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from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Subject to change, virtually at any hour, Sheldon Keefe remains the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who definitely are in search of a new general manager and, who knows, could be looking for someone to replace No. 1 bottle washer Brendan Shanahan.
For a club that finally won a playoff round, albeit only to be shredded in five games under the claw of the Panthers, the joy ride was short-lived in Toronto. The Leafs went directly from the standard “OK, what happened?!” to “Yikes, what’s going on?”, an uncomfortable spot for any franchise.
The look is all the worse, of course, when it’s an Original Six club still searching for its first Stanley Cup title since 1967. Even worse for an Original Six club, led by Shanahan as team president, that had no backup plan in place if it chose to fire general manager Kyle Dubas or if he chose to leave rather than sign a contract extension.
continued plus more hockey topics...
from Steven Ellis of The Daily Faceoff,
Canada and Germany will play for gold at the 2023 World Hockey Championship on Sunday after tight victories on semifinal Saturday.
Canada has advanced to the title game for the seventh time over the past eight years. They last won in 2021 against Finland, but lost in 2019 and 2022, also to Finland.
Germany, meanwhile, has never won gold and has never advanced to the tournament’s championship game. They have won silver before, but that was in 1930 when they didn’t have a playoff format. They trailed 2-0 early against USA, who entered the game with a perfect 8-0 record.
Puck drop is set for 1:20 PM ET on Sunday, May 28.
from Peter Armstrong of CBC,
Now the Florida Panthers have secured a spot in the final. The Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights are battling for the Western Conference title.
None of them are quite what you would call a ratings bonanza.
"These are four Sunbelt teams that are not the biggest TV draws," said an understated John Lewis, who runs the American sports business website Sports Media Watch.
He says if the NHL was merely chasing ratings, it would have preferred a matchup involving juggernauts like the Boston Bruins or the New York Rangers.
But the NHL is chasing more than just ratings here.
Sure, existing fans would have gone wild to see the Oilers in the final. Or any of the big teams. But how many more new fans can the NHL squeeze out of saturated markets like Toronto or Boston?
Bettman has spent years betting he can grow the game in areas that aren't traditional markets.
As franchises like Florida and Las Vegas push their way into the highest echelons of the game, new fans are born, new traditions are built.
"In the cities where it's happening, it's 100 per cent a home run," said former NHL player and host of the wildly popular podcast Spittin' Chiclets, Ryan Whitney.
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
2022-23 Red Wings Lowlight
Long goalless droughts were populating Berggren’s stat line. He tallied once in 11 games from Dec. 29-Feb. 9. Over his last 20 games of the season, the young Swede was good for just three goals.
“I have no problem saying he took a dip in his game towards the end of the year,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said of Berggren. “Understandable for young players. We asked a lot of those guys. After the (NHL trade) deadline his role increased more and there was an obvious dip in his production, and in some of his five-on-five play.”
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
It’s easy to see Berggren playing a bigger role in Detroit’s future. It’s equally feasible that at some point, he could be valuable as part of a package moved to upgrade the club’s roster. As a rookie, Berggren was showing flashes that he can be a productive offensive player.That being said, there was also solid evidence that his game is a long way from being a finished product. His defensive decision making often left his teammates in a lurch. Another issue with Berggren was too many needless penalties in the offensive zone or away from the play.
“A very important offseason,” Lalonde said. “You would hope there’s a natural growth and progression in his game and he’ll be better for it once camp starts next year.”
* A tightly-contested victory in Game 4 helped Dallas stave off elimination. The Stars now look to force Game 6 to keep their championship aspirations alive in the Conference Finals, something the franchise has already done in their history.
* The Golden Knights return home with another opportunity to close out the Western Conference Final and join rare company in NHL history with their second Stanley Cup Final appearance within their first six seasons.
