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.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP
1 Comment

It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP
2 Comments

Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
AP
7 Comments

Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
3 Comments

For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.