Author: Ryan Dadoun

Nikita Kucherov goal

Video: Lightning strike first in deviation from Montreal’s wins

Montreal was able to build off of strong starts to win Game 4 and 5 of its second round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canadiens don’t have that luxury tonight.

After a bad turnover by Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, Nikita Kucherov was able to tip in Ondrej Palat’s shot to beat goaltender Carey Price at 15:35 of the first period:

That was Kucherov’s fifth goal of the series. He now has nine points in 13 playoff games in 2015.

The Lightning were able to carry that 1-0 lead into the first intermission. They also outshot Montreal 13-6 in that frame and had a 12-8 edge in hits.

Tampa Bay has held the lead just three other times after 20 minutes in the 2015 playoffs, but the squad was able to win all of those contests.

Kopitar’s dad resigns as Slovenian head coach after relegation at Worlds

Matjaz Kopitar

Matjaz Kopitar has decided to step down at the head coach of the Slovenian national team, per the IIHF’s website.

Matjaz Kopitar, who is the father of Kings star Anze Kopitar, led Slovenia to a seventh place finish in the 2014 Winter Games. That’s the best Slovenia has ever done in men’s hockey at the Olympic level, including its time as part of Yugoslavia. However, Slovenia finished with the worst record in the 2015 World Championships and have been relegated to Division I as a result.

The elder Kopitar has coached the Slovenian national team for five seasons and during that time they were in something of a holding partner as far as the World Championships went. They would win Division I whenever they were relegated, but they would consistently follow that up with a 16th place finish at the Championships level.

Slovenia will once again have to fight to be promoted in 2016.

No miracle appearance by Callahan, Lightning go with Marchessault

Jonathan Marchessault
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Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t want to completely rule out Ryan Callahan for Game 6 despite the fact that the forward underwent an emergency appendectomy on Monday. Callahan was unsurprisingly not part of the Lightning’s lineup for Tuesday’s contest against Montreal though.

As projected, Cooper instead inserted Jonathan Marchessault into the lineup over Jonathan Drouin. That decision raised a few eyebrows as Drouin is a highly regarded young forward while Marchessault has just four games worth of NHL experience.

That being said, Marchessault has excelled in the minors with 24 goals and 67 points in 68 AHL games this season. He’ll play alongside Cedric Paquette. Tampa Bay is going with seven defensemen with Nikita Nesterov serving as the extra blueliner.

Callahan’s absence is also projected to led to Brenden Morrow playing alongside Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown. Tampa Bay’s top two lines should stay the same.

AHL Board of Governors approves realignment, new Pacific Division


The American Hockey League announced that its Board of Governors has approved the new division alignment for the 2015-16 campaign. Like the NHL did with the start of the 2013-14 campaign, the AHL is switching from a six division to four division format. In the AHL’s case, it’s also introducing a Pacific Division to reflect the number of teams that are moving west.

Here is what the divisions will look like next season, per the league’s release:

Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)
Portland Pirates (FLA)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Falcons (ARI)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

North Division
Albany Devils (NJ)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
St. John’s IceCaps (MTL)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)

Central Division
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ)
Manitoba Moose (WPG)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (EDM)
Ontario Reign (LA)
San Antonio Rampage (COL)
San Diego Gulls (ANA)
San Jose Barracuda (SJ)
Stockton Heat (CGY)
Texas Stars (DAL)

Several teams have changed their affiliation andor will move over the summer, which you can read about via the links below:

Jackets, Coyotes, and Avs announce new AHL affiliate agreements

Busy day for deals as AHL, OHL clubs change locations

Fear the Gulls: Ducks unveil AHL team in San Diego

Report: Sharks to move AHL affiliate from Worcester to San Jose, will play at SAP Center

Welcome back, Manitoba Moose

Vigneault: Rangers need to let ‘actions do the talking’

Alain Vigneault

While Alex Ovechkin is standing by his guarantee that the Washington Capitals will beat New York in Game 7, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault delivered what can be interpreted as a not-so-subtle jab at such promises.

“We need to let our actions do the talking,” Vigneault said, per the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard.

Which is fair because that’s really what this will come down to. This pregame banter is the appetizer, but it will only be memorable in the context of what happens in Game 7. If Washington wins then Ovechkin’s promises will likely be credited with motivating the team. If Ovechkin in particular has a strong game then it could be seen as the biggest performance of his career, in part due to his overall lack of playoff success.

That lack of favorable postseason results is probably at least part of the reason why Ovechkin’s statement has attracted so much attention and why Washington has perhaps gotten more attention than New York. Ovechkin is one of the best players of this era, but he hasn’t been able to lead Washington to the Stanley Cup. He’ll turn 30 in September and hockey fans are wondering when or if Ovechkin will ever win it all.

He’s not the only superstar fighting for his first championship though. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been further than Ovechkin in the playoffs, but the result is the same. Lundqvist is 33 years old and hasn’t won the Stanley Cup yet despite an otherwise tremendous career.

Both players have a chance to achieve their ultimate goal this year, but one of them will be forced to start from scratch yet again with a loss on Wednesday.