When the New Jersey Devils drop the puck in Montreal on Sunday night against the Canadiens (6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN), they’ll be aiming to keep their torrid run through the Eastern Conference going strong. The Devils are sixth in the East just a point behind their division rivals the Penguins and Flyers.
Leading the charge for New Jersey isn’t Montreal native Martin Brodeur, it’s superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has shed the label of being an offense-only forward and has become one of the team’s most reliable and dangerous penalty killers as well as being a consistent goal-scoring threat. With the kind of play he’s putting on the ice this season, he’s got some people whispering his name in the discussion for the Hart Trophy.
Brodeur hasn’t been too bad himself this season, but at 39-years-old he knows that this could wind up being the last game he plays in his hometown, but he’s choosing not to look at it that way as Tom Gulitti from Fire & Ice found out. With Montreal unlikely to make the playoffs, if this season is Brodeur’s final season, expect him to pull out all the stops in front of his hometown. Stopping the Canadiens might prove tricky.
The Habs might be in Canada, but they have a team fit to play on Hockey Day in America. With Americans Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole, Scott Gomez, and injured captain Brian Gionta on the roster the Habs have a lot more red, white, and blue than they’re used to seeing in la belle province. Fine Canadian players like Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban make for nice complementary pieces themselves.
The Habs will be looking to play spoilers for the Devils as they’ve started to sell off ahead of the trade deadline by dealing Hal Gill, another fine American, to Nashville. Carey Price will have to be the guy that takes care of business there for Montreal in goal. Getting to square off against a future Hall of Famer in Brodeur should give him the motivation he’s looking for.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5