his first goal of the season.  Pittsburgh managed 37 shots on goal, but were unable to break Niemi, who earned his first shutout of the season.  Two of Dallas‘ goals were a result of the power play, which certainly won’t make Mike Johnston happy, especially when the Pens couldn’t convert on any of their three.

Today, the NHL has five games on the schedule, including Winnipeg at New Jersey (7 p.m. eastern), the New York Rangers at Columbus (7 p.m. eastern), Chicago at the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. eastern) and Arizona at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. eastern).

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Regardless of how those games may go, the one I’m most interested in tonight is at 7:30 eastern in Hockeytown, when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Detroit Red Wings.

There’s a ton of story lines that go with this game.  A few of the easy ones: It’s Detroit‘s first game of the season… it’s an Original Six matchup… it’s a divisional rivalry, the first of four games between the squads and the first of two in Motown this season… But we all know the most important factor about this game is that Mike Babcock, new head coach of the Leafs, will return to Joe Louis Arena to coach against the same team he led to the playoffs in all 10 of his seasons as head coach and won the Stanley Cup with in 2008, for the first time in the regular season.

Babcock’s career in Detroit is certainly not one worth laughing at.  In addition to leading the team to 10 playoff appearances in his 10 seasons (do the math, kids.  That’s good.) and winning Detroit‘s 11th cup, Babcock coached the team for a total of 909 games (786 regular season [third in team history], 123 playoff), winning 458 regular season games (leads team) and 67 playoff games (second in team history), and outright losing 223 regular season games (third most in team history) and 56 playoff games (most in team history).  His .649 regular season winning percentage ranks fifth in team history, while his .545 postseason winning percentage is second best in team history.

Luckily for Babcock, this won’t technically be his first time coaching against the Wings, or even his first time coaching against them in Detroit, as Toronto and Detroit played a home-and-home series to end the preseason.  That being said, a crowd in the preseason is nowhere near the size, nor has the same amount of energy, as a regular season crowd.

I think it’s safe to expect a relatively positive response from Red Wings fans when Babcock’s name is announced before the game since the team and coach separated on mutual terms, but I expect a rowdy crowd for the full 60 minutes of action as fans try to propel their team past their ex-leader.

Detroit is heavily favored to win this one (not as much as Los Angeles over Arizona, though!), which means I’m immediately pulling for Toronto because I love to pull underdog… or plant-life, in this case.  That being said, I think the Wings will grab two points in this one.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #11- The 2015-2016 Regular Season is Underway!

The Down the Frozen River crew talks about the first few days of the 2015-2016 regular season. Also discussed, Milan Lucic and Dustin Brown’s actions, John Tortorella, Raffi Torres, fighting in hockey, Zack Kassian, and some of the matches from week one of the 2015-2016 regular season.

Surprisingly not mentioned this week- Zach Boychuk, Pete Blackburn, DJ Bean, and Brunch. Pardon our slight audio issue, we hope to have that fixed next time. As always, thanks for listening.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter- your thoughts might make it on our show (and we really mean it this time, because we’re going to have a new segment for your thoughts next time)! <– We said that last statement last week but this time we really, really, mean it. Please interact with us.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #9- 2015-2016 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

The Down the Frozen River crew analyzes the offseason moves made by all of the teams in the Atlantic Division and provides their outlook for the 2015-2016 season. Cortana makes a special guest appearance (kind of) in this week’s episode. We’ve got some spaces available in our Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey league. If you’re interested, send us an email to downthefrozenriver@gmail.com, within the next day or two. We’ll be able to squeeze you in.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter- your thoughts might make it on our show!

Monday Roundup- 2015 Offseason Thoughts

By: Nick Lanciani

It’s been a busy offseason around the NHL- and by that I mean it’s been a rather unusual offseason around the NHL.

The Ryan O’Reilly saga finally ended in Colorado and began in Buffalo, but took a side trip into the side of a Tim Horton’s somewhere in Ontario. While the Sabres could use his offense, they could do without his legal offenses (moral of the story, everyone, don’t drink and drive- have a designated driver, be responsible- use common sense).

