- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy1 hr 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.”Thu, May 268:00 PM EDTTampa Bay at PittsburghPreview Game
- Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
The final World Cup of Hockey roster will be announced for Canada on Friday evening, and they're going to pick seven multiple-time All-Stars and call it a day.
Look, there's no mystery here. Canada goes in, picks a handful of the 10 best centers and maybe a few wingers and Norris-caliber defensemen and says, “Okay we're done.”
You could ask a small child within limited understanding of the sport and have him do just as good as job as Doug Armstrong inevitably will. Picking a Hockey Canada team is not at all hard. And even if you that up, the 16 other multiple-time All-Stars you picked probably paper over your mistakes pretty convincingly. And even if they don't Mike Babcock with assistant coaches like Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, and Bill Peters will implement a tight enough system that even that probably doesn't matter.
- Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
The final World Cup of Hockey roster will be announced for the United States Friday evening, and honestly nothing would come as a surprise at this point.
The good news is Dean Lombardi, who seems to be a pretty shrewd observer of the game and does a good job identifying talent, is the team's general manager. We also know 16 of the 23 players already on the team, which makes it a little easier to guess at what Lombardi might be going for with his club.
Near as I can tell, there's no Great Panel Of American Hockey Minds to gather around and conspire against the relatively few actually super-talented players the country has produced. No one to reveal prophetic dreams presaging disaster if Phil Kessel were to make the team. That works in America's favor.
The bad news is John Tortorella is inexplicably still the coach of the team, and that makes it a lot tougher to: a) win, b) guess what kind of roster construction they're actually going to go for here, and c) play remotely entertaining hockey.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Last February after San Jose Barracuda coach Roy Sommer won his 637th AHL game to set a league record he went out with several San Jose Sharks staffers.
The conversation between Sommer, team broadcaster Eric Lindquist, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and others turned to tattoos and Sommer made some offhanded comment about getting one.
Wilson immediately handed $300 to Lindquist and told Sommer to get the body art.
“Every day since the playoffs have started I’ll run into Doug Wilson and he doesn’t ask me about anything else except, ‘Did you get that tattoo yet?’” Sommer joked.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy2 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.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy4 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."
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy5 hrs ago
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in team history with a 5-2 Game 6 Western Conference Final win over the St. Louis Blues.
With the exception of Game 4, the Sharks were the better team this series and deserved this victory. Throughout this postseason every element of San Jose’s game has clicked and the Western Conference Final was no different.
Their top line of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl was dynamic. Their power play was in top form. Marc-Edouard Vlasic shut down Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. And goaltender Martin Jones bounced back from bad goals throughout the series to backstop his team to this point.
All these factors helped the Sharks get over this hurdle organizational hurdle. San Jose had lost in their three prior trips to this point including twice in the Thornton, Patrick Marleau era.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy6 hrs ago
After 1,179 NHL games, Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips has announced his retirement.
Phillips, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft and longest-serving player in Senators history, has been hounded by back issues since Feb. 2015, when he last played an NHL game. After several attempted comebacks, including one this past training camp that ended when he suffered a cracked vertebrae during rehabilitation, the time to hang up his skates had arrived.
“I’d be lying if I haven’t thought about [retiring] for a while just given the past season and how it unfolded,” Phillips said during a Thursday news conference. “I remember we thought at the start of last year I was going to be ready to go at some point and just continually having setbacks and really just going through that basically back to normal life routine, not traveling, still going to the rinks in the morning, but being home and really kind of getting a taste of what life might look like post-hockey career.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy6 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.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy6 hrs ago
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• P.K. Subban shows up and that’s how you play, Toronto Raptors?
• From Max Talbot to Mike Rupp, Game 7 heroes aren’t always the superstars coming through. [Post-Gazette]
• Why did Mike Sullivan go to Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 5? He had a pretty good reason. [Sporting News]
• Matt Carle should sit in favor of Slater Koekkoek for Game 7. [Raw Charge]