Playoffs Tonight: Will ‘Hawks win the Cup tonight?

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Game 6: Boston Bruins host Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET — NBC/Live Extra)
Chicago leads series 3-2

The Chicago Blackhawks started this season with a historic 21-0-3 run and could finish it tonight by claiming the Stanley Cup. Of course, no one is saying that it will be a simple matter to beat the Boston Bruins one final time. Not in Boston. Not after everything the Bruins have achieved to this point.

“We’re an experienced group that’s been through a lot,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Not just that but we have a good group of guys that understand what’s at stake. They understand what’s happening, and they know what they need to do.”

“You’ve got to be careful,” Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said, “you’ve seen a couple years ago Boston was down 3-2, they won at home and then won Game 7 in Vancouver. We know this team is capable of coming back.

“For us I know it’s a big game, but you want to play it like it’s any other game, play the way we have all season, and try to pull one out here on the road.”

Anything is possible if Patrick Kane has another game like he had on Saturday when he beat Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask twice to lead Chicago to a 3-1 victory. Kane is the Blackhawks’ playoff scoring leader and he’s been a big contributor in the Stanley Cup Final with three goals and five points in five games.

He’s also the man who won the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with his overtime marker in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Is it possible that history might repeat itself tonight?

“I think the biggest thing is trying to help contribute anyway I can,” Kane said, “help this team get a win, especially the situation we’re in. You want to take advantage of it in the next game. We have a great opportunity. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win, and it would be a great feeling.”

On the other side of the ice, Bruins forward Brad Marchand is one of the guys to keep an eye on. He’s not an offensive superstar like Kane, but he can be very dangerous when he’s hot and he was one of the guys that came up big for Boston late in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

He doesn’t have a point in this series, but…

“Well, if he’s going to be a streaky player I would hope that streak starts [tonight],” Julien said. “I don’t think he’s played terrible, but certainly he knows he can play better.”

Then of course, there’s the elephant in the room. The 2012 and 2013 Selke Trophy winners – Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews – are both questionable for Game 6. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is “optimistic” about Toews’ chances of playing while Julien would only say Bergeron is “day-to-day.”

Both of those players are so talented and help their teams in so many different ways that either loss would be hard to overcome. If one of them ends up playing and the other doesn’t, it could tip the scales of tonight’s contest.

At the same time though, these squads are so deep and so much is on the line that it’s hard to call either team the clear favorite of Game 6 regardless of what happens with Bergeron and Toews.

Poll: Will John Tavares re-sign with the Islanders?

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This post is part of Islanders Day on PHT…

Is this going to be the last year we see John Tavares in a New York Islanders uniform?

That will likely be the question that surrounds the Islanders as long as Tavares is around and he hasn’t signed a long-term extension with the only club he’s ever played for.

The Tampa Bay Lightning went through this a couple of years ago with Steven Stamkos. In the end, the sniper opted to remain with the club that drafted him. Will Tavares do the same thing? Only time will tell. But what happens if Tavares doesn’t sign before the trade deadline?

The Bolts had to chose between keeping Stamkos for a playoff push and risk losing him for nothing, or trading him for a few assets to make sure they got something to show for him. The situation worked out well for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.

Players like Tavares rarely make it to free agency, which is why it could be tempting for him to wait until July 1st to see what he could fetch on the open market.

The 26-year-old holds all the cards. He’s already said that he’s in no hurry to sign a new contract extension.

“For me, there’s really no rush,” Tavares told Newsday last week. “I’m trying to determine things, let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal and it’s been good so far . . . In terms of signing a new contract, there’s a lot that goes into it. To really dive into all the details, get into all the conversations I’ve had with Garth [Snow], the team and Doug [Weight], I don’t think it’s productive to the situation and the negotiating. I prefer to keep it all internal, that’s the best way to keep it all open, honest and healthy.”

