Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 27 mins ago
It's one game, with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line. Will it be the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Tampa Bay Lightning moving on to face the San Jose Sharks?
Join you're friends at Yahoo Sports for a live chat during Game 7, including tweets from experts and images from around hockey fandom.
Join us for all the shock, awe, laughs and Hamburger Women!
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 hr ago
PITTSBURGH – Jon Cooper sat down for his customary pregame press conference 90 minutes before the puck drops on Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Before we get going, don’t ask about the lineup. At all. Because I don’t know,” said the Tampa Bay Lightning coach. “OK, we’ve set that straight: Questions about Game 7?”
Sure. What’s Steven Stamkos’s status for Game 7?
“Questions about Game 7. Let’s go,” said Cooper.
Stamkos said after an optional skate on Thursday morning that his status hadn’t changed. The star forward hasn’t played since March 31, out after surgery to correct a blood clot. He’s skated regularly throughout the postseason. He's waited for medical clearance and his coach’s decision to insert him back in the lineup.
Given the chance to rule out Stamkos for Game 7, Cooper punted. But then he’s known to have a go with the media now and again, treating reporters like a cat treats a ball of yarn.
The game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET, but games have already been played.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 2 hrs ago
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins battle in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday night, playing for the right to challenge the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup.
Who takes it? Whose hockey reigns supreme?
Here are seven keys to Game 7. Please join your friends at Puck Daddy for a full night of Game 7 coverage.
1. Scoring First
Look, we’d like to treat hockey like its an intricate game full of nuance whose basic stats are just one strand in the fabric of analytical facts that determine success or failure on any given night …
… but sometimes we just have to report that the Lightning are 8-1 when scoring the first goal and the Penguins are 8-2. So there.
2. Skate, Penguins, Skate
The Penguins won Game 6 because they skated the Lightning out of the building in the first 40 minutes. “We did a good job of putting pucks in areas where we could use our speed. Guys grabbed it, took off and used our feet,” said forward Matt Cullen. “We take away time and space and make it hard on other teams.”
3. Stop Giving Pittsburgh Gifts
The last time the Lightning were in Pittsburgh, they had one recorded giveaway. One. In 60 minutes and 53 seconds of hockey.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 3 hrs ago
PITTSBURGH – Bryan Rust wouldn’t necessarily call it a pregame nap. Not when he expected to spend the majority of it staring at the ceiling of his room, nervous anticipation for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final consuming him.
This is the first Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7 for several Penguins players; some of whom are youngsters experiencing their first prolonged playoff run and some of whom are veterans that, for various reasons, haven’t seen much playoff action. Other Penguins have plenty of Game 7 experience.
Rust said he knew this team would be a Stanley Cup contender for that reason. “I thought after about six weeks of being here that this was a close group of guys, a good balance of older and younger. As soon as we all realized that, we knew we could do something special,” said Rust, who scored a breakaway goal in their Game 6 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to avoid elimination.
Like Rust, rookie Conor Sheary started in the AHL this season with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Like Rust, his speed has allowed the Penguins to press the tempo and skate teams out of the building, as they did for 40 minutes of Game 6.
Now, he’ll skate in his first Game 7.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 5 hrs ago
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Wednesday that there would not be a Game 7 viewing party for fans outside of Amalie Arena, where hundreds of fans gather in "Thunder Alley" to watch games on a big screen, in a festive atmosphere.
Here was the announcement:
From the sound of things, those merchants that bring their food trucks and other wares to the Thunder Alley viewing party weren’t expecting that:
But if you’re an NHL fan in the U.S., you’re probably not surprised. Ever since the League signed on with NBC, the issue over large fan viewing parties has come up nearly every postseason.
The first big blowup was in Pittsburgh during their 2009 Stanley Cup run, when large viewing parties outside of the Igloo were sometimes cancelled because "NBC Sports does not allow teams to show their broadcasts on arena screens."
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 7 hrs ago
PITTSBURGH – Steven Stamkos said there’s no change in his status, which would mean the Tampa Bay Lightning star will likely miss Thursday night’s Eastern Conference Final Game 7 as he continues to work back from surgery to correct a blood clot issue. He hasn’t seen game action since March 31.
