Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Three

Tim Thomas the aggressor? Vancouver hopes officials will let them stand their ground

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One of the lasting visuals from Game 3 was that of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas taking a stand in his crease and delivering a body check to Canucks star and captain Henrik Sedin. Sedin was trying to glove down the puck from mid-air to play it and try to score. Thomas wasn’t eager to wait for Sedin to do that so he dropped him to the ice sending the crowd into a frenzy at the site.

While the Bruins and their fans loved the scene the Canucks were clearly not too happy about Thomas’ aggression. During today’s pregame press conference, coach Alain Vigneault expressed his thoughts on Thomas’ play and hopes that officials will allow his players to stand their ground while keeping an eye on what Thomas is doing.

“Part of Thomas’ way of playing is playing out of the blue paint, initiating contact, roaming out there. He seems to think that once he’s out, set, makes the save, that he can go directly back in his net without having anybody behind him,” Vigneault said.

“Well, that’s wrong. He’s got the wrong rule on that. If we’re behind him, that’s our ice and we’re allowed to stay there. We’ve talked to the NHL about that. We’ve talked to the NHL about him initiating contact like did on Hank. They’re aware of it. Hopefully they’re going to handle it.”

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The politicking never ends in the playoffs and while the Bruins and Canucks are both playing very physical hockey and dishing it out to each other ferociously, the one player you don’t expect that from is the goaltender. Given Thomas’ nature in goal the Canucks should be more aware of it, but that doesn’t make it right. As for what the Canucks might do in response, Vigneault was asked about that.

Q. Most of us weren’t even sure if it’s legal because surely you can’t body check him. What explanation did the league give you on his ability to throw a hit like that?

COACH VIGNEAULT: I’m not going to give you the explanation.

I will tell you, everybody is aware of it, we talked to it prior to this series, about the way he plays. We got clarification on what is allowable as far as him coming back in his net after he’s out five or ten feet past the blue paint. Hopefully everything will get sorted out on the ice.

While we don’t expect things to get out of hand around the goal, it’s not as if the Canucks are being saints either.

The play that helped set off the entire situation that ended with Milan Lucic taunting Alex Burrows started when Burrows tried to chop at the puck trapped on the side of the net. Thomas had his glove hand covering the puck to draw a whistle, but Burrows took a chop at his hand and then the shenanigans began in earnest between Burrows and Lucic.

Everyone’s getting their shots in one way or another and there are certainly no saints to be found on the ice in this series. If Vigneault wants it to be looked at closer, he may not like what ends up being called to settle things down.

PHT Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby eyes more history

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)

Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)

 

A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:

Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:

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.