Earlier today, Mike passed along word that the United States bludgeoned Finland 5-0 to make the quarterfinals of the 2012 World Championships. The Dallas Stars might have “lost” just as much as Finland in the grand scheme of things, though.
Mark Stepneski reports that workhorse goalie Kari Lehtonen suffered a knee/lower-body injury after Bobby Ryan bumped him while crashing the net:
As Stepneski notes, Lehtonen didn’t return to the contest but there wasn’t much time left and Finland was already well behind. That wasn’t the only nail-biting moment for Stars brass on Sunday, however, as Alex Goligoski also was boarded, as you can see in this video:
As disturbing as that hit looked, Goligoski reportedly didn’t miss a shift. Naturally, things could change once he gets examined again (the Stars might want to insist on as much) but that’s a positive sign.
It all goes to show that many NHL teams probably root for good luck with health more than gold medals and developmental confidence-boosters when they see their players perform in international tournaments. Lehtonen and Goligoski’s issues don’t sound serious – Goligoski might not even be “injured” – yet it shows how much things can change for a team in a single game (even when those players aren’t wearing your sweater).
Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.
As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Here are the details:
It will be McCann, a second and a fourth for Gudbranson and a fifth. All picks this year
McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.
The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.
One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.
.@FlaPanthers Tom Rowe: We needed more skill, more options…Jared McCann fits perfect; can play C, wing; gives us options
Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.
The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.
Benning says Gudbranson brings size and strength and can make a good first pass. A "high-character person." A good fit to play with Hutton.
It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.
Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.
Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.
“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.
“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”
The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.
You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.