James O'Brien

Jonathan Drouin

Drouin denies any ‘bad blood’ with Cooper

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Jonathan Drouin denied any rift between himself and Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Wednesday while speaking with the Tampa Bay Times.

“We have a good relationship, we talk a lot,” Drouin said. “There’s not bad blood towards each other. Everything’s perfect.”

The 20-year-old repeatedly stated that he communicates regularly with his head coach, maybe in part because of claims made about a week ago in the Toronto Sun:

In Round 2 of the playoffs, with Drouin clearly growing frustrated, Cooper was urged to meet with his player.

Normally, he avoids talking to or making eye contact with Drouin. Their meeting didn’t necessarily go well. Cooper told him it was a process to work his way into the Tampa lineup.

Of course, a very late scratch in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final brought more immediate attention to the situation (especially since he said he was in during a pregame interview). Drouin is doing well to avoid drama, although he admitted to Sportsnet that this is “not how he envisioned” a deep playoff run and that he’ll need to “force” Cooper to put him in the lineup.

Game 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final was likely Drouin’s best showing of the postseason, yet apparently the bad outweighed the good in Cooper’s eyes. More than a few observers noted a big turnover by Drouin.

His teammates noticed his energy, though.

“I think you saw that when he did get in the lineup the amount of energy (he had). Guys fed off that,” Steven Stamkos said. “He’s a guy that’s always ready if we need him. It’s pretty nice to have a guy with that much skill ready to go if need be.”

Ultimately, it all comes down to Cooper, but credit Drouin for avoiding added controversy.

WATCH: ‘The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson’

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins
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Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final may be in the books, but if you want more hockey fun, stick with NBCSN.

Following the big game, “The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson” will air. You can watch it on NBCSN and also stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FILM

The Victor: Hedman sets up Paquette’s goal (Video)

Tampa Bay Lightning v Arizona Coyotes
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If you want a contrast between defensemen Victor Hedman and Kyle Cumiskey, merely watch the goal that put the Tampa Bay Lightning up 3-2 against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3.

Hedman generated his second beautiful (and primary) assist of the night setting up this tally by Cedric Paquette, while Cumiskey was exposed on a rare shift:

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook rightfully get a lot of attention, yet the way the 2015 Stanley Cup Final is going, Hedman might just become a mainstream star. (He’s already a star to many, after all.)

Video: Blackhawks, Bolts trade goals in 13 seconds

Brandon Saad, Ondrej Palat
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The Chicago Blackhawks wore down Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning during an impressive shift in the third period of Game 3. At the end of that sequence: Brandon Saad made no mistake of his one-timer chance to reward Chicago with a 2-1 lead:

That reward lasted … for 13 seconds.

Ondrej Palat erased that deficit mere moments later, one of those developments that would be more jaw-dropping if the 2015 Stanley Cup Final hadn’t already treated us to so many head-scratching moments already.

With that, it’s 2-2, and who knows what will happen next? That’s not such a bad thought for hockey fans, though, right?

Cooper says Bishop is ‘fine,’ chalks up slow movement to size (Video)

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five
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It feels like all eyes are on Ben Bishop in Game 3, as his movements seem … labored.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper addressed the much-discussed subject of Bishop’s health in this quick interview with Pierre McGuire. Let’s just say many aren’t entirely sold on his explanation (which seems to come down to “goalies that tall take a long time to get up”).

Drawing all that attention isn’t always such a bad thing, though, as it’s plausible that Bishop was able to buy a goalie interference call, which set up a 5-on-3 opportunity. Judge for yourself: was this a shaky call?

(Joel Quenneville was incensed.)

It’s difficult to believe, but there were no goals in that zany second period, and Game 3 remains 1-1.

Don’t expect the Bishop injury questions to slow down anytime soon. Oh yeah, if that’s enough drama for you, Johnny Oduya’s possible ailment may cause Chicago to go even less balanced with its defensive minutes:

Update: Early on in the third, it looks like Oduya is OK.