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.

Video: Reimer, Allen shut down dangerous one-timers

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In an ideal world, goalie equipment wouldn’t be such an issue. Teams would be able to “get goalies moving” with great passing and chances just about no one could stop.

Then again, there are also those saves that a select handful of humans can pull off. A big reason why there’s only been one goal between the Panthers and Blues tonight is the lateral movement shown by both James Reimer and Jake Allen.

First, watch as Reimer robs Jori Lehtera on what’s likely the save of the night:

Allen really hasn’t been that far behind Reimer, right down to making a similar stop:

Considering the two nearly identical one-timer goals scored by Arizona against Anaheim in finding seams for big passes through opposing defenses, tonight’s goalies might want to do some extra stretching during intermissions.

Dvorak, Coyotes put Ducks in early hole with slick goals (Video)

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Connor Murphy #5 (second from left) of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Alexander Burmistrov #91, Shane Doan #19 and Christian Dvorak #18 after Murphy scored the game winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on February 11, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Coyotes’ happy thoughts are mostly centered on the future. Christian Dvorak possibly being more than a guy who put up nice junior numbers with Matthew Tkachuk and Mitch Marner could fuel some really nice thoughts.

He’s been red-hot in February, in particular, including a goal already tonight as the Coyotes raced off to an early 2-0 lead against the Anaheim Ducks.

Check out that smooth play for his 10th goal of 2016-17:

Again, he’s been on quite the roll lately.

February: nine points (and counting?) in nine games
Rest of the season: 13 points in 45 games

He only had one assist in 12 January contests, so this outburst is even more unexpected than the Coyotes racing off to this lead.

Interestingly, the Coyotes two goals looked awfully similar, at least in the finish:

Randy Carlyle’s mood? Probably not too chipper right now.

Brooks Laich wants another crack at NHL (with or without Leafs)

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29:  Brooks Laich #23 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for a puck drop against the Tampa Bay Lightning during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on February 29, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Brooks Laich wants another shot at playing in the NHL. As he told The Atlantic TO (sub required), if that means being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs, then so be it.

“You don’t win a Stanley Cup playing in the American Hockey League,” Laich said. “If the Leafs don’t have a plan for me with them, I would like to pursue a Stanley Cup somewhere else.”

Interesting.

Laich’s biased take: he has plenty more to give at the highest level.

Hmm, that … seems a little crazy. Few players see their best days at age 33 and beyond.

But what about his work with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies? Maybe he’s killing it there.

Well, if he is, his contributions aren’t showing in the simple counting stats. In 22 games this season, Laich has one goal and six points. He isn’t even firing a shot on goal per game (just 17 in those 22 contests).

Now, Laich wouldn’t sell you on his scoring skills. Face-offs might not be much of a calling card, either.

So … it’s easier to understand why he’s struggling to get a foothold in his career. Laich isn’t much of a scorer, isn’t dominant on the draw and isn’t someone who’s shown a history of dramatically tilting the ice in his team’s favor.

Does that mean he can’t be a fourth-line center, or failing that, at least a depth forward? Laich could conceivably be helpful to some team, even if it’s difficult to imagine anyone giving up anything but a minor asset for him.

And, yes, it’s crazy to imagine him exceeding anything he did with the Washington Capitals.

Avalanche say ankle injury ends Nikita Zadorov’s season

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14: Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Colorado Avalanche congratulates Matt Duchene #9 after his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Pepsi Center on December 14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As if the Colorado Avalanche needed another miserable element to 2016-17: Nikita Zadorov suffered a season-ending injury during the same practice that Erik Johnson returned.

Zadorov injured his ankle after being tangled up with Mikko Rantanen during a Monday practice, according to the Denver Post.

Update: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that it’s a fractured ankle. Yikes.

Zadorov, 21, is a big defenseman with the pedigree that would inspire teams to imagine better things in the future (16th pick in 2013 by Buffalo). So far, that potential hasn’t really manifested itself in production, whether you judge a player by points, plus/minus or possession numbers.

He may be able to put it together at some point – again, he’s young – so perhaps he’ll remember this as a low point before he turns things around.

At the moment, it’s just another grim part of a bleak time for the Avs.