James O'Brien

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Video: Stamkos slows time on breakaway, still can’t score


It was one of those moments that feels straight out of a sports movie. Instead, it ended up being an even more agonizing moment for Steven Stamkos than hitting another post in the first period.

The frequently frustrated Tampa Bay Lightning star was all alone against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford during a breakaway opportunity in the second period of Game 6.

Remarkably, Stamkos even had the presence of mind to realize he could make an extra deke or two, a very rare thing with space at such a premium this time of year.

Stamkos made what seemed like a delirious move … but he still couldn’t score.

There’s still time for Stamkos to break his goal slump, yet he’s now staring at eight straight games without a goal (and just an assist in that span).

At least he isn’t the only frustrated player out there, mind you, as this game sure doesn’t feel like it should still be 0-0.

The Lightning have had some close calls, yet Ben Bishop was also forced to break up what seemed like a perilous odd-man rush himself.

Another Swedish League standout signed: Canes ink Derek Ryan

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Much like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Carolina Hurricanes decided to bolster their depth with a Swedish Hockey League signing on Monday, adding forward Derek Ryan.

The Canes didn’t share financial details, but it’s a one-year, two-way contract. That obviously gives Carolina some flexibility with the 28-year-old in case he doesn’t pan out at the NHL level.

Ryan topped all Swedish Hockey League scorers in assists (45) and points (60) while winning MVP honors in 2014-15. He is actually a native of Spokane, Washington, but he plied his trade overseas first in Austria back in 2011-12. Last season represented his first year in Sweden.


More the merrier? Devils may draft D with first-rounder

2015 NHL Combine

No doubt, the New Jersey Devils have employed some fantastic scorers, yet in many peoples’ minds, the team is synonymous with stingy defense.

New GM Ray Shero often leaned toward defense when drafting in Pittsburgh, and it sounds like that trait may just carry over to his stint with the Devils, even if he wasn’t the one doing the talking with NJ Advance Media.

“I think a defenseman is really in play,” Devils’ director of scouting David Conte said.

“How do you say no to a guy who is projected to be Drew Doughty? So, no, (picking a forward in the first round) is not a given. There are some very good defensemen involved in these top picks. I’m sure the teams ahead of us are thinking that, too.”

Whether you look at their prospects ratings or merely the fact that the big club managed just 176 goals last season (the third-worst total in the NHL), it’s blatantly obvious that the Devils need to add offense. Still, in the long-running tug-of-ward between “needs” and “best player available,” it sounds like New Jersey is leaning toward the latter. And that might just mean adding a blue-chip defenseman with the sixth overall pick.

The draft isn’t the only way the Devils can boost their scoring power, anyway, right?

Oh, and speaking of New Jersey stacking defense on more defense:

Healthy or not, Bishop keeps making big saves (Video)

Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Toews
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The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t offering much information regarding Ben Bishop’s health, and there are moments when it at least looks like he’s still hurt. The results have been impressive during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, though.

Both teams head to the first intermission tied 0-0 even though the Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed a host of opportunities, particularly during a power-play sequence:

The big goalie looked a little gimpy at the end of the first period, so it remains a situation to watch. Even so, one cannot help but be impressed with his results so far.

The Lightning have had their chances, too, even if they’ve been a little less frequent (and often not on goal):

Video: Oduya thwarts Kucherov’s semi-breakaway

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two

What happens when a player with “one good arm” clashes with another player with just one healthy arm? Well, in at least one case, Johnny Oduya got the best of Nikita Kucherov.

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward created the first golden opportunity of Game 6 as he showed some serious burst in getting a little space, but Oduya did a great job shutting it down altogether. Kucherov didn’t even get a shot off:

This moment won’t provide any extra confidence that Kucherov is 100 percent tonight, but then again, Oduya isn’t either.