Pat Maroon

PHT’s 2019-20 Eastern Conference predictions

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season begins with Wednesday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals when the Blues raise their 2019 Stanley Cup banner. Coverage begins at 6:30p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

An historic season ended in a sweep. The Islanders used Barry Trotz’s defensive genius to reach 100 points. Those “Bunch of Jerks” in Carolina became everyone’s darlings. The Maple Leafs once again fell short at the hands of the Bruins. And the Senators, well, in the words of GM Pierre Dorion they were “a team.”

A lot has happened since. Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky went elsewhere in the Eastern Conference. Joel Quenneville is now behind the bench in Florida. Ray Shero and the Devils went all-in to get back into the playoffs, as did their rivals in the Rangers.

The 2019-20 NHL season begins Wednesday night, so let’s take a conference-by-conference look at how we’re feeling about where teams will finish and who will rep the East in the Stanley Cup Final. Playoff teams are outlined in red.

[PHT PREDICTIONS: WESTERN CONFERENCE / STANLEY CUP]

Let us know in the comments how you see both Eastern Conference divisions shaping up.

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION

SEAN: The one good thing about being swept in Round 1 last season was the fact that the Lightning got plenty of rest this summer. That extra time of thinking about how it all went so horribly wrong should serve them well in 2019-20. Dominating the regular season as they did, Tampa took their foot off the gas in the second half and lost that edge that cost them dearly against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That won’t happen again.

JAMES: The Lightning had a meltdown last year, sure, but this team has shown an aptitude for deep playoff runs during the Stamkos era, and they’re so loaded that I just can’t pick against them. Do I feel good about it considering how foreboding the Atlantic is? Of course not.

JOEY: Tampa Bay has to get over the hump at some point, right? They were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and I think they’ll learn from that experience. Oh, and they still have a dynamic roster. Brayden Point is signed, they made small additions like Pat Maroon, Kevin Shattenkirk and Curtis McElhinney. This is the year.

ADAM: I think the Washington Capitals have another championship run in them. Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom are in contract years and should be on top of their games, the team is still really good around them, and they had a couple extra months off after their 2018 Stanley Cup run.

PHT’S SEASON PREVIEW:
2019-20 NHL Power Rankings
PHT’s 2019-20 season previews
Which 2019 NHL playoff teams are in danger of missing this season?
• NHL Awards, free agent busts, overhyped teams
Breakout players, bold predictions for 2019-20

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Sanford takes Cup to school; Berube takes it to second home

Philip Pritchard on Twitter

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

The Stanley Cup made its way to New England this past week.

Specifically, it was in Manchester in New Hampshire, the hometown of Zach Sanford. Sanford was born in Salem in Massachusetts but grew up a state over.

Before he was an NHLer, Sanford attended Green Acres Elementary School and he made sure to stop by with Lord Stanley by his side.

Sanford then headed to Pinkerton Academy, where he graduated in 2013. There, he met with his old coach.


Blues head coach Craig Berube already had his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown in Alberta earlier this summer.

But the former Philadelphia Flyers coach has a soft spot for what he calls his adopted hometown.

Of course, no trip to the Philly area would be complete without the folks from the now-infamous Philly bar, The Jacks NYB. The bar’s social club came up to New Hope, PA to hang out with Berube and the Cup.

The Jacks NYB is where the ‘Gloria’ craze began back in January.

The man they call ‘Chief’ also visited the Buckingham Township Police department.

Berube got yet another parade in New Hope and passed around the Bloody Mary’s.


Meanwhile, the Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues are hosting a raffle to hang out with the Stanley Cup later this month.

The winner of the raffle (and nine of their friends) will get a 20-minute meet-and-greet with Pietrangelo and the Cup in downtown St. Louis on Aug. 24.

Tickets are $1 each, with more information at blues.givesmart.com

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

 Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies
• Week 2: Stanley Cup heads east to Ontario
• Week 3: Pat Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli
• Week 4: Ryan O’Reilly celebrates with grandma
• Week 5: Perron and poutine; Allen gives back


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

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Perron and poutine; Allen gives back

St. Louis Blues
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The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

The Stanley Cup got a little French-Canadian treatment this past week as it wound its way through Quebec.

David Perron got his day with hockey’s holy grail and didn’t disappoint, making sure a little French-Canadiana made its way into the Mug.

Poutine, which is a mix of fries, cheese curds and gravy, was put into the cup and then spooned onto plates at Louis Restaurant, one of Perron’s favorite hometown spots in Sherbrooke, Que.

The day began with the Cup being flown into an awaiting Perron, who placed it in the front seat of his car and drove it home.

There, his family sat around hockey’s best cereal bowl and feasted on Lucky Charms,

The day continued, including a street hockey game where the winner’s got to drink out of Cup.


