Bruce Boudreau

PHT Oddsmaker: Let’s gamble on the NHL

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PHT Oddsmaker will be a regular feature where we set pretend odds and pretend to gamble on them. If you’d like to bet real money, meet us in the alley and we’ll talk.

Odds Bruce Boudreau will be fired before the playoffs (+300)

You wouldn’t normally speculate about a coach getting fired when his team is 8-2-0. But here’s something else that normally doesn’t happen: a superstar getting caught on TV calling his coach a…well, you know what he called him. Add to the equation Boudreau’s inability to get the Caps past the second round despite three straight spectacular regular seasons, and the potential for a mid-season change is definitely there. Ovechkin will be the key to Boudreau’s future. Clearly coach and captain aren’t on the same page right now. The question is, does Ovechkin still respect his coach? I’ll pass on this one, because winning is the only thing that really matters. That said, we saw the Caps go into a funk last season. If that happens again, I’ll regret not jumping all over this.

Odds the Bruins miss the playoffs (+400)

Don’t automatically dismiss the possibility. Chicago barely made it last year. The Bruins (4-7-0) currently sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference, four points back of eighth-place Buffalo, which has a game in hand on the defending champs. Now consider a few of the other teams currently on the outside looking in: the Lightning, Rangers, Canadiens and Devils. All half-decent sides. Granted, the Leafs, Sens, Panthers and/or Hurricanes could easily fall out of the top eight, but I’ll still put a few bucks on this. The east is a tougher conference than it was last season and the B’s have already dug themselves a decent-sized hole.

Odds Jarome Iginla is traded by the deadline (+200)

Common sense tells me Iginla should want out. He’s never won a Stanley Cup and the Flames are a long way from winning one. He’s also 34 years old, so his chances are running out, as are the Flames’ chances of trading him for something worthwhile in return. Iginla has two years left, including this one, on a contract with a $7 million annual cap hit. There are teams out there that would be interested, whether they’ve got the cap space now or not. Of course, there are other factors at play. Iginla clearly likes playing in Calgary and the Flames clearly like him in their organization. Winning a Stanley Cup isn’t everything for some players. Sometimes franchise loyalty and staying in a city that’s become home is more important. I think I’ll pass on this one. It’s too hard to picture him in a different uniform.

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.