Mikhail Grigorenko’s been reunited with Patrick Roy in Colorado, although sadly the rest of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Quebec Remparts will not be joining the party in Denver.

T.J. Oshie, Brandon Saad, Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Patrick Sharp, Cam Talbot, Phil Kessel, and others have all been on the move as the result of blockbuster trades.

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Boston Bruins general manager, Don Sweeney (pictured), has been wheeling and dealing this offseason- in stark contrast of his predecessor, Peter Chiarelli (bruins.nhl.com).

Don Sweeney’s been on a rampage (more on that later), Peter Chiarelli’s turned around the Edmonton Oilers in one offseason (at least on paper), and the Toronto Maple Leafs front office might be the smartest guys in the game for the first time in a longtime. Wait, what did I just say?

That’s right, on Thursday, 72-year-old hockey front office legend, Lou Lamoriello, resigned as president of the New Jersey Devils only to join the Toronto Maple Leafs (announced on Twitter a mere two minutes apart) as their 16th general manager in franchise history.

Fun fact: Back in 1987, Lamoriello drafted now fellow colleague, Brendan Shanahan, 2nd overall in his first season as the president and general manager of the Devils.

Now, Lamoriello joins Shanahan in Toronto’s front office. Things certainly are weird right now in New Jersey, in the meantime, by the way- where Ray Shero is currently their GM and Marty Brodeur is, well, among the front office of the St. Louis Blues. Yep, it’s safe to say nobody would have predicted that both Brodeur and Lamoriello would move on from the Devils.

In 2009, Lamoriello praised Shanahan after Shanahan attempted one final go in the NHL, with the Devils, only to decide he would not continue his career and thus stepped aside from playing, retiring before the 2009-2010 season. Lamoriello expressed so much praise, in fact, that he blatantly stated that should Shanahan want a job in the Devils front office, Lamoriello would go out of his way to make it happen.

But here we are in 2015, where Shanahan recently transitioned to the helm of the Maple Leafs front office and instead of going to his former boss for a position, he brought in his former boss.

Brendan Shanahan (left) introduces Lou Lamoniello (right) as the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press via AP)
Brendan Shanahan (left) introduces Lou Lamoniello (right) as the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press via AP)

Lamoriello spent 28 years with the New Jersey Devils organization, but now he’s about to embark on his first season with a different organization- just his second as a general manager- the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs, if you recall, hired Mike Babcock this offseason as their latest head coach, by the way. Babcock too, left an organization he spent a lot of time with for the Maple Leafs this summer. Babcock spent the last 10 years with the Detroit Red Wings before joining Toronto.

Both Lamoriello and Babcock have something in common, they both left teams that used red as a primary color for a team that wears a blue maple leaf proudly displayed prominently on their jersey (it’s a bit slow right now in the offseason, cut me some slack).

In other news, the National Hockey League began the formal expansion process this summer, having accepted expansion applications up until Monday.

Two cities formally submitted a bid before the deadline- Las Vegas, Nevada and Quebec City, Quebec.

Las Vegas billionaire, Bill Foley, continues to headman the construction of an arena in Las Vegas as well as a drive for season tickets while aiming to land an expansion team. Meanwhile, Montreal-based media conglomerate, Quebecor, aims to bring the NHL back to Quebec City.

One of Canada’s hockey gods, Don Cherry, has already provided his blessing for a return to Quebec City.

This is the first time the league has formally gone through the expansion process since the late 1990s when the league quickly grew in size adding the Nashville Predators, the Atlanta Thrashers, the Minnesota Wild, and the Columbus Blue Jackets between 1998 and 2000 to become the 30 team league that we all know and love today (with the minor relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg having occurred prior to the 2011-2012 season, of course).

Since the Thrashers relocation to Winnipeg, the NHL has continued to take a firm stance against having to move another team for a while. Prior to the formal announcement of the expansion process being officially explored, the Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale, Arizona were at odds with one another.

