Justin Williams

Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1 starts with goal, huge hits, Williams – Strome fight

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The Rangers and Hurricanes are wasting no time creating playoff-level hatred in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. WIthin minutes, there was the first goal of the NHL Return to Play, big hits (that may have led to injuries), and an unlikely fight.

Carolina ultimately ended up winning Game 1 by a score of 3-2.

Slavin scores first goal of NHL Return, Fast gets hit hard

It took little time for Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1 to heat up. You can see the big moments of physicality in the video above this post’s headline.

So far, the biggest sequence happened about a minute in. First, Brady Skjei absolutely leveled former teammate Jesper Fast with a hard hit.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Fast would eventually leave the ice with a possible injury. But, before he could depart, Jaccob Slavin scored the first goal of the NHL Return to Play. Would the Hurricanes have scored that goal if the Rangers didn’t have an injured player on the ice?

The Rangers announced that Fast is not expected to return to Game 1.

Another big hit in Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1, and a Williams – Strome fight

Skjei’s hit on Fast clearly set a tone. Not only were there a parade of penalties, but Marc Staal also landed a big check on Martin Necas.

It’s possible that the Necas hit on Staal inspired Justin Williams to fight with Ryan Strome. You could argue that maybe Williams shouldn’t be dropping the gloves, but the fight was an unlikely sight either way:

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Labor peace in a pandemic; COVID-19 transparency needed

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

• Good read on how the NHL and NHLPA found labor peace in a pandemic. [Sportsnet]

• Why this CBA extension is not a win for the players. [New York Post]

• Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule. [PHT]

• The NHL salary cap is staying flat with this new CBA. [PHT]

• On the NHL’s plan to not be transparent with COVID-19 cases: “If someone misses a game, it could be because he suffered a concussion. Or it could be because he has COVID-19. It’s up to fans — and other players sharing the same hotels and facilities inside one of two bubbles — to guess.” [National Post]

• “I don’t know what greater indictment you need of the United States’ response to the virus than the NHL picking up its puck and retreating to Canada.” [Washington Post]

• The NHL plans to use fan videos as in-game cheers during the Return to Play. [ESPN]

• Kirill Kaprizov, Ilya Sorokin, and Alexander Romanov are among the players who have until 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to sign in order to participate in Phases 3 and 4. They would be able to practice with their teams but unable to play. [NHL.com]

• After so much time off, how will coaches coach their teams as we go right into meaningful games? [CP via TSN]

• Hurricanes’ forward Justin Williams on keeping safe: “You need to tighten up the bubble of people you’re hanging out with and make your inner circle pretty darn small. Guys are going to be cognizant of that.” [News and Observer]

• Why Corey Crawford is prepared for the Blackhawks’ series against the Oilers. [NBC Sports Chicago]

• What the Maple Leafs can expect from Auston Matthews this summer. [Leafs Nation]

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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.

Illness and injury uncertainty abound as NHL camps open

Andrew Copp got a chance to skate in Michigan but isn’t sure how many of his Winnipeg teammates have been on the ice.

Voluntary player workouts have been going on for more than a month, but full NHL teams will be together Monday for the first time since March. Mixed with the excitement of hockey being back is the uncertainty of which and how many players might opt out and how the long layoff could contribute to injuries.

“(It’s about) trying to make sure that when you come back your hips and groins are all right,” Copp said. “For some guys, it’s going to be ease in and make sure you make it through the first four or five games healthy and making sure you don’t hurt yourself. At the same time, we are getting ready for the playoffs.”

It’s a training camp unlike any in history, with expanded rosters on 24 teams coming back from a four-month absence to compete for the Stanley Cup. It’s a two-week sprint from home cities to Toronto for Eastern teams and Edmonton, Alberta, for their Western counterparts.

Already, a handful of players have opted out of participating and more could make the same decision before a Monday afternoon deadline. More than half the eligible players have already been skating at team facilities trying to get their legs under them, and ramping up for the resumption of the season takes another step with the start of organized workouts.

“It will be different for everybody,” Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It’s a camp in the middle of the summer after guys have had time off. It will be interesting to see how certain guys have prepared.”

Islanders coach Barry Trotz figures this will be a chance to gauge how mentally and physically prepared players are for this grind. There was no mandatory ice time or workout regimen before this point, though some players skated overseas when rinks were closed in North America for the COVID-19 pandemic and others have since made sure to lace up their skates.

“Now that it’s real, we’ll find out exactly where everybody is,” Trotz said. “The team that can really get their team structure-wise and attitude and execution and out that in place as quick as possible, you have a chance to win. The discipline and structure are paramount to having success.”

Some of that discipline is players and their loved ones staying home as much as possible before teams fly to the quarantined “hub cities” of Toronto and Edmonton.

Carolina forward Justin Williams said his teammates have been told to tighten up the circles of people they’re around for the next couple of weeks to keep the Hurricanes from having an outbreak.

Players and staff will be tested every other day during camp, similar to Major League Baseball’s policy that has come under fire for delays on results. Testing will be daily once games start.

