Boudreau Anaheim AP

Weekend Watch: Five games you need to see

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This is the Weekend Watch. It’s a guide of what to watch this weekend.

Tonight: Philadelphia at Anaheim, 10pm ET

Check out these tweets from Eric Stephens of the OC Register:

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The term “culture change” gets thrown around a lot, but it might actually mean something in Anaheim. For as good a coach as Carlyle is, he was regarded as a guy that — because of his gruff personality and grumpy demeanor — wore players down. Don’t get me wrong, Boudreau will probably wear out the Ducks in a similar manner. But for now, weeeeee! No meetings!

Saturday: Toronto at Boston, 7pm ET

The Bruins didn’t lose a game in regulation last month. The last time they did that was January 1969, when Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk and Bobby Orr were wearing the black and gold. Needless to say, the Bruins are on some kind of roll right now. They demand your attention. And if you don’t give it, Milan Lucic will run you over. (Joking.) (I think.)

It’s also worth mentioning that the Bruins were 3-7-0 on Oct. 31, dead last in the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference. On Dec. 1 the Bruins were 15-7-1, first in the Northeast and second in the conference.

Saturday: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay, 7pm ET

The Torts Bowl! Well, sorta. This won’t be the first time John Tortorella returns to the city where he won a Stanley Cup, but it will be the first time he goes back coaching ex-Lightning star Brad Richards, the 2004 Conn Smythe winner.

Gotta think Torts had this one circled on the calendar. In addition to the “return to T-Bay” angle, his Rangers lost all four games against the Lightning last year.

Saturday: Chicago at St. Louis, 8pm ET

One of the best divisional rivalries in hockey, dating all the way back to the old Norris Divison (see: St. Patrick’s Day Massacre, Mar. 1991 — yeah, you have to watch the whole thing.)

This particular game will hold extra meaning for the Blues, however. It marks the return of LW David Perron, who has missed the last 97 games with a concussion.

“What we talked about last July is that our best free agent signing this year would be getting a healthy David Perron,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. “We’ve waiting a little bit into the season, but his talent and his skill set is not easily replaceable in the lineup.”

Sunday: Calgary at Vancouver, 9pm ET

Expect this to be asked in advance of every Canucks game for the foreseeable future: Luongo or Schneider?

PHT Morning Skate: Jim Craig doesn’t regret selling ‘Miracle on Ice’ memorabilia

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–These parents named their baby girl after Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. (ABC News)

–The  hockey card that helped inspire a Tragically Hip song. (Puck Junk)

–The fan who promised to get a tattoo of Gary Bettman if LA and Chicago were eliminated in the first round kept his word. (Bardown)

–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Sharks and Blues. (Top)

–Jim Craig doesn’t regret auctioning off most of his “Miracle on Ice” memorabilia. (Yahoo)

–A Q & A with former Quebec Nordiques forward Peter Stastny. (ESPN)

–Former Flyers coach Craig Berube breaks down Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. (NHL)

Hitch: ‘I see the devastation in our locker room’

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Despite a late comeback attempt, the 2015-16 season came to an end for the St. Louis Blues, as they lost the Western Conference Final in six games to the San Jose Sharks.

And with Wednesday’s loss, the off-season will settle upon the Blues. It will be an intriguing one in St. Louis, starting with their head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’s on a one-year deal and he has already outlined that he’s fine with taking short-term contracts. But is an appearance in the conference final enough to solidify his place behind the St. Louis bench for next year?

The Blues have, according to General Fanager, five pending unrestricted free agent forwards, including Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Steve Ott, and most notably Troy Brouwer and David Backes.

Backes, 32, is the team’s captain and coming off a 21-goal, 45-point regular season, which is a decline from the numbers — 26 goals and 58 points — he posted the year before. Brouwer, 30, enjoyed the best post-season of his career, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games, and he could potentially cash in on that this summer.

However, while there are questions ahead for the Blues, the emotional toll this loss took was clear.

“I see the devastation in our locker room right now. Guys aren’t even able to speak. I’m more worried about our guys right now, to be honest with you. We got some guys that are pretty shook up right now,” said Hitchcock to reporters.

“I’m not going to talk to them for a day or two. They need their space with each other. They’ve bonded together here better than any team I’ve coached in the last 10 years. They need their time together. They don’t need me interrupting them right now. We’ll talk at an appropriate time. But right now they need to be with each other.”

 

Video: So, Joe Thornton is pretty stoked about playing in the Stanley Cup Final

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‘Jumbo’ Joe Thornton is off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. The San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

And yeah, the 36-year-old Thornton, a veteran of 1,367 regular season games with 1,341 career regular season points, is pretty excited for both himself and his team when it comes to this feat.

It hasn’t been easy in San Jose. It hasn’t been easy for the franchise, for the fans, for the players, for Thornton or for Patrick Marleau, who is also 36 years old and has played his entire career (1,411 regular season games) in San Jose.

There have been playoff failures and a regular season disappointment last year. There has been a coaching change and harsh words exchanged between Thornton and management — more specifically, GM Doug Wilson — and an organizational decision to remove the captaincy from Thornton.

After all that, however, the Sharks are four wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Did we mention Joe Thornton is excited about the final?

Franchise history: The Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final

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For the first time in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final.

This, after a monumental and historical collapse in the first round to the L.A. Kings two years ago. This, after they failed to make the playoffs a year ago, resulting in a coaching change. There have been other post-season disappointments along the way before that, too.

Those difficult times may never be forgotten. But the Sharks have rebounded, and it culminated with a 5-2 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday. Fans at SAP Center could feel it, too, especially after Joel Ward scored his second goal of the night, giving San Jose a three-goal lead early in the third period.

The Blues attempted a furious comeback but couldn’t quite complete it.

The Sharks this year have eliminated the Kings, Nashville Predators and now the Blues in that order. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

The Sharks got off to the perfect start in the series clincher versus St. Louis. Joe Pavelski recorded his 13th goal, which leads all players in this post-season, and the Sharks continued to roll from there.

Ward increased the lead in the second period and again in the third. His second of the night proved to be the winner. Joonas Donskoi‘s goal, making it 4-0 San Jose before the midway point of the third period, proved critical as the Blues tried to spark a desperation comeback.

The Blues’ leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (40 goals, 74 points in the regular season) was held off the score sheet through the first five games of this series, before finally striking for both St. Louis goals in Game 6.