Despite IceArizona’s firm commitment to the State of Arizona, many thought the Coyotes would be on their way out of Glendale this offseason. Given how a short move back to Phoenix in such a short period of time would not be feasible, speculation led to the Coyotes packing their bags and moving to an NHL ready arena.

Downtown Phoenix does not have an appropriate sporting arena for hockey currently, thereby handing the Coyotes a double whammy when their Gila River Arena lease agreement with Glendale was pulled out from under them by the city.

After threatening substantial legal action, IceArizona and the City of Glendale came to terms on amending their agreement- eliminating an outclause from its initial version and adjusting some revenue sharing between the hockey club and the city (the team will now get a larger share, with the city footing less of the bill).

Again, the Coyotes are staying put. No escape route to Seattle, no move from one desert to another desert (Las Vegas), and no move to Quebec City that would further imbalance the conferences in the league.

But then again, the amended lease agreement is only for two years, so the Coyotes aren’t fully out of the woods yet.

There remains so much yet to be seen concerning the Arizona Coyotes and their strained relations with the City of Glendale. While a short-term deal is necessary for their immediate survival in the market, their ultimate situation is not comforting. Things still could get quite ugly in a couple of years, yet the two sides have something to work with right now and can always chip away at improving viability of the franchise in Glendale.

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The Arizona Coyotes will be debuting new jerseys this season, but their future in Arizona, despite glimmers of hope, is still uncertain in the long run (coyotes.nhl.com).

If not, perhaps the next two years is all the time the Coyotes need to convince Phoenix, Arizona and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns to construct a new- joint- arena that would be suitable for hockey in the desert and a return to downtown Phoenix for the Coyotes franchise. Otherwise, it could be enough for Seattle to scrap together some plans for a NHL-ready arena and sway the Coyotes into relocation.

Or there’s always Quebec City or Las Vegas, that, should either location not see the expansion process include them in the more immediate future of the league, could always have a stronger say in relocation. Both cities have strong interest from potential ownership groups and physical arena’s that are state of the art and nearing completion.

Speaking of Quebec City and Las Vegas, now is the perfect time to reach into these markets. A return of the Nordiques to the hockey crazed Ville de Québec would be a golden opportunity for the league to return the game to where it belongs and can further drive marketability.

For those that are opposed to adding another team in the Eastern Conference, kindly show yourself to the door. Realignment is never a fun topic, but I think we can all agree that sending the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets back to the Western Conference would be a good thing. As fans, we’d see a return of more Detroit and Chicago matchups, providing more fuel to the fire- built into the regular season schedule- when it comes to that longstanding rivalry.

And with the addition of a team in Las Vegas, well, it’s the same old, same old. It’s a never before seen market in all of professional sports and it would balance the conferences under the aforementioned scenario.

REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

So at the end of the day, why disappoint the good people of Quebec City once again, NHL?

Then again, balanced conferences are overrated, aren’t they?

Come to think of it, the European model for professional sports isn’t too bad when it comes to league structure. Yet, the North American model of conferences, divisions, and such makes for a much more exciting game. We’ll never see the NHL switch to a relegation model based upon Premier League association football, but maybe we’ll see the NHL become more at ease with unbalanced conferences.

Hey if the game works in a market, why ruin it by taking it away from that market just to satisfy conference structure? If the owners are going to squabble over that then they really aren’t looking out for the best interest of the league are they? Management’s number one goal is to profit from growing the game.

Without an interest, there aren’t any fans. Without any fans, there aren’t any marketing opportunities from potential sponsors looking to reach fans. Without any cash flow, there is no game. If there’s an economically viable market or situation, go for it.

UnknownLast, but not least, the Boston Bruins have been a busy team this offseason. One can only think that the B’s will make another move or two before training camp in September. Don Sweeney and the Big Bad Bruins front office are in on trying to sign defensemen, Cody Franson, or Christian Ehrhoff.

