Cam Tucker

Boudreau wants Wild to play ‘fast and physical’

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Now that he’s been hired, the real work begins all over again for Bruce Boudreau.

On Saturday, Boudreau agreed to terms to become the newest head coach of the Minnesota Wild, a move that quickly took one of the most sought after available bench bosses off the market. He goes from the Anaheim Ducks, a Stanley Cup contender when the post-season began only to have their playoffs end in disappointment, to a Wild team that also lost in the opening round.

“We want to play fast. We want to be physical. But I told (GM Chuck Fletcher) the style will depend on the type of team. … I will adjust to what the personnel is and we’ll find a way to make that work,” Boudreau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“In a perfect world, let’s score five goals every night. But when that doesn’t work, you better be able to defend.”

Boudreau taking the Wild’s coaching job wasn’t the only big news to come out of that franchise over the weekend.

Zach Parise, who didn’t play for the Wild in the playoffs due to a herniated disc in his back, will not undergo surgery. He was hopeful, at least in late-April, that he’d be ready for training camp.

“We decided not to do the surgery, and the doctors said that with how well I’ve been progressing — at the beginning they said that they would do it and after a while they said that the progress was going so well that they didn’t think I would need it anymore. That was a good sign,” Parise told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Justin Williams has been all about seizing the moment in the playoffs

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 06:  Justin Williams #14 of the Washington Capitals celebrates a goal with teammates on the bench in the second period against the New Jersey Devils on February 6, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) When the Los Angeles Kings blew two chances to win the Stanley Cup in 2012, the pressure was on going into Game 6 back at home. Justin Williams gave a pregame speech that defenseman Drew Doughty said he’ll never forget.

It’s such a legendary tale that Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has heard all about it.

“Justin just started chuckling when it was pretty tense,” Trotz said. “Everybody looked at him and (he) just said, `I’m going to enjoy celebrating a Cup with you guys tonight.’ Sometimes that’s very powerful. It’s not a big speech. It’s knowing the moment.”

Related: People are already calling for Fleury to replace Murray

Few players know and seize the moment like Williams, a three-time Cup winner and the playoff MVP in 2014. His 0.73 points a game when his team is facing elimination are the third best in NHL history.

The Capitals saw some of the best of Williams on Saturday in Game 5 when he scored a goal as they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 to stay alive. The 34-year-old right wing who had struggled to produce this postseason will be leaned on again Tuesday in Game 6 as Washington tries to push the second-round series to the limit.

Williams was signed for these situations.

“That’s a lot of pressure, to come in and have everybody think that you’re the guy that gets us over the hump that we’ve had,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I couldn’t imagine having that pressure. I think that everyone around the league knows that.”

Williams has quite the reputation for performing in the playoffs, earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” for his seven goals, seven assists and 7-0 record in the seventh game of a series. He also has 13 goals and 11 assists in 18 elimination games.

Going into the Capitals’ first elimination game of the playoffs, Williams sounded every bit like the stable, dependable leader they needed. He talked about erring on the side of enthusiasm and not apprehension and exuded calm confidence.

“This time of year, it’s the intangible qualities that the team brings together,” Williams said Friday. “The confidence that everyone can bring. The not-hanging-your- head attitude. The go get it.”

Then he went and got it. After scoring just one goal in the first 10 playoff games, he capitalized on a turnover by Pittsburgh’s Brian Dumoulin and beat rookie goaltender Matt Murray.

Williams didn’t address his teammates in the locker room before the game like he did before the Kings’ 2012 Cup clincher against New Jersey. He simply delivered on the ice.

“I know he takes a lot of pride in being one of our leaders out here, and I know he wants to make a difference and he does in so many different ways,” said T.J. Oshie, who scored the game-winner on the power play. “He came on the board for us, and that’s what we need.”

Williams isn’t afraid to accept the responsibility of being a difference maker, which is perhaps why he thrives in the kind of pressure situations that others shy away from. A day after saying “it’s not all roses” on the way to the Cup, the Cobourg, Ontario, native led the way to one of the more important victories in the Alex Ovechkin era for the Capitals.

