Roundtable: The multi-part hockey docs we’d love to see made

With the Chicago Bulls’ “The Last Dance” documentary all the rage, what NHL story would you like to see made into a multi-part documentary?

SEAN: It’s not the sexiest of topics, but I’ve been pining for someone to do a documentary on Russ Conway’s great book, “Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey.” It is an incredible read about how one man, so powerful in the hockey world, stole so much from the players he was supposed to be assisting.

Imagine in 2020 the head of a players’ association, who was also an agent and power broker in the sport, scamming union members. The investigative work of Conway, who passed away in August, earned him a Pulitzer nomination and brought down Eagleson.

Bobby Orr, Rick Middleton, Brad Park were among those affected by Eagleson’s deeds. All it took to set Conway off on his investigation were complaints about the former union boss at a reunion of the Bruins’ 1970 Stanley Cup team.

“All I’ve done is connect the dots,” Conway told Michael Farber in 1996.

JAMES: The key isn’t just to find an interesting subject. It’s also to unearth something you can milk for 10 episodes. (OK, I imagine the MJ thing will get pretty granular. Are they going to roll out a timeline for zany Rodman hair colors and styles? Actually … that sounds great.)

To me, the clear answer is the Yzerman (player, not GM) era of the Red Wings. That run could provide a ton of fodder:

• Russian players making the (sometimes dangerous) jump to America. Really, you could cover multiple episodes on the team’s innovative international flair. Hakan Andersson deserves his own episode.

• You could have a trap episode revolving around the 1995 Devils upsetting the Red Wings. I’d even be willing to serve as a talking head who’d just complain endlessly about the trap. (Seriously it is/was the worst.)

• The Avalanche – Red Wings feud was nasty, memorable, and fun. Which Bad Boy Pistons/Pat Reilly Era Knicks would parallel which Avalanche, though? Claude Lemieux’s definitely Bill Laimbeer.

• Naturally, there’s plenty of material in the Red Wings’ many successes, from the titles to that lengthy run of playoff appearances. The letter could also give you more leeway to squeeze in some Mike Babcock drama.

• Like the Jordan era Bulls, the Red Wings’ glorious run didn’t really happen that long ago, but … hey, why not, right?

Honestly, I’m probably only hitting some of the high spots. Now I want the Red Wings to get their own indulgent docuseries.

ADAM: Just for my own entertainment, I want to see a documentary that focusses on some of the all-time great “tank” jobs in NHL history. Unfiltered, brutal honesty, an in-depth look at what was happening in Pittsburgh in 1983-84 when they new Mario Lemieux was lurking. I want to know what happened with the Ottawa Senators leading up to the Alexandre Daigle draft that ultimately brought us the draft lottery. Then, of course, the greatest tank job in recent memory: The Buffalo Sabres quest for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel that had fans in the arena actively cheering AGAINST the team. Obviously the players on the ice are competing. That is how they are wired, what they are trained to do, and what they take pride in doing. But the front office always has a far more long-term goal. Give me the dirt! Who was doing what to put their team in a position to lose!

Think it would also be worth seeing a behind the scenes look at Vegas’ expansion draft process, how they incited panic among several teams and forced them into giving up way more assets and better players than they needed to.

That initial Vegas season (as well as the seasons since) was so improbable, so unexpected, so unbelievable, and so amazing that a deep look into that would be fascinating. The trade discussions, the initial strategy, and maybe the players they passed on in the expansion draft would be interesting to see.

JOEY: I’d love to see a 10-part documentary on the Washington Capitals. A documentary with the Caps would feature some great personalities (by hockey standards) like Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau, Tom Wilson and many others. Now that they’ve won a Stanley Cup, it’s easy to forget that they went through all those great regular seasons followed by playoff heartbreaks.

Think about it: You can start with the Capitals being swept in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit. You can do a quick recap of the pre-Ovechkin years, followed by them drafting Ovechkin. You can then go through them blowing a 3-1 series lead to the eight seed, the Montreal Canadiens, in the 2010 Playoffs and you can build up your documentary with each playoff failure after that. Getting an in-depth look at all those battles between Washington and Pittsburgh would be special. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin vs. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. That’s must-see TV!

The director can also tackle the “is Ovechkin finished?” storyline after he scored “just” 33 goals during the 2016-17 season.

You can build up the drama throughout their run to the Stanley Cup. They were down 2-0 in the first round to Columbus when Lars Eller scored the game-winner in Game 3. There’s more drama right there.

And then the pay-off to the whole thing could be a behind-the-scenes look at how the Capitals partied after they won it all.

I’d definitely watch that.

SCOTT: I wish there was more to the Jalen Ramsey story and we could explore how he faired in his experiment learning the game of hockey in six months.

