No, this is not a repeat, but it is a case of seeing the same two teams facing off in the Western Conference Final.
For the second year in a row, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off against each other for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Final. Unlike last season, both teams come into the series at full health which means we might be treated to a tremendous series.
Just like last season, Chicago has home ice advantage and while playing on the road has never seemed to bother the Kings, having to deal with the raucous crowd at United Center more often than not doesn’t sound like a recipe for fun.
Game 1: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings (3:00 p.m. ET — NBC)
You know what you’re going to get when these teams square off, but there’s something a little different about L.A. this time around.
Yes, they still play the same stifling brand of hockey coach Darryl Sutter loves, but the Kings’ offense has been in high gear in the postseason. Anze Kopitar is the leading scorer in the postseason with 19 points. Marian Gaborik is the leading goal scorer with nine. Justin Williams’ 11 points equals him with the Blackhawks’ top offensive performers (Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook).
A Kings team that can defend tightly and score should sound terrifying, but for Chicago they’ve been getting tremendous goaltending from Corey Crawford.
Crawford leads all goalies in the playoffs in save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (1.97). When you’re topping the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, and Tuukka Rask you’re doing something very right. It’s always said that great goaltending wins championships and the ‘Hawks have to hope Crawford can shut down the, as of now, high-flying Kings offense.
John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.
The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.
“Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”
Tortorella, who runs notoriously tough training camps, wants to “make sure our conditioning is there by the 13th,” when the Jackets open the regular season.
Columbus plays its first three games at home, against Boston, San Jose and Chicago. A good start is going to be key for the Jackets, especially after starting last season 0-8-0.
New York liked enough of what it saw from Steve Bernier last season to offer him another kick at the can.
On Monday, the Isles announced that — for the second year in a row — Bernier would be coming to training camp on a PTO.
Last fall, Bernier parlayed his tryout into a one-year, $750,000 deal but only saw a limited body of work. The former first-round pick scored six points in 24 regular season games, then dressed for six playoff contests.
Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).
There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.
Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.
The Ottawa Senators announced today that they’ve purchased the AHL franchise in Binghamton, N.Y. and will move it to Belleville, Ont. for the start of the 2017-18 season.
From the press release:
The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history.
The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.
Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.
Dennis Seidenberg has been a key player for Team Europe at the World Cup, and he doesn’t even have an NHL contract.
Seidenberg, 35, logged 23:30 in Europe’s 3-2 overtime upset of Sweden on Sunday. Only Roman Josi (29:00) played more for the winning side. Seidenberg even played more than his old Boston teammate, Zdeno Chara (22:26).
“I’ve played quite a bit,” Seidenberg said earlier in the tournament, per the Associated Press. “People should know what I can do and can’t do by now, but nonetheless this is an important tournament for me.”
A Stanley Cup champion in 2011, Seidenberg became an unrestricted free agent when he was bought out by the Bruins over the summer. At first, the decision shocked him, but the shock eventually passed. So far, he’s been holding out for a guaranteed contract, as opposed to a tryout.
The Ottawa Senators are reportedly a potential landing spot.
Seidenberg may not be a full-time, top-four defenseman anymore, but he should still be able to hold down a bottom-pairing role, with the ability to log top-four minutes if there’s an injury.
He’ll get another good look from the scouts on Tuesday when Team Europe opens its best-of-three series with the heavy favorites from Canada. He’s not the only UFA blue-liner on his team, as 34-year-old Christian Ehrhoff is also playing a role, albeit a smaller one.