The difference between this game and all the others that Stamkos has missed is that the Lightning, with a loss, will have played their final game of the season.
Which means Stamkos, an unrestricted free agent with a swirl of uncertainty around him, may be watching his final game as a member of the Lightning as a spectator.
“I’m not thinking about that,” he said on Thursday.
Of course, there’s another way to look at Game 7: If the Lightning defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, they play on to the Stanley Cup Final. Which means another series in which Stamkos could potentially return to the lineup.
He said his status isn’t nearly as important as the task at hand for his team.
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Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 11 hrs ago
Daylen Hopkins is a hockey fan on Twitter, and a bold one at that.
Back in February, Hopkins couldn’t believe that the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings were mortal. So he made a bold prediction for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tweeting the following:
I'll get Gary Bettman's face tattooed on my ass if Chicago and LA both get bounced in the first round
That’s a whole lotta hubris right there.
Then, a funny thing happened: The Blackhawks and the Kings both lost in the opening round, to the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, respectively.
Even funnier: “SlayIen” is a man of his word.
From the official Kickstarter page:
Back in late February, I made a regrettable tweet which said "I'll get Gary Bettman's face tattooed on my ass if Chicago and LA both get bounced in the first round." I am a man of my word so, I'm raising this money partly for the tattoo but mostly for KidSportBC which helps underprivileged youth play sports.
Let it never be said that Daylen doesn’t follow through on a wager.
On Wednesday night, Gary Bettman’s face was tattooed on his backside:
No, your eyes don’t deceive you:
TAMPA, Fla. – Sidney Crosby and Matt Murray sat together in front of microphones after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Game 6 victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning. One is The Kid, despite being 28 years old, hat turned forward. The other is the kid, turning 22 on Wednesday, hat turned backward.
Both answered their doubters and critics in their own way, willing the Eastern Conference Final to a Game 7 on Thursday night with a 5-2 win.
But Crosby came through.
“He's exceptional,” said forward Matt Cullen, “and that was an unbelievable goal.”
This will be Crosby’s first Game 7 since 2014, a 2-1 semifinal loss to the New York Rangers in which he didn’t tally a point – a loss that cost the jobs of both coach Dan Bylsma and GM Ray Shero.
"I think that you go through different experiences, and you realize how hard it is to get these kind of opportunities,” said Crosby. “As a group, we've been through a lot and want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Did the game on the bench help clear his head after getting yanked in Game 4?
TAMPA, Fla. – It happened again.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, with a chance to close out their opponent in the Eastern Conference Final, lose Game 6 on home ice. All the Lightning talked about leading up to Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins were the lessons they learned from last season’s blowout loss to the New York Rangers in the same scenario.
About not squandering opportunities like this. About outplaying a foe that they knew would enter their building skating for their playoff lives.
And yet it happened again.
“It’s disappointing. Nothing we can do about it now,” said forward Brian Boyle, who scored twice in the third period of their 5-2 loss to the Penguins.
The Lightning were sloppy with the puck, turning it over 17 times. Consider that they had one giveaway in the entirety of their Game 5 win.
“We weren’t getting out of the zone. They outworked us at times during the first 40, and we can’t let that happen.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said it started with a phone call from video coach Andy Saucier.
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TAMPA, Fla. – For the second straight season, the Tampa Bay Lightning failed to close out an opponent in an Eastern Conference Final Game 6 at home.
The good news is that they went on to defeat the New York Rangers in Game 7 last year, earning a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The bad news is that the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t the New York Rangers.
The Penguins forced a Game 7 on Tuesday night with a 5-2 win over the Lightning. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist after going scoreless in his previous two games. Rookie goalie Matt Murray – pulled in Tampa two periods into Game 4, and benched in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 – made 28 saves.
It wasn't the blowout loss the Lightning suffered last season, thanks to an impressive third-period rally. But it was still a loss.
The first period saw the Lightning lose a goal to a coach’s challenge and give up a goal thanks to a delay of game call.
But in the third period, Brian Boyle happened.
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