But on a serious note, I would be very interested in seeing a 10-part documentary on the construction of the Vegas Golden Knights and how they reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of operation.

The topic is still pretty recent, but assuming this show wouldn’t come out for a few years. I’d be interested to see interviewes with George McPhee during the scouting process and how he identified talent that fit together so perfectly. It is not often a general manager has a chance to build a roster from scratch and learning about thought process would be a captivating tale.

It would be fascinating to get a behind the scenes look at the process they used to rank NHL talent in the seasons prior to the expansion draft while balancing their ability to prepare for the 2017 NHL Draft.

The season had a few storylines as well, and could make up the last few episodes, but the majority of the documentary should focus on the construction of the roster.

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Penguins tie series with Canadiens despite Carey Price’s brilliance

Penguins tie series win Game 2 vs. Canadiens
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Some people nodded their heads at the “Carey Price could steal a series against the Penguins” talking points; others rolled their eyes. During much of Game 2 of the Penguins – Canadiens 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, most people were just shaking their heads in disbelief at how great Price was. Even so, the Penguins did just enough to tie the series 1-1 via a 3-1 win.

Price was righteous; Penguins’ power play needs serious work

Carey Price and the Canadiens penalty kill already impressed in Game 1, keeping an on-paper-potent power play to an inefficient 1-for-7. Price & Co. were even stingier in Game 2, keeping the Penguins off the board (0-for-5) despite a steady stream of early opportunities.

In both games, the Penguins failed to score on 5-on-3 power play opportunities.

As with a lot of these situations, special teams successes and failures come down to a mix of factors. On one hand, the Canadiens performed admirably on the PK, and Price was brilliant whenever that structure broke down. But the Penguins’ power play looked flat, and almost cost Pittsburgh Game 2.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Crosby’s goal proved crucial; Penguins dominated Canadiens at even strength in Game 2

When Sidney Crosby scored the 1-0 goal just 4:25 into Game 2, it seemed like it would merely be a prelude to a busy game. Instead, it served as the only goal of Game 2 for significant chunk of the night.

Crosby made some history with that goal, his second in two games. By collecting his 68th career playoff goal, Crosby tied Gordie Howe for 18th most in NHL playoff history. That tally also pushed Crosby’s career playoff point total to 188, tying Crosby with Joe Sakic and Doug Gilmour for eighth all-time.

Late in the third period, Jason Zucker connected on a nice 2-0 goal, while Conor Sheary collected his second assist of Game 2. Jesperi Kotkaniemi then broke Matt Murray‘s shutout attempt to make it 2-1, but that goal came far too late for Montreal to push Game 2 into OT. Like Crosby, Kotkaniemi has two goals in as many games in this best-of-five series. Jake Guentzel‘s empty-netter ended any hint of late-building drama in Game 2.

Overall, the Penguins find themselves breathing a sigh of relief, and maybe catching their breath. Meanwhile, the Canadiens must feel decent about having this series tied 1-1, although they’ll need to give Price more support to advance. For all of the criticism the Penguins’ power play may receive, the Canadiens likely need to work beyond a “bend but don’t break” approach.

5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (12) Montreal Canadiens (Series tied 1-1/Habs lead series 2-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Penguins vs. Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Penguins vs. Canadiens*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Canadiens vs. Penguins*

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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.

Blackhawks-Oilers stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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NBC’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Blackhawks and Oilers. Coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Blackhawks-Oilers Game 2 stream at 10:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Connor McDavid scored 2:34 into the game to give Edmonton the early lead before Chicago scored four straight goals – two by captain Jonathan Toews – to take a 4-1 lead after the first period. Rookie Dominik Kubalik was the story the rest of the way.

While Toews, Patrick Kane, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl all found the score sheet, it was Kubalik who made the headlines. The Calder Trophy finalist, who led all rookies with 30 goals during the regular season, set an NHL record for most points (5) in a playoff debut.

Mike Smith allowed five goals on 23 shots before being pulled in the second for Mikko Koskinen.

“We’ll talk about where we are with our goaltenders, and I thought Mikko was fine in net,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “We have confidence in both our guys, we had long discussions about it. We think we’ll use both in the [postseason]… We started the season 5-0 (with) Smitty. We thought we wanted to start the postseason the same way. We were very confident in Smitty. Other than the giveaway that went off his back, he was kind of left on his own out there.”

Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended for Game 2 following an illegal check to the head of Tyler Ennis.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko, Pierre McGuire
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Blackhawks-Oilers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(5) Edmonton Oilers vs. (12) Chicago Blackhawks (Blackhawks lead series 1-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Blackhawks 6, Oilers 4 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Oilers vs. Blackhawks, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Oilers vs. Blackhawks*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Blackhawks vs. Oilers*, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Reaves, Seguin, Lehner, Dickinson kneel during anthem before Stars – Golden Knights

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Two Golden Knights (Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner) and two Stars (Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson) decided to kneel during both anthems before the teams’ round-robin game on Monday.

