Get your game notes: Rangers at Kings

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Tonight on NBC, it’s the Los Angeles Kings hosting the New York Rangers at 8 p.m. ET in the first game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Kings needed an NHL-record 21 games to reach the Stanley Cup Final, while the Rangers needed 20. The NHL record for games played in an entire postseason is 26 games, done by two teams, the Flyers in 1987 and Flames (coached by current Kings coach Darryl Sutter) in 2004. Both of those teams lost in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final, Philadelphia to Edmonton (coached by current Rangers GM Glen Sather) and Calgary to Tampa Bay (led by current Rangers Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards.)

• The Kings will have home-ice advantage for the first time in franchise history in the Stanley Cup Final (three series), and just the second time overall since the beginning of the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs (22 series). The only other time Los Angeles started a series at home during that span was in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals vs. San Jose, a series the Kings won in seven games.

• The Stanley Cup Final will feature two of the top goaltenders in the NHL: Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick. In the last three postseasons (since 2012), Quick leads the NHL in playoff games played (59), wins (37) and shutouts (7), while posting a 2.05 GAA and .928 save%. During that span, Lundqvist is second in playoff games played (52) and shutouts (6), and third in wins (27), with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save%.

• In Game 1, Lundqvist will be making his 87th straight playoff start between the pipes. He has started every game for the Rangers since Game 3 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series vs. New Jersey. Lundqvist, who set the franchise record for career playoff wins (42) in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, ranks third all-time for most consecutive playoff starts by a goalie for one team. Elias Sports Bureau

Consecutive goalie starts, with one team (playoffs, before Game 1)

194 (active) – Martin Brodeur (NJ)
133 – Patrick Roy (COL)
86 (active) – Lundqvist (NYR)
79 – Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)
78 – Jacques Plante (MTL)

• The Rangers and Kings have the same number of goals from their top four centers this postseason, but the Kings have a substantial edge in points and faceoff percentage.

source:

• St. Louis (6-7—13), Stepan (5-8—13) and Ryan McDonagh (3-10—13) lead the Rangers in scoring this postseason. Five different Kings players have 16 or more points: Kopitar (5-19—24, leads playoffs), Carter (9-13—22), Marian Gaborik (12-7—19), Justin Williams (7-11—18) and Drew Doughty (4-12—16). During the Conference Finals, Carter (5-6-11) and McDonagh (2-8—10) led all players in points.

• The Rangers are 34/36 (94.4%) on the penalty kill in their last 11 games (five vs. Pittsburgh, six vs. Montreal). They will face a stiff challenge from a Kings team that has at least one power-play goal in seven of nine home games this postseason and is 9/30 (30.0%) overall on home ice.

• Since the Stanley Cup Final went to a best-of-7 format in 1939, Game 1 winners have won 57 of 74 series (77.0%). In their most recent Cup Final appearances, the Rangers (1994) lost Game 1 at home to Vancouver (3-2, OT), while the Kings (2012) won Game 1 away to New Jersey (2-1, OT); both teams later won those series. In the last five Cup Finals, the winner of Game 1 has lost two of those series: the Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh in 2009 and the Vancouver Canucks (coached by current Rangers coach Alain Vigneault) vs. Boston in 2011. This postseason, the Rangers are 3-0 in Game 1s, while the Kings are 1-2.

Report: Stars make more changes in goal, hire ex-Detroit coach Bedard

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Suspect netminding has plagued Dallas for two straight years, and GM Jim Nill is switching things up accordingly.

On the heels of acquiring Ben Bishop and signing him to a long-term contract, Nill has reportedly hired veteran goalie coach Jim Bedard, per In Goal Magazine.

Bedard will replace longtime Dallas employee Mike Valley, who has been with the club since 2009 in a goalie coach/director of goaltending development role. In Goal reports that Valley told the club he wouldn’t be returning.

Bedard, 60, was with Detroit from the mid-90s to last summer, when he was relived of his duties. His unemployment didn’t last long. Within weeks of being dismissed, Bedard caught on as the goalie coach for OHL Windsor,

The connection to Dallas is quite obvious. Nill and Bedard worked together for years in Detroit, and won three Stanley Cups together.

