It’s a do-or-die Game 6 for Tampa Bay at home against Boston. Tampa Bay can stave off elimination for a day and force a Game 7 on Friday night with a win tonight over the Bruins but the Bruins will be looking to put an end to things early and clinch their first spot in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990.
Boston @ Tampa Bay – 8 p.m. ET (Versus) – Boston leads series 3-2
While the Bruins lineup will hold strong and play out the same way as it has the last few games, things in Tampa Bay are getting shuffled up a bit from Game 5. Dwayne Roloson will once again be back in goal to start for the Lightning after getting a day off in Game 5. In Game 5, Mike Smith played well in spite of losing giving up a pair of goals in a 3-1 Bruins win.
Some thought it might be the start of a goalie controversy but coach Guy Boucher put that talk to a stop quickly saying Roloson would get the start in Game 6 after “getting a rest” in Game 5. A curious decision nonetheless, but if Roloson slams the door shut tonight and helps Tampa Bay force a Game 7, the adulation for Boucher will grow stronger.
The other intrigue for Tampa Bay in their lineup is whether or not Sean Bergenheim will play tonight. Bergenheim left Game 5 with an injury and did not return and Boucher says it will be a game time decision whether or not he plays. If Bergenheim sits, it’ll be either forward Dana Tyrell or defenseman Randy Jones playing in his spot.
One matter to keep an eye on tonight is how the penalties shake out as referee Eric Furlatt gets to call tonight’s game and he hasn’t exactly been very Lightning-friendly through the playoffs calling 24 penalties against them and only nine against Tampa’s opponents. Guy Boucher says he’s “very aware” of the discrepancy and broke out some of his own gamesmanship this afternoon when asked about it.
For Boston, the key for them is to jump out on the Lightning early and get a goal to both put the Lightning back on their heels and to quiet down the crowd. Boston’s been great when grabbing leads early (Game 4 aside) and doing so again tonight would test the Lightning’s willingness to snap out of it and fight back yet again. The Lightning aren’t ones to show much quit but it demands that the Bruins play hard and stay aggressive for all 60 minutes. If they do that and get great play out of Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas yet again, they could be shaking hands at the end of tonight’s game.
For more analysis on tonight’s game, check out what Keith Jones and Mike Milbury had to say about things earlier today.
Jyrki Jokipakka was one of the three Finnish d-men added to the World Cup roster last week but, according to Calgary president Brian Burke, Jokipakka isn’t a lock to play this fall.
“He had hip surgery after the season, and it’s not 100 percent that he’s going to be able to compete in this tournament,” Burke told Sportsnet’s Fan 960. “But the fact he was named recognizes his accomplishments to date, and we’re very proud of [him].”
Jokipakka, acquired in the Kris Russell-to-Dallas deadline trade, appeared in 58 games last year — 18 for the Flames, 40 for the Stars. He finished with two goals and 12 points.
Still only 24 years old, Jokipakka could be a nice piece for the Flames moving forward. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and was rated highly enough to crack the Finnish roster (granted, the country isn’t overwhelmingly deep on the blueline).
So it’s understandable why the club might be wary of letting him play in the World Cup. In addition to coming off major surgery, Jokipakka is headed into the last of a two-year, $1.8 million deal with a $900,000 average annual cap hit.
Once that expires, he’ll become a restricted free agent.
PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang will play tonight. He confirmed it this morning, albeit in rather unusual circumstances.
Letang did not participate in yesterday’s Media Day at the Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t practice either. The Penguins said it was simply a “maintenance day” for their best defensemen, but when it was learned he would hold a press conference this morning, all of a sudden people started to wonder about his status for Game 1 against the Sharks.
He was asked if he was playing.
So, no problems?
And that was that.
No explanation was provided about yesterday, but Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said a few minutes later that he was confident that Letang would be able to log his usual amount of minutes.
“Very confident,” said Sullivan.
Penguins center Nick Bonino also confirmed that he’ll be able to go tonight. He didn’t skate Saturday or Sunday, but was on the ice this morning.
Jan Bulis, who appeared in 552 games with the Capitals, Canadiens and Canucks, announced his retirement from professional hockey today, per Czech news outlet Ceske Noviny.
Bulis, 38, last played in North America with Vancouver during the 2006-07 campaign, and has since carved out a pretty lengthy career in the KHL, playing for both Mytishchi Atlant and Chelyabinsk Traktor.
Picked 43rd overall by Washington at the 1996 draft, Bulis’ best years came with the Habs. He posted a career-high 20 goals and 40 points in 2005-06 — that year, he also represented the Czechs at the Winter Olympics in Turin (capturing bronze) and at the World Hockey Championships (capturing silver).
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.