The Boston fanbase continues to grumble and gripe about the presence of Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg on the Bruins roster. One of the two could be moved before the puck drops in October.

And while we’re still at it, the Bruins still need a backup goaltender. While Peter Budaj or Jonas Gustavsson may not be the first names that come to mind when it comes to free agent backup goalies that are still available and could be dispensable for the Bruins, well, one of them might be all that the Bruins need.

Of course, Ray Emery and Ron Zepp are always still out there, granted Emery is a proven goaltender in the league (well mostly- he could be a backup for Tuukka Rask, but he’s past his number of chances of ever being a number one goalie in the NHL) and Zepp parallels Tim Thomas thus far in his career (minus the two Vezina Trophies, a Conn Smythe, and a Stanley Cup championship).

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Beleskey (airborne) has found a new landing spot with the Boston Bruins this offseason. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

I’ll go more into detail about the Boston Bruins offseason conundrum in another post prior to the season. Quite frankly, I’m still trying to piece together what their plan might be. For now it looks as though Patrice Bergeron could be set with (a recently spotted dancing in Montreal) Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, with Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-Jimmy Hayes, Loui Eriksson-Ryan Spooner-Brett Connolly, Zac Rinaldo-Chris Kelly-Max Talbot filling out the forward lines.

Their blue line still needs work, but can be corrected within a few seasons. What’s more important right now is that the Bruins sign a top four defenseman and obtain a backup goaltender (or at least, implement a plan for a successful backup goaltender). While not necessarily a problem with an elite starting goaltender of Rask’s quality, the revolving door of backup goalies the Bruins have had the last few seasons is something they must work on for the remainder of Rask’s dominance in net.

Anyway, this ends my stream of consciousness. I’ll go back to waiting for Cody Franson to make up his mind and sign somewhere now.

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 First Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (a Recap)

By: Nick Lanciani

2015 NHL Entry Draft

  1. Edmonton Oilers C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)
  2. Buffalo Sabres C Jack Eichel, Boston University (Hockey East)
  3. Arizona Coyotes C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)
  4. Toronto Maple Leafs C Mitch Marner, London (OHL)
  5. Carolina Hurricanes D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (Hockey East)
  6. New Jersey Devils C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)
  8. Columbus Blue Jackets D Zach Werenski, Michigan University (BIG10)
  9. San Jose Sharks RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)
  10. Colorado Avalanche RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)
  11. Florida Panthers LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)
  12. Dallas Stars RW Denis Guryanov, Ladia Togliatti (MHL)
  13. Boston Bruins (from LA) D Jakub Zboril, Saint John (QMJHL)
  14. Boston Bruins LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (WHL)
  15. Boston Bruins (from CGY) RW Zach Senyshyn, Sault St. Marie (OHL)
  16. New York Islanders (from PIT via EDM) C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)
  17. Winnipeg Jets LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)
  18. Ottawa Senators D Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL)
  19. Detroit Red Wings LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
  20. Minnesota Wild C Joel Eriksson Ek, Farjestad (SWE)
  21. Ottawa Senators (from NYI via BUF) C Colin White, USA U18 (USHL) 
  22. Washington Capitals G Ilya Samsonov, Magnitorgotrsk (MHL)
  23. Vancouver Canucks RW Brock Boeser, Waterloo (USHL)
  24. Philadelphia Flyers (from NSH via TOR) C/RW Travis Konecny, Ottawa (OHL)
  25. Winnipeg Jets (from STL via BUF) F Jack Roslovic, USA U18 (USHL)
  26. Montreal Canadiens D Noah Juulsen, Everett (WHL)
  27. Anaheim Ducks D Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)
  28. New York Islanders (from NYR via TB) LW Anthony Beauvillier, Sherwinigan (OHL)
  29. Columbus Blue Jackets (from TB via PHI and TOR) D Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping, Jr. (SWE-JR)
  30. Arizona Coyotes (from CHI) C/RW Nicholas Merkley, Kelowna (WHL)

Pre Draft Trades

  • The Buffalo Sabres acquired G Robin Lehner and F David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators for the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
  • The Boston Bruins traded D Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for the 15th, 45th, and 52nd overall picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
  • The Los Angeles Kings acquired F Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins for the 13th overall pick, G Martin Jones, and D Colin Miller. Boston retained $2.7 million of Lucic’s salary.