* This round has the potential to be the closest Conference Finals in NHL history. Games in the 2023 Conference Finals have been tied or separated by a one-goal margin for 90.0% of total playing time (511:00 of 567:43), including 99.2% in the East (318:58 of 321:38) and 78.0% in the West (192:02 of 246:05). In the NHL's modern era (since 1943-44), the highest percentage of time teams have spent separated by no more than a one-goal margin in the round before the Stanley Cup Final is 87.7% (2002 Conference Finals).
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
It’s Mailbag Friday, and we have some beauties.
So far, folks are trading Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Philip Broberg and Jack Campbell. And Kailer Yamamoto....
Let’s get started.
“Hey Mark, is Edmonton ever going to win a Cup with McDavid and Draisaitl? Or are they condemned to constant playoff exits, because the NHL has made it very hard for Canadian teams to be successful?” — @Alclembee
How has the NHL “made it very hard” for Canadian teams, Al? Edmonton has more financial resources than 90 per cent of the U.S.-based teams. They also received four No. 1 overall picks in a six-year span — one named McDavid.
When they joined the NHL they got to keep Wayne Gretzky — against the wishes of all many American owners.
Canadian fans show up and spend their money, win or lose. Not like in Denver or San Jose. Canadian cities (outside Toronto) have zero competition from NBA, MLB, college sports, etc. They’re one-horse towns when it comes to the sports dollar, with apologies to the CFL and MLS.
If the Oilers can’t win a Cup with McDavid and Draisaitl, it’s on the Oilers. Not the NHL.
more Q & A...
from Justin Bourne of Sportsnet,
Eichel's play and the opportunity Vegas has in front of it leaves the pivot with a chance to change his reputation in a way that I’m not sure has happened for a player not-named Phil Kessel before, who also got flak for his playing style before breaking through with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both Kessel and Eichel have had people say “You can’t win with that guy,” and while Kessel proved you can win with him, he did it as the third- or fourth-most important guy on his Cup-winning teams. If Eichel were to win the Conn Smythe Trophy after his roller coaster from huge prospect to “guy you can’t win with” and back, it could fairly make us re-evaluate a lot of talented players who often just need to be put in the right situation to succeed.
It could – for the more reasonable types anyway – also make us realize there’s not some secret sauce that goes into four-round post-season success. We often treat every player who’s ever won a Cup as though they somehow discovered Michael Jordan’s water in Space Jam along the way. Having good players on a well-coached team (which has to be a dozen teams per year) who get some timely saves and breaks along the way is sometimes all it takes.
For truly talented players, I’m not sure there are many who are so deficient in defence or intangibles that you “can’t win with them,” despite plenty of players earning that label.
Eichel’s reputation had taken a beating out of Buffalo after showing himself to be a player who had a lot to learn, despite being heralded as a franchise cornerstone. He didn’t always defend well, had some maturity issues to overcome, and wasn’t quite as ready to solve Buffalo’s problems as fans had hoped. When he dug in on his own medical treatments, some considered it more whinging, rather than a player fairly advocating for the care they’d prefer.
This isn’t to weigh in on any of that, or to say that being five wins away from a Cup somehow absolves a player of all that’s come before.
via Colton Davies of The Daily Faceoff,
The Detroit Red Wings are a team that has made strides over the last year to get back into playoff contention. Today on Daily Faceoff Live, insider Frank Seravalli and Former NHL player and now Chicago Blackhawks analyst Colby Cohen take a look at what offseason changes could come for Hockeytown.
Frank Seravalli: Speaking of an offseason of turmoil, I don’t think it will be that way, but as we continue our offseason previews, we take a look at the Detroit Red Wings and what’s on tap for them. Colby, when you look at this team, I think anyone would agree that they have made strides this past season, they wanted to be playing meaningful games in March, and I don’t know that they accomplished that, but being a team, that’s on the rise I think they made a bunch of smart moves and an intriguing one like trading Filip Hronek who seemed to fit their age scheme exactly what they were building and trending towards. Colby, what would priority number one be for you this offseason and you were Steve Yzerman in charge of the Red Wings?
