Get your game notes: Rangers at Wings, Rivalry Night

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Detroit Red Wings hosting the New York Rangers on Rivalry Night at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

THE RIVALRY

WHEN IT BEGAN

• Both Detroit and New York entered the NHL as Original Six franchises in 1926 (Detroit’s nickname during the 1920s was the Cougars – it wasn’t until 1932 that the team was called the Red Wings). The Cougars shut out the Rangers 1-0 at home in their first meeting on December 4, 1926.

• These two clubs have storied histories with 15 combined Stanley Cup victories, but they have only met in the Final twice. Two of the Red Wings’ 11 overall Stanley Cup titles – in 1937 and 1950 – came at the Rangers’ expense. Detroit’s 11 Stanley Cups rank 3rd all-time (MTL-24, TOR-13), while the Rangers’ 4 places them T-7th all-time.

• Since that 1950 seven-game Stanley Cup Final encounter, Detroit and New York have not met each other in the playoffs.

1950 STANLEY CUP FINAL: DETROIT def. NEW YORK, 4-games-to-3

• While Detroit entered the playoffs with the best record from the regular season, it lost then 21-year old Gordie Howe – the team’s third-leading scorer – to injury in the first game of the postseason.

• The Rangers qualified as the fourth and final playoff team with a losing record during the regular season, but advanced to the Stanley Cup with a 4-1 series victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

• Due to bizarre scheduling, the Rangers actually played no true home games during the Stanley Cup Final against Detroit. Because the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had taken over Madison Square Garden, Game 1 was played in Detroit at Olympia Stadium, Games 2 and 3 were played at a neutral site in Toronto (Maple Leaf Gardens), and Games 4 through 7 were played back at Olympia.

• The Rangers fell into a 2-1 series deficit, getting outscored 9-4 in those first three games.

• 23-year old Ranger forward Don Raleigh – who only scored 12 goals during the regular season for New York – scored back-to-back overtime goals in Games 4 and 5 to reverse the momentum in the series. Per Elias, he is one of two players in history to have scored overtime winners in consecutive games during the Stanley Cup Final (John LeClair – 1993).

• The Rangers had 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3 leads in Game 6, but future Hall-of-Famers Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel scored 6 minutes apart – both players’ second goals of the game – in the 3rd period to complete the 5-4 comeback victory for Detroit.

• Game 7 was the 4th consecutive one-goal game, and the third game of the series to go to overtime. The Red Wings erased a 2-0 New York 1st-period lead with three 2nd period goals. The game remained tied at 3 through regulation, setting up the first Stanley Cup Final to be decided in overtime of Game 7 in NHL history.

• Detroit winger Pete Babando scored the Cup-clinching goal just over 8 minutes into the second overtime period, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 win and their 4th ever Stanley Cup victory.

• The Red Wings would win another Stanley Cup in a Game 7 OT in 1954, and to date the 1950 and 1954 Cup-clinching games remain the only two times in NHL history a Stanley Cup has been won in overtime of Game 7 (Elias).

LUCKY JOE

• Joe Kocur was the only player on all 3 Rangers/Red Wings Cup-winning teams in the 1990s. He helped New York to its first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994, and then skated on the Detroit teams that won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. Kocur spent 15 seasons in the NHL, scoring 80 goals in 820 career games. He ranks 20th all-time in PIM (2,519).

TOP STORYLINES

• Both teams enter tonight coming off wins against the league’s top team – the Nashville Predators.

• Extending Mats: On Monday afternoon, it was confirmed that Rangers F Mats Zuccarello agreed to a 4-yr/$18M extension, which reportedly includes a full no-trade clause in the first season of the deal.

• Zuccarello responded to the new deal immediately, getting the primary assist on the first 2 Ranger goals later that night against NSH and earning the First Star of the Game.

• “I like everything about him: his tenacity, his hard work, his seeing the ice, the way he plays, the chemistry he brings to our team and the way he is in our dressing room. He’s been a terrific player for us.” – Sather on Monday, on Zuccarello

• Henrik Lundqvist: On Jan. 31, Lundqvist was hit in the neck by a puck vs. CAR. Lundqvist played the following game against FLA (Feb. 2) but has since been out with a sprained blood vessel in his throat.