Trades Made During the Draft

  • The Buffalo Sabres acquired F Ryan O’Reilly and F Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche for F Mikhail Grigorenko, D Nikita Zadorov, and F J.T. Compher and the 31st overall pick.
  •  The Edmonton Oilers trade the 16th and 33rd overall picks to the New York Islanders for D Griffin Reinhart.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs sent the 24th overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the 29th and 61st overall picks.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning swapped the 28th overall pick with the New York Islanders for the 33rd and 72nd overall picks.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs sent the 29th overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 34th and 68th overall picks.
  • The Anaheim Ducks acquired the 41st overall pick and a 2016 draft pick from the New Jersey Devils for Kyle Palmieri.

2015 Mock NHL Entry Draft

By: Nick Lanciani


1. Edmonton Oilers
                                                  C Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL)200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg

Peter Chiarelli’s reign as GM of the Oilers begins with one of the most hyped turnarounds in hockey. Chiarelli’s leadership, combined with whatever decisions he makes in the offseason and drafting McDavid has talk of the Oilers making the playoffs, if not next season, then in the near future. A lot nearer than before. McDavid’s the best, period.

2. Buffalo Sabres                                                       C Jack Eichel, Boston University (H-East)Buffalo Sabres Logo

Eichel forgives Sabres GM, Tim Murray, on the stage with a professional handshake and is reunited (?- although they were never separated in the first place) with Evan Rodrigues. It’s possible that both make the roster on the same line.

3. Arizona Coyotes                                                    C Dylan Strome, Erie (OHL)Arizona_Coyotes.svg

Big, strong, great skating abilities- Strome is NHL ready as the plethora of talent youth in the desert continues to grow, that is unless they trade this pick. No matter the owner of the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Strome is a first choice franchise changer. While McDavid and Eichel overshadow him in the leadup to the Draft, Strome finds his niche and competes next season for the Calder.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs                                             D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (H-East)Unknown-3

Mike Babcock and Noah Hanifin make their Toronto debuts as legendary head coach, and potential NHL superstar defenseman, respectively in none other than the biggest market in the NHL. Hanifin is the best defenseman in the draft and Maple Leafs fans are going to love him (more than Dion Phaneuf!).

5. Carolina Hurricanes                                              C Mitchell Marner, London (OHL)Carolina Hurricanes Logo

This guy is a really skilled playmaker with 128 assists and 185 points in 127 career OHL games. He’s drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane and Jordan Eberle, with great vision and passing skills. Not a steal of the draft, but a great player to draft.

6. New Jersey Devils                                                 C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia (OHL)New Jersey Devils Logo

He effortlessly transitioned from the Czech Republic to North America. He’s 6’3”, 210 pounds, and can play a two way game. Think of him as this year’s bigger version of Boston’s David Pastrnak, if that suffices your hopes. Zacha could be the centerpiece to the Devils rebuild and Ray Shero’s master plan.

7. Philadelphia Flyers                                                 LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston (OHL)Philadelphia Flyers Logo

6’4”, 211 pounds, and a physical force on the ice, Crouse brings a much needed power forward caliber to the Flyers lineup and adds size to their roster. Actually, he fits the Philadelphia style perfectly, big and tough.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets                                         D Ivan Provorov, Brandon (WHL)Columbus Blue Jackets Logo

Extraordinary at the 2015 World Junior Championship for Finland- 6’4”, 209 lbs, effective on the power-play, and difficult to move off the puck. Has hockey sense and hands that supplement his shot. Next to Hanifin, he’s one of the best defensemen of the draft. Columbus fans should get used to seeing Jack Johnson pair up with Provorov in the future.

