Patrick Sharp

Patrick Sharp signs long-awaited contract extension with Chicago for five years, $29.5 million

4 Comments

Chicago’s Patrick Sharp was shaping up to be one of the more intriguing unrestricted free agents next summer if he made it that far. The Blackhawks and GM Stan Bowman were determined to make sure that didn’t happen, however, and have signed their scoring stud to a five-year contract extension.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweets that the deal has a cap hit of $5.9 million per season which works out to a deal worth $29.5 million over the course of the term. The annual amount is good for a $2 million raise on what he’s making this season. It’s a hefty cap hit and payout, but Sharp’s play in Chicago, especially last season has made him invaluable to the franchise.

Sharp has been one of the most encouraging players in Chicago the last few seasons. Since joining Chicago from Philadelphia back in 2006, he’s been the perfect fit with the team and their system. In his time in Chicago, he’s scored 150 goals over five and a half seasons including a career high 36 in 2007-2008 and 34 last season which led the Blackhawks in goals.

While it could be easy for some players to get lost playing alongside guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, Sharp has thrived in Chicago and his play in the playoff in 2010 helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup. Sharp’s signing also means the core of stars in Chicago are all locked up from Toews, Hossa, Kane, Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The tough part of Bowman’s job now comes in trying to balance the salary cap around all of those players.

Sharp’s presence in Chicago is one that has him as a consistently solid player on the ice. While the Blackhawks dealt with injuries and some inconsistency from other star players, Sharp was a constant threat to score all season long and even parlayed that great play into being named the MVP of the 2011 All-Star Game as well.

Sharp’s deal is going to pay him a lot of scratch and he’ll have to keep his level of production where it has been the last two seasons scoring more than 65 points per season. If he can keep the goal scoring level where it was at last season and mix in the playmaking ability he showed two seasons ago when he had 41 assists, the deal will be perfect for Chicago. In this case, the Blackhawks are paying up for consistent play and keeping a guy that makes them better on a nightly basis.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

1 Comment

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

7 Comments

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

18 Comments

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.

***

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.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

11 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.