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|Posted by Talk Hockey on June 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
As a first round 11th overall draft pick from the 2006 NHL draft, the Los Angeles Kings had big expectations for goaltender Jonathan Bernier. As did the rest of the NHL.
One of the most elite prospects in the NHL, Bernier never got his opportunity to reach expectations as Jonathan Quick stole the number one starting goaltender job in LA.
Don't sleep on him though. There is a good chance that even today, Bernier could become a top goaltender in the NHL.
In 62 NHL games, Bernier has posted a very good .922 SP% and a record of 29-20-6. Now, according to Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet, Bernier is close to being moved...
"The Kings have a decision to make on Bernier, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer. The highly-touted Bernier is likely looking for an opportunity to start elsewhere as the Kings have all-star Jonathan Quick ahead of him on their depth chart. The report comes a day after Bernier reportedly switched agents, signing on with Pat Brisson. Kypreos mentioned the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs as possible fits for Bernier." - Sportsnet.ca
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Blackhawks win instant classic in Game 1, top Bruins in 3OT
From Talk Hockey.
|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
For the first time during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, one team finally took control of a game -- and won in convincing fashion.
The Bruins, behind a stifling defense, beat the Blackhawks 2-0 in Game 3 Monday night in Boston. The Bruins now own a 2-1 series lead and loads of momentum heading into Game 4. It also marked Boston's 7th straight home victory in the 2013 NHL playoffs.
The game certainly didn't bode well for the Blackhawks, who struggled to create great offensive chances (and you need "great" chances when you're trying to beat Tuukka Rask). The Bruins goaltender was incredible again -- and seems well on his way to the series MVP if the Bruins win two more.
"We ran up against some of the best goalies in the league here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Tonight I thought we made it rather easy on him as far as traffic and finding and seeing pucks. I think we've got to be better at going to the net."
Credit the Bruins, who lost Game 1 in devastating fashion. They became only the third team in Stanley Cup Finals history to blow a multi-goal lead. That type of loss can spell doom for certain teams -- but not Boston. The Bruins have shutdown the Blackhawks attack -- and seem to have Chicago figured out.
It certainly doesn't help when Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa doesn't play.
Hossa, who has scored three game-winning goals during the 2013 NHL playoffs (and owns a team-leading 15 playoff points) was a late scratch before Game 3. His lack of offensive firepower clearly hurt the Blackhawks on the offensive end. If he doesn't come back for Game 4, we could see another shutout.
But what's wrong with Hossa?
In typical NHL style, the Blackhawks aren't saying anything specific except: "upper body." Uh, okay.
"We'll say 'day-to-day.' We're hopeful he'll be ready for the next game," Quenneville said. "It was a game-time decision after the warmup there. That's when we made the call, after warmup."
The Blackhawks better figure out the Hossa situation -- and their offensive malaise. If they don't find ways to beat Rask -- no easy task -- this series could be over.
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston.
|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 18, 2013 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Couture's new five-year deal with the San Jose Sharks includes an average annual salary of $6 million ($30 million total).
Since being it in the first round ninth overall by the San Jose Sharks back in 2007, Logan Couture has taken the National Hockey League by storm. In each of the past two seasons Couture has led San Jose's offense scoring 30+ goals in an 82 -game regular-season has become an expectation for Couture and by all accounts the 24-year-old is just getting started.
Last season, this young gun had 21 goals and 16 assists in 48 games. Logan Couture is the type of player who has the ability to be an All-Star for the rest of his career.
The San Jose Sharks made a really smart move in signing Logan Couture sooner rather than later.
|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 17, 2013 at 2:30 AM||comments (0)|
And just like that -- the Boston Bruins are back in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.
Proving these teams are ridiculously even -- and that overtime periods could become the norm in this series -- the Bruins' Daniel Paille scored at the 13:48 mark in overtime to give the Bruins a much-needed victory in Chicago Saturday night.
After a disastrous Game 1, where they blew a two-goal lead in the third period (only the third team to do that in the Stanley Cup Finals), the Bruins proved there weren't any emotional side effects left lingering in Game 2.
"We just kept the pressure on and Seggy [Tyler Seguin] threw the puck to me," said Paille, who beat Chicago's Corey Crawford. "I just popped out and had to shoot the puck quick, get it off my stick. I was able to send it post low. He [Seguin] made a good play passing it over instead of shooting."
While fans were treated to another night of overtime hockey, the game didn't journey nearly as far as Game 1, which became the 5th longest Stanley Cup Finals game in NHL history.
