James Reimer, Darryl Boyce, Matthew Lombardi

Gauging goalie trade targets for the Maple Leafs

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in the eighth spot in the East, but they’re floundering a bit. Aside from a mini-run here and there, you can attribute Toronto’s successes almost solely to its explosive offense.

Even in some of the lower moments of the season, GM Brian Burke has been quick to support his goalies – at least publicly – although that seemed to change on Wednesday. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle reports that Burke admitted he might test the market for some goaltending help.

Although Mirtle spent much of his story discussing younger netminders such as Ben Bishop, Jonathan Bernier and Cory Schneider, Burke indicated that he’s more interested in a quick-fix. That implies that the Maple Leafs are leaning toward a veteran rental who would cost less in a trade than “goalie of the future” types.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the most interesting targets who fit Burke’s specifications.

source: Getty ImagesEvgeni Nabokov – Yes, the New York Islanders have indicated that they want to re-sign Nabby, but would that really be the best move for a team whose short-term future is cloudy? It might be best to strike while the iron is hot with a goalie who isn’t getting any younger.

Nabby might not be tailor-made for the Toronto pressure cooker, but he’s playing great hockey and could provide the just-good-enough work to make them an interesting dark horse candidate. (Ron Wilson’s also familiar with him from their time together in San Jose.)

Tomas Vokoun – OK, I know this is a bit surprising, but if the Capitals clean house he’s a logical first choice. Vokoun is an experienced goalie with an expiring contract and plenty to prove. He’s the best option Washington has in net on most nights right now yet his reception keeps getting more sour. That sinking relationship could make for quite the bargain, especially considering Vokoun’s track record before this rocky season.

The point’s probably moot because the Buds and Caps might go head-to-head for one of the last playoff spots, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a moot point.

Antero Niittymaki/Curtis Sanford/Ty Conklin: The Maple Leafs could really reach in the bargain bin with one of these journeyman netminders. Sanford might fetch the highest ransom because he’s had more success season. Oh yeah, he also hasn’t been placed on waivers …

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So what’s your take on Toronto’s net situation? Should they stay put, go cheap with a veteran or sell the farm for a Schneider-type backup? Do tell.

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.