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A look back at the last time Stanley Cup Final needed a Game 7

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The Boston Bruins won’t have to look far down the bench for a couple of their Game 7 heroes from their 2011 Stanley Cup winning team.

In fact, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand line up on the same line for the B’s, who will contest the 17th Game 7 in Cup Final history at TD Garden on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC; Live Stream).

They’re two of five Bruins players (Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask) who remain on the team that played in the last Cup Final that needed to be decided by a Game 7, and between them, scored all four goals Boston needed to end a 39-year Stanley Cup drought with their sixth championship.

Looking back, there are some similarities stemming from that series eight years ago. First and foremost, the Bruins needed to rebound from a 3-2 series deficit to even get to that stage.

Trailing a strong Vancouver Canucks team, the Bruins put forth a five-goal effort in a 5-2 win at home in Game 6. That game was highlighted by a four-goal first period, one that came in a span of 4:14. The Bruins chased then-Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo for the second time in the series.

A mouth-watering Game 7 matchup back in Vancouver was further intensified after a total of 54 penalty minutes were dished out in the third period alone, including four 10-minute misconducts.

Let’s take a look back.

First period

The Canucks took it to the Bruins early, with Tim Thomas — the eventual Conn Smythe winner — making a couple of saves that otherwise could have changed the whole complexion of the game.

Then a rookie, Marchand was able to get to a puck off a Canucks faceoff win in their own zone. A couple of turns and some suspect defending by Sami Salo created some space between for Marchand, who slid the puck into the slot. The pass was met by the stick of Bergeron, who swatted his stick at it. The puck rolled back Luongo’s right leg, unbeknownst to the Canucks netminder, to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at the 14:37 mark.

Second Period

The Bruins would effectively end the game in the middle frame, scoring twice in just over five minutes.

Before that, though, Chara made a crucial block on Alex Burrows shot that got past a sprawling Thomas but not the big man standing behind him.

Marchand nearly doubled the lead earlier just over a minute in when he raised a puck up and over Luongo but couldn’t beat the post.

Marchand wouldn’t be denied, however, and was rewarded with his first goal of the night on a nifty wraparound and a fair bit of self-inflicted goaltender interference by Daniel Sedin at 12:13.

Oh, and Luongo doing himself dirty by knocking the puck into his own net.

Bergeron’s second would come shorthanded, a dagger of sorts for the Canucks.

Gregory Campbell won the draw in the defensive zone for the Bruins and Dennis Seidenberg slammed the puck down the boards. The puck took a funny hop off the glass, falling into the path of Patrice Bergeron who was gifted a partial breakaway.

With Christian Ehrhoff draped all over him, and a penalty pending against the Canucks, Bergeron somehow guided the puck past Luongo. The goal was reviewed, with the Canucks arguing that Bergeron had put the puck in with his glove.

In the words of the great Maury, “That was a lie.”

Third period

The Canucks threw 16 shots at Thomas in the final period, looking desperately for any morsel of momentum in front of a packed Rogers Arena.

Thomas wouldn’t be felled, however, posting a 37-save shutout. Thomas made an excelled save off a streaking Sedin at the midway point of the period to preserve the goose egg. He’d stop Jannik Hansen point-blank with fewer than five minutes left in the game.

Desperate, and with just over three minutes left, the Alain Vigneault would pull Luongo for the extra skater.

The 4-0 goal would come on a clear from the Canucks that landed at the feet of Burrows. Burrows, who bit Bergeron in Game 1 of the series and fought Thomas in Game 4, couldn’t handle the quasi-pass and Marchand was more than happy to cap off his three-point night with his second goal, this time into the empty net.

Chara lifts the Cup

The drought was over.

The Bruins were Stanley Cup champs for the sixth time in franchise history.

Chara’s first pass of the Cup? That went to a Mark Recchi, who won his third Cup in his final NHL season.

Aftermath

The ugliness of 1994’s riots in the streets of Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Cup to the New York Rangers returned 17 years later.

Rioters poured into the streets of downtown Vancouver following the game and all hell broke loose.

The Bruins would make it home safely, with the parade held a couple days later.

Perhaps the best part of that victory march down the streets of Boston was Marchand showing the world he couldn’t rap.

