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Who was that guy in goal for the Lightning?


Who was that guy in goal for the Lightning?

News, notes and quotes as the Tampa Bay Lightning savor Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and head to Chicago with the Stanley Cup Final knotted at one win apiece:

How do you spell relief: He only played 9:13 in relief of starter Ben Bishop, but rookie Lightning backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all five shots he faced in a pair of stints during the third period (from 7:17 to 8:49 and from 12:19 to the end of regulation) to pick up the win. Vasilevskiy was credited as the game-winning goaltender because he was on the ice when Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison scored the game-winning goal at 8:49 of the third period.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Vasilevskiy became the first goaltender to post a Stanley Cup Final victory in a relief role since Pittsburgh's Frank Pietrangelo made 15 saves in 40 minutes to lead the Penguins to a 6-4 win over the Minnesota North Stars in Game 5 in 1991.

Selected 19th overall by the Lightning in the 2012 NHL draft, the 20-year-old native of Tyumen, Russia entered Game 2 having made two relief appearances during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in blowout losses to the Rangers (7-3 on May 26) and Canadiens (6-2 on May 7). Vasilevskiy also became the first goaltender to win his first career playoff game in relief in the Stanley Cup Final since April 7, 1928, when Lester Patrick – the coach of the Rangers – came in to backstop the team to a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2 against the Montreal Maroons at Montreal.

The last goaltender to earn his first career playoff win in the Stanley Cup Final – as a starter – was Jussi Markkanen, who achieved the feat with the Oilers on June 10, 2006 in Game 3 against Carolina (24 saves in a 2-1 win).

Conn Smythe?: Tampa forward Tyler Johnson set a franchise record with his 13th goal of the playoffs, surpassing Ruslan Fedotenko and current Blackhawks forward Brad Richards, each of whom tallied 12 goals for the Lightning during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Triple threat: The Lightning's "Triplets" line of Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat combined for three points in Game 2 and have accounted for half of the Bolts’ offense in the playoffs with 30 points. Johnson has 13 goals and 9 assists for 22 points; Kucherov has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points; and Palat has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points. Toss in Steven Stamkos (7-10-17) and Alex Killorn (8-9-17) and the quintet has accounted for three-quarters of Tampa’s 60 goals this postseason (45 of 60).

Century mark for Toews: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews recorded the 100th playoff point of his NHL career (38-62-100 in 113 GP) by earning an assist on the goal by Brent Seabrook that tied the game 3-3 at 3:38 of the third period. Toews is the
92nd player in NHL history and 14th active skater to reach the milestone. Four of the 14 active NHLers with at least 100 playoff points play for the Blackhawks -- Toews, Marian Hossa (49-92-141), Patrick Kane (47-64-111) and Brad Richards (35-66-101).

Toews, who has spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, became the sixth player in franchise history to reach the 100-point milestone in the
postseason. The others: Stan Mikita (155), Denis Savard (131), Bobby Hull (116), Kane (111) and Steve Larmer (107).

Good company: Brent Seabrook netted his seventh goal of the post-season, setting a Blackhawks record for goals by a defenseman in one playoff season. He shared the previous record of six with Chris Chelios, who set the mark in 1992.

Seabrook, who has spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, also equaled a franchise record for career playoff goals by a defenseman (19). He can pass Bob
Murray and Doug Wilson with another goal.

RemarQable: Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final marked the 200th playoff game behind the bench for Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville (112-88). Only two other
head coaches in NHL history have reached the milestone: Scotty Bowman (353) and Al Arbour (209). Quenneville also ranks third behind Bowman (223) and Arbour (123) for the most playoff wins by a head coach in NHL history.

By the numbers: Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup 74.7 percent of the time since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939 (56-of-75 series), including nine of the past 12 occasions.

The Lightning improved to 4-0 in Game 2s during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, outscoring opponents 21-8 in those contests. The Blackhawks fell to 2-2.

Seven of the past nine games between the Lightning and Blackhawks have been decided by one goal dating to March 9, 2011.