• “I won’t play until I’m ready to play, and it won’t be an issue moving forward after that. I’m going to heal 100 percent.” – Lundqvist, on Feb. 8

• The scheduled evaluation that Lundqvist said was supposed to take place 2-3 weeks from Feb. 8 has not occurred yet, and there remains no concrete update on his status other than he continues to skate on his own.

• “We continue to evaluate him. And we’ll keep you posted in a little while, but that’s about all I’m gonna say about it today.” – Sather, speaking about Lundqvist during his post trade deadline press conference on Monday.

• The Rangers have gone 10-2-2 without Lundqvist. Backup Cam Talbot has started all but 1 of those 14 games:

• Though Talbot lost his only start vs. DET this season (3-2 on Dec. 6 at Joe Louis Arena, stopped 31 of 34 shots), his first NHL win also came at the Joe. On Oct. 26 last season, in his 2nd career start, Talbot stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 3-2 (OT) Rangers win.

• In this stretch with Lundqvist out, Talbot also registered his 4th shutout of the season. NYR lead the NHL w/ 9 shutouts. The last time two Rangers goaltenders earned at least four shutouts in the same season was in 1970-71, when Ed Giacomin had eight and Gilles Villemure had four.

• Wings weathering the storm: The Red Wings are near the end of what is arguably their toughest stretch this season. On Saturday, Detroit completed a 6-game road trip 4-1-1, capped off by a 4-3 win against Nashville – the top team in the NHL (also beat CHI, DAL, SJ…lost 4-3 SO at ANA & 1-0 at LA).

• After playing the Rangers tonight, the Wings close out the week against two more teams currently in playoff position (vs. CGY on Friday, at BOS on Sunday).

• Though DET lost 3 straight earlier in the month (0-2-1 record), their victory over Nashville made them the only remaining NHL team without consecutive regulation losses this season (NSH had been the only other team, and that defeat to DET on Saturday was the Preds’ 2nd consecutive regulation loss at the time).

• DET last lost consecutive games in regulation back on Mar. 25 & 27, 2014.

Stanley Cup Final: Blues vs. Bruins full schedule, TV info

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The St. Louis Blues have eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games, and now the the 2019 Stanley Cup Final matchup is set.

Beginning with Game 1 on Monday, May 27 at TD Garden, the Blues will battle the Boston Bruins.

If a Game 7 is needed, it will take place on Wednesday, June 12, in Boston at 8 p.m. ET.

The Bruins are playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2013 and are trying to win it for the first time since 2011. The Blues went to the Cup Final in each of their first three years in the NHL, with their last appearance coming in 1970. They are looking for their first championship.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Here is the complete schedule for the entire series

(All times ET, subject to change).

GAME 1 
Monday, May 27: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC

GAME 2

Wednesday, May 29: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET,  NBCSN

GAME 3

Saturday, June 1: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

GAME 4

Monday, June 3: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC

*GAME 5

Thursday, June 6: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC

*GAME 6

Sunday, June 9: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC

*GAME 7

Wednesday, June 12: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC

*If necessary

————

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.

The Playoff Buzzer: Blues reach first Stanley Cup Final since 1970

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  • For the first time since 1970, the Blues are going to the Stanley Cup Final. Remarkably, they’ll face the same opponent in the Bruins. To make it to Round 4, they had to dispatch the Sharks, which they managed in Game 6 on Tuesday.

St. Louis Blues 5, San Jose Sharks 1 (Blues win series 4-2; 2019 Stanley Cup Final begins on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC [full schedule and TV info])

Once again, the Blues raced off to a hot start, with David Perron giving them a 1-0 lead just 1:32 into Game 6. They ended the first period up 2-0, and while the Sharks put up a stubborn fight on Tuesday, it didn’t really feel like the contest was ever in doubt. Any time the Sharks seemed to push to make things closer, the Blues either stomped out their scoring chances or scored a gut-punch of a goal. San Jose simply ran out of gas, although St. Louis would argue that it was because they emptied the Sharks’ tank.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Ryan O'Reilly

“ROR” generated three assists in Game 6, and none of those helpers came on the empty-net goal.