“You have to learn from experience,” Williams said afterward. “We haven’t really experienced true adversity so far this year – a do-or-die situation, which it was (Saturday night).”

The Capitals face another do-or-die situation in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. They still trail in the series, but Murray finally showing cracks has led to speculation that the Penguins might turn to regular starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who hasn’t played since March 31 because of a concussion.

Coach Mike Sullivan was noncommittal about his Game 6 starter but praised Murray’s play.

“I thought Matt played extremely well, as he has the whole series, and so he made the saves that he was supposed to make for us,” Sullivan said Sunday on a conference call. “The reality is that we’re fortunate to have two guys right now in Matt and Marc that we feel strongly about both goalies and their ability to help us win.”

Not much will change tactically for the Capitals if the Penguins make a goaltending switch, but Trotz said: “It must mean that we’re doing something right if they’re looking to change.”

After playoff loss to Lightning, Islanders face important decisions this offseason

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:    Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders fires the puck 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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The New York Islanders couldn’t make it a clean sweep of the Florida teams in the playoffs.

After defeating the Florida Panthers, they fell in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning after losing four consecutive times.

The Islanders managed only one goal in the final two games of the series and suffered devastating overtime losses on home ice in Brooklyn. Ben Bishop provided the series-clinching shut out for the Lightning in Game 5.

Meanwhile, John Tavares had his chances including a post on Sunday, but ultimately had no points in the final four games of the series. He held himself responsible following the loss. He wasn’t the only Islanders player to have difficulties in this series. Outside of Games 1 and 3, the Islanders struggled offensively, held to one goal or less in three other losses.

“You don’t want to go dry at this time of the year,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, as per the club’s website. “We couldn’t find a way here in the last few games to score some goals.”

Sunday’s defeat has ushered in what should be a busy offseason for the Islanders, with numerous important decisions to make.

New York’s list of pending unrestricted free agents includes Kyle Okposo, who scored 22 goals and 64 points in 79 regular season games and is two years removed from a career-high 27-goal season, and 32-year-old forward Frans Nielsen, who had 20 goals and 52 points in 81 games.

Okposo, especially with his offensive production the last three years, appears to be in line for a hefty raise from his $2.8 million AAV he earned on his latest contract. According to General Fanager, he earned $4.5 million in salary this season.

From Newsday Long Island last June:

It’s not known what Okposo is seeking for his next deal, but given his age and production, it seems logical that he could be looking for as much as $7 million per season on a six- or seven-year deal.

Hard-hitting 27-year-old winger Matt Martin is also among their pending UFAs after making $1 million this season, as per General Fanager.

Travis Hamonic could also be on the move this summer via the trade market.

He requested a trade due to family reasons in western Canada, but remained with the Islanders for the season.

His agent, Kevin Epp, had said in February before the deadline that a trade was more likely to happen in the offseason.

“It sucks more, to be honest,” Hamonic told Newsday Long Island after Sunday’s loss. “I think people know how close we are. We genuinely love playing with each other, being around each other.”

Video: ‘We’re a pretty resilient team … and we want to win,’ says Boyle after Bolts eliminate Islanders

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The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t exactly enter the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs on a roll.

They lost four of their last six games and went 5-5 in their final 10 games before the end of the regular season.

Since the playoffs began, however, they’ve won eight of 10 games, quickly knocking off the Detroit Red Wings (third in the Atlantic Division) in five games and the New York Islanders (the first Eastern Conference Wild Card team) in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference final for a second straight year.

And they’ve done so without Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman in their lineup.

 

Video: How, exactly, did Ben Bishop make this incredible save?

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Ben Bishop recorded the shut out as the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the New York Islanders on Sunday, and his incredible acrobatic save helped kill any hopes of a miraculous comeback attempt.

After a Cal Clutterbuck shot rebounded off the glass back out front, Bishop contorted his body, throwing down the right pad to rob Johnny Boychuk near the side of the net. That maintained Tampa Bay’s three-goal lead early in the third period.

Twenty seconds of game time later, the Bolts upped their lead to four on Nikita Kucherov‘s league-leading ninth post-season goal.

Game over. Series over.