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from Ken Wiebe of Sportsnet,
Sergei Bobrovsky picked a perfect time for his first career Stanley Cup playoff shutout.
Thanks to the 32 saves he made on Monday night in a 1-0 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers now hold a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
The Panthers goalie has now made 67 consecutive saves and accumulated 131 total stops over three games — and it certainly looks like he’s had numerous Carolina Hurricanes players shaking their heads in utter disbelief through three games.
Bobrovsky, who made the 58th start and 64th playoff appearance during his 10-year NHL career on Monday, has expressed gratitude throughout this series whenever he’s been in front of a microphone and after the final buzzer, his teammates once again were tossing compliments in his direction.
“We have so much confidence with him back there,” Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe told reporters inside FLA Live Arena. “It seems like every day he’s making another huge save, changing momentum and helping our team win games. He’s so important, he’s so calm.
“He’s our backbone and our best player.”
You won’t get any argument from anyone playing in, covering or watching this series.
from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,
* Matthew Tkachuk factored on another game-winning goal in the Eastern Conference Final as the Panthers opened up a 3-0 series lead and moved within one win of the franchise’s second-ever berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
* Sergei Bobrovsky earned his NHL-leading 10th win of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs and did so thanks to his first career postseason shutout in his 58th playoff start.
* The Stars and Golden Knights will contest Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports when the puck drops at American Airlines Center.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic looks at a few candidates for the GM position in Toronto.
One interesting name...
That brings us to Doug Armstrong. The Leafs’ GM search was about five minutes old this past weekend when people began to mention Armstrong’s name as a possible candidate.
The Blues GM certainly checks all the boxes as far as experience and a Cup ring — not to mention the kind of confidence and wherewithal to withstand the pressure-packed demands of the Toronto market.
For starters, I do not believe Armstrong has an actual “out” in his contract with the Blues. He signed a five-year extension in September 2021 that runs through the 2025-26 season.
But I also think Armstrong has the kind of strong relationship with Blues owner Tom Stillman that if the Maple Leafs approached Stillman about it, maybe he would be OK with it if it’s something that Armstrong really wanted. Maybe, maybe not. Pretty hard to know exactly how Stillman would react.
Would Shanahan see that as too many hoops to go through? It’s pretty unusual for a GM to get pried away when still under contract for multiple years.
But Armstrong might be worth the hassle.
Daily Faceoff’s insider Frank Seravalli gave us another edition of Ice Breakers as the playoffs wind down and the offseason approaches, including another name popping up as trade bait from the Washington Capitals.
Frank Seravalli: I’m told that Anthony Mantha’s name has popped up in a few different conversations. He has one year remaining on his deal at $5.7 million for the upcoming season.
You think back to that trade, and it’s one that probably neither team is really happy with. The Washington Capitals gave up a first, a second, Jakub Vrana, and Richard Panik to get their hands on Anthony Mantha at the deadline a few years ago, and it just hasn’t panned out. Yes, there’s been some injury issues that have popped up along the way in Washington. But more to the point, even when’s been in the lineup, you see last season, 67 games registering just 11 goals, and it kind of feels like a long time ago now, we’re approaching five years ago, that Anthony Mantha hit 25 goals in a season.
At that price tag of $5.7 million and that type of production of 27 points in 67 games, perhaps you could get someone to take a flyer on him, but if so, they’re not going to get anything in return. And more to the point, I wouldn’t be shocked if, depending on how aggressive they are and really trying to move him, that someone might actually have to pay.
I don’t think they’re backed into the corner on the cap just yet, they’ve got a lot of pieces to fill out their roster. But nonetheless, Evgeny Kuznetsov’s name is out there, we know that they’re open to moving him, but you can add Anthony Mantha to our next Trade Targets Board. We get that out in the next week or two.
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
Here are five happenings that help the Red Wings make up ground:
1. Sign Top-notch Backup Goaltender
The backup will get roughly 25 starts, and maybe more depending on Ville Husso’s level of play and injuries. Last season, the Red Wings’ backups only won 34.6% of those games.
If GM Steve Yzerman could acquire a backup who could even win 40% of his start, it would push Detroit closer to the postseason. Of course, that would be easier said than done. The goalie market is thin this summer....
2. Find a Proven Right Shot D Man
The Detroit defense is coming together. But they have to find a veteran right shot D man. Gustav Lindstrom seems to be looking to go elsewhere and he is coming off a disappointing season.