Colby Cohen: Yeah, so just looking at everything they have, they have a ton of cap space, a lot of draft capital and one of the best prospect systems in the NHL. There are a number of players that are on the cusp of becoming fulltime NHL players. Their roster they have flexibility; they’ve got Larkin signed for eight years, Copp signed for four years, and then there are only two other players that have three years on their deals, there is a lot of opening.
One of the first things I’m doing is getting a long term deal done on Mortiz Seider. He is a restricted-free agent. I love his game; I am getting him locked up for the next eight years and might be able to give him a discount. Look, I think they need to be aggressive this year. I think it’s time for Yzerman to realize that the rebuild has worked in a way; you’ve got Simon Edvinsson, a 6-foot-6 defenseman who’s ready for the NHL; Berggren, he’s also ready to go. Marco Kasper taken 8th overall; he’s 19 years old and looks ready for the NHL, same thing with Soderblom and Wallinder. Big guys, 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-4, ages 20 and 21, they are ready to be NHLers.
Let me tell you what Yzerman needs to do after locking up Seider. He needs to go get a deal for Auston Matthews; he needs a STAR player on that team, he needs some serious help. Larkin is not going to be the guy who is going to lead you to the Cup. You need a guy like Matthews. Maybe look at Bunting in free agency; Alex DeBrincat is from Michigan, and he’s dragging his feet in Ottawa; it’s time. It’s time for them to go out and get some ammo. You have drafted well; you have developed well, now go get a couple stars and see if you can become a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup. They have two picks in the first two rounds this year, three next year, and a lot of capital, and you can be aggressive with that. If you want Matthews, it will take first-round picks, prospects and money; they have all those things.
from Matt Larkin of The Daily Faceoff,
This trend isn’t new during the highly successful era that began when Brind’Amour took over as head coach starting in 2018-19. Over that five-season span, the Canes have the fourth-best points percentage in the NHL at .661. But they’ve fallen short of the Stanley Cup Final all five of those seasons despite perennially being perceived as one of the best teams in the NHL.
In 2018-19: They lost the Eastern Conference Final to a Boston Bruins team that got six goals in four games from future Hall of Famers Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
In 2019-20: They lost in the first (second) “playoff” round of the bubble tourney, lit up again by Boston’s Perfection Lne, this time in five games, with Bergeron scoring the game winner in two of them.
In 2020-21: The eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning took them down in five games, buoyed by a combined eight goals from Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
In 2021-22: Done in by the New York Rangers, who got a .949 save percentage from Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin across seven games of their round-2 matchup.
Defeated because the other team had at least one superstar-grade player. Every. Time.
Ask around the league – other players, coaches, scouts, analysts – about the Carolina Hurricanes’ identity in the Brind’Amour era, and you typically get similar answers:
“They all play the same way.”
“They keep coming at you in waves.”
The Brind’Amour Way has pretty much universally been perceived as a strength, but it also highlights a weakness that was on display during the Eastern Conference Final: the Canes don’t have a dominator who can will them to victory, particularly at the forward position.
from Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
They knew how hard the push would be, how desperation has this way of lifting a team’s level of play. There would be no celebration for the Golden Knights on Thursday night, no Western Conference title just yet, no Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to take pictures around.
It’s still going, folks.
Dallas apparently has something left in its pursuit of what would be a historic comeback, the Stars having avoided being swept out of this best-of-seven series with a 3-2 overtime victory before a sellout gathering of 18,532 at American Airlines Center.
It was the best we have seen of Dallas in four games.
Certainly when it mattered most.
“Our effort level wasn’t good enough,” Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “Just not good enough for our group. It’s still in overtime, so it was right there for us. They played well defensively. Their desperation was higher than ours, and at this time of year, it’s about who wants it more.”
