Andrew Ference, Raffi Torres, Tim Thomas

Boston and Vancouver have guys to listen to about heartbreaking Stanley Cup finals Game 7 losses

The euphoria and overwhelming joy that goes into winning the Stanley Cup is something we’ve all been able to witness one way or another and we’re all left in awe and jealousy over what that must be like. After the toil of arduous haul of around 100 games through the regular season and the playoffs having your season end by lifting the Stanley Cup and later consuming adult beverages out of it has to be one of the greatest feelings in the world, especially after doing it in Game 7.

For Boston’s Andrew Ference and Vancouver’s Raffi Torres, they can tell you all about how it feels to be on the opposite side of that equation. Going through all the same battles and struggles and fights only to come up short of the ultimate goal in a Stanley Cup finals Game 7. For them, they can help put the fear of whatever higher power their teammates might believe and tell them just what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the celebration and share with them why they don’t want to be watching their opponents lift the Cup tonight.

Hosea Cheung of Sun Media shares the take from both guys as they prepare for tonight’s Game 7.

While Ference says he remembers the game from seven years ago well, it doesn’t change his approach this time around.

“I don’t think the desire is any stronger, it’s the same,” he said. “I had all the motivation last time as well, sometimes it shakes out the right way for you and sometimes it doesn’t. Everybody knows the stakes but big games are still the same and the pressure remains as well.”

As for Torres, he credits the Edmonton Oilers’ 2006 playoff run he was a part of to hard work.

“Everything was an upset for us, so for us, we went into every game like we were the underdogs and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “It worked out for us.”

It’s incredible that both teams have someone to draw on Game 7 experience from and even tougher that they’ve both got guys that were losing teams in those Game 7s. For Ference, he’s proven to be a very well liked guy in Boston and an even better guy to talk with the media as he’s always thoughtful and open when he talks. Torres is well liked in Vancouver but drives opposing fans crazy with his physical play.

It’s tough to see anyone get close enough to winning the Cup only to come up short and sadly one of these two guys will have to go through it for a second time. You’d have to think that while the captains are going to say what they need to in the locker rooms to get their teammates going, both Torres and Ference will have a little bit extra to throw in for themselves. With how hockey has a funny way of drawing up its story lines, it’d be particularly sweet if either of these players makes the play to help their team win it all tonight. Making amends for past shortcomings like that would make for great drama.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.