Stanley Cup finals preview: Kings vs. Devils, playoff experience

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New Jersey Devils

Most postseason games:

Martin Brodeur (199), Patrik Elias (156), Petr Sykora (130), Dainius Zubrus (86), Anton Volchenkov (79), Bryce Salvador (68), Steve Bernier (62).

Stanley Cup finals appearances:

Sykora (2000, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009), Brodeur (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003), Elias (2000, 2001, 2003), Volchenkov (2007), Zubrus (1997).

Stanley Cups won:

Brodeur (1995, 2000, 2003), Elias (2000, 2003), Sykora (2000, 2009)

Notes:

— Game 1 will be the 200th career playoff game for Brodeur, making him just the second goalie in NHL history to accomplish the feat. The other? Patrick Roy, with 247.

— Brodeur will also become one of just 19 players in NHL history to play 200 postseason contests. The only other active player with a similar accomplishment is Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (263), who is just three back of Chris Chelios for the all-time mark.

— Elias sits second all-time for playoff games by a Czech player, 24 behind Philly’s Jaromir Jagr. Sykora is fourth (behind Elias, Jagr and Bobby Holik.)

Los Angeles Kings

Most postseason games:

Mike Richards (77), Rob Scuderi (75), Justin Williams (65), Willie Mitchell (65), Jeff Carter (61), Dustin Penner (54).

Stanley Cup finals appearances:

Richards (Philadelphia, 2010), Carter (Philadelphia, 2010), Scuderi (Pittsburgh, 2008-09), Penner (Anaheim, 2007), Williams (Carolina, 2006), Matt Greene (Edmonton, 2006), Jarret Stoll (Edmonton, 2006).

Stanley Cups won:

Scuderi (Pittsburgh, 2009), Penner (Anaheim, 2007), Williams (Carolina, 2006).

Notes:

— Penner is looking to become the first player in NHL history to win Cups with two of the NHL’s three California teams. The only other player to come close is Rob Blake, who went to the Cup finals with the Kings in 1993, then the Western Conference finals with San Jose in 2010.

— Stoll and Green hold the unique distinction of playing for the only two No. 8 seeds (since the format change) to make a Cup final.

— Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter lost the Cup final in 2004 (as a head coach with Calgary) to Tampa Bay and in 1992 (as an assistant with Chicago) to Pittsburgh.

Building off a breakthrough: Brendan Gallagher

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Montreal Canadiens.

The 2017-18 season was pretty much a nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens. They finished as one of the worst teams in the league, pretty much every move they made seemed to backfire in their faces, and the long-term outlook for the team seems … let’s say bleak.

The one exception to all of that was the play of 25-year-old forward Brendan Gallagher who was probably the one consistent bright spot throughout the season.

On a team that at times seemed lost, disjointed and just plain bad, Gallagher brought an unmatched energy and effort almost every single night and delivered the best season of his career, finishing with 31 goals and 54 points, both of which were not only new personal bests, but were also top on the team.

His 31 goals not only paced the team, he was one of just two players on the roster to top the 20-goal mark on the season (Paul Byron, who scored exactly 20, was the other).

Since arriving in the NHL Gallagher has always been an important player for the Canadiens, while every line he plays on seems to get a boost from his play. He can be a pest, but he is also a really good two-way player that has consistently posted great possession numbers despite playing on teams that have, at times, been caved in on the shot chart. And while he’s never been a big-time point producer you could always pencil him in for around 20 goals and 40 points, and when combined with everything else that he brings to the team that is a pretty valuable player. This past season the production spiked.

Given the way the rest of the roster looks, the Canadiens are going to need him to do it again. With Alex Galchenyuk now in Arizona, and Max Pacioretty‘s future with the team very much in doubt, the Canadiens are woefully short on players that can put the puck in the net. Keep in mind this is a team that finished the 2017-18 season 29th in the league in goals scored, while their big offseason move was to trade Galchenyuk (19 goals) for Max Domi (18 goals … in 141 games over the past two seasons).

Gallagher, it seems, is going to once again be one of their best options and a player they are going to have to lean on.

The good news for the Canadiens is that there is reason to believe Gallagher can at least come close to matching his production because there was nothing to indicate that his 2017-18 performance was much of a fluke. Entering his age 26 season he is still right in the middle of what should be his peak years in the NHL, and still signed for three more seasons at a salary cap hit of just $3.75 million he should be one of the most valuable assets the team has both now and in the near future.

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.

It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Montreal Canadiens.

2017-18:

29-40-13, 71 pts. (6th Atlantic Division; 14th Eastern Conference)

IN:

Max Domi
Joel Armia
Matthew Peca
Michael Chaput
Tomas Plekanec
Xavier Ouellet

OUT:

Alex Galchenyuk
Daniel Carr
Ales Hemsky

RE-SIGNED

Phillip Danault
Antti Niemi
Jacob De La Rose
Rinat Valiev

After getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs in 2017, the Canadiens put together a horribly disappointing season last year. None of their core players played well, which obviously didn’t help. Max Pacioretty didn’t score as often, Shea Weber suffered a serious injury and Carey Price wasn’t himself.