It’s true, after all: The fourth one is always toughest to get.
from Joe Smith of The Athletic,
Cooper had given intro speeches a half-dozen times in previous stops, from his first coaching job at a high school in Lansing, Mich., to teams in Texarkana, Green Bay, Wis., and Norfolk, Va. But this was different. These weren’t kids. It was future Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis. Captain Vinny Lecavalier. Future cornerstones Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
GM Steve Yzerman introduced Cooper, telling the group there’d been a leadership change. The next time they made changes, it’d be to the roster. The Hall of Famer had Cooper’s back from the start. All eyes were glued on Cooper, wearing a suit, no tie and a striped shirt unbuttoned at the top.
“The silence was deafening,” Cooper remembers.
The speech was short, about five minutes, but it was memorable. He brought up his background, having started on Wall Street and as a lawyer. He told the team it needed to be close — do everything together. He said they were going to have fun, with coaches allowing music in the dressing room before games and between periods.
And then there was the kicker.
“He told our team it was missing something — and that was swagger,” Stamkos says. “And he had that to him. He said this group was eventually going to get there.”
“He was convincing,” adds St. Louis, now an NHL head coach himself in Montreal. “I felt good about it. I can say that.”
Swagger or not, nobody — not even Cooper — envisioned what was coming. Four trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 10 years. Two Stanley Cups. No coach in NHL history has more wins at their 10-year anniversary with a team than Cooper’s 476, according to NHL Stats. The list of coaches who spent their full first decade with the same franchise is just 11 deep, including the likes of Toe Blake, Jack Adams and Barry Trotz — and Cooper has the most wins of anyone on it. The only coaches to have more combined regular season and playoff wins over any 10-year span are Arbour and Scotty Bowman. There may never be another coach who wins 11 consecutive playoff series.
NEW YORK (May 26, 2023) – The National Hockey League will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first NHL Draft in 1963 with a new series counting down the top 60 NHL Draft picks of all time, as voted on by NHL.com staff writers and editors.
The series, 60 Diamonds – The Greatest Picks of the 60 NHL Drafts, premieres Sunday, May 28 on NHL.com and includes an article and video segment each week featuring a panel of hockey writers discussing the most influential draft picks in NHL history. The five-week series will conclude with a half-hour show premiering on NHL Network on Saturday, June 24, at 7 p.m. ET and re-airing that night at 10:30 p.m. ET. Produced by NHL Productions, the finale special with host Kathryn Tappen will count down the top 20 picks and reveal the writers’ choice for the number one NHL Draft pick of the past 60 years.
* After Jason Robertson pulled the Stars even twice, Joe Pavelski netted the overtime winner to help his team stave off elimination and climbed multiple all-time lists in the process.
* Game 4 of the Western Conference Final marked the 23rd overtime contest of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the ninth-highest total in a single postseason in NHL history.
* The 2023 Stanley Cup Final will open either Wednesday, May 31st or Saturday, June 3rd. Click here to view the different schedule scenarios.
NEW YORK (May 25, 2023) – The National Hockey League today announced the schedule scenarios for the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, which will match the Florida Panthers against the winner of the Western Conference Final series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.
Based on their higher regular-season point totals, either the Golden Knights or Stars will host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary. The Panthers will host Games 3 and 4, as well as Game 6, if necessary.
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
The Detroit Red Wings wanted more from Larkin this season. They wanted him to be more responsible away from the puck and they wanted him to be more error free when he is managing the puck.
Lalonde will point out plays he doesn’t like in the name of turning them into a teaching moment. Larkin isn’t spared those moments.
“Yeah there’s been some uncomfortable moments in video,” Larkin said. “That’s part of being a leader and part of being a top player. It’s meaningful when you’re in there and getting called out, because we’re all in this together and we all have to defend together and get better together. There has been some uncomfortable clips but I think it helps the group, ”
Larkin has grown as a player and a leader. Lalonde has said more than once that the team’s offense flows through Larkin.
Everyone accepts that Larkin cares deeply about his team, teammates and his performance level. And everyone knows that Larkin will be even a better player when the Red Wings are deeper in offensive talent.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Casey DeSmith made 15 saves Thursday and the United States defeated Czechia 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the World Championship in Tampere, Finland.