Related: Bishop has ‘good relationship’ with Hitch, and that’s important

 

 

Penguins prepare for another Game 7, this time as favorites

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Two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins played a Game 7 that the oddsmakers expected them to lose.

But the Penguins didn’t lose. They went into Washington and shut out the Capitals to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

Which brings us to tomorrow, and another Game 7.

This time, the game is in Pittsburgh. And this time, it’ll be the Penguins as favorites. 

At online sportsbook Bovada, the Ottawa Senators are +170 underdogs, meaning a $100 bet on the Sens to win Game 7 would pay out $170. Conversely, to make $100 on a Penguins win, a bettor would have to risk $200.

This is not to suggest that betting on Ottawa is the savvy move. It might be, given the potential payout, combined with the fact hockey games are often decided by a lucky bounce or hot goalie.

But just remember: the Penguins beat Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. The defending champs have proven their worth in these winner-take-all games.

“It’s not something that’s new to them,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “These guys have been involved in these experiences on a number of occasions, and they have those experiences to draw on. You know, I think they know what to expect, and now it’s a matter of going out and earning it and controlling what they can and doing your very best to get the result that we’re looking for.”

Veteran forward Matt Cullen added, “We’ve been there before. We’ve gone through this. We know what to expect out of our group. We have a comfort level with our plan and the way that we need to play. These are the fun games to play. So as a group, we go into it with a lot of confidence, knowing that we’re going to need our best game and expecting that we’ll bring it.”

For the record, Sens coach Guy Boucher has also experienced a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. It came in 2011 when he was coaching the Lightning, who fell to the eventual champs from Boston by the score of 1-0.

Though it wasn’t the result he wanted, Boucher felt privileged to have had the experience.

“It was a tough game,” he said. “It was 0-0 with seven minutes left in the game. It was quite a game and a lot of pressure. What I remember most is the excitement of an opportunity that very few people get in their lives, and I’m part of that. I can’t be blessed more than that.”

Related: The modern-day Sens have never won a Game 7

Weight ‘not afraid’ to say he wants ex-NHLers behind Isles bench

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With the interim tag dropped, Isles head coach Doug Weight is in the midst of retooling his staff.

It began last week, when Weight added longtime NHL defenseman — and former Oilers teammate — Luke Richardson as an assistant coach. That was followed by reports the Isles were interested in hiring another of Weight’s old teammates, Kelly Buchberger, as well as two-time Stanley Cup champion Scott Gomez.

Buchberger was playing as recently as 2004, in Pittsburgh, where he was teammates with the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik. Gomez suited up for 13 games in Ottawa last season.

Clearly, there’s a trend at play here. Weight wants guys like him, veteran NHLers not far removed from their playing days (Weight hung ’em up in 2011). And he isn’t shying away from addressing it.

“I’m not afraid to say it, it’s something I’m looking for and chasing,” Weight said, per the Post. “But that being said, I’m not just hiring guys who play 15 years or 20 years.

“You have to sit with them, you have to see how they view the game, how they are, how they view the players, how I view the game.”

Bob Corkum, a holdover from the Jack Capuano era, won’t be brought back as an assistant. The status of Greg Cronin, another holdover — and who never played in the NHL, it should be said — is still up in the air.

Weight said he’s interviewed eight to 10 candidates to join his staff.

 

Detroit signs Czech d-man Sulak

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The Red Wings have added some depth on defense.

On Wednesday, the club announced it has signed Czech rearguard Libor Sulak to a two-year, entry-level deal. Sulak, 23, is fresh off representing the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship and, prior to that, spent the last two years playing for Znojmo Orli of the Austrian League.

There, he was named the league’s rookie of the year in 2016, and followed that up with a career-high 10 goals and 28 points in 54 games last season.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can push for minutes in Detroit next season. Currently, the club has six d-men under contract — Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul. Xavier Ouellet is also in the mix, but a restricted free agent.

The Red Wings also signed ’16 first-rounder Dennis Cholowski to his ELC last month, and he played one game for their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.