Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers got Lundqvist because Maloney ‘happened to glance’ at scout’s book

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For nearly a decade now, the New York Rangers’ greatest strength has been goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. He’s played a big role in the team making the playoffs in eight of their last nine seasons and is the single biggest reason the Rangers have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

But it was never a mortal lock that the Rangers would get Lundqvist. He wasn’t highly regarded going into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. When the Swedish goaltender made the trip to Calgary for the draft, the thinking was that he might get taken in the fourth or fifth round.

“When it got to the sixth round, I thought maybe coming to Calgary hadn’t been such a great idea,” Lundqvist told the New York Post.

“I mean, all my buddies had been taken and were kind of looking at me. We were all sitting in the same row. Nobody knew exactly how to act or what to say. It was kind of like, ‘Come on, Hank.’ It was not a great feeling.”

He was then told by someone in Dallas that they were going to take him in the sixth round. His twin brother, Joel Lundqvist, had already been selected by the Stars in the third round, so it made some sense. He was excited when the Stars turn came up, but they took forward Ladislav Vlcek instead.

Of course, the Rangers ended up taking him in the seventh round with the 205th pick overall, but it’s not like it was all part of some grand strategy. Rangers scout Crister Rockstrom thought highly of Henrik Lundqvist, but director of scouting Martin Madden didn’t.

That might have been the end of it, except between the sixth and seventh rounds Don Maloney, who was the Rangers’ assistant GM and in charge of the draft, “happened to glance over at (Rockstrom’s) book that had all of his rankings of the eligible players going into the draft.”

Maloney noticed that Rockstrom had listed Lundqvist as his top European goaltender, but the scout hadn’t been pushing Maloney to select him because Madden had already shot him down.

“I didn’t know Henrik Lundqvist from Joe Smith,” Maloney said, but he respected Rockstrom’s opinion and decided to draft Lundqvist anyways.

And the course of the Rangers changed as a result.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Judge for yourself: Was Drouin’s would-be 1-0 goal offside?

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To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.

The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.

As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.

Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.

The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)

Lightning coach believes Drouin ‘is going to be dominant in this league’

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.

At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.

These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.

In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.

” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”

Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.

In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.

The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – Game 6

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning collides with Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.

Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:

Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6

Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee

Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason

Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5