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.
Darryl Sutter is forever demanding as a coach and after the Kings dropped their final two games to San Jose, he wants more from his team as they’ll take on Vancouver in the first round. (L.A. Times)
Meanwhile, Dean Lombardi’s work in L.A. will ultimately be judged by how well they do against Vancouver, says Helene Elliott (L.A. Times)
Want to read something awesome about Henrik Lundqvist? Check out Ben Shpigel’s piece from the New York Times. He was so obsessed with goaltending as a kid that he sewed a pillow that was goalie-shaped. (New York Times)
Tuukka Rask might be ready to go for the playoffs. If not, it’s all on Anton Khudobin to back up Tim Thomas. (CSNNE.com)
Kyle Turris couldn’t be happier about finding a nice place to settle in in Ottawa. (Senators Extra)
The Sharks have a brand new role to embrace in the playoffs: They’re the underdogs. (CSNBayArea.com)
The Predators feel their size advantage gives them an edge on Detroit. (Tennessean)
As for the also-rans…
Steve Stamkos is bummed about missing the playoffs, but scoring 60 goals is a nice personal booby prize. (Tampa Tribune)
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle says he’s going to be a lot tougher next season. Oh… Good. (The Hockey News)
John Vogl of The Buffalo News calls this season for the Sabres a “wasted season.” (Buffalo News)
The Winnipeg Jets, meanwhile, think they need a lot of changes to improve next season. Judging by past seasons in Atlanta, yes, they do. Actually doing something would go a long way. (Winnipeg Sun)
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.
PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.
Now he knows.
“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”
The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.
More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.
It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”
Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.
“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”
Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.
RTV Slovenia has the story here.
The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.
The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.
Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.
Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win
PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.
But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.
The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.
Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.
Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.