Imagine if Yzerman could persuade 6-foot-4 Scott Mayfield to come Detroit. That probably falls under the category of wishful thinking. The Islanders will make a last ditch effort to keep Mayfield....
3. More From Lucas Raymond
With 40 goals over his first two NHL seasons, Lucas Raymond is one of the NHL’s top young scorers. But Raymond’s second season was slightly disappointing because his production dropped. He went from 23 goals to 17 and from 57 to 45 points. He did miss eight games because of injury. But that doesn’t explain all of the decline. It also doesn’t explain why Raymond didn’t improve from season one to season two.
more ($) on each of the above plus two more two more points
Happy Victoria Day to all the great folks in Canada.
I am off to the Henry Ford Medical Center for an Echocardiogram then followed by a Nuclear Stress Test.
I'm guessing I should be back around 11am.
update 9:59am, I am home a little early, will have the results sometime tomorrow.
Thanks all for the thoughts.
from Arthur Staple of The Athletic,
What if I told you there was a potential front-office candidate who had built the nucleus of back-to-back conference finalists, engineered one of the most lopsided trades this century and assembled a winning team through the draft and shrewd waiver/free-agent pickups?
You might ask why that former GM hasn’t been at the top of the interview lists for the various openings this offseason. I’m asking it too: Why hasn’t Garth Snow gotten any interest around the league?
There are a few factors at play here, not all of them the fault of teams searching for new GMs or team presidents. Snow has been out of the league since Lou Lamoriello dismissed him five years ago and five years is a long time to be out of the game. It’s partly due to the golden parachute that firing triggered, a parting gift from Charles Wang, the mercurial Islanders owner who hired Snow straight out of being the team’s backup goalie. When Wang sold the Islanders to Scott Malkin in 2016, he added a clause to Snow’s contract that provided a five-year payout if he was let go.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
"Hopefully, these younger players we have on our team now play a bigger role next year," Yzerman said. "Maybe one or two of our younger players, whether they were in Grand Rapids or coming from somewhere else, push into the team. We'll slowly add to it and do the best we can to fill our roster.
"I like to believe every player comes to training camp, regardless of whether they were invited or a first-round pick, all have in their heart that they're going to make the team. They have a hope and drive that, 'I'm going to play well enough and show them enough that I have a chance to make the team.'"
Here are 10 of the young prospects...
Cross Hanas, forward: All told, Hanas likely surpassed some expectations in Grand Rapids, with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 30 games before suffering a season-ending injury.
The 2020 second-round draft pick parlayed a summer of physical training into looking like a potential NHL winger with some size and the ability to score goals....
Albert Johansson, defenseman: Much of the attention in Grand Rapids was focused on Edvinsson, but Albert Johansson, arguably, was more consistent through the entirety of the season.
Johansson, 22, in his rookie AHL season, had 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 53 games and looked poised beyond his years....
Eemil Viro, defenseman: Because of a crowded roster in Grand Rapids, Viro found himself in Toledo (ECHL) late in the season, and that's when Viro wound up playing some of his best hockey.
In 53 games between the two teams, Viro (2020, third-round pick) had 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) and showed the type of grit and skating ability that could make him an NHL player in the future.
"The biggest things for him are strength and the overall maturity of his game," Horcoff said. "They're going to continue to grow. We're very happy with the way he finished his season."...
* Chandler Stephenson played the role of hero for Vegas in what was the fourth comeback overtime win of the 2023 Conference Finals – a round that has seen all of its 324:25 of gametime feature teams tied or within a one-goal margin.
* Matthew Tkachuk and the Panthers can achieve several NHL firsts Monday, while the Hurricanes hope to become the ninth team in League history and second in as many years to win a best-of-seven Conference Finals/Semifinals series after dropping each of the first two games. Click here to read the May 22 edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates, which features the full list of clubs to achieve the feat.
* The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs marks the first time the penultimate round of the postseason has featured both series require overtime for Games 1 and 2.
from Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet,
When the Vegas Golden Knights scored their second overtime winner in as many games, it looked Sunday that they’d not only beaten the Dallas Stars again but might have broken them, too.
It wasn’t simply that the Knights went up 2-0 in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference Final when Chandler Stephenson scored uncontested on a rebound at 1:12 of overtime to give his team a 3-2 win on home ice.
And it wasn't even that the Stars, who were lucky to make it to OT in Friday’s 4-3 Vegas win, were significantly better in Game 2 and appeared to have Sunday’s tight-checking contest under control until Jonathan Marchessault snatched a tying goal for the Knights with 2:22 remaining in regulation time.
