Quick Links

How important is winning Game 5? Not really


How important is winning Game 5? Not really

News and notes as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks prepare for tonight’s showdown in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena in Tampa [8 p.m., NBC]. The series is knotted at two wins apiece:

Who's in goal: Once again, Lightning coach Jon Cooper is playing it coy, saying tonight's starting goaltender for the Lightning will be a game-time decision. Ben Bishop took shots at the morning skate on Saturday morning, an indication he will return after missing Game 4. It's a safe bet no one will know tonight's starter until just before puck drop.  

So close: The opening four games of the series each have been decided by one goal, just the third such occurrence in Stanley Cup Final history (also in 1951 and 1968). Only one Stanley Cup Final has featured five consecutive one-goal games to open the series – the 1951 affair between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in which all five contests required overtime (TOR, 4-1).

Did you know?: The team that has won Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Final has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 16 of 23 times (69.6 percent) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939. However, the club that has lost Game 5 has rebounded to win the series in four of the past seven occasions (all since 2001).

 In 2013, the Blackhawks defeated the Bruins, 3-1, in Game 5 before ultimately winning the series in six contests.
The four teams since 2001 that have rebounded to win the Stanley Cup after losing Game 5 in that scenario include the 2004 Lightning, who dropped Game 5 at home to the Flames 3-2 in overtime before rallying for a seven-game series victory.

RELATED: End of season review: Dmitry Orlov

The other three clubs since 2001 to overcome a Game 5 loss to fall behind 3-2 in the Final were the 2001 Avalanche (vs. NJD), 2009 Penguins (vs. DET) and 2011 Bruins (vs. VAN).

As close as it gets: Here’s a breakdown of the first four games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final: 

Games Played: 4
Wins by Team: CHI – 2, TBL – 2
Total Goals: 18
Goals by Team: CHI – 9, TBL – 9
Total Shots on Goal: 211
Shots on Goal by Team: CHI – 107, TBL – 104
Total Power-Play Goals: 3
Power-Play Goals by Team: CHI – 2/11, TBL – 1/11

A closer look at the goals scored in the series:

Total Goals: 18
Go-Ahead Goals: 7
Game-Tying Goals: 7
Game-Winning Goals: 4
Other Goals: 0

FYI: Overall, the Lightning have led for 38.5 percent of total playing time in the Stanley Cup Final, while the Blackhawks have led for 10.4 percent. The teams have been tied for 51.1% of total playing time – the clubs have been tied or separated by one goal for the entire series.
- All four games in the Stanley Cup Final have been tied or within one goal entering the final five minutes of regulation, as have more than half of all contests this postseason (54 of 87, 62.1 percent).
- The winning goal has been scored in the third period in each game thus far in the Stanley Cup Final, including two in the final five minutes of regulation (Antoine Vermette at 15:26 in Game 1 and Cedric Paquette at 16:49 in Game 3).
- The Blackhawks are 41-14 in Games 4-7 since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 7-2 record this year. Since 2012, they have won 17 of 21 contests in Games 5-7 (7-2 on the road).
- The Blackhawks have been tied 2-2 in eight previous series since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including one other this year (CF vs. ANA). They are 16-1 in Games 5-7 of those series, with their lone such loss in Game 5 of this year’s Western Conference Final at ANA (5-4 OT L).
- The Lightning have been tied 2-2 in three of their four series this postseason (also in first round vs. DET and conference final vs. NYR); they are 4-2 in Games 5-7, with both series going the distance.

MORE HOCKEY: End of season review: Matt Niskanen

Quick Links

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline


The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.


Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”


When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

Quick Links

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice


Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”


“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”