That doesn't mean the game lacked drama. Boston's Tuukka Rask turned in a classic night of goaltending -- and emotions flared when Chicago had a goal nullified. The referees controversially ruled a play dead prior to the puck entering Rask's net -- and let's just say Chicago had a differing viewpoint.
"I thought the whistle was a little quick, but that's the way it is," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's frustrating when the bounces don't go your way, but it is what it is."
The Bruins looked sluggish early -- but then found a way to pull out a critical victory.
"We got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
Knotted at 1-game apiece, the series now shifts back to Boston.
Paille's game-winner was also a great reminder of just how random hockey can be. The difference between winning and losing, especially in the playoffs, is razor thin. If Paille doesn't score and the Blackhawks get a greasy goal (like they did in Game 1 of the series), Chicago would own a commanding 2-0 series lead.
But those are just what-ifs at this point. And we all know what-ifs don't earn Stanley Cup titles.
NOTES: Just as a side note to this series, anybody else notice how the Chicago Blackhawks have "Stanley Cup Final" etched into the ice at the United Center? I'm no English professor, but I'm pretty sure it should be Stanley Cup Finals. Note the "s" in Finals. If it was just one game, then it's a "Final." But, uh, it's not just one game. Last time we checked, there were multiple games -- so the word "Final" is incorrect. Suggestion for the Blackhawks: Let's bust out some blue paint and get that corrected the next time the "Finals" roll back into the Madhouse on Madison.
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|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 14, 2013 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on June 13 that they have signed star forward Evgeni Malkin to a new multi-year contract. The announcement came just a day after the NHL club confirmed that it had given head coach Dan Bylsma a two-year contract extension. Malkin, a 26-year-old center from Russia, will be paid a total of $76 million over eight years when the contract kicks in at the start of the 2015/14 hockey season.
The deal will pay Malkin $9.5 million a year on average, which will make him the highest-paid player on the team, ahead of captain Sidney Crosby. The contract is also the longest the NHL allows under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. Malkin will make $8.7 million in the 2013/14 season since he still has a year t go on his current contract.
Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said Malkin is a hard-working and caring player who still hasn’t even reached his peak yet. The Penguins now have their top two players locked up with long-term contracts since Crosby was signed to a new 12-year deal last summer before the new collective bargaining agreement was signed. Crosby will be paid an average of $8.7 million each season over the length of his deal.
Shero said it’s important to have the team’s franchise players under contract and he’ll be hoping to re-sign defenseman Kris Letang next. Letang is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Malkin said he loves playing in Pittsburgh and wants to play his entire career there if possible. He said he has a great relationship with his teammates as well as the city’s fans and would hate to leave them.
Since joining the Penguins, Malkin has won a pair of Art Ross trophies for leading the NHL scoring race and has also been awarded with the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s best player voted by his peers, and the Calder Trophy for being the rookie of the year. He has scored more than 30 goals three times in his career and has reached the 100-point plateau three times. He’s also played in the NHL All-Star game on four occasions.
Malkin, who was selected second overall in the 2004 draft scored nine goals and 24 assists this season for 33 points in just 31 games. He missed 17 season contests due to injuries. He then added four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 15 playoff encounters. He has played 458 career regular season games since breaking into the league in the 2006/07 season and has 560 points in them on 217 goals and 343 assists. His career best came two years ago when he scored 109 points on 50 goals and 59 assists and earned the Hart Trophy.
Malkin was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in the 2008/09 season when Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup. He scored 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 playoff points that season in just 24 games. In 83 career playoff games Malkin has scored 36 goals and 61 assists for 97 points.
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|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 14, 2013 at 2:30 AM||comments (0)|
By: Rich Bergeron
For the first time in 34 years two of professional hockey's original six teams meet to fight for the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks kicked off the grand finale of the NHL season Wednesday night in Chicago with both teams coming into this series with a ton of confidence and momentum. Both won their final games by a single goal: the Bruins in regulation to complete a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Blackhawks in overtime to squelch any chance of a comeback for the LA Kings. The Blackhawks took game one with a late comeback effort in the third period and a miraculous goal in the third overtime off two deflections of a Michal Rozsival slapshot.