The seismic shift for Dallas is that the unflinching Stars beat themselves, displaying vulnerability on a team that looked largely invincible this season when leading into the third period and bouncing back from losses.
The Stars had been 31-0-2 this season — and 8-0 in the playoffs — when leading with 20 minutes to go and, even more incredibly, were 22-1-3 since October with starting goalie Jake Oettinger when coming off a loss.
The Knights shattered that invincibility on Sunday.
Vegas will head to Dallas up 2-0 after a 3-2 overtime win today.
In my mind the Stars were the better team during the majority of the game but the Golden Knights were able to capitalize on their limited opportunities.
Below watch the game winning goal and the game highlights.
via the NHL PR department,
STARS IN FAMILIAR PLACE, LOOK TO EVEN SERIES SUNDAY AFTERNOON
Game 2 of the Western Conference Final is set for Sunday afternoon on ABC and ESPN+ in the U.S. as well as Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports in Canada. The Stars will look to rally from a 1-0 series deficit for the third consecutive round, while the Golden Knights aim to take a 2-0 lead for the third time in franchise history – they have gone on to win the series in the two times they have done so to date.
broadcast information is below
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The NHLPA and NHL will meet this week to open discussions on a variety of issues that include the possibility of increasing the salary cap beyond the prescribed $1 million, Slap Shots has learned.
Executive director Marty Walsh, who has been on the job for two months, and newly appointed assistant director Ron Hainsey will confer with commissioner Gary Bettman after having conducted three meetings with player agents in precincts across the continent over the last couple of weeks.
The Players’ Association is on record that the union will not be willing to raise the escrow ceiling of six percent for each of the next three seasons as a trade-off for elevating the cap above $83.5 million.
We have learned that the PA is willing to discuss increasing the schedule to 84 games....
continued plus other topics like this...
If a 29-year-old in his seventh season can become a breakout star in the playoffs, then Brandon Montour is that player for a Florida team that is not only wildly entertaining, but also zoned in on details.
One of those details happens to be Sergei Bobrovsky returning to the elite form that had escaped him since he signed that seven-year, $70 million free-agent deal with the Panthers in 2019-20.
This is the greatest goaltending turnabout in memory, or at least since Roberto Luongo couldn’t stop a puck in Boston in 2011.
via the YouTube page of the NHL,
The craziness continued into the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the return of the rats, some blown tires, Hughes missing chiclet and a bookworm taking Dallas by storm.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
- As Brendan Shanahan’s pursuit of a new Toronto Maple Leafs general manager begins with urgency and intrigue, get ready to hear a barrage of names linked to the seat vacated by Kyle Dubas.
Shanahan’s lone clue as to the type of candidate he wants to hire? Experience....
- Gerard Gallant wants right back in the game, under the proper circumstances.
More of a motivator than an X’s and O’s tactician, the fired New York Rangers coach will be willing to hop right back behind the bench of a team that is ready to run.
Think Calgary more than Columbus.
Hearing that Peter Laviolette — late of Washington and relaxing in Florida — is eager to get back to work as well. Although the way things unravelled with the Capitals, he may not be able to be as picky.
- Of all the NHL’s impending unrestricted free agents, who racked up the most points? Skated the most minutes? Registered the best plus/minus? Ripped the best points-per-game average? Secured the most wins?
If you guessed Alex Killorn (64 points), Dmitry Orlov (22:33), Tomas Tatar (plus-41), David Krejci (0.8 points per game), and Martin Jones (27), go to the head of the class.
That these players are all over the age of 30 illustrates the lack of young talent available on the free agent market this summer.
more on the first topic and other notes too
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
Detroit Red Wings forward Jonatan Berggren is proving to be a sensation for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship. He’s slotted in tied for second on the team in scoring. Both he (2-3-5) and Red Wings teammate Lucas Raymond (1-4-5) are sitting on five points.
His performance has earned Berggren a promotion to Sweden’s top foward line alongside Raymond and 2023 NHL entry draft prospect Leo Carlsson. But only recently it came to light that Berggren’s tournament – and perhaps even his NHL career – were a mere centimeters from being all over....
A week prior to the start of the tournament, while in training with the Swedish squad in Gothenberg, Berggren came perilously close to being run over by a tram.
Berggren and teammates Joel Persson and Lukas Bengtsson were walking to the rink for a pretournament match. Crossing the street, Persson and Bengtsson barely made it ahead of the onrushing tram. But Berggren, lagging a bit behind them, evidently didn’t notice the approaching transit vehicle.