Since he joined the Islanders as an 18-year-old in 2009-10, he hasn’t exactly been surrounded by incredible talent. Sure, New York has had some quality players on their roster, but they’ve always leaned heavily on Tavares.

This summer, they traded away inconsistent forward Ryan Strome to the Oilers for proven scorer Jordan Eberle, who could see some time on Tavares’ wing. Will it be enough to convince him to stay?

The biggest difference between the Tavares/Stamkos situation, is that Stamkos expected to Lightning to be very competitive over the next few years (yes, they missed the playoffs this year, but the future still looks bright). Can the Islanders superstar expect the same from his organization?

Many have already speculated that he could decide to sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Leafs have plenty of talented forwards on their roster, they could still benefit from having a guy like no. 91 around.

Will he stay or will he go? Let us know what you think by voting in the poll below. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section.

It’s New York Islanders day at PHT

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Understatement 1: the 2016-17 season was rough for the New York Islanders.

Understatement 2: John Tavares‘ future is a pretty big deal, to Islanders and hockey fans alike.

Many of the worries surrounding the second understatement stem from the first one; last season was rough, to the point that people are worried that Tavares’ confidence might be shaking in the Isles.

Of course, it’s not just about the 2016-17 season.

After all, they’ve only won one playoff series (eliminating the Panthers in 2016) since 1992-93. If Tavares is growing impatient with the Islanders’ process, then 2017-18 stands as potentially integral in keeping him around. Islanders fans cringe at such talk, but there’s no sense pretending that isn’t an issue on Isles day.

Ouch. Sorry.

The Islanders are sticking with Doug Weight as head coach after a largely successful interim run.

As far as changes go, GM Garth Snow traded Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle, a player Tavares has some history and chemistry with. That was a good way to entice Tavares … but trading away Travis Hamonic might not have been the most endearing move. At least since the Islanders didn’t land, say, Matt Duchene for their troubles.

There’s always the chance that a Duchene deal – or some other upgrade – could still be in the works, but as is, this off-season feels more like a lateral move for the Islanders. The draft picks they got for Hamonic probably don’t mean much for Tavares, after all.

Islanders day will explore many facets of the team on Monday. Some might not even revolve around that Tavares fellow.

Malkin on ‘workaholic’ Crosby, Penguins’ chances for three Cups in a row

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Evgeni Malkin shared some interesting observations with Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko this weekend, including that he believes that the Pittsburgh Penguins “have all the tools” to win a third Stanley Cup in a row.

Quite reasonably, Malkin notes that the team kept its core intact.

Of course, Malkin and Sidney Crosby are still the catalysts for the Penguins, so it’s always fun to come across the latest observations from the Russian star.

Good stuff.

It’s not surprising to see Malkin praise Crosby and pump up the Penguins’ chances. Last year, he showed confidence in Pittsburgh’s repeat chances and professed an interest in being on the same team with Crosby for the next “10 years.”

This summer’s been a great one for Geno, with plenty of team honors mixing with some great individual feats. For example:

Habs’ Byron got to skate(board) with Tony Hawk

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Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron is so speedy on the ice, his skating can sometimes be intimidating, particularly when he’s on the penalty kill.

Every now and then, we’ll see, say, a floppy-haired snowboarder also show some serious skateboarding acumen, and skateboarding seems to blend well with surfing to boot. So what about ice skating and skateboarding?

Well, Byron apparently got to meet Tony Hawk – along with his kids – and at least made a solid impression, as the Canadiens website notes.

“Paul can hold his own. I bet he’d do better on my board,” Hawk said. “It wouldn’t be so wobbly.”

The only bummer is that it doesn’t seem like footage of Byron skateboarding is available. There is some cute footage of Hawk with Byron’s kids, though:

Little B's turn💙

A post shared by Sarah Byron (@sarahannbyron) on

There’s also Hawk skateboarding in a Canadiens sweater. Fun stuff.

(H/T to Sportsnet.)