Both teams have incredible goaltenders, so the rest of this series is likely to be decided by multiple one-goal deficits. Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask posted two shutouts in the Pittsburgh series against a team who scored the most goals in the NHL during the regular season. The Bruins defense as a whole kept the Penguins to just two total goals for the duration of the series. The Blackhawks averaged 3.1 goals per game in the regular season, but they didn't face a goalie like Rask every day. Chicago does have a hotshot goalie of their own, though. Corey Crawford actually did a hair better than Rask through the post-season in one major category, earning him a 1.74 goals against average to Rask's 1.75. On the other hand Rask enters this series with a .943 save percentage to Crawford's .935. Both teams will have to be very crafty and look to score on unconventional plays, using unique angles and assaulting the net from every side. The first game proved both teams are capable of doing just that when it counts.
Offensively the Blackhawks are well-balanced with 11 of their players coming into this series with at least five playoff points. Their last game against the Kings also proved that just one player can make a huge difference depending on the circumstances. Patrick Kane scored a hat trick in the final victory for the 'hawks, and that included the game winner in overtime. The Bruins offense is just as stacked with 15 players scoring at least one goal in the playoffs. David Krejci leads the squad with 9 playoff goals with 12 assists, followed closely by Nathan Horton's 7 scores with 10 assists. Johnny Boychuk (1 assist) and Patrice Bergeron (5 assists) both came into this series with five playoff goals each. There's one Bruin who's also bound to break out of a goal-free playoff slump this series: Jaromir Jagr. The Bruins were averaging 36.4 shots on goal in the playoffs leading into game one of the finals, and they showed no signs of slowing down Wednesday with 54 more shots on goal in that contest.
Both teams are playing strong hockey and should provide NHL fans with a thrilling series. If their recent play is any indication it could be a back-and-forth series with no team having any clear edge. All that adds up to huge potential for a deciding game 7. There really couldn't be two better matched teams in the finals.
Prediction: Bruins win the series 4 games to 2 with Rask playing better than ever moving forward from this tough loss and turning away the best shots the Blackhawks have to offer throughout the series. Most of the games will be one-goal wins, and look for two or three more games to go into overtime for the deciding goal. It will be a hard-fought series with the Blackhawks tying it up at two games each going into game 5 where the Bruins will gain their separation and never look back. .
Game 2: Saturday, June 15th in Chicago @ 8PM EST on NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Monday, June 17th in Boston @ 8PM EST on NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Wednesday, June 19th in Boston @ 8PM EST on NBC Sports Network
Game 5: Saturday, June 22nd in Chicago @ 8PM EST on NBC
Game 6: Monday, June 24th in Boston @ 8PM EST on NBC
Game 7: Wednesday, June 26th in Chicago @ 8PM EST on NBC
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|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
Now that's how you start the Stanley Cup Finals.
After a stirring 2-goal comeback in the third period, the Chicago Blackhawks outlasted the visiting Boston Bruins 4-3 in three overtimes Wednesday night. It was the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history.
The grueling, gritty victory -- which featured a whopping 52:08 of overtime hockey -- gave Chicago a 1-0 series lead over the Bruins, who couldn't maintain a 3-1 lead in the third period.
Credit the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw for beating Boston goalie Tuukka Rask at the 12:08 in the third OT -- and sending the sold-out Madhouse on Madison into a red-sweater frenzy.
"We knew it wasn't going to be pretty at that point," Shaw said. "You could tell both teams were physically exhausted. We've preached it: Go to the net, you'll find a way to get a greasy goal. We did a heck of a job of it there in the third overtime."
Actually, Shaw has done a "heck of a job" during the entire 2013 NHL playoffs. His game-winner Wednesday was his fifth postseason goal thus far.
"The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He knows where the front of net is...He's a warrior. He's one of those guys that you appreciate he's on your side and he's relentless."
If the Bruins lose a close series, they will likely gaze back to the third period with loads of regret. Boston looked in command of the game -- until the Blackhawks scored twice.
"We were up two goals, and all of a sudden, the game was tied," said Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.
The Bruins now have two days to try and shake off Wednesday's nightmare. But based on history, it won't be easy. With the loss, the Bruins became only the third team in Stanley Cup Finals history to blow a multi-goal lead in Game 1. The Oilers did it in 2006 and the Red Wings did it in 1956.
Both teams went on to the lose the Cup.
Boston will spend plenty of time over the next 48 hours saying "it's just one game" and "we have to put it behind us." Don't let the idle chatter fool you. This was a debacle for the Bruins, and it will be extremely difficult to shake off the self-doubt and what-might-have-beens heading into the Game 2.
The Blackhawks didn't just win a game on Wednesday -- they grabbed a shocking win that was headed for Boston.
The Bruins won't easily forget that disappointing turn of events.
It's just one game -- but it could mean the series.
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