Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

The Colorado Avalanche dashed the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s hopes of a three-peat, prevailing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday to win their first championship in over two decades.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the eventual winner in the second period, giving the Avalanche their first regulation lead since early in Game 3.

Nathan MacKinnon provided Colorado’s first tally earlier in the second frame, tying the contest after Steven Stamkos opened the scoring in the first.

The Avalanche outshot the Lightning 30-23. Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced. His counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy, made 28 stops in the defeat.

Colorado defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after claiming the Norris Trophy earlier this week. He racked up 29 points over 20 games to lead all blue-liners and rank third among all skaters behind Edmonton Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The Avalanche swept the Oilers in the Western Conference Final.

Colorado went 16-4 in the postseason and never trailed in a series.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar became the first bench boss to win the Stanley Cup, the AHL’s Calder Cup, and the ECHL’s Kelly Cup. The 50-year-old captured the other trophies with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2015-16 and the South Carolina Stingrays in 2008-09. Colorado hired him in August 2016.

The Tampa Bay Lightning spoiled Colorado’s party to stay in the hunt for a third straight Stanley Cup title, beating the Avalanche 3-2 on Friday night in Game 5.

Ondrej Palat scored with 6:22 remaining and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 shots in front of a raucous crowd hoping to celebrate the Avalanche’s first championship in 21 years. The Cup was all shined up and in the building, too.

It’s heading back to Tampa for Game 6 on Sunday night. The Lightning trail the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Jan Rutta also scored for the Lightning. Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar had goals for Colorado. Makar’s third-period tally bounced off the skate of Erik Cernak and through the pads of Vasilevskiy to tie it at 2.

It set the stage for Palat, whose shot slipped through the pads of Darcy Kuemper. A brief hush fell over the crowd.

Tampa Bay regrouped after an emotional Game 4 loss at home on a overtime goal from Colorado forward Nazem Kadri. The Lightning felt the Avalanche might have had too many players on the ice on the winner.

A too many players on the ice penalty was called Friday on Colorado with 2:43 remaining. The Lightning went on the power play and made it so that Colorado couldn’t pull Kuemper until around 30 seconds remaining. They weathered the Avalanche’s late barrage.

Just the Lightning showing their championship mettle. They’ve already rallied back from a 3-2 deficit to Toronto in the first round, and climbed out of a 2-0 hole against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Completing this comeback series win would put them in an entirely different category. Only one team has rallied to capture a Game 7 in the final after trailing 3-1 in a series — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is a gritty Lightning squad that’s showing no signs of slowing down even against a speedy Avalanche team and even after all the contests they’ve logged. Tampa Bay has played in 67 postseason games since the start of the first round in 2020. That’s basically an entire extra season.

Their resolve has impressed Lightning coach Jon Cooper. His team improved to 3-0 this season when facing potential elimination games.

The Avalanche are trying to capture their first title since 2001. The Avalanche fans were out in full force — both inside the building (an upper-level ticket on game day was going for around $1,500) and outside at a nearby watch party.

Colorado knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Makar said leading into the game this was the “toughest one that we’ve had so far.”

The Avalanche are 2 for 2 in their visits to the Stanley Cup Final. They also won in 1996, which was their inaugural season in Denver after relocating from Quebec.

Soon after Nichushkin tied it at 1-apiece in the second, Kucherov knocked in a goal off the post. The power-play goal was with Alex Killorn in the box for holding, along with J.T. Compher (holding the stick) and Makar (tripping), making for a 4-on-3 situation.

Rutta zapped some of the energy from the crowd with his first goal of the playoffs. It was on a slapshot from the side that slipped through Kuemper.

It bode well for the Lightning — teams that score the first goal when staring at elimination in the final are 55-25.

“If we had our choice, we would just write our name all the way around the circle (of the Cup),” Cooper cracked before the game.

The Chicago Blackhawks are set to name Luke Richardson as the team’s next head coach, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports.

Richardson has been an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens since 2018. He’s also worked as an assistant with the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders in his career, along with a stint as head coach of the Senators’ AHL affiliate.

