Doughty the hero as Canada beats Finland in OT

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Drew Doughty’s time is now.

The L.A. defenseman, who’s easily been Canada’s best player in Sochi, turned in another stellar performance on Sunday, scoring both goals in Canada’s 2-1 overtime win over Finland in the final game of the group stage.

Doughty’s winner came at the midway point of the extra session after he collected a Jeff Carter pass and snapped the puck home past Tuukka Rask. It was Doughty’s fourth goal of the tournament — he now sits tied with Phil Kessel for second-most — and it came after Doughty opened the Canadian scoring at the 13:44 mark of the first period. Sidney Crosby and Shea Weber added assists on the first goal; the helper was the fourth point of the tournament for Weber, another Canadian defenseman producing well in Sochi.

Tuomo Ruutu replied for Finland — his first goal and fourth point of the Games — with Jussi Jokinen and Ossi Vaananen notching assists.

VIDEO: Canada needs OT to beat Finns

Rask was by far the busier and better of the two goalies on the day, as he registered 25 saves to Carey Price’s 14. That said, Price had to be sharp on occasion, especially with a huge blocker on Finnish defenseman Sami Salo late in the contest.

Overall, the game was a tight, close-checking affair with few mistakes made by either team. Some compact Finnish defending in the middle of the ice kept Canada to the perimeter, but it came at a cost as the Finns didn’t take many risks offensively. That, combined with Canada’s responsible defending, saw Finland put just 15 shots on goal — a far cry from the 52 they fired at Austria and 39 recorded against Norway.

With the win, Canada clinched top spot in Group B and third spot overall, meaning it gets an automatic bye into the quarterfinals — where it will take on the winner of No. 6 Switzerland vs. No. 11 Latvia.

Finland finished fourth overall, also gets a quarterfinal bye and will take on the winner of No. 5 Russia vs. No. 12 Norway.

NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour: Martinez clinches Cup for Kings

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NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour continues this week with matchups featuring unsung heroes.

In a role similar to one he played in the 2014 Western Conference Final victory over the Blackhawks, Alec Martinez of the Kings played hero for Los Angeles in Game 5 of the Cup Final, scoring the game-winner in double overtime to defeat the Rangers 3-2 and clinch the Cup.

Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire called the Stanley Cup action from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

Thursday, April 9
• NHL: Pause and Rewind (Encore) – 5 p.m. ET
• Rangers vs. Kings (2014 Stanley Cup Final, Game 5, Alec Martinez) – 6 p.m. ET

NBC Sports commentators conducting player interviews and sharing #HockeyAtHome social content will also be featured throughout the program.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour can be found here.

Long-term outlook for the Montreal Canadiens

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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Montreal Canadiens.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The Canadiens don’t have a lot of players locked up to much term. That seems like a plus, because the bigger contracts also happen to be Montreal’s biggest headaches.

Apologies to Carey Price after already critiquing his 2019-20 season, but you can only be so delicate about his situation. Price has already shown some troubling signs of fatigue at 32. His $10.5 million AAV is frightening now, yet it carries through 2025-26, with a no-movement clause to boot.

Shea Weber didn’t suffer a career-ending injury as feared, yet there’s no denying that he’s banged up. One wonders if the 34-year-old is fated for LTIR; otherwise, his $7.86M AAV (also through 2025-26) could become quite burdensome.

Jonathan Drouin breaks the trend of older players receiving term, but there are already rumors about the 25-year-old getting moved out before his deal ($5.5M AAV) expires (after 2022-23).

Looking at the Habs’ agreed-upon core is a chore. The more interesting questions revolve around who else might be a part of it.

The Canadiens don’t face that many long-term contract decisions this offseason, but pending RFA Max Domi is a key one. Can they find the right price and term for the speedy but flawed forward?

There are some other interesting mid-career players to consider.

Marc Bergevin balked on trading Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry, two players whose contracts expire after 2020-21. Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault stand out as other noteworthy pieces who need new deals after 2020-21, too. Who stays and who goes?

Granted, a lot of that revolves around how much progress Montreal’s promising prospects make.

Long-term needs for Canadiens

Look, it’s not going to be pleasant for the Canadiens to pay a backup goalie a handsome fee. Not when they already allot $10.5M in cap space to Price.

