David Steckel

Devils trade David Steckel to Maple Leafs for a fourth round pick; More moves coming?

When a deal comes together between Brian Burke and Lou Lamoriello it’s like a layer cake of analysis, even if it’s a small deal. New Jersey sent center David Steckel to Toronto in exchange for a 2012 fourth round draft pick. It’s not a big deal by any means, but it’s one that has curious effects on both teams.

For Toronto, Steckel enters a situation where the Leafs have a lot of depth at center. Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski have the top two lines taken care of, but guys like Matt Lombardi, Tyler Bozak, and Philippe Dupuis are in the mix on the bottom two lines. Bozak was assumed to be the third line center while Lombardi would likely start on his wing, or vice-versa. Dupuis was set to be the center on the fourth line, but with Steckel and his league-leading faceoff winning abilities now in town, he likely slots in there.

The guy getting the squeeze here could be Bozak as Lombardi being healthy again after concussion issues makes him a bit redundant. Bozak is more of an offensive player but having him center a third or fourth line doesn’t make much sense and there isn’t room for him elsewhere in the lineup.

In New Jersey, Steckel was already squirreled away as the Devils’ third or fourth line center, but with him headed to Toronto now the door is open for the Devils young guys to take over. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello tells Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice that the move opens the door for others to fit in better with the team.

“It certainly frees up a roster spot for a combination of us looking into seeing what we can do with Petr Sykora and also the young players (Adam) Henrique and Mattias Tedenby and Brad Mills, Cam Janssen, I think they’ve warranted being on the roster,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “But the coaches will have different options at that center position: Hernrique, Petr Sykora and Brad Mills.”

Sykora has yet to sign with the Devils. If he is sticking around, that move will happen soon enough.

It’s a blip on the screen when it comes to headline-grabbing deals, but it’s the sort of deal that could lead to other others happening to follow it up, especially in Toronto.

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.