Mike Gillis

Gillis and Tallon speak up after today’s big trade

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Today’s trade between Vancouver and Florida proved to be tonight’s big story. Canucks GM Mike Gillis got a chance to land a potential stud winger to play with Ryan Kesler in David Booth while the Panthers add a pair of experienced veterans in Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm with expiring contracts.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon giving up on David Booth is perhaps the most intriguing part of this deal. He’s 26 years-old with a potentially bright future ahead of him. He hasn’t been the same player he was looking like he was becoming since suffering a major concussion at the hands of Mike Richards two years ago, but Tallon was looking to shake things up and give Booth a chance to find his game again in a new place.

Shaking things up after just six games? All right then.

If Tallon is seeing an issue with his team and Booth was part of that, moving him now while his stock is still high is a good move. What he got in return, however is strange. With Sturm and Samuelsson he’s got two guys having bad starts to their year but their contracts are off the books after this season.

According to CapGeek.com, that gives Florida over $24 million in cap space next year. Another summer of spending on the way next year for Florida or is there a potential free agent they’re eyeballing already? Alex Semin, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne are all awfully attractive potential free agents next summer.

As for Mike Gillis, the deal is a virtual no-brainer for him as he tells the media in Vancouver.

Getting Booth to team up with former Team USA linemate Ryan Kesler and to get their own third round pick back make sense. Getting that pick back also means Vancouver can dip into the restricted free agent market next summer.

The potential catch here is if Booth doesn’t get back to his old form as a 30-goal scorer again. They’ve got Booth for the next four years at $4.25 million against the cap. If he’s not producing, that contract is a grizzly bear to deal with. It’s exciting for Vancouver, however, as seeing Booth riding on a line with Kesler and Chris Higgins (USA! USA! USA!) is more exciting than seeing Sturm there with Samuelsson. A good team getting better? Vancouver makes it look easy.

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.