“I had headphones on when I went to the match,” Berggren explained to Expressen.se. “It was close. I looked up at the last second and had to jump.
“First and hopefully last near-death experience for me.”
Add this to Berggren driving to the wrong Grand Rapids and his off-ice adventures continue to grow.
from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,
Sergei Bobrovsky is having fun. Honest.
The Florida Panthers goaltender might look like he just came back from a trip to the post office, and he might sound like he’s talking about winning a neutral-site preseason game in front of a few hundred curious onlookers, and it might seem like he’ll doze off at any moment, but really, this is everything he’s ever wanted.
This atmosphere. This pressure. This level of mind-bending success. One hundred saves in two games....
Before Game 1: “It’s great to be here.”
After Game 1: “I’m really fortunate to be in this playoff. I’m happy to be here, very happy to be part of this team.”
After Game 2: “I’m fortunate to be here and happy to play hockey, playoff hockey.”
Also after Game 2: “I’m just happy to be in net at this time.”
Also after Game 2: “I’m just thankful for this spot.”
Sources close to Bobrovsky suggest he’s happy to be here. More on this story as it develops.
But hey, why shouldn’t he be? This is a man who’s lost that net multiple times in recent seasons.
read on ($)
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Toronto fans are funny. They loathe Sam Bennett and Radko Gudas for doing what they used to adore about Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi.
-On the list of activities for the new Leafs GM: 1.A Signing Matthews; 2. Deciding on coach Keefe or hiring a replacement; 3. Rebuilding the front office with Jason Spezza and possibly Pridham gone; 4. Deciding between Marner and Nylander or keeping both; 4. Deciding what to do with Matt Murray, his bad legs and his contract; 5. Figuring out how to revamp the Leafs defence, again.
- I bet if you asked Dubas today about the contracts he negotiated with Matthews, Marner and Tavares he would tell you he paid too much and gave up too much flexibility in the new negotiations. It’s one thing to give money and term. But to give money, term and no-trade arrangements is something he’ll learn from in the future.
- At 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, wearing about 40 pounds of equipment, Frederik Andersen is far and away the largest player in the Eastern Conference final. So explain to me why someone of his size and strength can’t fight his way through to make a stop instead of having scores called off too easily for goaltender interference. Sometimes, interference is obvious, but sometimes the goalie doesn’t fight hard enough to make the save.
more, most on the Leafs... At least for me, the column is in large type and other things are messed up too...
* Matthew Tkachuk played overtime hero for the second straight game, tying the record for most overtime winners in a postseason and helping Florida become the sixth lower-seeded team in the past 15 years to take a 2-0 lead in the Conference Finals.
* The 2023 Eastern Conference Final has been a tightly contested affair, with the Panthers and Hurricanes within a one-goal margin for all 201:38 of playing time – the fourth-highest total through the first two games of a series in NHL history.
* The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs is just the second in NHL history to have each of the first three or more games of the round before the Final require overtime with the only other instance coming over 90 years ago.
* The second Game 2 of the 2023 Conference Finals drops Sunday as Dallas aims to rally from a 1-0 series deficit for the third straight round while Vegas vies for a 2-0 lead.
Another overtime win by the Florida Panthers tonight, this time a 2-1 win.
Matthew Tkachuk with his 2nd ot winner in a row, he now has three ot winners this post season.
Below watch the game winning goal and game highlights.
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
Elliotte Friedman discusses the latest news surrounding the Maple Leafs GM search, how the Dubas extension — in part — ultimately crumbled, and how other teams are responding following the news.
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Eight years to the day after hiring Mike Babcock to coach the Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan has the Original Six club in a state of disarray.
Shanahan, the Leafs president, continues on in his position more than nine years after he was hired in April 2014, with nothing more than one playoff round win to show for the time he has been running the storied franchise.
Under Shanahan, the Leafs have become a team that wins regularly only if it’s the regular season, before annually falling by the wayside in the playoffs. This year, finally, came that first-round victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then came the Florida Panthers, who threw a rink-sized bucket of ice-cold water over the Leafs’ dreams in a mere five games.
Under Shanahan, the Leafs talk every year about the desire to win the Stanley Cup, and if that stated wish was all that was required, the parade route would be worn out by now. Instead, the Leafs have never matched their skill, and expectations of themselves, with actual success in the post-season.
At some point, Shanahan is going to have to get it right with his hirings, isn’t he? How many more presentations have to be made to the MLSE board before someone peers over their reading glasses and realizes that with Shanahan running the show, the Leafs haven’t won?
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