This comes after other noteworthy moments where NHL players made statements against racism, particularly Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

After the Golden Knights’ 5-3 win against the Stars, Seguin explained his decision to kneel.

“I was giving it a lot of thought in the last 24 hours about what to do. I talked to Reaves during warmups. He said he saw what I was doing in Dallas, and that him and Lehner were going to kneel, and asked if I’d like to join them. So I told them I’d join them,” Seguin said, via ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. “Before the game, I went into the dressing room and told everyone what I was doing. Told them there was absolutely no pressure to do anything. Dickinson grabbed me and said he’d like to be a part of it, and support his beliefs and my beliefs.”

Reaves and Lehner added their own thoughts after the contest:

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

More on Stars, Golden Knights, and Dumba kneeling during anthems

Wild defenseman Matt Dumba made a passionate speech before Game 1 of Blackhawks – Oilers on Saturday, then kneeled during the U.S. national anthem. Dumba also raised his fist during the national anthem before his own Wild’s win against the Canucks on Sunday.

As you can read more about here, Dumba said that he regretted only kneeling for the U.S. national anthem, rather than both anthems. In this latest case, Reaves, Lehner, Seguin, and Dickinson kneeled for both anthems before Stars – Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights also tweeted about their players kneeling:

While the Stars shared a similar (if shorter) sentiment:

Along with Dumba, Lehner, Reaves, Seguin, and Dickinson, other teams made statements of their own. Members of the Nashville Predators wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts before Game 1 against the Coyotes on Sunday.

Members of the Bruins wore a variety of shirts along similar lines, while Maple Leafs players made similar gestures early in the NHL Return to Play.

During the end of his passionate speech, Dumba hoped that the Hockey Diversity Alliance and other measures might inspire others in the future.

“I hope this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans,” Dumba said. “Because Black Lives Matter. Breonna Taylor’s life matters. Hockey is a great game. But it could be a whole lot greater. And it starts with all of us.”

It seems like Dumba and others managed to inspire peers, including Reaves and Lehner of the Golden Knights and Seguin and Dickinson of the Stars.

Read more about the Hockey Diversity Alliance here, and at their website. The NHL also recently announced its #WeSkateFor initiative, which you can learn more about here.

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.

Kucherov leads Lightning past Capitals in round-robin play

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Shootout goals from Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point helped the Lightning beat the Capitals 3-2 in round-robin play Monday.

The first half of the game belonged to Tampa, who lead in possession and on the scoreboard until late in the second period. The Lightning controlled over 60% of shot attempts (per Natural Stat Trick) for most of the opening 40 minutes and built up a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Kucherov and Mitchell Stevens.

Kucherov’s first of the postseason was the result of strong neutral zone play by the Lightning. They won the middle of the ice, and a Capitals turnover allowed Point to dance into the offensive zone and lay a pass off to Kucherov, who then proceeded to wire a shot by Braden Holtby.

Washington flipped the game to their side with a pair of goals 2:08 apart late in the second. First, Richard Panik put home a rebound that squeaked through Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s pads. Evgeny Kuznetsov then followed that up tapping home another puck that the Tampa netminder had trouble with.

No goals in the third period meant bonus hockey. Round-robin games will feature regular-season overtime rules, but 3-on-3 didn’t solve anything, so a shootout was needed.

Current Eastern Conference round-robin standings

Now that each team has played once, here’s where things stand:

• Lightning – 2 pts.
• Flyers – 2 pts.
• Capitals – 1 pt.
• Bruins – 0 pts.

Reminder that these games will determine seeding for Round 1. Any ties will be broken by regular-season points percentage.

Carlson remains out

Norris Trophy finalist John Carlson did not play Monday. The defenseman remained out after suffering an injury during the Capitals’ exhibition game last week against Carolina. He has practiced with the team since the weekend, but head coach Todd Reirden wanted to play it safe.

“We’re not going to put them in a situation where, if something were to go wrong or re-aggravate any injury or anything that’s going on that would potentially cause a chance for him to miss part of Round 1,” Reirden said on Sunday. “So we’ll do the thing that’s right for the player and obviously right for the team. We obviously wouldn’t put him out there in a situation where anything could become worse because he’s such a large part of our team and obviously a guy that had a tremendous year and is a huge part of our blue line.”

Bogosian makes postseason debut

Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian has played 644 NHL games since breaking into the league with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008-09. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft is with his third franchise and finally took part in the postseason for the first time in his career on Monday.

The last time Bogosian was in any sort of postseason? The 2008 Ontario Hockey League playoffs when he was with the Peterborough Petes. They lost their opening round series in five games to P.K Subban’s Belleville Bulls.

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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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.