Rask registers signature Stanley Cup Final victory


For as badly as Boston was outplayed in the opening period of its 2-1 OT win on Saturday night, the Bruins probably had the best player on the ice — Tuukka Rask.

The B’s goalie was outstanding. He allowed just one goal on 19 shots — Boston was outshot by 15 in the frame — and maintained composure even though he knew his team was under siege.

“We definitely were in survival mode there for a bit.,” he said. “It looked like they had more guys out there than we did.”

It was a signature victory for Rask, though he’s had at least one already this postseason. His 53-save OT stunner against Pittsburgh in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals comes to mind.

Game 2, though, was different. The stakes were higher, and the disparity in play was alarming.

The Bruins came out remarkably flat and could’ve been heading back to Boston down 0-2 in the series had the first period turned out differently. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa alone combined for 11 shots, and it felt as though Chicago was going for the kill.

But the ‘Hawks couldn’t do it, and Rask was the reason why.

“Tuukka pointed out that was a pretty terrible period by our team,” Chris Kelly explained. “If it wasn’t for Tuukka, it would have been a lot worse.”

Like almost anything Rask does, this win will be compared to what Tim Thomas did in the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

But…was this win more impressive than any of Thomas’?

While Thomas was dominant throughout the ’11 series, he never stymied the Canucks while the Bruins were struggling. His wins all came in blowouts — 8-1, 4-0, 5-2, 4-0 — and Boston was never out-shot by more than eight in a single period.

All told, Rask finished with 33 saves on Saturday and played a huge role in wrestling home ice away from Chicago.

Three more performances like that, and he’ll have an entire library of signature wins.

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
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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.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (NHL.com)

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)