Claude Lemieux 3

Claude Lemieux recalls ’94 series, likens Keenan to Tortorella and Lemaire to DeBoer


Over at the New York Times, Jeff Z. Klein is in the midst of his outstanding “Remembering 1994” series — a variety of Q&As with some of the most noteworthy combatants from the 1994 Eastern Conference finals.

One recent interviewee was four-time Stanley Cup champ Claude Lemieux, who figured prominently in the ’94 series and later won the Conn Smythe during New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup run.

Here’s his take on the coaching:

NYT: Do you see any parallels between the 1994 Eastern Conference finals and the current Devils-Rangers series?

LEMIEUX: I think both teams right now are being coached probably like we were coached at the time. In ’94 it was a very intense series, and Mike Keenan, the Rangers’ coach, was a very intense guy. In this series we’ve seen key players not touch the ice for a while — Gaborik, Del Zotto — and it was the same thing with Keenan. Some of the players who were playing half the game all of a sudden were sat down, like Brian Leetch.

Jacques Lemaire was the opposite. He never got too high, never got too low. He was a thinker, and he never let his emotion take over making the right decision. Keenan was much more of an emotional guy, probably like Tortorella is. Peter DeBoer and the Devils’ coaching staff coach a lot like the way we were coached when we were winning.

Eeriest part of the coaching parallels?

In 1994, Keenan benched Leetch — New York’s best offensive defenseman — in Game 4, which the Devils won 3-1.

In 2012, Tortorella benched Del Zotto — New York’s best offensive defenseman — in Game 4, a game the Devils won 4-1.

And yes, I did watch a lot of X-Files growing up.

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings face Lightning in ’15 playoff rematch

Steven Stamkos, Henrik Zetterberg
AP Photo

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.

The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.

Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.

After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.

Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.

As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.

The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist argues McDavid’s already NHL’s most important player

Connor McDavid
AP Photo

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.

Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)

While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)

Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)

Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)

The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)

The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)