More than half of the games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (52 of 85, 61.2 percent) have been tied or within one goal entering the final five minutes of regulation, including Game 2.

More than one-third of the games this postseason have featured a comeback win (31 of 85, 36.5 percent), including Game 2.

The Lightning improved to 9-1 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when leading after two periods. Tampa Bay had suffered its first playoff loss in such a scenario in Game 1 of the Final.

The Lightning improved to 10-1 when scoring the first goal during the playoffs, also having suffered their first playoff loss under such a scenario in Game 1 of the Final.

The Lightning improved to 8-1 following a loss in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There will not be a sweep in the Stanley Cup Final for the 16th consecutive season. The last team to win in four games was the 1997-98 Red Wings, who swept the Caps in four games. The Red Wings also swept the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.

They said it:

“I know we have two unbelievably capable goaltenders. When Bish had to leave, there wasn't an ounce of stress on anybody on our bench, including myself.  I mean, the kid proved it when he went in.  He was great.” – Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Vasilevskiy

“Well, I thought we were a lot more aggressive today than we were in Game 1.  I thought Game 1 we were a little bit hesitant making plays.”  - Lightning forward Tyler Johnson 

“We get to go home, get excited, play in our building.  I'm sure everybody will be loud and excited about us coming back.” – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville


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John Carlson once again an All-Star snub


John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

The Capitals' Stanley Cup run may be even more remarkable than we thought considering there were zero all-stars on Washington's roster apparently.

As part of Wednesday's NHL Awards, the First and Second-Team All-Star rosters were released and not a single Capital made either team.

Here is a look at both teams:

In the interest of full disclosure, the All-Star Teams are voted on by members of the Pro Hockey Writers Association of which I am a member. I did not, however, have a vote for the All-Star rosters.

The first thought most Caps fans will have when looking at these teams is what about Alex Ovechkin?

I'm actually OK with Taylor Hall and Claude Giroux getting the nods at left wing.

Hall won the Hart Trophy for what he was able to accomplish in New Jersey in leading a team that looked like a trash heap before the season to a playoff berth. Compare the Devils' roster to the Caps' and there's no question Hall had a lot less to work with than Ovechkin and tallied 93 points as compared to Ovechkin's 87. Giroux finished second in the NHL with 102 points, one of only three players this season to finish in the triple digits. He very narrowly beat out Ovechkin for Second Team honors.

It was a coin flip and Ovechkin lost. That's not what Caps fans should be crying foul over. The fact that John Carlson was not among the four defensive all-stars is a far more egregious omission for which there is no excuse.

After inexplicably being excluded from the NHL All-Star Game in January, Carlson was snubbed once again as he came in fifth in the voting.

Just what does Carlson have to do to get some recognition?

No defenseman in the entire NHL had more points than Carlson's 68 this season. That's not just because of increased minutes as Carlson finished 13th among defensemen in ice time per game.

But being a good defenseman is not about the offensive stats.

That's right. Now go ahead and show me which of the four who finished ahead of Carlson was partnered with a rookie for most of the season. I'll wait.

The answer is none of them.

It's very easy now to look at the Capitals as a team that had all the pieces in place and managed to put it all together at the right time to go on a Cup run, but that's not what happened this season. Carlson was very heavily relied upon by the Capitals during the regular season when the blue line was an obvious weakness, especially after an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was averaging nearly 30 minutes per game in Niskanen's absence. Carlson also spent the majority of the season with his primary partner being a rookie in Christian Djoos.

Charlie McAvoy was a rookie too. Does that mean Zdeno Chara should have been named an all-star?

A player like McAvoy is very much the exception, not the rule. Djoos has a bright future ahead of him, but his career is not yet at the same level as a player like McAvoy.

With all due respect to the voters, it seems like not enough attention was paid to what the Capitals asked of Carlson this season. His strong play on both ends of the ice made up for a weak defense that was only bolstered by a late trade for Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the trade deadline.

If you looked at Carlson's stats and saw just an offensive specialist who was not strong enough in his own end to warrant an all-star spot, then you were not paying close enough attention to the role he played in Washington this season.


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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”