It was a strong all-around effort from O’Reilly even beyond the scoring, as he finished Game 6 with a +2 rating, went 12-6 on faceoffs, and delivered a hit during 18:28 TOI. O’Reilly had been kept off of the scoreboard for three consecutive games, so this is a nice outburst for the two-way center as he readies for what’s sure to be some tough matchups as St. Louis pivots to preparing for the Boston Bruins.

2. Jordan Binnington

Thanks to some great play from the likes of Colton Parayko, the Blues were mostly able to keep the battered Sharks to the perimeter. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to work with, which remains consistent to the way St. Louis has played for most of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and really how the Blues have played for the last few months.

Binnington’s steady presence in net is the number one reason that can work, though.

For most of the third period, the Blues sat on what began as a 3-1 lead, while the Sharks desperately pushed for goals by way of a 10-3 shots on goal advantage during the final 20 minutes. None of their attempts worked well enough to bring them back into the game, as Binnington ended the night making 25 out of 26 saves, including some key late stops against Evander Kane and especially Logan Couture.

Can the remarkable rookie win the goalie duel against Tuukka Rask? It figures to be one of his toughest tests yet.

3. David Perron

This was a great team effort for the Blues, making it tempting to place someone like Parayko as one of the three stars.

Yet, it’s worth mentioning Perron, particularly since he’s one of those forwards who keeps putting up points, yet continues to be overlooked. Perron helped the Golden Knights make it to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and now he’s back in Round 4 during his latest run with the Blues.

Perron finished Game 6 with a goal and a primary assist, with his goal being especially important. Again, it was the 1-0 tally very early on, allowing the Blues to nurse (and enhance) another 1-0 lead quickly into a contest. The Blues are tough enough to score against when all things are even, but become even more oppressive when they have a lead. This is now the fifth time they’ve scored a goal within the first two minutes of a game during this run, and the Blues are 5-0 in those games.

Bigger names like O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz have been heating up lately, but Perron is the type of player who might be able to swing what could be a tightly matched series versus the Bruins.

Factoids

Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place in Boston at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. Click here for the full schedule and TV info.

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.

Blues move to Stanley Cup Final after sinking Sharks

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The last time the St. Louis Blues made it to a Stanley Cup Final, it was all the way back in 1969-1970. They were swept by the Boston Bruins during that long-ago visit, with Bobby Orr’s famous leaping goal putting a bow on things. So, the current-day Blues hope that this … “rematch” goes far better.

To get this far, the Blues had to beat the San Jose Sharks, the team that most recently knocked them out of a Round 3 series back in 2015-16.

An injured Sharks team just didn’t have enough to push through the bruising Blues in Game 6 on Tuesday, as St. Louis won 5-1 to win the series 4-2. With that, the Blues will take on what’s sure to be a well-rested (maybe too rested?) Bruins team in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

An empty-netter inflated the score in Game 6, and Tyler Bozak‘s 4-1 insurance tally happened fairly late in the proceedings, so this one was pretty close at times. That said, the Sharks ultimately only got so close before the Blues pulled far ahead.

Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place in Boston at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. Click here for the full schedule and TV info.

Tough start, and finish, for Sharks

Being without Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson, and Tomas Hertl was already a tough way for San Jose to start Game 6, and didn’t really get better from there, as David Perron deflected a puck past Martin Jones to make it 1-0 for St. Louis just 1:32 in. Things looked pretty dire for the Sharks heading into the first intermission, after Vladimir Tarasenko‘s power-play goal made it 2-0.

Credit the Sharks for continuing to fight, but credit the Blues for taking it to the Sharks to give San Jose little hope of actually winning that fight.

Dylan Gambrell ended up being one of the Sharks who drew into action thanks to all of those injuries, so he made for a great story by scoring his first NHL goal in his first playoff game. The Sharks embraced that added life, briefly, as Logan Couture almost scored before Colton Parayko cleared the puck from Jordan Binnington‘s crease. But it remained 2-1, and Gambrell’s goal ended up being a fun footnote instead of a turning point.

Not long after that brief surge, the Blues got their two-goal lead right back. Brayden Schenn‘s been agonizingly close to scoring for a while now, so he was clearly relieved when he scored the 3-1 goal on the power play. Maybe that goal drought explains the creativity of Schenn’s sword-sheathing celebration?

