TAMPA — The tallest goalie in NHL history isn’t quite ready to call an end to the days of sub-six-foot netminders. However, he concedes there’s a reason smaller guys will have a tougher chance of making it.
“I don’t know if it’ll be the end of the era, but I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” said Tampa Bay’s 6-foot-7 starter, Ben Bishop. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.
“You look at [Blackhawks backup Scott Darling], he’s 6-6, and that guy can move pretty well. You see bigger guys that can move just as well as the smaller guys, and that’s probably why teams have started going in that direction.”
Chicago’s starter, Corey Crawford, is no shrimp either, at 6-foot-2. In fact, of the four starters to reach the conference finals, Henrik Lundqvist was the shortest at a mere 6-foot-1. (Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen is listed at 6-foot-3.)
So, given the size of goalies today compared to the past, and given the drop in scoring compared to the past, what does Bishop think of the idea of making the nets bigger?
“Let’s make ‘em smaller,” he joked.
But then, more seriously: “I don’t know, I guess they could. It’s just going to lead more goals. A couple of games ago, we won 6-5. What do you want the scores to be? 12-10?”
Well, not all the time.
Related: Does Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, mark ‘wave of the future’ in net?
Online bookmaker Bovada has released its odds for the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and it won’t come as much of a surprise that the Chicago Blackhawks are the favorites to win. They have been given 5/7 odds compared to Tampa Bay’s 6/5.
Tampa Bay is a terrific team with a lot offensive weapons, but Chicago has plenty of depth and experience. The gap isn’t big though and it wouldn’t be shocking if the Lightning did end up winning the championship.
They’ve also given odds for their top 16 Conn Smythe Trophy candidates:
Jonathan Toews (CHI) 7/2
Tyler Johnson (TB) 4/1
Patrick Kane (CHI) 9/2
Ben Bishop (TB) 5/1
Duncan Keith (CHI) 5/1
Steven Stamkos (TB) 8/1
Corey Crawford (CHI) 12/1
Nikita Kucherov (TB) 15/1
Marian Hossa (CHI) 25/1
Patrick Sharp (CHI) 25/1
Victor Hedman (TB) 35/1
Valtteri Filppula (TB) 40/1
Alex Killorn (TB) 40/1
Ondrej Palat (TB) 40/1
Brent Seabrook (CHI) 40/1
Brad Richards (CHI) 50/1
Johnson and Kane lead their teams in points with 21 and 20 respectively, but it makes sense for Toews to top the list. He’s Chicago’s leader and has stepped up in big games before. Toews’ two goals in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final was a critical part of why Chicago won that contest.
If Toews or Kane wins the award, it would be their second. Currently only five players in NHL history have been declared the playoff MVP at least twice (Patrick Roy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, and Bernie Parent).
If Keith wins it, he’ll be the first defensemen to get the trophy since Scott Niedermayer in 2007. Keith might not be the favorite, but he certainly deserves consideration as he’s been averaging 31:35 minutes per game.
Who knows what the future will bring for the Chicago Blackhawks. They have some serious cap concerns going into the summer that will force them to make hard choices, albeit not for the first time in recent memory, and who knows how many more times 36-year-old Marian Hossa can rise to the occasion in the playoffs. Perhaps this will prove to be the final days of an era for Chicago, but thanks to their 5-3 victory tonight, it’s certainly not over yet.
WATCH: Full replay of Game 7
The story of the Blackhawks’ glory years is still being written and they’re making it hard to find ways to oversell them. At a time in the NHL where the salary cap has ended the likelihood of us ever seeing another dynasty in the traditional sense, Chicago will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in six years.
It’s the usual suspects getting them there. Captain Jonathan Toews set the tone of this game with his two early goals. Patrick Kane registered three assists, giving him 111 points in 110 games. Kane is just one of 20 players to average at least a point-per-game in a minimum of 100 postseason contests, per Sportsnet.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford came up big as well. His shaky start to the playoffs now a distant memory, Crawford was arguably the difference in the second period as Anaheim launched 18 shots and Crawford turned aside all but one.
The winner though came from Hossa, which will likely be a sore point for Anaheim as the fact that the puck went off his skate made the marker controversial. Still, Anaheim didn’t lose by just one goal.
For the Ducks, this is the third year in a row that they’ve fallen in Game 7, but it was still a year of progress for them. They made it to the Western Conference Final after storming past Winnipeg and Calgary. They have the potential to come back next year and finally go the distance.
This year though belongs to the Blackhawks and Lightning. Both needed seven games to get past difficult opponents. Their battle will start on Wednesday.
The Anaheim Ducks did a far better job than Chicago when it came to getting the puck to the net in the second period of Game 7, but just one of those attempts beat netminder Corey Crawford. Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen is not having nearly as good of a game.
With Anaheim already down 3-0 late in the second period, Marian Hossa got another one by him, but this time the marker was controversial because it clearly went off of the Blackhawks forward’s skate. The only question is if it was a distinct kicking motion and after a review, the NHL ruled that it wasn’t.
You can judge it for yourself below:
Of course, this call would attract far more debate if Chicago didn’t already have a sizable lead and if Anaheim stages a comeback that comes up just short, then that will amplify the spotlight on this goal. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that very little has gone the Ducks’ way tonight and they are now in danger of seeing their tremendous effort in the Western Conference Final end with a whimper.
The Anaheim Ducks might have caught a critical break in the third period of Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Down 3-1, Anaheim’s Clayton Stoner scored with 18:03 remaining in regulation time. However, his marker was arguably aided by teammate Jakob Silfverberg, who bumped into Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
Judging by Crawford’s body language immediately following the goal, it seems safe to assume he felt it shouldn’t have counted. Nevertheless it did.
You can see that for yourself below:
Keep in mind that we have the benefit of instant replay, but that’s not something officials get when it comes to potential interference calls.
The Blackhawks will be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose tonight.