CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 26: Daniel Carcillo #13 of the Chicago Blackhawks charges in between Chris Butler #44 and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames during the NHL game on March 26, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHL on NBCSN: Flames conclude painful season vs Blackhawks

4 Comments

NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Calgary Flames at the United Center at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Flames won’t just be finishing up their fourth straight season without a playoff berth on Friday, they will be finalizing the end of an era.

Jarome Iginla has been traded and Miikka Kiprusoff, 36, might announce his retirement this summer. For years the Flames had those two star players, but they weren’t able to build around them.

In 2003-04 Miikka Kiprusoff broke out and led the sixth-seed Flames all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, Calgary hasn’t been able to win a postseason series.

Things couldn’t be more different for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era is still young, but it’s already led to one Stanley Cup championship. This season they captured the Presidents’ Trophy by a comfortable margin and now have their sights on bigger prizes.

The question going into tonight’s game is if the Blackhawks will prevent any of their top players from participating as they try to find a balance between giving some veterans a breather and maintaining momentum going into the playoffs.

As it happens, this game has more meaning for Calgary because a loss might result in them getting a better draft position. That being said, Calgary has won six of their last 10 games, so they haven’t exactly been tanking.

Probable goaltenders: CGY – Joey MacDonald (8-8-1, 2.87 GAA, .901 SV%) | CHI – Corey Crawford (18-5-5, 1.98 GAA, .925 SV%)

Top scorers: CGY – Mike Cammalleri (13-19-32, 43 GP) | CHI – Kane (22-32-54, 46 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Calgary – Forwards: Steve Begin (upper body), Curtis Glencross (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee) Defensemen: Derek Smith (upper body)
Chicago – Forwards: Dave Bolland (groin) Goaltenders: Ray Emery (lower body)

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

1 Comment

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

7 Comments

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

18 Comments

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

11 Comments

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.