Dominik Hasek Detroit

Hasek’s agent on NHL comeback: “He will play, and he will excel”

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According to Ritch Winter — the agent representing 47-year-old goalie Dominik Hasek — there’s no backup plan for his comeback to the NHL.

The NHL is the plan.

“He will play,” Winter told ProHockeyTalk. “There is no option. He will play and he will excel and he will do all of the things he can do.

“That’s his view of it. There’s one objective, and that’s it — he won’t fail.”

Winter claims he’s already fielded interest from “about a half dozen” NHL clubs about the two-time league MVP.

(Note: Toronto was not one of those teams — “It doesn’t look like a spot,” Winter said.)

There’s a high curiosity factor in Hasek’s comeback, primarily because he’s one of the greatest goalies ever.

There’s also the fact Hasek plays a position where age doesn’t factor as much as, say, forward or defense. Martin Brodeur played in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals a month after turning 40; in 2011, Dwayne Roloson (41) became the oldest goalie in league history to post a playoff shutout.

(At 45, Hasek won a Czech league title — and playoff MVP — with Pardubice. At 46, he led the KHL with seven shutouts.)

There’s also his notorious fitness regime. Winter says that, even at 47 — he’ll turn 48 in January — Hasek’s maintained all his capacities and skills from his glory years in Buffalo.

“He’s done all of the stuff you’d expect a NASA scientist to do before they go into a venture like this,” Winter explained. “He’s measured his reflexes, he’s measured his reaction time and it’s identical to what it was at the time he won a number of Vezina trophies. He’s actually 1.6 pounds off his playing weight at the Nagano Olympics [in 1998].

“Who keeps records like that? I guess Dom. Who knows their body, does reaction time and reflex training and measurement? I guess Dom.”

Finally — and perhaps most importantly — there are the expectations Hasek has for himself. A noted perfectionist, he always held himself to an exceptionally high standard during his playing days…and that doesn’t seem to have changed during his time off.

“[Hasek] feels confident that he can be considerably better than any backup in this league,” Winter said. “He thinks he can push to be in the bottom-half of the top third of the league.

“That’s his view.”

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Report: Hasek looking for a multi-year deal

Current, former goalies think Hasek could return to NHL

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.

***

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.