James O'Brien

New Yoprk Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three

Fast and furious: Rangers build lead, Carle and Stepan may be banged up

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The Tampa Bay Lightning survived early penalty trouble against the New York Rangers in Game 2, but the story was different in Game 3.

Cedric Paquette took a foolish penalty in the opening moments. Chris Kreider blocked the vision of towering Bolts netminder Ben Bishop and Derick Brassard made no mistake about this 1-0 goal:

There were a lot of fireworks in Game 2, yet Game 1 finished 2-1. If this contest is more like most of the Rangers’ games in this postseason, then that 1-0 goal could be big.

Update: Jesper Fast scored one of the prettiest goals you’ll see, with a very nice pass from Kreider:

That briefly gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead, but Steven Stamkos made an impact with a big hit and even bigger goal, so now New York is up 2-1.

Note: In the very beginning of that goal clip (and more clearly about 50 seconds in), you can see Derek Stepan and Matt Carle collide. That opened the door for Fast’s goal to some extent, but it’s possible both players might have gotten hurt on that play. Two of a few possible injury issues to watch after a hectic first period …

Lightning dress an extra defenseman once more

Nikita Nesterov

Much like in Game 2, the Tampa Bay Lightning are rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the New York Rangers tonight.

That more or less means that promising blueliner Nikita Nesterov will remain in the mix, while Jonathan Drouin and his questioned defense prowess will not.

Apparently going with an extra defenseman and one fewer forward has worked out quite well for the Bolts:

Did Cumiskey earn some trust from Coach Q?

Montreal Canadians v Chicago Blackhawks
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Yes, there were definitely moments where Kyle Cumiskey was “an adventure” in Game 2. Still, there’s some impression that the 28-year-old earned some of Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville’s trust in last night’s marathon win against the Anaheim Ducks.

“I liked his game,” Quenneville said. “I think he’ll get a little better off yesterday’s game, too. He’s one of those kids, the more he plays, the more he sees what’s out there, I think he’ll take advantage of that. His quickness was noticeable. Made a lot of direct plays. I thought he was quick in the puck area. He’s defended well. ”

“Didn’t play a ton, but certainly his minutes were meaningful. I think that was a good start for him.”

You can chalk up much of this to fatigue for other Blackhawks blueliners, yet it’s interesting that almost one-third of Cumiskey’s 18:34 TOI came during the third overtime period. One would get at least some impression that Coach Q was getting a little more comfortable with Cumiskey being on the ice in “meaningful” situations.

Sure, there’s an element of “beggars can’t be choosers” here, but it should be interesting to see if Quenneville uses Cumiskey a little more liberally in Games 3 and 4. With the last change, he can do his best to avoid nightmare situations in which Cumiskey is on the ice against Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

Instead, the Blackhawks can take advantage of modest-yet-crucial strengths Cumiskey possesses, at least in comparison to over-matched veteran Kimmo Timonen. Relatively speaking, Cumiskey can move around and move the puck with more comfort than the once-great Finn.

A variety of “fancy stats” argue that Cumiskey had a respectable-enough game, although the last-change thought hangs over it all, as he started a ridiculous amount of shifts in the offensive zone. (Natural Stat Trick pegs it as 87 percent, the highest of any Chicago player in Game 2.) It’s also worth noting that Cumiskey might have been working off a little bit of rust:

Again, it’s a matter of lesser evils at this point for Quenneville & Co. If it’s clear that Duncan Keith and others are more drained than anyone’s letting on, then Chicago may need to lean on Cumiskey a bit more.

That’s still not a pretty proposition, yet it certainly seems more feasible today than it did before Game 2 on Tuesday.

Related: Quenneville isn’t concerned about the minutes his top four defensemen absorbed.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Lightning, Game 3 of Eastern Conference Final

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game One

After a “vomit-worthy” performance in Game 1, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied up their series with the New York Rangers on Monday. Now they host the first of two games in their building, and we might get a better idea of whether this will be a long series or a relatively short one.

That’s especially relevant after last night’s events. Every indication is that the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are going to take a big chunk out of each other out West, so that adds some incentive to these two East teams to make their series snappy.

Whatever the case may be, you can watch Game 3 on NBCSN and also stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Brodeur signs three-year deal to be Blues’ assistant GM

Martin Brodeur
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The St. Louis Blues are at a crossroads as an organization, but one thing seems to be clear: Martin Brodeur is rising up their executive ranks. The team signed him to a three-year contract to be their assistant general manager on Wednesday.

After playing a few regular season games with the Blues in 2014-15, Brodeur moved into a role as a “special adviser” during that same campaign. The 43-year-old told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that such a job merely made him want more.

“I really enjoyed it, but we had a conversation that I’d like to do more,” Brodeur said. “I want to learn as much as possible. I think it was a great opportunity for me to be around the team advising. But now after doing that for six months, I’d like to do a little more.”

It looks like his wish has been granted, and one assumes he’ll have at least some say in a key offseason for the franchise. Will they stick with head coach Ken Hitchcock? Should the Blues trade any core members to shake things up? Brodeur won’t be the one to make final decisions, yet he could whisper in GM Doug Armstrong’s ear on plenty of matters.