Yet it seems like Montreal’s committed to at least hovering around the playoff bubble with Bergevin and Claude Julien running the show. Why wouldn’t you try to ease Price’s burden and get a Plan B when the market could include borderline starters like Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, Cam Talbot, and old pal Jaroslav Halak?

Getting some saves would go a long way. So would finishing more chances.

For another year, Montreal clearly suffered for its lack of snipers. This team can hog the puck at five-on-five, and create havoc with skilled forwards. They just don’t really have a ton of players who finish, something that surfaces for a power play that finds itself snakebitten far too often.

The Canadiens could certainly use more NHL-ready help on defense. That’s another question filed under “How ready are these prospects?”

Perhaps more than anything else, the Canadiens need vision.

So far, Montreal’s been trying to build for the future while staying in contention. The first part’s gone pretty well, but the Canadiens have settled for not-quite-good-enough. Are they hurting their chances of having a higher ceiling by trying to prosper now and later? Should they at least do a Rangers-style mini-reboot, selling off the likes of Tatar, Petry, and Drouin (and maybe even Gallagher)?

Oh yeah, and how much would it take to compete in an Atlantic Division featuring the Bruins, Lightning, and Maple Leafs?

The answers are tough to come by, but Bergevin & Co. need to soul search on such topics.

Long-term strengths for Canadiens

Again, the Canadiens’ farm system looks pretty good. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked them second overall in February (sub required), and that’s while “graduating” the likes of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Cole Caulfield could indeed parallel Alex DeBrincat as a near-instant draft steal, as many wondered about the spritely sniper.

I wonder if that group could still use the added “oomph” that would have come with a tanktastic, premium high draft pick, but it’s heartening for Montreal overall.

Bergevin’s also seemingly learned from how much the Price contract boxed the Canadiens in by not signing many other long-term deals. The uncertainty translates to flexibility.

Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin went in-depth on the Canadiens’ salary cap opportunities recently (sub required). If the pause squeezes the cap flat, Montreal could take advantage of teams in “salary cap prison.” They could also exploit a free agent situation that may thus be low on buyers. There’s also the possibility that Bergevin could send out more offer sheets.

Bergevin’s patience could pay off … if he makes the right moves.

MORE ON THE CANADIENS:
Breaking down their 2019-20 season
Biggest surprises and disappointments

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Oilers say Colby Cave remains in medically induced coma

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TORONTO — Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave remains in a medically induced coma in a Toronto hospital after suffering a brain bleed earlier in the week.

The Oilers, through Cave’s family, provided an update on Cave’s status Thursday on their Twitter account.

”This is giving his brain time to heal & rest from all he’s been through,” the team wrote in the post.

The 25-year-old native of Battleford, Saskatchewan, was airlifted Tuesday to Sunnybrook Hospital and underwent emergency surgery. Doctors removed a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

Cave’s wife, Emily, posted an update on Instagram on Wednesday after seeing him through a window with his parents and talking to him via a walkie-talkie.

”My heart is shattered into a million pieces without my best friend,” she wrote.

Emily Cave said the family is no longer allowed to be in the hospital because of COVID-19 rules. She said they have no idea when they will be allowed to see him again.

Cave scored one goal in 11 games with Edmonton this season. He has four goals and five assists over 67 NHL games with Boston and Edmonton.

Blues reveal Eddie Murphy song has served as new victory anthem

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Once the Blues turned the page on 2019-20, they left “Gloria” behind with it.

As they began their quest for a second straight Stanley Cup, the Blues went in a different direction for their post-game victory song. Laura Branigan was all the rage last season, and this year the players decided on Eddie Murphy’s 1985 hit “Party All the Time.”

Defenseman Vince Dunn revealed the song choice during the Blues’ virtual reunion Wednesday night.

“This year we have a new one,” Dunn said. “We haven’t really been too focused on it. It’s kind of just been whatever. We didn’t want to carry [Gloria] over from last year. Kind of just left it in the past. … We have a pretty fun group. We like to have our fun, and I think the song kind of reflects on our group a little bit.”

It was also revealed during the reunion that a lucky Boston sushi restaurant was a go-to spot for several Blues players ahead of their final three road games in the Cup Final, which they won.

MORE:
Holiday light display honors Blues’ Stanley Cup title, plays ‘Gloria’
Blues embrace ’80s hit ‘Gloria’ as post-win anthem

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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.