MORE BLUES-BRUINS:
• Bruins push Stanley Cup Final to Game 7 by beating Blues
Blues, Cardinals team up to offer Busch Stadium Game 7 viewing party
Win or lose the Conn Smythe should belong to Rask 
• St. Louis newspaper gets roasted for ‘jinxing’ Blues before Game 6
Bounce back Blues need one more rally


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: McDavid, Draisaitl stay red-hot; Lightning torch Rangers

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers
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Three Stars

1. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

There is a reason these two lead the NHL in points and a combined 11-point outing will certainly keep them there a bit longer. McDavid recorded his second hat trick in three games and his first career six-point outing. Draisaitl had five assists and extended his point streak to 11 games as the Oilers skated to a 6-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche. If the Oilers feel that the rest of the lineup can provide enough support McDavid and Draisaitl can build on a dynamic partnership and help Edmonton return to the postseason.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

A trip to Sweden was the perfect opportunity for the Lightning to find their form and in their first game back in North America, they proved they still are an elite offensive team. Kucherov capped off an explosive stretch when Tampa Bay scored three times in a span of 61 seconds and added three assists. It was the second time this season Kucherov recorded four points.

3. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks

The Czech forward had two goals as the San Jose Sharks extended their winning streak to five with an important 5-3 victory against the Anaheim Ducks. Hertl was the beneficiary of a suspect call when he pushed John Gibson’s pad over the goal line in the opening period. But on his second of the night, the 26-year-old wired a wrister to even the score in the second period. After a slow start, the Sharks are hoping to climb their way back into the playoff race.

Highlights of the Night

McDavid doing McDavid things

Video game dekes are normally reserved for an alternate reality but Justin Dowling of the Dallas Stars showed his slick hands with an impressive toe drag.

Before a one-timer is launched, there are times you just know the player is going to connect. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is one goal away from the 400-goal mark after this blistering slap shot.

Blooper of the Night

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins probably had a different plan for this celebration

Factoids

  • Connor McDavid became the fourth player in Oilers history to record two hat tricks in three games, joining Wayne Gretzy, Glen Anderson and Jari Kurri [NHL PR].
  • McDavid and Draisaitl are just the second Oilers teammates in the last 30 years to each record five points in a game [NHL PR]
  • The Hurricanes have not lost a game against the Sabres since March 22m 2016 and are one of five teams with an active win streak of 10+ games vs. one opponent [NHL PR]
  • Dougie Hamilton is the fastest defenseman in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history to reach 20 points in a season (19 GP) [Sportsnet Stats]
  • The Lightning scored four goals in each of the first and second periods of a game for first time in franchise history [NHL PR]
  • Tampa Bay scored four goals in the first 6:42 of Thursday’s game. Only five teams have accomplished that feat faster in the last 25 years [NHL PR].

Scores

Lightning 9, Rangers 3

Hurricanes 5, Sabres 4 (OT)

Jets 4, Panthers 3

Wild 3, Coyotes 2

Oilers 6, Avalanche 2

Stars 4, Canucks 2

Sharks 5, Ducks 3

Kings 3, Red Wings 2

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Necas rewarding Hurricanes’ patience

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas
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Highly touted prospects are consistently called on to produce shortly after their draft year, sometimes hindering their growth as players.

Whether the club is competing for the Stanley Cup, looking to become a contender or facing a salary cap dilemma, young players on entry-level contracts have become a staple in the NHL.

For the Carolina Hurricanes, the patience they showed during Martin Necas’ development process has proven to be beneficial.

Necas has recorded 13 points through 19 games, including an assist on Dougie Hamilton’s game-winning goal Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. The 20-year-old forward darted into the offensive zone and could not complete a breakaway opportunity midway through overtime. However, instead of losing his composure, Necas stayed with the play, retrieved the puck and set up Hamilton to help Carolina secure a 5-4 victory.

Carolina selected Necas with the 12th pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft. Necas played one game in the NHL that season before returning to the Czech Republic. Last year, Necas had a seven-game stint with the Hurricanes, but the organization felt he needed more fine-tuning in the American Hockey League, where he helped the Charlotte Checkers capture the Calder Cup.

The pressure surrounding a first-round pick is omnipresent during the development process and only heightens when the prospect needs additional time outside the NHL. The situation is even more magnified when the big club is contending for a championship and contemplating a major trade deadline acquisition or a promotion from within.

But Carolina’s front office resisted the urge to disrupt Necas’ development and is reaping the rewards from that tough decision this season.