The injury question could linger. The NHL is prohibiting teams from revealing injury or illness information as a way to project player privacy with the novel coronavirus. The league reported 35 players testing positive since June 8.

“It was a high priority for guys, no question,” NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider said. “Early on, guys were very sensitive to it. Obviously, they’re contacting everyone that they know that they’ve been in touch with and the ID tracing. But (privacy) was very important to the players.”

Already, Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos won’t be 100% for the start of camp because of a new lower-body injury, and Minnesota defenseman Greg Pateryn is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. It’ll be a mystery from this point forward if a player is injured, ill or otherwise.

But players are ready for a brave new world of summer camp.

“It’s a little bizarre,” Copp said. “Even when you are at the rink, the protocols definitely make it a different feel. … But I think everyone is just kind of amped and ready to go.”

NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final Week: Remembering 2009 Penguins-Red Wings

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NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8. Today, we give our favorite memories from the the 2009 Cup Final between the Penguins and Red Wings.

JAKE: The obvious choice is the sprawling save by Marc-Andre Fleury to clinch Pittsburgh’s Game 7 win, thereby denying Detroit the chance to win a second straight Stanley Cup.

The outcome was especially painful for one Red Wings player: Marian Hossa. And he’s who I’d like to focus on here.

In the summer of 2008, Marian Hossa had played nine full NHL seasons, made the playoffs eight times, and most recently scored 26 points in 20 playoff games for Pittsburgh in their eventual Stanley Cup Final loss to Detroit. That was the closest he had come to winning the Cup.

Facing unrestricted free agency, he turned down a long-term offer from the Penguins and instead signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings, believing he had a better chance to win in Hockeytown.

Fast forward to the 2009 Cup Final, where Hossa found himself in exactly the position he had hoped. But the dream ending was not meant to be, and Hossa struggled against his former mates scoring zero goals on 23 shots during the seven-game series. Two straight Cup Final trips, and two straight defeats.

Of course, Hossa then signed with Chicago, and finally hoisted Lord Stanley the very next year. And then two more times after that. So we won’t lose too much sleep over his poor fortune in 2008 and 2009.

[FULL NBCSN STANLEY CUP WEEK SCHEDULE]

SEAN: I remember being behind the Penguins’ goal at Mellon Arena with a clear view of this play. Down 2-1 in the series, Pittsburgh needed to win Game 4 in order to not go back to Joe Louis Arena and lose the Cup Final for a second year in a row to the Red Wings.

Detroit was on the power play leading 2-1 in the second period. That’s when Jordan Staal took a pass in the neutral zone and strong-armed his way around Brian Rafalski for a shorthanded goal.

The roar from inside the Igloo was massive. It was a turning point in the game as Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy would make it 4-2 with goals in the next six minutes.

Game 5 was a disaster for the Penguins, but they got their revenge on Detroit with a pair of 2-1 wins in Games 6 and 7 to win their second Cup.

JAMES: Maxime Talbot enjoyed a perfectly respectable NHL career for a grinder.

A player cannot even be selected in the eighth round anymore, yet that’s what happened with Talbot. The Penguins chose Talbot 234th overall in 2002, so Talbot scoring 91 goals and 204 points over 704 career regular-season games stands as a towering achievement.

Yet, for many, Talbot was defined by one night. During Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Talbot scored both of the Penguins goals.

Now, sure, Evgeni Malkin spoon-fed him that first one, but it’s not always about how, but how much? Maxime Effin’ Talbot scored two goals in a Game 7, and authored both in the second period. That set the stage for Marc-Andre Fleury & Co. to hold on for dear life, culminating with “MAF” making that iconic save against Nicklas Lidstrom.

Of course, hardcore Penguins fans hold other memories of Talbot. He did his McLovin’ impression in a ridiculous local car commercial. Talbot once convincingly dressed up as Sidney Crosby.

But, yeah, Talbot scoring two goals was mind-blowing, and one of the reminders that any player can end up a hero in a Game 7. At least if Justin Williams isn’t around to hog all of the glory.

***

NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8.

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

Monday, June 8 – NBCSN
NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban (Episode 3) – 5 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 2) – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 6) – 7 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 7) – 9 p.m. ET
• Penguins 2009 championship film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 7 encore) – 12:30 p.m. ET
NHL Gamechangers: All-time Greats – 2:30 p.m. ET

NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final Week schedule: June 8-14

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NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8.

The memorable Stanley Cup broadcasts include the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues’ inaugural championships the past two seasons, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins victory in 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks’ wins in 2010 and 2013, as well as the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings Cup wins in 2011 and 2014, respectively.

Kathryn Tappen and Liam McHugh will introduce matchups throughout the week. Saturday and Sunday’s Stanley Cup clinching broadcasts will feature new commentary from actor and Blues fan Jon Hamm, 12-year-old Blues super-fan Laila Anderson and Capitals forward Lars Eller, who scored the 2018 Stanley Cup winning goal.