9. San Jose Sharks                                                     D Zachary Werenski, Michigan (BIG10)Unknown-3

The youngest player in NCAA history joins the youth movement in San Jose. He can block shots and adjust on the fly. He’s got some size to work with at 6’2”, 206 lbs. Werenski was named to the All-Big Ten Hockey First Team and the All-Big Ten Freshman Team this season.

10. Colorado Avalanche                                             RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS (FIN)Colorado Avalanche Logo

He’s a big power forward that will provide some oomph in the Avalanche’s otherwise soft lineup. Rantanen’s a decent skater for his age and should be a part of Colorado’s retooling, as they gear up to avoid another disappointing season like this past season. Signing Carl Soderberg and trading Ryan O’Reilly for valuable parts will help put them in position for being a playoff contending team in 2015-2016.

11. Florida Panthers                                                   C Mathew Barzal, Seattle (WHL)Unknown-2

Offensively minded, Barzal was injured for a lot of WHL action. The Panthers luck out on a player that just may be able to make those around him better. He’s a 5’11”, 175-pound right shot forward with vision, playmaking skills, and had 12-45-57 totals in 44 games. Barzal also scored 4 times in 6 WHL playoff games.

12. Dallas Stars                                                           RW Timo Meier, Halifax (QMJHL)Unknown-5

Scored 44 goals in 61 games for Halifax this season. He can also be a playmaker as he had 46 assists this year too. Oh and he’s 6’1”, 209 lbs. Meier is exactly the player you want to covet if you are the Stars looking for substantial youth to build around.

13. Los Angeles Kings                                                LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown (USHL)Unknown

6’1”, 177 pounds, led the USHL in scoring with 80 points. His 34 goals ranked fourth in the USHL, with 9 game-winning goals and 32 points on the power play. Connor’s got quickness and hands that can do things with the puck on his stick.

14. Boston Bruins                                                        C Travis Konecny, Ottawa (OHL)Unknown

His second half of the regular season in the OHL really displayed his skill level. With that said, his size isn’t much of an issue as his compete level and willingness is unmatched- and so is his work ethic. Had 29-39-68 totals in 60 games with the 67’s this season. Despite needing defense, the Bruins go with something else they need- offense.

15. Calgary Flames                                                      D Jakub Zboril, Saint John (QMJHL)Calgary Flames Logo

Zboril plays a willingly physical game despite only being 6’1”, 184 lbs. His shot from the point could come in handy on the power play. In general, he adds versatility to Calgary’s defense and the Flames walk away filling exactly what they need, some future youth on the blueline.

16. Edmonton Oilers (from PIT)                                    D Oliver Kylington, AIK (SWE-2)200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svg

Kylington is a two-way defenseman that with proper development can fully utilize his skill set. Edmonton adds valuable youth to their blue line as their forwards continue to gain experience and begin carrying more of their weight. Likewise, they need a replacement for the deadline deal that sent Jeff Petry to Montreal. Looks like Peter Chiarelli’s still looking for a defenseman after all.

17. Winnipeg Jets                                                         C/RW Nicholas Merkely, Kelowna (WHL)Unknown-3

Merkely’s a great playmaker that knows how to crash the net with precision and skill. He also has a great hockey IQ that makes up for some lacking physical qualities in his game. Strong on the power play and spectacular on the penalty kill, Merkely brings a tremendous compete level and had 20-70-90 totals in Kelowna.

18. Ottawa Senators                                                     C Colin White, USA U18 (USHL)Unknown-2

Can’t go wrong with one of the best skaters in the draft. The Senators pick a forward that can move with the puck and carry it defiantly out of his own zone with ease. It also helps that he’s physically difficult to knock off the puck. He’s been compared to Patrice Bergeron and might be this year’s steal of the draft. White pays excellent attention to detail and wearing the opponent down by out playing his opponent all over the ice.