If Necas continues to produce, he will be in contention for a different Calder Trophy this season. While an individual award is an accomplishment, Carolina is hoping its patience will be rewarded as the team looks to build on its Eastern Conference Finals appearance last season.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Maple Leafs GM gives interesting take on ‘polarizing’ players

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are mired in a three-game losing streak, and generally speaking, have seemed a bit underwhelming so far in starting 2019-20 with a 9-7-4 record (22 points, currently in second wild card).

Through 20 games, you’ll see players talk about getting “swagger” back, and you probably won’t be able to scroll Hockey Twitter without stumbling upon at least a few debates about the job Mike Babcock is doing.

With as passionate a fan base as the Maple Leafs have, you’ll see people really drilling down to parse even the depth aspects of the team. Maybe that explains why we got an interesting take from GM Kyle Dubas, who almost seemed to break “the fourth wall” when he acknowledged the many takes that defensemen Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie inspire.

Buffet of opinions

Dubas’ comments about Ceci are especially fascinating, as you can see from TSN’s Karen Shilton.

“Cody is an interesting one. I think it goes back to the war between data and subjective scouting [in that] he seems to be a very polarizing player,” Dubas said. “Even when everything underlying about him has been relatively solid, especially when you consider his usage [as a top-pairing defenceman who averages 22:19 of ice time per game], it seems to be every tiny thing that he does becomes a referendum on whether he’s good or not, which is mind-boggling to me. Every defenceman that plays that much and plays in that role is going to [make] mistakes. I think he’s been a good addition for us and has played above expectations from when we acquired him and we’re very happy with him.”

In particular, Dubas captures the tenure of some Hockey Twitter debates when he says “it seems like every tiny thing that he does becomes a referendum.”

But it’s not that hard to see where many of Ceci’s critics are coming from.

When the Maple Leafs acquired Ceci, and it became clear that he’d actually stick around for at least a while, the hope (for many) was that he wouldn’t have the same role as he did in Ottawa, where some believe the Senators promoted him to a level of incompetence. What if Ceci was in an easier role, with fewer minutes and lesser opponents? Instead, his ice time has been virtually unchanged from last season, and defensive measures like his Hockey Viz heat maps (via Micah Blake McCurdy) look as bad as ever:

But, truly, Dubas isn’t totally off base when he says that there are certain underlying numbers where Ceci comes across at least a bit more respectably.

There’s the argument, advanced by people like Jonas Siegel of The Athletic (sub required), that it’s too early to judge Ceci.

Maybe it’s too late; perhaps there’s an “eye test vs. analytics” divide that won’t be broken easily. It could be that the biggest uproar would come if the Maple Leafs brought back Ceci after his expiring deal melts away.

(Opinion: they absolutely should not bring Ceci back.)

Tyson not knocking it out of the park

In the grand scheme of things, the Ceci situation is basically going as prescribed.

The bigger disappointment might be Tyson Barrie, even if you ignore Nazem Kadri‘s promising early results in Colorado. The book on Barrie is that he can be an explosive offensive performer, although there were red flags about him negating much of that prowess with shaky defense.

Those red flags carry over to those Hockey Viz charts, as there’s a lot of the bad sort of red when you consider Barrie’s defensive impact (and arguably not enough of the good red on offense to justify that bleeding).

Keeping it as simple as it gets, Barrie barely has more points (zero goals, five assists, thus five points) than Ceci (one goal, three assists for four points). Those numbers are underwhelming even if you viewed Barrie as something of a paper tiger with superficial scoring stats coming in.

Maybe it’s telling that Dubas’ comments are more milquetoast about Barrie, stating that “we just want him to continue to work and get comfortable here.”

***

Barrie, Ceci, and the Maple Leafs face a familiar foe on Friday in the Boston Bruins. In the Bruins’ own way, they want to get back on track too, as they’ve lost four in a row.

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.

Flames’ Brodie hospitalized after suffering seizure during practice

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In what sounds like a scary scene from Calgary Flames practice on Thursday, defenseman T.J. Brodie fell to the ice and appeared to experience a seizure, according to multiple reporters on hand.

Brodie, 29, was hospitalized afterward, but the good news is that Flames GM Brad Treliving described Brodie as “alert and responsive.”

Treliving didn’t officially announce that Brodie had a seizure, instead referring to it as an “episode.”

The Flames postponed practice after Brodie was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Their next game is on Saturday, when they face the Arizona Coyotes on the road.

UPDATE: The Flames announced in an update that Brodie has been discharged and is doing well in recovery at home with his family.

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.