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.

‘It’s all my fault’: Mike Babcock takes responsibility for penalty box blunder

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Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is often regarded as the best coach in hockey, but even the best make silly mistakes sometimes.

During last night’s game between the Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, Babcock’s error forced his team to play an extra 1:54 shorthanded.

Early in the third frame, Roman Polak was given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Oliver Bjorkstrand (Polak is scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Thursday morning). Instead of sending someone to the penalty box to serve the major infraction, Babcock decided to leave the box empty.

Coaches aren’t obliged to send someone to the sin bin right away. During any stoppage in play before the end of penalty, they can send someone to finish serving the infraction. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Babcock never did.

So when Polak’s five-minute major expired, the Leafs couldn’t simply throw someone onto the ice from their bench, they had to wait for a stoppage in play.

Toronto players tried to ice the puck a couple of times, but that didn’t work. So finally, Brian Boyle flipped the puck into the Columbus bench to get a whistle, but not before his team spent nearly seven straight minutes shorthanded.

They ended up winning 5-2, but they held a slim 3-2 lead at the time.

Luckily for Babcock, his penalty killers did an incredible job, as they only allowed one shot on goal throughout the kill.

After the game, he took full responsibility for what happened.

“I’m doing better now, but can you imagine?,” said the Leafs bench boss, per the Toronto Sun. “It’s all my fault, me, the two assistants on the bench, two in the video room and 15 players on the bench. And we can’t get that done right? Often it happens and you just fire a guy in the box. It could have cost you. It will never happen in my lifetime again, I will never wait to put a guy in. But our penalty kill was really good.”

PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin will be rocking incredible custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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–With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will be in and out of the playoffs. With that being said, The Hockey News put together a list of five players that could benefit from playing on another team. Devils goalie Cory Schneider is at the top of the list. Schneider’s been solid since joining New Jersey, but the team hasn’t had much success. (The Hockey News)

Erik Karlsson has always been known as an offensive defenseman, but this year, he’s made several defensive improvements to his game. The changes have made him so effective that his head coach, Guy Boucher, believes he should be in the running for a Hart Trophy. (Canadian Press)

–The Washington Capitals will be hosting a Russian Heritage Night tonight. During the pre-game warmup, Alex Ovechkin will be rocking these custom skates honoring his home land and his American home. He’ll be auctioning off the skates too. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

–The New York Islanders trailed the Rangers 2-1 heading into the third period, but thanks to goals by Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd, they were able to come out on top. You can watch the highlights from last night’s “Battle of New York” by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Vegas GM George McPhee chatted with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe about being able to build a team from scratch. McPhee called the experience “fantastic” and “really neat”. He also discussed his vision for the team and how he’s approaching the expansion draft. (Sportsnet)

–The Detroit Red Wings have been a model franchise for quite some time, but they’ve on the verge of going through some pretty big changes. First, Joe Louis Arena will be closing its doors and secondly, their long playoff streak will be coming to an end this season. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the old barn and the third-longest playoff streak in pro sports. (Sports Illustrated)

–Many people feel like the Calder Trophy race will come down to Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, but Bob McKenzie says there’s more than two worthy candidates because Zach Werenski has been equally good this season. But who is McKenzie leaning toward?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).