Blues, Binnington shut the door

It wasn’t just Schenn who was struggling to score late in this series. The Sharks, as a team, were just as cold when it came to piercing the Blues’ defense, and during the rare moments when they found space, Binnington was usually up to the task.

The Blues were clearly content to sit on their 3-1 lead during the third period, and Binnington made sure that such a strategy worked out. He made some tremendous saves against Evander Kane and Logan Couture, including stopping Couture on a semi-breakaway, earning a big cheer from an appreciative crowd in St. Louis.

The Blues won Game 4 by a score of 2-1, then handed the Sharks a disastrous 5-0 defeat in Game 5. So, during these last three games, San Jose only managed two goals overall. Heading into the postseason, it seemed like Martin Jones would be the problem if the Sharks fell short. While Jones faced his highs and lows, the Sharks’ seemingly explosive lineup simply ran out of firepower.

***

Now, the Sharks must face an uncertain offseason with Erik Karlsson, Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Gustav Nyquist heading toward unrestricted free agency. As much as this run has been about the likes of Hertl and Timo Meier (a pending RFA) emerging as the future of the Sharks alongside Couture, the Sharks’ path ahead seems a little murky. This was a memorable and exciting run for the Sharks, yet it ends with that all-too-familiar empty feeling.

The Blues, meanwhile, face a straightforward future, but one that likely brings plenty of bumps in the road. Beat the Bruins and win that first-ever Stanley Cup, or repeat decades-old history.

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.

Bruins will scrimmage to stay sharp for Stanley Cup Final

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BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins think they’ve found a way to stay sharp for the Stanley Cup Final while waiting a total of 10 days between games.

The Eastern Conference champions will hold a public intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday night, and coach Bruce Cassidy said he’ll try to maintain a regular game-day schedule so that the players will get back in the routine before the opener of the championship series on Monday.

”We’ve got some ideas we bandied around. We came up with this one,” Cassidy said on Tuesday, the Bruins’ fifth day off since sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes in the East finals. ”We’ve had good practices, but this will be a little bit different.”

The Bruins needed seven games to dispatch the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, then had one day off before starting the second round against Columbus. They finished off the Blue Jackets in six games, and had two days to rest before Game 1 against the Hurricanes.

But that series ended Thursday, and the Bruins haven’t even had an opponent to prepare for yet. The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.

”If St. Louis wins … we can start a little bit of that prep for special teams,” Cassidy said. ”If not, we’ll just go through the basics.”

Cassidy said last week he would reach out to other teams to get pointers on how to handle long layoffs. Among them: the New England Patriots, who routinely have a first-round bye, in addition to a two-week break before the Super Bowl.

The Bruins coach said on Tuesday that he touched base with all of the teams in town, as well as some of the Boston players from the 2011 and ’13 teams that went to the Final and other NHL coaches who have had long breaks. But he declined to share their advice.

”We’ll take what we thought was relevant to us and go from there,” Cassidy said, acknowledging that a seven-game series is different than preparing for a Super Bowl. ”In the first game, we want to be good. We want to be sharp. We want to be on time. We want to win. But we have a bit more luxury than say a one-and-done.”

The scrimmage will be two, 25-minute periods, with two officials on the ice. But some rules will be ignored in the interest of situational drills and keeping everyone healthy.

Cassidy said he may create a four-on-four situation as well as a six-on-five for a potential end-of-game, pulled goalie scenario. The checking line will face off against the top line, and players might switch teams to get the matchups Cassidy wants to work on.

Individual players, including goalie Tuukka Rask, will decide how much they want to play.

The winning team will earn … something.

”They will put something on the line,” Cassidy said. ”That’s something I have to discuss with them. I think that’s important. What it is it could be something very minimal, or whatever it is they want to decide.”

Other than that, the coach said he will be happy if everyone comes out of the scrimmage healthy. He said it will be no different than practice, when players know not to check their teammates, but because of the increased stakes, he will talk to the team about it.

”This isn’t a physicality contest out there. It’s compete on pucks. It’s play with some pace,” he said. ”I think we’re smart enough. That will be the message I relay to some of the younger guys: We’re doing this for a reason. But the reason is not to injure anybody.”

Fans can attend Thursday’s scrimmage for $20, and park for $10; popcorn will be free for children. Proceeds will go to the Boston Bruins Foundation.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports