Brad Richards

It’s not looking so hot for Brad Richards to re-sign in Dallas

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Dallas’ long summer ahead without the playoffs and now without a coach after firing Marc Crawford has one more major problem lying ahead in the form of Brad Richards.

Richards is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and while he’s enjoyed his time in Dallas, the lack of stability with the team’s ownership situation as Tom Hicks continues to look for a viable buyer for the team is causing Richards to think long and hard about whether or not he wants to stay in Texas.

Richards, should he become a free agent, will be the top free agent available this summer and with teams like the Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Kings all likely to be in the mix to go after him the Stars might want to figure out a way around things fast. As for Richards, he told ESPN Dallas’ Mark Stepneski today that he’s got a lot of thinking to do over the summer when deciding on his future.

“There’s been a little chatter, but it’s always come back to if I am going to sign and there’s no ownership, I am still kind of hesitant,” said Richards, who made $7.8 million this past season. “And there may not be ownership by the time I have to make a decision.

“Right now, there’s no rush. There’s nothing that’s pressing me. I am going to try to see what happens. If there is no change, it doesn’t mean I am leaving. I’ll have to make a different type of decision at that time. Right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to be in place but, like I said, there’s no deadline right now, so I can sit back. I am sure I will talk with Joe here in the next day or two and get a better idea. Then we’ll wait and see.”

If you’re a Stars fan those are very ominous words from Richards and Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will come under fire in a big way should Richards leave without any compensation. The Stars had opportunities to deal Richards before the trade deadline but opted not to in order to make a run at the playoffs with him. The Stars missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the season and the second-guessing of Nieuwendyk’s lack of movement is bringing into question his plan.

On the upside, if it looks like a deal can’t be made with Richards to re-sign in Dallas, they can deal his rights away before July 1 in an attempt to salvage something in return for his imminent departure. The downside there is that the return in any deal like that would pale in comparison to what the Stars could’ve gotten at the trade deadline from Toronto, New York, or anyone else who came calling to get the All Star center.

This summer is setting up to be a dreary situation for the Stars. While Joe Nieuwendyk is well loved by the fans in Dallas, losing Richards while being hamstrung by the lack of new ownership when free agency rolls around will make life miserable for him. Nieuwendyk will have to get creative to try and find more players to surround rising star Jamie Benn and captain Brenden Morrow.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.