Blues backup Jake Allen took his turn on Thursday in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Allen took the Cup to Camp Wonder, a day camp during the summer months of July and August that provides inclusive activities for children and youth with intellectual and physical disabilities.

The visit was made possible through Allen’s Program 34 foundation, which aims to reduce and eliminate barriers in participation caused by poverty, distance, disability and culture.


Other highlights from the week

Friday was Robert Thomas‘ day.

He received a key to his hometown of Aurora, Ont. and had a parade.

Ah, ice cream. A Stanley Cup staple.

Sammy Blais also go his day.

“It’s really incredible the number of people that are here right now,” Blais told CIMT in French (via NHL.com) “They supported me all throughout the playoffs, and ever since I was a kid, they’ve supported me and have been proud. To see them here today, and to bring them the Stanley Cup, it was really important for me to give back to my city.”

And so, too, did Al Macinnis.


As the Blues have been doing all summer, they’ve complied another short video on players’ days with the Cup.

Here’s Tyler Bozak‘s:

And here’s another from its time in Saskatchewan:

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

 Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies
• Week 2: Stanley Cup heads east to Ontario
• Week 3: Pat Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli
• Week 4: Ryan O’Reilly celebrates with grandma


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

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Ryan O’Reilly celebrates with grandma

St. Louis Blues
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The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

Ryan O'Reilly‘s journey to becoming a Stanley Cup champion began long ago.

Along the road of twists and turns and the ups and downs has been his 99-year-old grandmother, Deirdre — or simply ‘Granny O’Reilly’.

And, well, words simply can’t do this justice so spend the next 80 seconds watching the video below (and get the tissues out):

Some moments, man. Beautiful.

O’Reilly, this year’s Conn Smythe winner — and Selke, too — got his day with the Cup this past Thursday in Seaforth, Ont., and the man of many recent accolades got the appropriate reception from

Lord Stanley got another ride on a fire truck, which has become a bit of a theme this summer.

The playoff MVP’s day with the Cup spanned three towns. Along with Seaforth, a second parade was held in Goderich, a small community not far away.

A third and a final stop came in Bayfield where O’Reilly’s parents live. Not satisfied with the idea of taking a car like us mere mortals, O’Reilly took to the air a helicopter to make his journey.

It looks like Doug Armstrong got his day, as well.


Jordan Binnington got his day with the Cup a couple of weeks back, but the Blues put together a montage last week of his day back home in Richmond Hill.

Ditto with Brayden Schenn, who traversed Saskatchewan on his day.

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

 Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies
• Week 2: Stanley Cup heads east to Ontario
• Week 3: Pat Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli


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 Wraparound: It’s all on the line for Bruins, Blues

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

This is it.

It’s all on the line tonight for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBC). One team will skate around the TD Garden with the Stanley Cup. Which team will that be?

“Winning and losing, it sticks with you forever,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “You don’t forget everything that happens when you win, and you definitely don’t forget what happens when you lose. Unfortunately, there’s going to be both sides of that (on Wednesday), and we’ll see how it plays out.”

Of course, many Bruins know what it’s like to win it all and they also know what it’s like to lose in the Stanley Cup Final. As for the Blues, many of them haven’t been in this position. Will that make a difference tonight?

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“It’s definitely hard when you lose, because you work for this your whole life,” Blues forward David Perron, who went to the Stanley Cup Final with Vegas last year, said on Tuesday. “So you want to make the best of it, definitely.”

The Blues had an opportunity to close out the Bruins at Enterprise Center in Game 6, but that didn’t work out the way they had hoped, as they dropped a 5-1 decision on home ice. That was clearly their best opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, but they now get another chance to do so on the road at TD Garden.

The good news is that the Blues have been a remarkably good team on the road in the postseason.

“I just think we get to our game easier on the road,” Blues forward Pat Maroon said. “Maybe (we’re) thinking too much at home. Being at home, there could be pressure or whatever. It should be no excuses, but I just feel like we get to our game (on the road). We find ways to make it difficult on the opponent and we do it pretty good.”

If St. Louis can play their simple road game and they get a strong performance out of goalie Jordan Binnington, they’ll be in prime position to come away with a victory in the biggest game in franchise history.

As for the Bruins, they’ll need their top players to come up big tonight. Their top line has been quiet during certain stretches in this series, but they are capable of blowing Game 7 wide open.

We’re only hours away from the biggest game of the 2018-19 season.

MORE:
Chara all action, little talk in Stanley Cup Final
Bruins hope to spoil Boston sports fans with another championship
Stanley Cup Final Roundtable: Game 7 x-factors, Conn Smythe contenders 

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.