Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper wouldn’t say why goaltender Ben Bishop was pulled twice in Game 2 or name his starter for Monday when asked following the contest Saturday night. Given that we’re in the Stanley Cup Final, it wasn’t surprising when he dodged another question about Bishop’s status during Sunday’s media availability.
“Well, in honor of the 11-year anniversary of our organization’s first Stanley Cup, how would John Tortorella answer that question?” Cooper joked.
He did go on to give some useful tidbits though, starting with the fact that Cooper isn’t sure who will play. He suggested that we might gain more insight from Monday’s practice, but given it will be optional and Bishop doesn’t always take part in them, the goaltender’s absence during the skate wouldn’t necessarily mean anything.
He also acknowledged that it would be a blow to the team if Bishop isn’t available tomorrow while still expressing his full support of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I look at our tandem, I’d like to stack them up against any tandem in the league because I think we’ve got, you know, 1 and 1A,” the bench boss said.
Vasilevskiy held his own in Game 2 to help Tampa Bay earn a 4-3 victory, but his lack of experience has to be a concern. He’s 20 years old and has played in 19 NHL contests, including the regular season.
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on a line together and it worked out nicely towards the end of the Western Conference Final. However, Tampa Bay has done a much better job of silencing Kane and Toews as they haven’t found the back of the net yet and Kane wasn’t able to get a shot on goal in Game 2.
As a result, it sounds like Quenneville is leaning towards rolling out more balanced lines in Game 3 on Monday.
“They didn’t have the production they did in the last couple games of the Anaheim series,” Quenneville said of the top line during Sunday’s press conference. “Certainly they’ve had some zone time, they’ve had some rush chances. They’ve made them defend. We split them up a little bit in the third, saw how that worked out.
“But, you know, their team defense is aggressive. There’s not a lot of room and time. I think that maybe changing those two guys on different lines will get us a little bit more depth and a little bit more balance, see how they can defend it.”
Quenneville also stated that Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell is healthy and if he is available for Game 3 then that might also bolster their depth. Teuvo Teravainen has impressed his bench boss though, so Quenneville has no shortage of significant decisions to make regarding the roster going into Game 3 on Monday.
It’s far too early to assess Duncan Keith’s career as a whole, but there’s also no denying that he’s accomplished more at the age of 31 than most defensemen will in their entire career. And it seems to be enough as far as retired defenseman Brian Leetch is concerned to assert that the Blackhawks blueliner will someday join him in the Hall of Fame.
“I don’t know how it couldn’t be looked at that way,” Leetch told NHL.com. “From the eye test. From watching him on the ice. His age. And then you bring up the individual and team awards, I’m not sure how you’d be able to keep him out.”
Another Hall of Fame defenseman, Scott Niedermayer, wouldn’t put up much of a counter argument. He agrees that if Keith hasn’t already secured his spot in the Hall of Fame, then Chicago winning the Stanley Cup this year would probably be enough to solidify his spot.
Keith has already won the Norris Trophy twice, two Olympic gold medals, and he’s currently battling for his third championship. He might also end up with the Conn Smythe Trophy as he’s recorded 19 points in 19 playoff games and is averaging 31:19 minutes per contest. That level of work is something that Leetch can relate to as he was also logging similarly big minutes with the Rangers when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994.
Unsurprisingly, Keith’s biggest concern right now isn’t what happens after his career, it’s what will transpire over the coming days. Tampa Bay and Chicago are even going into Game 3 on Monday.
The Ottawa Senators have signed head coach Dave Cameron to a two-year extension, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
Cameron became Ottawa’s bench boss after Paul MacLean was let go on Dec. 8. Under his guidance, the Senators posted a 32-15-8 record, including a 21-3-3 finish to make the playoffs after all hope seemed lost.
His success was largely thanks to the trust he put in his young core. Rookie Mark Stone saw his playing time substantially increase under Cameron with him logging a then season-high 19:07 minutes in the new head coach’s debut. Stone went on to play a key role in Ottawa’s Cinderella Story and earned a Calder Trophy nomination.
Cameron was also the benefactor of goaltender Andrew Hammond’s improbable rise. The 27-year-old netminder had a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage in 24 contests.
Before joining Ottawa as an assistant coach in 2011, he served as the head coach of the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors and led them to the 2011 Memorial Cup.
USA Hockey has announced that Ron Wilson will serve as the head coach of the 2016 National Junior Team.
“We’re extremely pleased to have Ron guiding our National Junior Team,” said assistant executive director for hockey operations Jim Johannson. “His resume speaks for itself, both as a player and a coach, and we know he’ll do an outstanding job.”
Wilson has 1,401 regular season games worth of NHL experience as a bench boss with Anaheim, Washington, San Jose, and Toronto. Over that lengthy stretch he posted a 648-561-101-91 record. Wilson also reached the playoffs on eight separate occasions and made it to the Stanley Cup Final with the Capitals in 1998.
On the international stage, Wilson led Team USA to the silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also won the 1996 World Cup with the United States and was the bench boss in the 1996 World Championships when America won the bronze medal.
Team USA won the World Juniors in 2013, but they’ve finished in fifth place in each of the last two tournaments.