Chiarelli talked to Flyers and Capitals about moving Tim Thomas

1 Comment

On the eve of a Stanley Cup parade traveling down Causeway, we learned just how close Boston’s playoff hero came to wearing another jersey this season. Rewind to the beginning of the season and there were plenty of questions about Tim Thomas’ age, health, and spot on this Bruins team. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner was coming off an injury plagued season that saw him lose his starting job to the promising Tuukka Rask. After Thomas’ historic season, it’s hard to remember the questionable circumstances in which the season started for the veteran. Luckily for the Bruins (and their fans), GM Peter Chiarelli had faith that Thomas would rebound this season.

In fact, opposing general managers were inquiring about his availability before the season—including two talented Eastern Conference rivals. Joe Haggerty from CSNNE.com spoke to Chiarelli and learned that the Flyers and Capitals both had preliminary interest in acquiring Thomas.

“Chiarelli admitted on Friday morning he’d taken phone calls about Tim Thomas, and sources indicated then to CSNNE.com that the most seriously interested parties were Washington and Philadelphia. The Bruins and Flyers had casually discussed a deal involving Thomas to the Flyers while the goalie was recovering from hip surgery after losing his playoff starting role to a younger goaltending model in Tuukka Rask.

But the two teams couldn’t agree on fair trade value for Thomas (the Bruins wanted Jeff Carter, and the Flyers were only willing to unload Simon Gagne), though Philadelphia was the place Thomas wanted to be if he was going to be moved.”

Needless to say, acquiring Thomas would have solved all of the Flyers goaltending problems this season. They wouldn’t be negotiating with the Ilya Bryzgalov this offseason and they wouldn’t have had to rush Sergei Bobrovsky into a starting role. Let’s face it—the Flyers with Tim Thomas would have been an absolute beast of a team and probably would have been on the other end of the 4-0 sweep against the Bruins in the playoffs.

The Capitals also could have used a veteran on their team—both between the pipes to help their trio of young goaltenders and also in their locker room. Bruins players have said over the course of the season that Thomas was a calming influence on the ice when the opponents were pressuring. That same calming influence was exactly what the Caps needed against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. Instead, they went with their young goaltenders, had the best regular season record in the East again, and still have no more answers today than they did at the beginning of the season.

Peter Chiarelli spoke about trade offers from other teams and how close he was to moving the Conn Smythe Trophy winner before the season started:

“Not really (close). If you can recall at the time there was a kind of a mutual agreement between myself and Tim [Thomas] and Bill Zito to explore [a trade] on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston. That’s really where it ended. It’s really where it ended.

“There were some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times. He kept stressing he didn’t want to leave. And I said ‘I know… let’s just look at this very briefly.’ I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I at least didn’t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things on a number of fronts with a number of players. You just field stuff. You look at them and you talk to other teams. At the end of the day you make the decision ‘yay or nay’. And here it was ‘nay.’ It was an easy ‘nay.’

Glad to hear it was an easy decision for Chiarelli. The only numbers better than Tim Thomas’ stats during the regular season were his stats in the playoffs. In the regular season, Thomas posted a 35-11-9 record with a 2.00 goals against average and .938 save percentage. The numbers were good enough to earn him an invitation to Las Vegas as a Vezina finalist—and unless a meteor hits The Palms, he’ll walk away with his second trophy in the last three seasons. His major competitor this season wasn’t someone playing for another team, but someone playing in a different era. Even Dominik Hasek would have been impressed by Thomas’ regular season.

In the playoffs, Thomas did one better. En route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, he actually improved upon his regular season stats. The 1.98 goals against average and .940 save percentage will have people talking about his postseason for years to come.

Simply stated: he had one of the most dominant seasons the NHL has ever seen. Bruins fans are undoubtedly happy that he did it in Boston.

NHL on NBCSN: Injury-riddled Pens look to snap three-game skid against slumping Blackhawks

Getty
Leave a comment

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Since the All-Star break, the Blackhawks have been one of the better teams in the NHL. Their terrific run over the last few weeks has not only allowed them to jump ahead of Minnesota for top spot in the Central, but it’s also enabled them to build a seven-point lead over their division rival.

