Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line


After adding Yevgeni Medvedev to the mix yesterday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall knows he’s going to have to do “something” about all the defensemen he’s got.

As in, he knows he can’t keep all of them. Especially not with a bunch of talented young blue-liners waiting in the wings.

Here’s how the situation looks, courtesy generalfanager:


Hextall said yesterday that he plans to re-sign and keep Michael Del Zotto, so we can take the 24-year-old off the trade list.

Meanwhile, Andrew MacDonald may not have a market whatsoever, given he’s signed through 2020 and hasn’t exactly shone since joining the Flyers.

Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann are pending UFAs, so their trade value is automatically limited. Perhaps there’s still a GM out there who believes Schenn, 25, has good potential. Then again, maybe not.

Nick Schultz has a reasonable contract and would have some trade value. But do the Flyers have anyone to step in and reliably do all the dirty work that he does? Remember that they don’t have Braydon Coburn anymore.

Mark Streit may be their most valuable trade chip. He’s 37, so it’s not like he’s going to be part of the long-term future in Philly. And he can still produce offensively, as evidenced by the 52 points he put up this season, the third most on the team.

The problem with trading Streit is that there are still expectations for the current roster, as Ed Snider made perfectly clear. And with all those talented, young defenseman in the system, might Streit provide a good role model?

“We’re going to have to do something,” Hextall said, per the Daily News. “Yevgeni we thought was a real good, solid upgrade on defense and was someone we couldn’t let go by. But yeah, something will have to give here.”

What’s wrong with Lundqvist?



You don’t often see Henrik Lundqvist this dejected. Then again, you don’t often see the New York Rangers’ franchise netminder allow 12 goals in two very important games.

If you ask former NHL goalie Brian Boucher, the Tampa Bay Lightning are making Lundqvist look human. Watch as he breaks down which of Tampa’s six goals from Game 3 might have been on him, and which ones may have come down to bad luck:

At the end of that video, you can see a dejected Lundqvist talk about the overtime game-winner and his struggles in general. One could argue that he’s rattled … or at least exhausted.

(Of course, it’s interesting to note that Ben Bishop’s more or less gotten off the hook after looking shaky in his own right in Game 3.)

As Lundqvist notes, it’s on him and his team. As this video dictates, the Rangers have gotten away from the disciplined style that got them this far:

It’s uncommon for the Rangers to give up so many chances, but on the bright side, New York was in Game 3 and has certainly been in bigger binds than this (you only need to look one round back to see that a 3-1 series deficit won’t buckle them). Will it be easy? Not necessarily, but don’t count Lundqvist & Co. out just yet.

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good


One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.

Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.

Here’s the Kucherov clincher:

While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:

The rave reviews keep piling in, too.

Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:

Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.

Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:

For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.

It’s hard not to, though, right?

Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”

It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet


The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed great production from Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat in Game 3, yet Nikita Kucherov – maybe the least known member of “The Triplets” – ended up being the hero.

He scored a rather stunning 6-5 OT goal against Henrik Lundqvist to give the Lightning a 2-1 series lead against the New York Rangers. Kucherov now has two overtime game-winners to his name.

How much of a chance did Lundqvist have on this?

Really, though, this game had about a dozen subplots that may take some time to unravel in greater detail.

For one thing, it’s easy to forget that the Rangers stormed off to a 2-0 lead. Steven Stamkos came up big early on in the game, however, barreling over Dan Boyle and helping to create a then-important 2-1 goal.

The first period was violent and action-packed, yet it merely set the table for even wilder events, as the second saw a memorable scoring barrage. The final frame of regulation was more about dramatic turns o events as the Rangers tied it up twice, most notably when Dan Boyle made it 5-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the third.

New York generated some dangerous early overtime chances, but ultimately Tampa Bay finished one stride ahead in probably the most frantic track meet of this postseason.

Loose threads

Again, a lot happened in this one, so let’s rattle a few of them off.

More than just a regular season success: Seriously, the work from Palat, Johnson and Kucherov has been stunning. They’ve generated more than half of Tampa Bay’s goals so far in the postseason.

Stamkos is seen: The Lightning’s captain was unusually physical in this one, delivering seven hits, including this giant impact.

Tough night for goalies: Look, there’s no doubt that Ben Bishop and especially Lundqvist made some big saves in this one. With things as wide-open as they were, netminders’ numbers tend to get shredded.

Still, Bishop’s play aroused some doubt in certain quarters while it’s becoming clear that the Lightning are one of the few teams that can at least claim that they have Hank’s number:

Bringing the pain: Matt Carle was unable to finish this game. Wunderkind Johnson was shaken up during a collision with his own linemate Palat. Many guys will fight through aches and pains from this one, but there’s likely to be a few extra ice packs in each locker room.

Leaky defense: The Rangers and Lightning both gave up two-goal leads in this one. Tampa Bay couldn’t put a game away with 5:55 left in the third period. It’s probably safe to say that both coaches will be busy breaking down the tape in this one.

(Alain Vigneault may feel more prone to losing his lunch over Game 3 than Jon Cooper, however.)

Ten goals aren’t enough: Boyle sends Game 3 to OT

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Remember when eight goals seemed like a lot in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 2 win against the New York Rangers? The two teams have already combined for 10 tallies tonight, and Game 3 will require one more to determine a winner.

Ryan McDonagh tied the game up early in the third period, while Ondrej Palat scored his second goal of the contest to give the Lightning a 5-4 lead with a little less than six minutes remaining. Having 5:55 seemed like ample time in a game like this … and it turns out that it was.

Dan Boyle’s aggressiveness paid off, as he crashed the net for the 5-5 goal against the team he once won a Stanley Cup with:

Both goalies are struggling … but you never know when the next marathon OT epic might come. Either way, after all of this, next goal wins.