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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?
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The United States got goals from Cutter Gauthier, Alex Tuch and Rocco Grimaldi in the final 10:09 of the third period Saturday and defeated Denmark 3-0 to remain undefeated at the World Championship in Tampere, Finland.
The U.S. is one of two unblemished teams in the tournament at 5-0, in first place in Group A with 15 points.
Tuch (Buffalo) assisted on the other two goals. Casey DeSmith (Pittsburgh) made 22 saves.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Carter Mazur had no points and four shots on goal in 12:05.
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
from Ben Gotz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
Bruce Cassidy pumped his fist on the bench as the announced crowd of 18,271 at T-Mobile Arena went wild and Brett Howden and Adin Hill were mobbed on separate areas of the ice.
The Golden Knights coach has described his group as “imperfect” at different times during the playoffs. They’re not without faults. What they are is deep, resilient and committed to winning hockey games by any mean.
That continued in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars on Friday. The Knights allowed the first goal for the ninth time in 12 postseason games. They blew two third-period leads. They still emerged with a 4-3 victory after Howden’s goal 1:35 into overtime.
The Knights continued to stare adversity in the face and fire right back. Their six comeback wins in the playoffs lead the NHL, and they’re 2-0 in overtime.
“Sometimes you have those seasons where you don’t overcome things,” Cassidy said. “We have that group that will this year.”
Watch the game highlights below.
* One more unsung hero has emerged in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brett Howden scored the third-fastest playoff overtime goal in franchise history to help Vegas take a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Final.
* After yet another Conference Finals series opened with extra time, the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs became the fifth in NHL history to feature overtime in both Game 1s in the round before the Final.
* Coming off of the sixth-longest contest in NHL history that was Game 1, the Panthers and Hurricanes will meet for Game 2 and can become the first Conference Finals/Semifinals series in 46 years to require overtime in each of its first two contests.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
"It was frustrating," Rasmussen said during his season-ending Zoom call with media last month. "It was tough with where things were at with the team and how well everyone was playing. To be removed from that was really tough. It was upsetting to watch and not be out there with the guys, tough to watch some losses and games where I would have liked to be a part of.”
The Wings were 7-15-2 after the date of Rasmussen's injury....
But losing Rasmussen, and the versatility he’s developed in his repertoire, didn’t help.
"That stung," coach Derek Lalonde said of Rasmussen's absence. "Ras was a huge part of our team. He was part of our top-six (forwards), part of our penalty kill, and that physical push back we talked about that we missed, he was a big part of it.
"We're excited to get a healthy Ras back next season."
Rasmussen found some chemistry playing with veteran forward Andrew Copp during the season, with both players capable of playing a rugged, stifling defensive game, while contributing effectively in other areas. Copp felt the Wings weren't the same without the 6-foot-6 Rasmussen in the lineup.
from Jesse Granger and Saad Yousuf of The Athletic,
When the puck drops for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between Vegas and Dallas on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, Stars coach Pete DeBoer will find himself in an oddly familiar role as he takes his place on the visitors bench.
It wasn’t that long ago he stood behind the opposite bench in that arena, wearing a Golden Knights lapel. It also hasn’t been that long since he coached against Vegas in the playoffs.
DeBoer’s history with the Golden Knights is long and complicated.
It started as a rivalry in 2017, when the upstart Vegas franchise quickly emerged as an adversary for DeBoer’s Sharks atop the Pacific Division. San Jose was an aging but talented group looking for a title before its window closed. The Golden Knights came out of nowhere to win the series.
Playoff matchups in back-to-back seasons stoked that rivalry, culminating with a fiery seven-game series in 2019 in which DeBoer and then-Vegas coach Gerard Gallant traded verbal barbs that were nearly as fierce as the play on the ice. DeBoer came out on top in the most dramatic way possible, with San Jose erasing a three-goal deficit late in the third period to win in overtime.
Less than nine months later, DeBoer was coaching the Golden Knights.
from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,
It’s all funny now, now that there’s a five-story photo of Sebastian Aho on a North Hills office building, now that the parking lots — $40 a car, thank you — are filling up two hours before the game with tailgaters, now that the very foundation of PNC Arena shakes as 18,680 towel-waving fans scream deliriously before puck drop, now that the Carolina Hurricanes are in the Eastern Conference final for the second time in five years.
It was slightly less funny at the time.
