Hershey Bears take 3-2 series lead over Texas Stars in 2010 Calder Cup finals

With the World Cup tournament kicking into high gear while the Stanley Cup finals concluded on Wednesday, there’s one other Cup being fought over right now. That other tournament would be the AHL’s Calder Cup championship.

Last night, the Hershey Bears took a 3-2 series lead over the Texas Stars thanks to a 2-1 overtime win by way of a Alexandre Giroux game-winner.

Here’s more from the AHL.

Giroux collected a bouncing puck in the right slot and sent a wrist shot through the five hole of Stars netminder Matt Climie for his 14th goal of the postseason (14-11-25), tied with Texas’ Jamie Benn (14-12-26) for the AHL lead.

With the victory, Hershey improved to 8-1 in overtime during these playoffs and will now have two chances on home ice to clinch its 11th Calder Cup title and second in as many years. Game 6 is on Monday at the Giant Center, while a potential Game 7 would be on Wednesday.

The road team has won each of the first five games in this series.

Giroux, who followed up a 60-goal regular-season in 2008-09 with 50 more goals for Hershey during the 2009-10 campaign, became the eighth different Bears skater to nab an overtime goal this postseason, joining Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perreault, Kyle Wilson, Francois Bouchard, Jay Beagle, Boyd Kane, and Andrew Joudrey.

Defenseman Karl Alzner and John Carlson – both highly-touted first-round draft picks by the parent Washington Capitals – earned assists on Giroux’s game-winning tally.

If you’re hockey starved, a fan of the two affiliates’ franchises or just want to see some great minor league hockey, the NHL Network is televising the rest of the series. The remaining games take place on Monday and Wednesday (if necessary).

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    Burns and Thornton pose nude for ESPN Body Issue, and yes, it’s weird

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    Hey, have you ever wanted to see Brent Burns and Joe Thornton essentially line up against each other naked?

    Well, ESPN the Magazine interrupted your answer either way, going ahead and doing it for their vaunted Body Issue.

    Considering Thornton’s UFA status, there’s at least an outside chance that this will be their final action together as members of the San Jose Sharks.

    This is your last chance not to scroll and see Thornton, Burns, beards, tattoos, and not a whole lot else.

    /waits

    Former teammate Jason Demers captured it on Twitter, making it his background, and generally winning the Internet for the day:

    Did anyone else think about Thornton’s line after Tomas Hertl scored four goals? No? OK.

    The real highlight might be Burns and Thornton giggling in robes, honestly.

    Click here for more on that issue, including information on U.S. women’s ice hockey team members who will also be featured.

    Hjalmarsson shocked by Blackhawks trade, but Coyotes could improve soon

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    Who could blame Niklas Hjalmarsson for being surprised that the Chicago Blackhawks traded him? The move blindsided … well, just about everyone outside of the Blackhawks organization, after all.

    “It’s going to take some time to get used to that thought,” Hjalmarsson said, according to the Arizona Republic. “At the same time, I’m trying to always be a positive guy.”

    Indeed, the 30-year-old defenseman did his best to say all the right things about the Arizona Coyotes, praising a roster that includes “a lot of young and promising players.”

    MORE on the trade here

    Described by some as the NHL’s best pure defensive defenseman, Hjalmarsson also gives the Coyotes good reason to be excited by a blueline that’s suddenly quite competitive. Consider the quartet that GM John Chayka helped assemble:

    Hjalmarsson: An often-underrated part of the Blackhawks’ run. Consider some of the praise he received even before this move was made.

    Oliver Ekman-Larsson: One of the league’s best-kept secrets, “OEL” ranks as one of the most dangerous scoring defensemen. At 25, he’s still deep in his prime.

    Alex Goligoski: When you consider the Dallas Stars’ lost 2016-17 season, don’t dismiss the absence of “Gogo.” He might not be perfect, but the 31-year-old is the sort of puck-mover you need to excel in the modern game.

    Jakob Chychrun: At 19, he’s already getting reps at the NHL level. The Coyotes could pair him with a veteran and watch him grow.

    ***

    When you look at those four, in particular, it’s easier to see Hjalmarsson’s excitement as more than just lip service. It probably doesn’t hurt that the Coyotes also added Derek Stepan, another sign that this franchise is taking the next step after absorbing other franchises’ problem contracts in the likes of Dave Bolland and Pavel Datsyuk’s last year.

    Granted, it will still be an adjustment, as the Coyotes are likely aiming for “respectable” while anything less that a deep run was unacceptable for the Blackhawks.

    Still, Hjalmarsson has plenty of power to make this move more palatable than it may have initially seemed.

    And, hey, who would blame him for circling Oct. 21 on his calendar?

    Report: Coyotes to talk to Todd Nelson about coaching vacancy

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    The Arizona Coyotes had a somewhat unexpected shakeup this past week when the team and long-time head coach Dave Tippett mutually agreed to part ways after nine seasons together.

    The search for a replacement began immediately and according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal the Coyotes will be speaking to former Oilers coach Todd Nelson about the vacancy.

    Nelson spent 51 games behind the Oilers bench during the 2014-15 season replacing Dallas Eakins. Nelson was replaced at the conclusion of that season by former San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan. While his NHL head coaching experience is limited to that brief time in Edmonton, he has an extensive track record in the American Hockey League with the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton’s top farm team) and currently the Grand Rapids Griffins (the Detroit Red Wings’ top farm team).

    He has spent the past two seasons in Grand Rapids — replacing Jeff Blashill after he was promoted to the Detroit job — and has had a ton of success, leading the team to the Calder Cup this past season.

    Predators won’t trade defense for forward help

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    After losing James Neal to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft this past week the Nashville Predators have a pretty glaring hole in their top-six that is going to need to be addressed. Along with that, captain Mike Fisher is an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is also considering retirement.

    Because of those two developments general manager David Poile has made adding a top-six forward a priority for this summer, and he certainly has the salary cap space to get something done.

    One thing he is not going to do, however, is trade one of his defensemen to find that help up front.

    “We’ve traded enough defensemen in my recent history,” Poile said on Saturday, via the Tennessean. “I think everybody would be pretty much on the same page that our defense drives our team and our corps is as good as any in the league. We will not be touching our defense in the near future here.”

    Over the past two years Poile has traded Shea Weber and Seth Jones off of his blue line but has still managed to assemble the NHL’s best defense. The quartet of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm is so good that Poile made sure to protect all four of them in the expansion draft and leave Neal — a consistent 25-to 30-goal scorer signed for one more year on a pretty good contract — exposed for Vegas to take.

    Without dealing one of their top-four defensemen it might be difficult to find an impact winger via the trade route, which might force them to turn to the free agent market.

    But even that is going to be difficult because it is such a limited market. Now that T.J. Oshie has re-signed with the Washington Capitals Alexander Radulov would probably be the top winger available, but given his history with Nashville there is virtually no chance of that reunion happening. Justin Williams would be an intriguing veteran option, while Joe Thornton could help fill the void at center if Fisher does not return.

    Still, not trading from the defense is the absolute right path for Poile and the Predators to take. Not only is that group the backbone of the Predators’ organization and one of the driving forces behind its success, it is also an extremely young group that is all signed long-term on cap friendly deals.

    Even with the loss of Neal Nashville still has a deep group of forwards, while youngsters Pontus Aberg and Kevin Fiala could get an increased role and an opportunity to shine.