Thrashers hold 'closed-door meeting'

chelios3.jpgThe Atlanta Thrashers have disappointed me. I was hopeful that there
would be two ‘non-traditional hockey market’ teams in the playoffs this
year that no one expected to be there; Phoenix is making a bunch of
noise in the West and the Thrashers looked like they could sneak into
the playoffs in the East.

Of course, they’d most likely get tossed
instantly in the first round by Washington, but every team needs a
couple of home playoff games now and then.

This past week, the
Thrashers fell flat on their face. Call it lack of talent, bad coaching
or just plain inexperience, but it hurt to see Atlanta sleep walk
through their biggest game of the season against Boston, then lost in
overtime against Toronto. Two games, two chances for the Thrashers to
move up and overtake the Bruins and they muster one point.

This
morning, concerned with his team’s effort, coach John Anderson held a
closed-door meeting with players and coaches. From
Chris Vivlamore’s AJC Thrashers blog:

“Coach
delivered a message today that the way we’ve been playing these
last couple of games was not acceptable,” goaltender Johan Hedberg said.
“We’ve been feeling that too. Why the reason is, I do not know. We had a
better quality practice than before. That’s the kind of intensity we
have to bring from the start. We have to make sure we don’t have any
mental lapses and we play determined these last eight games and see
where it takes us.”

I wonder how many times these
‘closed-door’ meetings with teams actually work? Usually these come when
there’s an issue in the locker room, things need to be aired out. Also,
is it really a ‘closed-door’ meeting if the coaches are there and the
coach is leading it?

Perhaps there isn’t a leader on the team
capable of rallying his teammates, who has the experience of multiple
Stanley Cups and playoff runs, who knows what it takes to get it done
this time of the season.

Wait, isn’t that why they signed Chris
Chelios?

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    Stamkos makes brief return as Lightning dominate Stars in Game 3 win

    Lightning Game 3
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    Steven Stamkos made a very brief appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    He returned to the lineup for the first time in seven months, scored a goal on his only shot, and then spent the rest of the game sitting on the bench, presumably because he was still not 100%.

    But that one goal? It helped get the Lightning rolling early in what became a 5-2 rout, giving them a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars.

    Game 4 is Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

    The night began with Stamkos being the big story, and in a way he still kind of is in the aftermath. Not only for his early goal, but also for the fact he managed to play just a handful of shifts before leaving again. It certainly creates more questions as to whether or not he will be able to go in Game 4 or later in the series.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    But while Stamkos was not able to continue, Tampa’s other star players continued to dominate.

    Each player on the top line (Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat) finished with a goal and an assist, while Victor Hedman continued his stellar postseason by scoring his 10th goal. That is of the highest marks ever for a defenseman in the playoffs. Paul Coffey (12) and Brian Leetch (11) are the only defenders to ever score more goals in a single postseason.

    Hedman also made a fantastic defensive play early in the first period — when the game was still tied 0-0 — by chasing Stars’ speedster Denis Gurianov down from behind and disrupting his shot attempt on a breakaway.

    Tampa really started to take the game over during a completely lopsided second period that saw them score three goals and own a commanding 21-4 shots on goal edge. The Lightning had 27 total shot attempts while allowing just 9 to the Stars.

    That offensive outburst also resulted in the Stars pulling starting goalie Anton Khudobin at the start of the third period. It was one of his worst games of the postseason as he stopped just 24 out of 29 shots.

    There is still a long way to go in this series but this is starting to trend in a tough direction for the Stars with back-to-back losses. It is not just the fact that they lost those games that is concerning, but the way Tampa Bay has been able to jump out to huge leads (3-0 in Game 2, 5-1 in Game 3) and just look like a vastly superior team for extended periods of time.

    The Lightning are the arguably the most talented team in the league on paper and when they get rolling like they have at times over the past two games it is going to take near perfection — with great goaltending — to slow them down. The Stars fell short in both areas on Wednesday. They have to figure out how to get back closer to that level before Game 4 on Friday night.

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 2-1)

    Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
    Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
    Lightning 5, Stars 2
    Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    *Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
    *Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

    *if necessary

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    NHL schedule for 2020 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Saturday, Sept. 19 in the hub city of Edmonton. Now that we are through the conference finals, the full 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule has been announced.  

    The top four teams during the regular season in both conferences played a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The eight winners of the best-of-5 Qualifying Round advanced to the First Round.  

    Rogers Place in Edmonton will host 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final.  

    Here is the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule.