For the first time in five years, Pacioretty failed to hit the 30-goal mark. Now, he’s entering the final year of contract, and it sounds like a divorce between he and and the team is imminent. If the Habs ship their captain to another team, who will score goals for this team? They traded Alex Galchenyuk for a playmaker like Max Domi, so they don’t have any natural scorers left on the roster.

As for Weber, he’s fallen on hard times injury-wise. He got off to a great start (16 points in 26 games), but he eventually missed a good chunk of the season with a foot injury. The 33-year-old will also be out until at least Christmas because of knee surgery. Not having Weber will be tough overcome.

The biggest question surrounding the Canadiens upcoming season is whether or not Price can bounce back from the dismal season he had in 2017-18. He missed an extended period of time with lower-body injury and then a concussion. The team is light on talent, but if they can get Price back to where he was a few years ago, they’ll have a chance in every game they play. If he can’t get back to form, the next eight years will be incredibly long (they owe him $84 million).

This is a big year for GM Marc Bergevin. If botches a potentially Pacioretty trade, or if the team crumbles again, he might be looking for a new job. No matter what happens, it should be an interesting year in Habs land.

Prospect Pool:

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, 18, Assat Pori – 2018 first-round pick

The Canadiens have been searching for a number one center for years, and Kotkaniemi might finally be that guy. He’s a big body with good offensive instincts. Kotkaniemi is also capable of playing a strong all-around game. He has the ability to develop into a top-line player, but he might just need a bit more time to develop. The young Finn racked up 10 goals and 29 points in 57 games in the SM-Liiga

• Ryan Poehling, C, 19, St. Cloud State – 2017 first-round pick

Poehling made some huge strides in his second year at St. Cloud. He went from being a 13-point player in his first year to producing 31 points in 36 games last season. Like Kotkaniemi, Poehling is also big (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), but the American forward isn’t as gifted offensively. The biggest question around his game is whether or not his offensive abilities are good enough to make him a second-line center. Poehling is heading back to St. Cloud State for another year, but he could join the Canadiens next season.

Noah Juulsen, D, 21, Laval Rocket – 2015 first-round pick

Juulsen got his first taste of NHL experience during Montreal’s “lost” season last year and he certainly didn’t look out of place. He’s a good skater that can move the puck efficiently. He might not develop into a top pairing defenseman, but he’s certainly capable of being a top-four blueliner for years to come. Even though the Canadiens have several defensemen on one-way contracts, Juulsen has a pretty good shot at making the team out of camp.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Ellis on extension; Oilers questions post-Sekera injury

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Meet Beacon, the new mascot for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. It’s jacked. [Mariners]

Ryan Ellis on leaving some money on the table after signing his eight-year, $50 million extension with the Nashville Predators: “For me it was a no brainer. I think a lot of guys are going to follow suit, and hopefully if everything works out we’ll keep this thing together and keep going in the right direction for many years.” [Tennessean]

• “An interim payment of $50,000 will be paid out to each of the survivors and families of the 29 people affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus collision. A Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge agreed Wednesday that $1.45 million could be spent on the payments.” [CBC]

Andrej Sekera’s achilles injury leaves plenty of questions going forward for both the player and the Edmonton Oilers. [Sportsnet]

• Speaking of questions, what’s the future look like in goal for the Detroit Red Wings? [Detroit News]

• Former NHLer Darryl Sydor on his life after the NHL and battling alcohol problems. [CFJC Today]

• Is Zdeno Chara still the Boston Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman? [WEEI]

• How long can Stars coach Jim Montgomery keep the top line together? [Dallas Morning News]

• Herb Brooks’ biggest regret? Never getting the chance to coach Mario Lemieux. [Post-Gazette]

• Where exactly will this Vancouver Canucks rebuild go? [The Province]

• Extension talks with Brock Boeser are about to get under way. [TSN]

• “Career years are, by definition, uncommon. There is a large number of Capitals claiming them in 2017-2018. One thing to watch for as the 2018-2019 season unfolds is whether the ‘uncommon’ becomes ‘common’ for these players. If it does, it will go a long way to giving the Caps a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champion.” [Japers’ Rink]

• A good look at what this current New York Rangers rebuild looks like and when it began. [Blueshirt Banter]

• Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are heading to Switzerland to play for Geneve-Servette HC. [Swiss Hockey News]

• It’s quiet out there in free agency and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore is one those players who still needs a new contract. [Sin Bin Vegas]

• Finally, there’s 48 days until opening night. Let’s take a look at the Washington Capitals clinching in Game 5:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ondrej Kase re-signs with Ducks for 3 years, $7.8 million

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed right wing Ondrej Kase to a three-year, $7.8 million contract.

The Ducks announced the deal Wednesday.

Kase scored 20 goals last season, establishing himself as a promising talent when given his first extensive NHL playing time. The 22-year-old Czech forward added 18 assists and had five game-winning goals along with a plus-18 rating.

Nick Ritchie is the Ducks’ only remaining restricted free agent one month before they open training camp.

Anaheim has re-signed several returning players to significant deals in the offseason, including forward Adam Henrique, goalie John Gibson and defenseman Brandon Montour.

MORE:
ProHockeyTalk’s NHL free agency tracker
Building off a breakthrough: Ondrej Kase