James O'Brien

Official Announcement Of Mike Babcock As Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach

Babcock says goodbye to Detroit in style

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Red Wings fans may feel jilted now that Mike Babcock chased the challenge and cash in Toronto, yet they’d be hard-pressed to deny that the scowling head coach accomplished a lot in the decade he spent in Detroit.

Babcock didn’t forget the fans, either, as he took out this full-page ad to say thank you … and goodbye.

The text reads:

Detroit Red Wings Fans,

Thank you for an amazing 10 years!

We’ll never forget the support you’ve provided us and will always cherish the memories we’ve shared together in Hockeytown.

– The Babcocks.

Nice.

Sarcasm is basically inevitable on social media, so of course there’s been a quip here and there, especially regarding Babcock’s big-money contract.

That’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

To some, it’s still a little bewildering to imagine someone else behind Detroit’s bench, but this another (classy) reminder that it’s all real.

OK, it’s still a little stunning:

PHT Morning Skate: Charitable beards and young Mike Babcock

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Even if you’re one of those cold souls who think that playoff beards are played out – really? – this story should warm your heart a bit: the Washington Capitals’ (copyrighted!) Beard-a-Thon raised more than $30K for the American Special Hockey Association. (Capitals)

Want to get your mind blown a little bit? Check out these photos of young and very young Mike Babcock. (BarDown)

Former WWE star CM Punk’s passion for the Chicago Blackhawks is no secret, but you can find out more about his fandom here. (The Hockey News)

Alex Killorn believes that his mom is more impressed with his degree than his NHL career. Well, it is from Harvard. (Tampa Bay Times)

More on Joel Quenneville’s decision to go with “fresh legs.” (CSNChicago.com)

The “ripple effect” of Babcock’s contract. (Sportsnet)

Clearing the defensive zone might not be so clearly beneficial. (Jen LC)

What’s wrong with Lundqvist?

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
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You don’t often see Henrik Lundqvist this dejected. Then again, you don’t often see the New York Rangers’ franchise netminder allow 12 goals in two very important games.

If you ask former NHL goalie Brian Boucher, the Tampa Bay Lightning are making Lundqvist look human. Watch as he breaks down which of Tampa’s six goals from Game 3 might have been on him, and which ones may have come down to bad luck:

At the end of that video, you can see a dejected Lundqvist talk about the overtime game-winner and his struggles in general. One could argue that he’s rattled … or at least exhausted.

(Of course, it’s interesting to note that Ben Bishop’s more or less gotten off the hook after looking shaky in his own right in Game 3.)

As Lundqvist notes, it’s on him and his team. As this video dictates, the Rangers have gotten away from the disciplined style that got them this far:

It’s uncommon for the Rangers to give up so many chances, but on the bright side, New York was in Game 3 and has certainly been in bigger binds than this (you only need to look one round back to see that a 3-1 series deficit won’t buckle them). Will it be easy? Not necessarily, but don’t count Lundqvist & Co. out just yet.

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two
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One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.

Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.

Here’s the Kucherov clincher:

While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:

The rave reviews keep piling in, too.

Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:

Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.

Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:

For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.

It’s hard not to, though, right?

Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”

It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet

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The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed great production from Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat in Game 3, yet Nikita Kucherov – maybe the least known member of “The Triplets” – ended up being the hero.

He scored a rather stunning 6-5 OT goal against Henrik Lundqvist to give the Lightning a 2-1 series lead against the New York Rangers. Kucherov now has two overtime game-winners to his name.

How much of a chance did Lundqvist have on this?

Really, though, this game had about a dozen subplots that may take some time to unravel in greater detail.

For one thing, it’s easy to forget that the Rangers stormed off to a 2-0 lead. Steven Stamkos came up big early on in the game, however, barreling over Dan Boyle and helping to create a then-important 2-1 goal.

The first period was violent and action-packed, yet it merely set the table for even wilder events, as the second saw a memorable scoring barrage. The final frame of regulation was more about dramatic turns o events as the Rangers tied it up twice, most notably when Dan Boyle made it 5-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the third.

New York generated some dangerous early overtime chances, but ultimately Tampa Bay finished one stride ahead in probably the most frantic track meet of this postseason.

Loose threads

Again, a lot happened in this one, so let’s rattle a few of them off.

More than just a regular season success: Seriously, the work from Palat, Johnson and Kucherov has been stunning. They’ve generated more than half of Tampa Bay’s goals so far in the postseason.

Stamkos is seen: The Lightning’s captain was unusually physical in this one, delivering seven hits, including this giant impact.

Tough night for goalies: Look, there’s no doubt that Ben Bishop and especially Lundqvist made some big saves in this one. With things as wide-open as they were, netminders’ numbers tend to get shredded.

Still, Bishop’s play aroused some doubt in certain quarters while it’s becoming clear that the Lightning are one of the few teams that can at least claim that they have Hank’s number:

Bringing the pain: Matt Carle was unable to finish this game. Wunderkind Johnson was shaken up during a collision with his own linemate Palat. Many guys will fight through aches and pains from this one, but there’s likely to be a few extra ice packs in each locker room.

Leaky defense: The Rangers and Lightning both gave up two-goal leads in this one. Tampa Bay couldn’t put a game away with 5:55 left in the third period. It’s probably safe to say that both coaches will be busy breaking down the tape in this one.

(Alain Vigneault may feel more prone to losing his lunch over Game 3 than Jon Cooper, however.)