But it’s not all perfect in Chicago right now. Despite the fact that they’re in a good spot in the standings, the ‘Hawks had a rough ride through Florida in the last few days.

On Saturday night, they were thumped 7-0 by the Panthers, and on Monday, they blew a 4-1 lead to the Tampa Bay Lightning before losing in overtime.

Their effort may have been better on Monday than it was on Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough to propel them to victory.

“I thought we were 100 percent better than we were last game,” head coach Joel Quenneville said after the loss to the Bolts, per the Chicago Tribune. “I know we had everything going our way there and we started getting cute in the neutral zone and had turnovers in that area, gave them rush chances.”

The performances in their last two games led defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to suggest that his team was “too comfortable” this late into the season.

The ‘Hawks have dropped three of their last four games (their only win came in a shootout victory over Dallas).

Now, they’ll have an opportunity to get back on track against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are having issues of their own, and it’s mostly injury-related.

Pittsburgh has been without Evgeni Malkin, Carl Hagelin, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta and Ron Hainsey, and it’s clearly affected their play.

There’s a bit of good news on the injury front. Conor Sheary, who suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday, is expected to play tonight.

Malkin was able to skate on his own on Tuesday, and head coach Mike Sullivan hopes to get him back soon.

“Our medical staff has a good handle on it,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune. “He’s going through a process both on and off the ice. He skated this morning, and he’s making progress, so we’re encouraged and we’re hopeful we’ll get him back sooner than later.”

Coming into tonight’s game, the Penguins have dropped three in a row to the Senators (shootout), Islanders (shootout) and Flyers.

The Pens aren’t in any danger of missing the playoffs, but they’re still battling for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Columbus’ win over Buffalo pushed them two points ahead of the Penguins (both have played 75 games). The Jackets also have four more regulation/overtime wins.

The Capitals, who beat Minnesota last night, are three points up on Columbus and five points up on Pittsburgh.

PHT Morning Skate: Joel Armia scored an amazing shorthanded goal you’ll have to see to believe

1 Comment

Joel Armia has developed into a very useful player for the Winnipeg Jets, and on Tuesday night, he scored an incredible end-to-end goal that you won’t want to miss. He fought off one New Jersey Devil then got around two others before scoring this beautiful shorthanded goal. (Top)

–The Score breaks down the best “bang for your buck” contracts on each Canadian team. It’s not shocking to see Senators goalie Mike Condon on this list. The second-year netminder has been with three teams this season, but he’s come through in a big way for the Senators, and he only makes $575,000. (The Score)

–The ESPN Hockey writers put together a list of what they think the Vegas Golden Knights roster is going to look like after the expansion draft. Some well-known names like Andrew Cogliano, Jonas Brodin, Mikkel Boedker, Tomas Plekanec, Jonathan Marchessault, Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg all made the list. (ESPN)

–Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” blog touched on some advice David Poile had for the Golden Knights now that the Oakland Raiders will be moving to Vegas. “You have to do your own thing. We created our ‘Predator Way.’ The Smashville idea and name. In-game entertainment fitting the market. Those things worked.” Friedman also wrote about Ken Hitchcock possibly returning to Dallas, and much more. (Sportsnet)

–Brampton Thunder forward Laura Stacey is the great-granddaughter of hall-of-fame defenseman King Clancy. Recently, Stacey decided she wanted to do a little digging into her great-grandfather’s career, and it really allowed her to get an appreciation for everything he accomplished. “Now I understand how hard he worked, how passionate and determined he was to be the best. Yes, it was a different era, but I can only imagine how hard he had to work to get where he was. As I get older, it makes it more special in that I know more the kind of guy he was.” (Canadian Press)

–The Montreal Canadiens have had some incredible defensemen come through their organization, but last night, Andrei Markov was able to reach an impressive milestone. By picking up an assist in a 4-1 win over Dallas, he tied Guy Lapointe for second in points by a defenseman in franchise history. Larry Robinson’s mark is pretty safe.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

Getty
Leave a comment

The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

Getty
5 Comments

There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.