    2020 STANLEY CUP FINAL (Rogers Place – Edmonton)

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 2-1)

    Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
    Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
    Lightning 5, Stars 2 (recap)
    Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    *Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
    *Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

    *if necessary

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    CONFERENCE FINAL RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
    Lightning beat Islanders (4-2)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
    Stars beat Golden Knights (4-1)

    ***

    SECOND ROUND RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Lightning beat Bruins (4-1)
    Islanders beat Flyers (4-3)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Golden Knights beat Canucks (4-3)
    Stars beat Avalanche (4-3)

    ***

    NHL QUALIFYING ROUND / ROUND-ROBIN RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Philadelphia Flyers (3-0-0, 6 points)
    Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0, 4 points)
    Washington Capitals (1-1-1, 3 points)
    Boston Bruins (0-3-0, 0 points)

    Canadiens beat Penguins (3-1)
    Hurricanes beat Rangers (3-0)
    Islanders beat Panthers (3-1)
    Blue Jackets beat Maple Leafs (3-2)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Vegas Golden Knights (3-0-0, 6 points)
    Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0, 4 points)
    Dallas Stars (1-2-0, 2 points)
    St. Louis Blues (0-2-1, 1 point)

    Blackhawks beat Oilers (3-1)
    Coyotes beat Predators (3-1)
    Canucks beat Wild (3-1)
    Flames beat Jets (3-1)

    ***

    FIRST ROUND RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Flyers beat Canadiens (4-2)
    Lightning beat Blue Jackets (4-1)
    Islanders beat Capitals (4-1)
    Bruins beat Hurricanes (4-1)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Golden Knights beat Blackhawks (4-1)
    Avalanche beat Coyotes (4-1)
    Stars beat Flames (4-2)
    Canucks beat Blues (4-2)

    Steven Stamkos scores in return to Lightning lineup

    Stamkos Game 3
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    For the first time in nearly seven months Steven Stamkos was back in the lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    He wasted no time in making an impact.

    Just 6:58 into the first period, and on his third shift of the night, Stamkos scored to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead over the Dallas Stars. It is the first Stanley Cup Final goal of his career and it came on his very first shot this postseason.

    Here is a look at the play.

    Stamkos had been sidelined since the end of February due to a lower-body injury and surgery to repair a core muscle injury.

    He has been with the team throughout the entire 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs but has not yet been able to return to the lineup. That changed on Wednesday when he started the game on the fourth line with Cedric Paquette and Patrick Maroon. He replaced Carter Verhaeghe on that line.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    But while he was able to score early in the game, Stamkos did not take a single shift during the final seven minutes of the first period and was not on the team’s bench for the start of the second period. He eventually returned to the bench but was not taking a regular shift with his line.

    Stamkos was having another monster season for the Lightning — recording 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 regular season games — before his injury knocked him out of the lineup. Injuries have been an issue for Stamkos throughout his career and this was just the latest one to knock him out of the lineup for a significant period of time through the playoffs. His return on Wednesday is reminiscent of when he missed all but one game of 2015-16 Stanley Cup Playoffs, returning for the Lightning’s Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Final.

    He had a 15-game point streak going at the time of his injury this season and with his goal on Wednesday has now recorded at least one point in each of his past 16 games played.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Lightning-Stars stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final

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    NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Lightning and Stars. Pre-game coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Lightning-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

    Tampa scored three goals in the first 15:16 minutes of the game, including two on the power play, and held off a late push by Dallas to win 3-2 and even the Stanley Cup Final at one game apiece. Brayden Point opened the scoring by netting his 10th of the postseason and Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk each scored to give the Lightning a three-goal lead they would not relinquish.

    Since the beginning of their First Round series against Columbus, the Lightning are a perfect 5-0 following a loss this postseason. Tampa last lost consecutive games on March 8th and 10th – its final two games before the pause. Andrei Vasilevskiy has not lost consecutive starts since dropping three straight from Feb. 20-25.

    After going 0/14 on the power play in their previous four games, the Lightning scored twice on the man-advantage in Game 2, with both tallies coming in the first period. Point and Palat scored power-play goals 2:59 apart in the first period in the win. Dallas took three penalties in the first 14 minutes of play and the Lightning were able to take control by scoring twice.

    Tyler Seguin, who is making his third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, has struggled mightily in the 2020 playoffs. The 28- year-old has gone 11 consecutive games without a goal and has just one assist over that span. His last goal came in Game 3 of the Second Round vs. Colorado.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    WHAT: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
    WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
    WHEN: Wednesday, September 23, 8 p.m. ET
    TV: NBCSN
    ON THE CALL: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brian Boucher
    LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Lightning-Stars stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 2-1)

    Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
    Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
    Lightning 5, Stars 2 (recap)
    Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    *Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
    *Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

    *if necessary