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Sheldon Souray looks to fit in with Stars

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Of all of the free agent signings on July 1st, Sheldon Souray’s deal with the Dallas Stars may be one of the more fascinating deals. Most people know that Souray and his contract were sentenced to the AHL last season; NHL teams wouldn’t even sign the veteran blueliner as he passed through waivers. When the Oilers cut ties with Souray this summer making him a free agent, Stars stepped up to give Studly Wonderbomb a chance to show that he still can play at the NHL level. Perhaps more importantly, they gave him the chance to show that he can stay healthy for an entire 82-game NHL season.

Not surprisingly, Souray is already in Dallas preparing for his new coach with his new team. He took the time to talk to Mark Stepneski after skating at the Dallas Stars practice facility:

“I just hope to come in here and complement them, whether it’s playing big and using my size and my experience. If I get a chance to play some special teams, chip in there. I am just looking to jell with the group early. They’ve got guys who have been here for a while, guys who know what the systems are and what the organization is like. I think with a new coach we all start on a new page a little bit. There’s a canvas that needs to be painted and I want to be one of the guys that helps all the guys. I may be the oldest guy here now.”

Even though the Stars have Stephane Robidas, Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, and Nicklas Grossman who are all slated for big-time minutes next season, a guy with Souray’s skill-set will receive every opportunity to make the team. He (and his shot) will be a welcomed addition to a team that will desperately need to find alternative sources of scoring after watching Brad Richards leave for New York.

The Stars are gambling that Souray can find the consistency (and health) that helped him score 23 goals and 53 points in the full season he was healthy (2008-09). Dallas Stars blog DefendingBigD.com is hoping for the best:

With Souray being so motivated to prove that he still “has it”, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a comeback year for Souray. That chip on Souray’s shoulders is the key here — a motivated player is exactly what the Stars want as he will be determined to contribute wherever possible, whenever possible. Souray is signed for one season, so if the Stars-Souray experiment does not play out on the optimistic side, the team has given some veteran experience to their relatively young defense while not overcommitting time or money.

When he’s at his best, Souray is a defenseman who can score from the point, play a physical style of game, and stick up for his teammates. More precisely, he’s at his best when he’s actually on the ice (not in the pressbox). If Souray can stay healthy for 82 games this season, the move has the potential to be one of the better bargain signings of the offseason. Even if he isn’t the player that he was a few years ago, the Stars still have defensemen that can log major minutes while Souray fills in as a third-pairing defenseman.

If the Stars get the motivated and healthy player they think they signed, Souray could be a perfect fit in Dallas.

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.