The U.S. advanced to Saturday’s semifinals. Team USA has won all eight of its games by a combined score of 37-8....
Germany stunned Switzerland, the top-seeded team in Group B, despite playing without Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider for the final half of the game in Riga, Latvia.
Seider received a major penalty for boarding and game misconduct at 11:01 of the second period when the game was tied 1-1. He finished with no shots and a minus-1 rating in 12:12.
Watch the Seider boarding call below.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
In their minds, they were still ready for overtime, for what would have been the third time in the series. The end came so quickly, it was almost impossible to comprehend.
The Carolina Hurricanes fought back twice to tie the score, their season on the line, ready to carry the battle into another 20 minutes, only for Matthew Tkachuk to beat them.
With 4.9 seconds to go. If there’s a more painful way to end an excruciating playoff series, science is going to have to get back into the lab.
“Really confused,” Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho said. “I don’t know if confused is the right word but obviously, don’t know how did that happen. It didn’t feel like a 4-0 series to me, but it is what it is.”
The Florida Panthers won four one-goal games — two in overtime, three on Tkachuk goals that left the Hurricanes no answer — to sweep the Hurricanes, bookended by a quadruple overtime win in Raleigh in Game 1 and Wednesday’s 4-3 win on a late power play, given for a tripping call on Jordan Staal behind the Florida net that was patty-cake compared to the gross bodily harm allowed over the previous 19 minutes.
* The Panthers and Hurricanes were tied or separated by a one-goal margin for all but 2:40 in the Eastern Conference Final, which ended with a Game 4 thriller that included an opening-minute goal, a multi-goal comeback, a tying marker by Carolina with 3:22 to play and then an NHL record-tying series clinching goal at 19:55 of the third period by Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk.
* The Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 27 years – their only other trip came in 1996 – and will begin the championship series in either Las Vegas or Dallas. The Golden Knights currently hold a 3-0 series lead against the Stars in the Western Conference, which resumes tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+, ESPN, SN, TVAS, CBC.
* The Panthers became the third team in NHL history to eliminate three of the League’s top four teams in the same postseason, the third team in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to win three or more series after entering as the lowest-ranked team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – all after spending only 28% of their season in a playoff spot.
The Florida Panthers in many of the regular season predictions were supposed to be very good - they weren't. They barely made the playoffs as the last wild card spot.
Now they are in the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 to sweep the series.
Along the way Florida defeated the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and now the Hurricanes, not an easy road.
They will open the SCF on the road against the winner of the Vegas/Dallas series.
Below watch the game winning goal with 4 seconds left in regulation. added 11:19pm, Handshakes and highlights have be added in the comment section along with other post game moments
A good one tonight.
NEW YORK (May 24, 2023) – Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn has been suspended for two games for cross-checking Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone during Game 3 of the Western Conference Final in Dallas on Tuesday, May 23, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
If the term of the suspension is not fully served during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining game will be served at the beginning of the 2023-24 regular season.
The incident occurred at 1:42 of the first period. Benn was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking.
Video is below.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
Trade bait, bridge candidates, and future superstars that need to be locked up ASAP.
The 2023 class of restricted free agents offers a smorgasbord of situations.
And while several potential ’23 RFAs avoided the drama and uncertainty by signing well in advance of expiry (Mathew Barzal, Roope Hintz, Dylan Cozens, Matt Boldy, and Stuart Skinner among them), plenty of intriguing young talents remain unsigned.
As these RFAs look to bank off their platform seasons and owners wrestle with slow-to-rise salary cap, many tense negotiations (or trades?) are still on deck.
The situations in Winnipeg, Ottawa, New Jersey, New York, and Anaheim are particularly interesting.
Here’s where things stand with the top 12 RFAs of 2023 as July 1 fast approaches.
continued and a good read if interested in the topic...
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