19. Detroit Red Wings                                                   LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton (QMJHL)Unknown-1

He’s a big power forward that will bring some physicality to the Red Wings lineup. Svechnikov made a seemless transition to North American play, leading QMJHL rookie’s with 78 points in 55 games. This 6’2”, 199-pound left-winger is too tough to pass on and draws comparisons to another Evgeni- Malkin, that is.

20. Minnesota Wild                                                        D Brandon Carlo, Tri-City (WHL)Unknown-4

The 6’5”, 196 lb. defenseman brings size and athleticism as a shutdown defenseman. He’s definitely more defensive minded, but that fits with Minnesota given the mindset behind Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin, among others. Did I mention he’s huge? Again, shutdown. Adds enough of a physical element to go deeper in the playoffs.

21. Buffalo Sabres (from NYI)                                        G Mackenzie Blackwood, Barrie (OHL)Unknown-3

The Sabres are daring enough to take a chance at drafting a goalie in the 1st Round, given their numerous selections. While they skip over Ilya Samsonov, they go with the 6’4”, 215 lbs, Colts starter who had a 3.01 GAA in 51 games played with Barrie. The upside is that Blackwood’s a big goalie, fitting recent trends, the downside is that Buffalo still needs a goalie for the looming season.

22. Washington Capitals                                               LW Paul Bittner, Portland (WHL)Washington Capitals Logo

At 6’4”, 205 lbs. this LW adds some much needed size on a transitioning Capitals roster. He’s a power forward that’s willing to be the first to rush in on a dump and chase, which fits in well with Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Adding his size and aggression makes Washington a tougher team to play against.

23. Vancouver Canucks                                                D Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping Jr. (SWE-JR)Unknown-1

6’4”, 183-pounds, this left-shot defenseman is big and intelligent for his position. He’s a stay at home defenseman. Carlsson uses his size and strength as well as you need him to. He’s not an immediate replacement for Dan Hamhuis or Kevin Bieksa, but is ready to be the plan for the Canuck’s life after one or the other. Carlsson also has a reliable reach, given his height and nature of play.

24. Toronto Maple Leafs (from NSH)                             D Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL)Unknown-3

6’1”, 181 lbs. Smart transitional skating defenseman that can handle pressure in getting the puck out of his own zone- he’s a natural fit in Toronto’s energetic, young, roster. Mike Babcock will be able to manage his defensemen just fine with the Maple Leafs stockpiling on the blueline as a result of this draft.

25. Winnipeg Jets (from STL via BUF)                           C Joel Eriksson Ek, Farjestad (SWE)Unknown-3

Eriksson Ek is a 6’2”, 180 pound, left handed shot that is strong on faceoffs and plays a two way game. He brings size down the middle for the Jets, a much-needed commodity, and has great vision. Eriksson Ek was ranked 4th overall on the NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of European skaters.

26. Montreal Canadiens                                                D Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR)Unknown

6’2”, 191 lbs. Sweden knows how to make solid defensemen and Montreal begins to replenish their defensive prospects, given how their current blueline is aging. Larsson reads situations well and controls the puck excellently. While he transitions well, Larsson will need to put a bit more muscle on him before seeing full time NHL action.

27. Anaheim Ducks                                                        RW Brock Boeser, Waterloo (USHL)Unknown

Boeser is a two-way forward that was tied for first in the United States Hockey League with 35 goals and 32 points on the power play in 57 regular season games. The 6-foot, 191-pound, winger was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team and All-USHL First Team. Boeser will need to refine some elements of his game, but looks to continue to develop appropriately at the University of North Dakota this fall.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR)                            RW Daniel Sprong, Charlottetown (QMJHL)Unknown-1

Sprong is a nifty playmaker with good hands and great speed, but he’ll need to get stronger to make the transition to the NHL and add grit to his already impressive offensive game. His 270 shots on goal were the 10th most in the QMJHL, so he likes to shoot with impressive accuracy and a quick release.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (from TB)                                   LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (WHL)Philadelphia Flyers Logo

DeBrusk is always following the puck, whether it’s on the forecheck or forcing turnovers. He can be excellent on the power play, focused on moving the puck where it needs to go and scoring. DeBrusk had 120 points in 144 games over two seasons with Swift Current and his tenacity is astounding. He might also bring some physicality to Philly, at 6’4”, 174 pounds, which is much appreciated by their fans who cherish hard working, tough, players.