Like when Paul Maurice looked out the window and realized the Hurricanes were landing in Greensboro instead of Raleigh, because the pilot thought the team still played there. When, in Maurice’s words, “We just about killed the pig mascot,” as Stormy’s performer had a seizure as he waited to burst out of the Zamboni. When the Hurricanes had a practice rink that didn’t have showers. When a freak snowstorm in the team’s first season left the Greensboro Coliseum empty. Well, almost empty.
“The ref comes over, says, ‘Paul, you can’t talk like that because everybody can hear you,’” Maurice recalled with a laugh.
That was the Carolina Hurricanes in the late 1990s, when Maurice was coaching the relocated Hartford Whalers instead of his current team, the Florida Panthers. Those Canes were garage-league. Rinky-dink. Mickey Mouse. A gong show. Choose your favorite derisive hockey term, and it probably fits. And yes, they were more than a little embarrassing — all the things that the hockey bluebloods in Canada, the American northeast and the upper Midwest sniff through clenched jaws when talking about “small markets” and “non-traditional markets” and “sunbelt teams” during their evening brandies.
So amid all the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth following Toronto’s loss to Florida, and Edmonton’s loss to Vegas, and New Jersey’s loss to Carolina in this year’s playoffs, there was a clear strain of hockey classism. A down-the-nose condescension in the guise of performative concern for the league, that having four southern cities comprise the NHL’s final four was bad for the league, bad for hockey-related revenue, bad for television.
via the Toronto Maple Leafs,
Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced today that the club has decided to part ways with General Manager Kyle Dubas. Dubas's contract is set to expire on June 30 and he will not return as Toronto's General Manager next season.
"I would like to thank Kyle for his unwavering dedication over these last nine seasons with the organization, including his last five as General Manager. Kyle fostered a great culture within our dressing room and staff, and consistently pushed to make our team better season over season. We wish Kyle and his family the best moving forward and thank him for his valuable contributions."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will meet with coach Joel Quenneville once the season ends to review his status, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports.
Dreger reported earlier this month there is a "strong possibility" of an NHL return this off-season for Quenneville, who still requires clearance from the league.
The 64-year-old has been linked to the New York Rangers vacancy after the team parted ways with Gerard Gallant following their playoff exit.
from Kurt Dusterberg at the NHL's website,
Matthew Tkachuk scored with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime, and the Florida Panthers won their seventh straight on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, 3-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at PNC Arena on Thursday....
It was the sixth-longest game in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (79:47 of OT length), and the longest in franchise history for each team.
"Probably my favorite [goal] so far in my life," Tkachuk said. "Big to not let it go to five overtimes there. [Sergei Bobrovsky] played great, everybody followed. Total team effort for two games, basically."
Bobrovsky made 63 saves, and Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, the second wild card from the East.
Florida is 5-0 in overtime in the postseason.
"At the end of the day, both teams spent what they had; that's a huge cost for both teams," Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. "There were pieces of that game that both teams owned and looked exactly like they're supposed to look."
Frederik Andersen made 57 saves, and Seth Jarvis had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, the No. 1 seed in the Metropolitan Division....
"It's the worst way to lose, there's no way around it," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "A lot of ups and downs in that game. At the end of the day, it's one game."
Below. watch the game highlights.
* Matthew Tkachuk scored with 13 seconds remaining in quadruple overtime to lift the Panthers to victory in the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
* Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves and became just the third goaltender on record with 50 or more saves in consecutive playoff games.
* The Golden Knights and Stars are ready to renew their rivalry, meeting in the penultimate round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in four years.
With 13 seconds left in the 4th overtime, Matthew Tkachuk scored to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
More in the morning but in the meantime catch the game winner and the highlights below.
Best of luck to both teams.
via Sportsnet's YouTube page,
Paul Maurice and Rod Brind’Amour have a long history that began in Carolina when Maurice was a Head Coach and Brind’Amour was a player. Now they face off in the Eastern Conference Final.
“Honestly, there’s times I wake up, I don’t know what day it is,” Jones says, laughing. “There’s just been multiple meetings and getting together with the group that’s going to make this thing happen, getting prepared for the press conference, getting acclimated to a new office, getting prepared to go and do the conference final, which I’m getting on a plane now to head to Florida where our house is.
“Now I’m organizing a move at the same time and getting ready to transition from one job to the next. There’s a lot to manage.”
-Keith Jones, the new GM for the Philadelphia Flyers. Michael Russo of The Athletic has much more ($).
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