The St. Louis Blues are two wins away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs and knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman scored the winning goal with just 51 seconds remaining in the third period, as St. Louis beat the L.A. Kings by a final score of 2-1 to take Game 2 of their Western Conference quarter-final.
The Blues now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.
Here are some talking points:
Jackman broke into the NHL during the 2001-2002 season. He scored his first career playoff on Thursday night. About time, right? Not known as a goal scorer, but perfect timing on this one.
Jonathan Quick was once again spectacular for the L.A. Kings. Made 23 saves, a good number of them of the difficult or spectacular variety. But couldn’t make the save on the Jackman wrist shot that won the game.
Dustin Brown was an imposing figure. The Kings’ captain scored his first goal of these playoffs on a deflection in the first period. He also caught Blues’ forward Jaden Schwartz with an open-ice knee-on-knee collision late in the first period. Looked bad, but could’ve been worse had he fully connected.
Bovada gives Canada best odds at 2016 World Cup of Hockey
The real fun is judging how Bovada’s odds fall with the other leading nations. Is Russia given too great a chance considering some recent struggles when facing the best of the best? Did that odd little under-23 team not get enough love?
Last week domain names were registered that might be an indicator that the NHL team scheduled to begin play in 2017 could be called the Las Vegas Desert Knights.
Last week the domains lasvegasdesertknights.com, vegasdesertknights.com and desertknightshockey.com were privately registered to Moniker Privacy Services, which is the same company that procured the domain name to NHL.com.
Since then, most — if not all — has gone silent on the Kucherov front. The 23-year-old, coming off career highs in goals (30) and points (66), remains unsigned with a bunch of key dates on the horizon.
The first few are mostly to do with the World Cup of Hockey. Kucherov will represent Russia in the tourney, with the Russians set to begin training camp on Sept. 5 — one week from now.
Their first exhibition game takes place on Sept. 8, against the Czechs, and they open tournament play on Sept. 18.
There are insurance policies in place to so unsigned RFAs can play in the World Cup, meaning Kucherov should be a go for the Russians. Other RFAs look as though they’re in a similar boat — Johnny Gaudreau and Jacob Trouba with Team North America, specifically — so it doesn’t feel like Tampa Bay needs to get Kucherov locked in ASAP.
That’s the big question.
Yzerman’s earned a reputation as a tough, unflinching negotiator. He stood firm during the Jonathan Drouin trade request saga, and remained steadfast with his contract offer to Steve Stamkos. In both instances, Yzerman “won” — Drouin rescinded his request and is now fully back in Tampa’s mix, while Stamkos eschewed going to free agency to ink a long-term deal with the Bolts.
Hence the intrigue around Kucherov.
Pundits have pointed to a pair of contracts — Filip Forsberg‘s six-year, $36 million extension and Nathan MacKinnon‘s seven-year, $44.1 million deal — as potential benchmarks for Kucherov. What we don’t know is where Yzerman is at.
“John Madden has a winning pedigree, having been a part of three Stanley Cup championships and a collegiate national championship as a player and being a part of the coaching staff that helped the Florida Panthers become one of the NHL’s most improved clubs over the past three seasons,” Columbus assistant GM Bill Zito said in a release. “He is a smart, energetic young coach who we believe to be the best person to lead our prospects in Cleveland.”
Madden, 43, quickly transitioned to coaching after a successful playing career which included three Stanley Cups and a Selke Trophy. He hung up his skates as a member of the Panthers in 2012 and, one year later, was behind the bench for the club, serving as an assistant under Kevin Dineen, Peter Horachek and, eventually, current head coach Gerard Gallant.
Madden landing the Monsters job was the result of a domino effect.
It began in early August, when Patrick Roy stunningly resigned as Colorado’s head coach. That sent the Avs into a hiring push, which ended last week as Jared Bednar — who led the Monsters to the Calder Cup last season — was announced as the new bench boss.
That left a void in Cleveland, which the Jackets quickly filled with Madden.