30. Arizona Coyotes (from CHI)                                     C Filip Chlapik, Charlottetown (QMJHL)Arizona_Coyotes.svg

Positioning is one of Chlapik’s best assets, whether it’s with or without the puck, he goes to the right places. Smooth skating, with vision, he’s pretty decent all around as a 6’1”, 196-pound center. He was tied for the lead among QMJHL rookies with 33 goals in 64 games played. His impressive 33-42-75 totals help supplement his case as a first rounder. Chlapik also won 48.8% of his faceoffs in a solid transition from the Czech Republic to the North American style of the game.

*Barring any trades, this is how I see it progressing, but I’d like to see a lot of trades just to destroy my mock draft picks, like how someone always destroys any bracket I’ve ever made for any sport.

Other Prospects To Watch For

RW Michael Spacek, Pardubice (CZREP)

C Nicolas Roy, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)NHL Logo

C Jansen Harkins, Prince George (WHL)

LW Jordan Greenway, USA U18 (USHL)

D, Jeremy Roy, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

G, Ilya Samsonov, Magnitorgorsk (MHL)

RW, Denis Gurianov (MHL)

The 1st Annual Down the Frozen River Awards

By: Nick Lanciani

I present these highly desirable (or not so desirable) awards to the following players, with the hopes that they’ll catch on and become an annual thing that we do. A note to all players (and readers), please don’t take these seriously. It’s meant to be a fun teaser for the NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

The “Hey That Guy’s Pretty Good” Award- Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

Turns out that guy was good for something after all.

Oduya Like Puns Award- Johnny Oduya, Chicago Blackhawks (duh)

Odidya like that one?

Why Can’t I Have Him on My Team Award- Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

I want him on my team, so I gave him an award as an incentive to be on my team. Shut up, obviously it’s going to work.

The Uncoachable Award- Matt Bartkowski, Boston Bruins

Uncoachable, undesirable, same thing. (This award would’ve been awarded to Dennis Wideman normally, but he lucked out this time).

The Torts Trophy- Mike Yeo, Minnesota Wild

Awarded to the coach with the most fantastic meltdown of the season. *Careful of the language.*

The Bobby Orr Trophy- Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Presented to the most offensive defenseman in the NHL, so basically, Erik Karlsson should be able to rightfully say he won an award as a top defenseman in the league for something.

Biggest Surprise- Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets

Presented to the player that surprised us the most in the regular season.

Bigger-est Surprise- Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

Presented to the player that surprised us the most in the playoffs.

Bear in a Forrest Award- Anton Khudobin, Carolina Hurricanes

Given to our favorite goaltender to make fun of.

Heroic Comeback- Rich Peverley, Dallas Stars (would win this if he ever plays again, or if he doesn’t he still wins for wanting to get right back in the game…)

Awarded to a player with the best comeback either from an injury, adversity, or other means, basically it’s our version of the Masterton without the NHL getting in the way of it. Basically we gave it to Peverley for his determination to return as an honorary measure, it will follow the rest of our awards format (things that actually happened during the season) next year.

Best Comeback- 2013 Boston Bruins (vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals)

Awarded to a team that defeated another team in thrilling fashion. This award is held by a team until another team impresses us even more. This is the only award that can be won multiple times, without having any relevance to the season that just ended.

The Patrik Stefan Award- Dennis Wideman, Calgary Flames

Given to the player that committed the most embarrassing play of the year.

Fan Vote Winner- (winner TBD, take the poll or else it will be TBD forever)

Basically this award is pointless- it gives recognition to a player we looked over, but felt the fans might have some sympathy for.

The Chicago Blackhawks are 2015 Stanley Cup Champions

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.