Below is each night’s highlighted Stanley Cup Final Week content:

• Monday, June 8: 2009 Stanley Cup Final
• Tuesday, June 9: 2010 Stanley Cup Final
• Wednesday, June 10: 2011 Stanley Cup Final
• Thursday, June 11: 2013 Stanley Cup Final
• Friday, June 12: 2014 Stanley Cup Final
• Saturday, June 13: 2018 Stanley Cup Final
• Sunday, June 14: 2019 Stanley Cup Final

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

MONDAY, JUNE 8 – 2009 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
The opening night of Stanley Cup Final Week features Game 2, 6 and 7 from the 2009 Stanley Cup Final that was won by Sidney Crosby and the PPenguins, after rallying from 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits, against the Red Wings. Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy in this rematch of the 2008 Cup Final, which was won by the Red Wings.

Kathryn Tappen will introduce the opening night.

• NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban (Episode 3) – 5 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh – 7 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 9 p.m. ET
• 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit – 12:30 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: All-Time Greats 2:30 a.m. ET

TUESDAY, JUNE 9 – 2010 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
On the tenth anniversary of the Blackhawks clinching Game 6 to win the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Games 1, 3 and 6 of the Cup Final between the Flyers and Blackhawks highlight NBCSN’s coverage on Tuesday. In overtime of Game 6, the Blackhawks won the Cup, ending their championship drought, which was the longest active streak in the NHL at the time. Jonathan Toews won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Liam McHugh will host Tuesday’s coverage.

• Who Wore It Best? (Episode 4) 5 p.m. NBCSN
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Philadelphia vs. Chicago – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 7 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 9 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 11 p.m. ET
• 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Philadelphia – 1 a.m. ET

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10 – 2011 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
On Wednesday, NBCSN will present Game 6 and 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Canucks. Behind a 4-0 shutout win in Game 7, the Bruins ended a 39-year Stanley Cup drought with the victory. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Tappen will host Stanley Cup Final Week on Wednesday.

• Skates & Plates – 4 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Vancouver vs. Boston – 4:30 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Boston vs. Vancouver – 10 p.m. ET
• 2011 Boston Bruins Championship Film – 11:30 p.m. ET
• 2011 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: Boston vs. Vancouver – 1 a.m. ET
• Top 10: All-Time Records – 2:30 a.m. ET

THURSDAY, JUNE 11 – 2013 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
Three matchups from the 2013 Cup Final (Games 2, 4 and 6) between the Blackhawks and Bruins will be featured Thursday. Chicago won the championship in a thrilling last-minute comeback in Game 6, claiming their second Cup win in four years after also winning the title in 2010. Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks won MVP.

McHugh will introduce coverage on Thursday night.

• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Boston vs. Chicago – 5 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 4: Chicago vs. Boston – 7 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Boston – 9 p.m. ET
• 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 6: Chicago vs. Boston – 12:30 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: All-Time Greats – 2:30 a.m. ET

FRIDAY, JUNE 12 – 2014 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
NBCSN presents the Kings victory in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers on Friday. Los Angeles’ double-overtime victory in Game 2 will be followed by another double-overtime thriller in Game 5, as Alec Martinez of the Kings clinched their second Cup in three years following the franchise’s first-ever championship in 2012. The Kings’ Justin Williams won MVP.

On Friday, Tappen will host coverage of the 2014 Cup Final broadcasts.

• 2014 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles – 8 p.m. ET
• 2014 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles – 9:30 p.m. ET
• 2014 Los Angeles Kings Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, JUNE 13 – 2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
Saturday kicks off back-to-back nights highlighting franchises’ winning their first-ever Cup, beginning with the Capitals in 2018. Facing the expansion Golden Knights, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals rallied from a Game 1 loss to win four straight and capture Washington’s inaugural title. Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

McHugh will introduce Saturday’s coverage and be joined by Capitals forward Lars Eller, who scored the Cup winning goal, during the Game 5 broadcast.

• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Washington vs. Vegas – 8 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 9:30 p.m. ET
• 2018 Washington Capitals Championship Film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Washington vs. Vegas – 1 a.m. ET
• Gamechangers: Knight Fever – 2:30 a.m. ET

SUNDAY, JUNE 14 – 2019 STANLEY CUP FINAL ON NBCSN
The concluding night of Stanley Cup Final Week highlights last year’s historic Stanley Cup Final between the Blues and Bruins. The deciding Game 7, won by the Blues, capped the team’s memorable turnaround from last place in the NHL standings in January, to the franchise’s first-ever Cup. Ryan O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Tappen will host the concluding night of Stanley Cup Final Week and be joined by actor Jon Hamm and Blues super-fan Laila Anderson during the presentation of Game 7.

• 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: St. Louis vs. Boston – 10 p.m. ET
• 2019 St. Louis Blues Championship Film – 11:30 p.m. ET
• 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7: St. Louis vs. Boston – 12:30 a.m. ET
• #HockeyAtHome: 2019 St. Louis Blues Virtual Reunion – 2 a.m. ET
• Top 10: Stanley Cup Moments – 2:30 a.m. ET