As hard as winning the Stanley Cup is, defending it seems to be an even more daunting task. Everyone is out to get you plus you’re coming off of a season where you played more than almost every other team and had less time to rest over the summer.
This year it might be even tougher as the Stanley Cup Final ended later due to the lockout and the top players on teams will be playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in addition to the 82-game grind.
As it is, no team has successfully defended the Cup since the Detroit Red Wings earned back-to-back championships in 1997-98. That being said, the Blackhawks have a rare advantage: They know what to expect.
Many of the Blackhawks’ best players were also around when they won it all in 2010, so they know exactly what it’s like to try and defend the Cup, even if they weren’t successful in their first attempt.
“Winning the first time, you learn a lot about what to do in the offseason the next year,” Defenseman Duncan Keith told CSN Chicago. “Obviously we’ll see. There can only be one winner at the end of the day. But I still think we have to make sure we’re prepared and make sure we know it’s important to get off to a good start and use the experiences of last time.”
Patrick Sharp added that going into the 2013-14 campaign with mostly the same team will help. They were in a terrible cap situation in the summer of 2010 and had to sacrifice many of their complimentary players in addition to starting goaltender Antti Niemi as a result. By comparison, this summer’s turnover was far less severe.
“Easier’s the wrong word, but it might be more comfortable with the number of returning players and Joel (Quenneville’s status) being locked up,” Sharp said. “There’s going to be that familiarity.
“Hopefully we pick up where we left off last season.”
Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.
The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.
Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.
Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.
Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.
Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.
Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.
Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.
Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.
It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.
The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.
The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.
Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.
“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.
In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.