If the 2010-11 season experienced by both the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals teaches us anything, it’s that a typical NHL campaign features some brilliant peaks and some bleak valleys.
The Capitals experienced two wildly different streaks this season, as they lost eight consecutive games in time for the taping of HBO’s 24/7 series but now find themselves on a seven-game winning streak thanks in part to Alex Ovechkin’s resurgence. Many people were rolling out their “Told ya so” columns when things looked dark for the defending champion Blackhawks, but those people are noticeably quiet after Jonathan Toews helped them produce a 9-2-1 run in their last 12 games.
Yet as Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago points out, neither team can smell the roses during their recent parades of success. Sure, Chicago is currently holding a playoff spot in the West, but only one point separates the Blackhawks from ninth-place Nashville. While Washington’s playoff status is fairly safe, its Southeast Division lead is tenuous at best, being the Capitals are only three points ahead of Tampa Bay.
Myers asked Toews about his expectations for Sunday’s contest.
“We had a tough game against Tampa the other night and we expect the same thing against Washington,” Jonathan Toews said. “As tight as the West is it’s tight in the East, too. Every team’s trying to secure their playoff spots. Regardless of standings, teams want to play their best hockey right now. So you look at the top guns and they are starting to play better.”
So while the Hawks reminisce about their 2009-10 success with the most powerful man in the world, they cannot look at their visit to D.C. as a glorified photo op. A simple glance at the standings shows that both teams need every point they can get.
(Those points will be that much tougher to come by for Chicago with Dave Bolland banged up, as the underrated center is day-to-day after taking that Pavel Kubina elbow.)
Trevor Daley had his day with the Stanley Cup on Saturday, taking it through Toronto, surprising young hockey players at a local rink and firefighters at a local station.
He also held a private viewing party for family and friends inside a local bar, as per the Toronto Sun.
Daley’s post-season came to an end in the Eastern Conference Final when he suffered a broken ankle. His absence tested the depth of the Penguins blue line as the playoffs pressed on, but Pittsburgh was ultimately able to power its way to a championship.
When Sidney Crosby handed off the Stanley Cup, the first player it went to was Daley, whose mother was battling cancer.
“He had been through some different playoffs, but getting hurt at the time he did, knowing how important it was, he had told me that he went [to see] his mom in between series and stuff, she wasn’t doing well, she wanted to see him with the Cup,” said Crosby, as per Sportsnet.
“That was important to her. I think that kind of stuck with me after he told me that. We were motivated to get it for him, even though he had to watch.”
Daley’s mother passed away just over a week later.
Ben Bishop enjoyed plenty of success during the 2015-16 season and it didn’t go unnoticed. That’s why the veteran was selected to be part of Team USA for this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.
Team USA is loaded in goal, as they’ll be bringing Bishop, Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick and New Jersey’s Cory Schneider. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff approaches this situation heading into the tournament.
Even if Bishop doesn’t start every game for Team USA, he can still say he has a pretty cool goalie mask for the occasion.
On Saturday, Bishop took to Twitter to show off his new piece of equipment:
That’s a pretty sweet mask!
Frank Corrado should be used to waiting by now. He had to wait 28 games before the Leafs inserted him into the lineup for the first time last season and now he’s waiting for a new contract.
There’s still a gap between the two sides, but it doesn’t appear to be very significant. Corrado and the Leafs will head to arbitration on July 26th unless the two sides can agree to a new deal before then.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, The Leafs have two different offers on the table. One is a two-way contract, while the other is a one-way deal that would see him make less money if he sticks in the NHL. Corrado is looking for a one-way deal worth $900,000.
Toronto scooped Corrado up off waivers from the Canucks prior to the start of the 2015-16 season. Despite waiting a while to actually hit the ice as a Leaf, Corrado finished the season with one goal, six points and a minus-12 rating in 39 games. He averaged 14:27 of ice time.
Splitting the difference would result in Corrado making roughly $737,500 next season.
The Maple Leafs are also scheduled to go to arbitration with forward Peter Holland (July 25) and defeseman Martin Marincin (Aug. 2).
After a few early exits from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the St. Louis Blues were finally able to make a long run. Granted, they didn’t win the Stanley Cup or make it to the final, but they did manage to reach the Western Conference Final.
Unfortunately for the Blues (and a lot of other teams), the NHL’s salary cap number didn’t increase very much and it forced the organization to part ways with a number of key veterans. Gone are captain David Backes, winger Troy Brouwer and goalie Brian Elliott.
There could be even more change between now and the start of the year, as Kevin Shattenkirk could find himself elsewhere.
Those key departures mean that the Blues will need some of their younger players to step up and take on more of a leadership role starting this fall. How will the team respond? Nobody knows, not even GM Doug Armstrong.
“It’s going to be an interesting case study on how quickly this group takes up the leadership,” Armstrong said, per the Boston Globe. “Can they do it in September? Or does it take them a year? There’s certainly a faith that over time, they’re going to pick it up without any issue. Obviously you want them to pick it up as quickly as possible. We don’t want to take any backwards movement in our organization. But sometimes you do expose yourself to maybe taking half a step back to take a couple steps forward.”
Young leaders like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo will need to “step up” in the leadership department, but the Blues aren’t completely out of veterans. Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen are all still on the roster. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the Blues take that “half step back” that Armstrong was talking about.
—Jake Allen still needs to prove he’s a ‘legit’ number one goalie
—Blues sign Schwartz to five-year deal
—Backes doesn’t want to ‘sling mud’ at Blues on his way out