James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
Getty

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

2 Comments

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

Getty

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

Will Ward be back with Carolina? Francis discusses ‘interesting summer’

Getty
2 Comments

Honestly, if you look at Cam Ward‘s numbers, it’s difficult to imagine the Carolina Hurricanes signing him to another contract.

(Unless perhaps you just keep circling “Stanley Cup: 1.”)

His numbers have been putrid by just about any metric, especially if you look at the numbers he generated since signing the bloated $37.8 million deal that is set to expire.

Maybe the Hurricanes are just going through the media motions in appearing open-minded about bring back Ward, but GM Ron Francis indicated that it’s under consideration in discussing Carolina’s off-season with the News & Observer.

“We’re still looking at that,” Francis said. “We plan to meet in early June to see where we’re at.”

More details:

Francis said “term and money” would be the key elements of the contract discussions – that is, the length of contract and salary being proposed. At the same time, Francis said the Canes would evaluate free agents or possibly goalies who might be available in a trade.

Teams play things pretty close-to-the-vest, but how would Hurricanes fans feel about Ward coming back? What kind of price would be palatable?

Here’s a list of potential free agent goalies if you want to pass some time pondering such questions.

Former Leafs coach John Brophy passes away at 83

Image via Toronto Maple Leafs
5 Comments

TORONTO (AP) John Brophy, who coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2 1/2 seasons before coaching in the ECHL for 13 seasons, has died. He was 83.

The ECHL says Brophy, who was from Nova Scotia, died Monday morning after a lengthy illness.

Brophy, an assistant, became head coach of the Maple Leafs for the 1986-87 season, leading Toronto into the second round of the playoffs. He was fired 33 games into the 1988-89 season after the Leafs got off to an 11-20-2 start.

Brophy became coach of the ECHL’s Hampton Roads Admirals for the 1989-90 season. He led the Admirals to three league titles over 11 seasons.

After a season away from coaching, he returned with the Wheeling Nailers, leading the team for two seasons before retiring after 2002-03.

Brophy was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.

As a player, he was best known for his rough style. Brophy, who racked up nearly 4,000 career penalty minutes in the minor leagues from 1955-73, is believed to be the role model for Paul Newman’s character Reggie Dunlop in “Slap Shot.” Brophy was once dubbed the “Godfather of Goonery.”

Having never played in the NHL, Brophy and his Long Island Ducks often wreaked havoc throughout the minors. As a player and coach, he was suspended or fined more than a half-dozen times for physical and verbal abuse of referees.

Hitchcock only says that Backes, Fabbri will warm up for Game 5

Getty

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will decide on the status of injured players after the pre-game skate before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Captain David Backes and rookie Robby Fabbri, both forwards, were injured in Game 4. Backes missed the final two periods and Fabbri had just two shifts in the third period of a 6-3 victory that knotted the series at 2-2.

Hitchcock said he’ll have the same number of players dressed for the warmup as in Game 4, when he had two extra forwards and one extra defenseman on the ice.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated he’d have no lineup changes.