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Bishop beats King in Game 7 chess match


Bishop beats King in Game 7 chess match

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Friday night at Madison Square Garden, vaulting them into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since they won it all back in 2004:

Bishop beats King: The undeniable storyline heading into Game 7 was the dominance of Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who had won six straight Game 7s and had won 15 of his last 18 elimination games. But it was Ben Bishop who stole the Manhattan spotlight, turning aside all 22 shots he faced to earn the shutout.

Bishop was pulled in Game 6 after allowing five goals in a 7-3 loss, but stood tall [6-foot-7, to be exact] for the Lightning, improving his playoff record to 12-8 – not bad for a third-round pick of the Blues who bounced from St. Louis to Ottawa before finally landing a starting job in Tampa. Bishop has a pretty good track record when it comes to bouncing back from playoff losses. He’s 7-1 with a 1.25 GAA following a loss this post-season.

As for King Hank, his legacy as a future Hall of Fame goaltender who has never won a Stanley Cup continues. Lundqvist stopped all 19 shots he faced in the first two periods, but allowed an Alex Killorn backhander to slip between his pads 1:54 into the third period for what stood up as the game-winner.

Lundqvist, 33, finished his ninth post-season with an 11-9 record, 2.11 GAA and .928 save percentage and now has a career playoff record of 54-56 with a 2.22 GAA, .923 save percentage and zero Cups.

“Last year we were closer," Lundqvist said, referring to the Rangers’ five-game loss to the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. “This year we were close to the Final. But to win it, there's a lot of work left."

Trading places: Lightning forwards Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman all played for the Rangers last season, but one of the most intriguing storylines of the Eastern Conference finals was the matchup between former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis and current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who embraced in the handshake line following Game 7.

St. Louis won a Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and mentored Stamkos when he entered the NHL in 2008.

“It was obviously satisfying because we get a chance to go to the Final," said Stamkos, who upheld the tradition of not touching the Prince of Wales Trophy [because he’s waiting for the real big silver one]. "That was way bigger than the storyline was between the former Rangers and the former Lightning players. But Marty is a competitor, he's a great friend of mine, and I'll always respect him. I told him that. He obviously wished me the best of luck.”

As for those former Rangers, Callahan, Boyle and Stralman are now a combined 17-1 in Game 7s.


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Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

With the NHL Draft just a few days away in Vancouver and after countless mock drafts, NBC Sports Washington will have you covered as the Capitals decide who to take with the 25th overall pick.

As part of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the NHL Draft, the Capitals Talk Podcast will host 'Capitals On the Clock: Draft Night' on linear television and as a live stream on the NBC Sports MyTeams app.

Capitals Talk will sit down with Rob Carlin, Grant Paulsen, Al Koken, Michael Jenkins, J.J. Regan and Brian McNally to discuss the Capitals the 2019 Draft. They'll be joined by Zack Fisch, Manager of Media Relations & Broadcasting with the Hershey Bears, who will shed light on who's ready to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

The live stream will also include an NHL and Capitals Draft trivia segment which fans will be able to play along with.

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Capitals Talk Podcast "Capitals on the Clock" Special

When: 8 p.m. Friday June 21

Where: NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports MyTeams App


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Should the Caps re-sign Devante Smith-Pelly?

Should the Caps re-sign Devante Smith-Pelly?

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s debate:

Region: Capitals free agents

Should the Caps re-sign Devante Smith-Pelly?

2018-19 stats

54 games played with the Caps, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, 10:51 TOI

Playoffs: 3 games played with the Caps, no goals, no assists, no points, 9:47 TOI

Hockey-Graph contract projections

2 years, $1,170,523 cap hit

The case for re-signing

There is no question that Smith-Pelly can be inconsistent, but he always seems to bring it in the playoffs. Before his seven-goal performance in the 2018 Cup run, Smith-Pelly was brilliant with the Anaheim Ducks scoring five goals in 12 games back in 2014.

With Carl Hagelin re-signed and players like Jakub Vrana, Christian Djoos and other depth pieces still on the horizon, affordability is pretty much the biggest asset for any free agent available to Washington and it won’t get much more affordable than Smith-Pelly.

Hockey-Graphs can be spot on with some of its projections and outright wrong for others and this case is definitely the latter. Smith-Pelly’s contract for the 2018-19 season was a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1 million. After scoring just eight points and getting demoted to the AHL, there is no way he walks into next season with a two-year deal and a raise. The cap hit is going to be low for Smith-Pelly and that makes him a very attractive choice for the Caps.

Sure, regular season production is an issue, but if you can get a bonafide playoff performer for $1 million or less, that’s a good deal.

The case against re-signing

When the Caps needed to send a player to the minors to free up cap space for Nick Jensen at the trade deadline, the team elected to send Smith-Pelly to Hershey over Dmitrij Jaskin. Jaskin played 37 games last season. That is pretty much all you need to know.

Sure, Smith-Pelly walked into the playoffs and performed well, but he still did not produce. Depth offense is a weakness for the Caps and one they will struggle to address with the little amount of cap space left. You cannot waste that remaining cap space on a player who is going to give you eight points.

Smith-Pelly came into the season in questionable shape, was so ineffective he was sent to the minors and this from a guy who has already bounced around the NHL and who came to Washington after getting bought out by the New Jersey Devils.

On breakdown day, general manager Brian MacLellan said of Smith-Pelly, “Internally we had a couple of issues we had to work through.”

There are just too many red flags here for a Smith-Pelly return.

Who’s your pick? Vote here.