Barry Trotz

End of an era: Trotz out as Nashville head coach

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The first and only head coach in Nashville Predators history has reportedly been let go.

Barry Trotz, who’s been behind the Predators bench for 16 seasons and was the longest active-tenured coach in the NHL, will be relieved of his duties, according to The Tennessean.

UPDATE: The Preds have confirmed Trotz will not be back next season, but has been offered a job in the hockey operations department.

“Our organization has high expectations and we have not met them in the past two seasons,” Nashville GM David Poile said. “As a result, it is my decision and determination that we need a new voice and a new direction.”

The 51-year-old Trotz was hired by Poile in 1997 to lead the expansion club and has remained in Nashville ever since, second only to Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in terms of longest-tenured coaches in the fourth major North American pro sports leagues.

Trotz established himself as one of the NHL’s most respected bench bosses during his time with the Preds, twice earning Jack Adams nominations (2010, ’11) while winning over 500 games with a team often hamstrung by salary cap restraints and a lack of offensive talent.

That said, some pinned the lack of offense on Trotz, who implemented a low-risk, defensive-oriented style of play to keep his team competitive in the early years of expansion. That issue reared its head once again this year, as the Preds missed the playoffs for the second straight season while finishing 19th in goals per game.

Nashville did briefly shed that offensively-challenged label, though, most notably during the 2011-12 season. The club finished eighth in the NHL in goals, racked up 48 wins and won its second-ever playoff series against rivals Detroit. But the year ended with a whimper, as the Preds were bounced in five games in the second round while controversial forward Alex Radulov was temporarily suspended for breaking curfew during the series.

Trotz also achieved great success during the 2006-07 campaign, racking up a franchise-best 51 wins and 110 points – but, in a familiar theme, the year ended with playoff disappointment as the Preds lost in the opening round to San Jose.

It’s expected that Trotz will be a hot coaching candidate over the next few days. There are likely to be openings across the league as reports have surfaced about pending changes in Vancouver (John Tortorella), Carolina (Kirk Muller) and Toronto (Randy Carlyle).

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.