The Detroit Red Wings can feel pretty good about their future tonight. Their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, have won Calder Cup for the first time in the franchise’s history.
In Game 6 of the final round, 22-year-old forward Tomas Tatar netted two goals and goaltender Petr Mrazek, 21, turned aside 24 of 26 shots to lead the Griffins to a 5-2 victory against the Syracuse Crunch.
“We knew it was going to be a real hard series,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said, according to NHL.com. “We knew Syracuse had the heart of a champion.”
The Crunch, the AHL club of the Tampa Bay Lightning, were led by 22-year-old forward Ondrej Palat, who had a league-best 26 points in 18 playoff games. Tatar finished with an AHL-leading 16 goals in 24 postseason contests.
For his efforts, Tatar was named the AHL’s playoff MVP.
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…