Tim Thomas inspires hope during his day with the Cup

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Leave it to Tim Thomas to have an inspirational, uplifting moment—even on a day when he’s celebrating with the Stanley Cup. Wouldn’t you know it, that Thomas would have the type of celebration that mirrored so much of his career? There have been plenty of parties surrounding the Bruins and the Stanley Cup this summer, but Thomas’ celebration was set on a Michigan football field at his former high school talking to friends and family about his humble roots.

Somehow, I don’t think Brad Marchand was rapping “Black and Yellow” at Cardinal Stadium.

While speaking at his alma mater, he talked about how playing various sports throughout his development effected him over the course of his career. Some guys are solely playing hockey from the moment they can skate, but Thomas was a three-sport athlete at Davison High School. What is it that they say about the “road less traveled?”

“At times early in my career I wondered if that slowed down my path to hopefully the NHL, but looking back it was definitely the right decision. I was able to enjoy those years and play different sports. If anything it developed my love for hockey because it made me realize I loved hockey more than the other sports. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not burned out now at 37.”

He went onto talk about the area that inspired his work ethic—the type of dedication that helped him navigate through the twists and turns of hockey in the minors and overseas. It’s cliché, but it was his environment growing up that cultivated the perseverance that Thomas would depend on throughout his professional career. From Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s excellent story on Yahoo! Sports:

“I think the Midwest work ethic was highly instilled in me growing up. I was also taught that if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work towards it that you can get it. It’s kind of the American dream, so to speak, which I think a lot of people, actually, to be honest, have kind of given up on. But I’m proof that you still can. If there’s anything that the younger generation that’s watching here today takes out of it, it’s that it’s up to you.”

After sharing the story, Thomas went deeper after the event with Craig Custance and reflected on the bigger picture:

“It’s not the easiest of times, let’s be honest, in the United States right now. There’s high unemployment in the younger generation. I think they need hope… they need to be inspired.”

There are plenty of ways people can take Tim Thomas’ day with the Cup. Some will read into the story with political motives, as they look at an area that has been hit hard by the tumbling economy. Some will take his message with personal meaning, as they push through tough times in their own individual lives. Still others will listen to Thomas’ words and will find the inspiration to chase their dreams—even when they seem impossible. For those people, Thomas’ cousin Susan Danner shared in Custance’s story that her cousin should be providing motivation for the people who need to be inspired.  “We know how hard he worked,” Danner said.  “Anybody who doesn’t believe in patience, there’s a true story of patience.”

Thank you for the feel good story of the offseason.

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.