The 53-year-old had a playing career spanning 1,417 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Senators.

Derek King ended the 2021-22 season as the Blackhawks’ interim head coach. He took over for Jeremy Colliton in November but couldn’t get Chicago on track as the club finished seventh in the Central Division with a 28-42-12 record.

The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Winnipeg Jets are the remaining teams with a head coaching vacancy.

Patrice Bergeron isn’t going anywhere.

The Boston Bruins captain has decided to re-up with the club and is expected to sign a one-year contract, reports the Worcester Telegram and Gazette’s Joe McDonald.

Bergeron would’ve been one of the most coveted players on the market had he decided to test it this summer as an unrestricted free agent. The veteran center, who’ll turn 37 in July, won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward for a league-record fifth time earlier this spring.

He had a stellar 2021-22 season despite his age. Bergeron collected 25 goals and 40 assists over 73 contests. The versatile forward was his typically dominant self in terms of possession and defense as well. He led all NHL forwards in defensive goals above replacement, expected defensive goals above replacement, and expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five.

Bergeron also ranked first in expected goals for percentage and scoring chances for percentage at five-on-five among the league’s skaters who played at least 500 minutes in those situations.

He’s spent his entire 18-year career with the Bruins, who drafted him 45th overall in 2003. Bergeron ranks fourth among the franchise’s all-time leaders in goals, assists, and points. He sits third in games played and has worn the “C” for the last two seasons.

The future Hall of Famer helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the final in both 2013 and 2019.

The Ottawa Senators have signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and other investors to build a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats, the team announced Thursday.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant move towards our long-term vision, a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats. We believe that this development will have a major impact on both the Nation Capital Region and our franchise, one that will help to shape the future of the city. We thank the NCC for their collaboration and look forward to working alongside them as we take the next steps on this exciting journey,” the Senators’ statement read.

Several steps remain before finalizing the deal, including working on a lease deal for the land by January.

The Senators were given preferred bidder status to build an arena at LeBreton Flats in 2016, but the agreement fell apart as negotiations between late owner Eugene Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy soured, resulting in ongoing lawsuits.

Securing a bid for the new arena was believed to be one of Melnyk’s final acts before he died in March, according to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch.

The Senators’ current arena, the Canadian Tire Centre, is located in Kanata, approximately 25 minutes from the downtown core of Ottawa.

With signing season around the corner, the Nashville Predators and superstar pending unrestricted free agent Filip Forsberg appear to be at an impasse in contract negotiations.

The two sides have made little progress on a new deal since Nashville’s elimination from the playoffs in May, and they remain far apart in both money and contract structure, sources told Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.

The Predators have begun to look into options to replace Forsberg through trades or free agency, Seravalli added.

General manager David Poile said the parties have discussed max-term deals.

“He’s not signing with us for anything less than eight years,” Poile said, according to’s John Glennon.

“We’re still talking, still talking a lot. We just don’t have it done,” Poile added. “We’ve got a deadline coming up here in July. So I wish it was done; I said that two months ago. It’s disappointing.

“I’m sure (they’re disappointed) because they feel we should be offering something different. We feel that we’re in a good spot. We’ve just got to keep working to get this done.”

Forsberg is set to earn a considerable raise from the $6 million he’s made the past six seasons after burying a career-high 42 goals and 84 points in 69 games in 2021-22. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has played his entire 10-year career in Nashville after the Predators acquired him via trade from the Washington Capitals.

In May, Forsberg said his goal is to sign an extension with Nashville.

The Preds have over $21 million in cap space this offseason, according to Cap Friendly.

Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player on the strength of the league’s first 60-goal season in a decade.

Matthews also won the Ted Lindsay Award on Tuesday, which goes to the league’s most outstanding player as voted by his peers.

The 24-year-old edged out Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin to win MVP. McDavid led the league in scoring with 123 points, while Shesterkin, who was awarded the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday, authored one of the best goaltending seasons in recent memory.

Here’s how the voting broke down, with Matthews winning in a landslide:

1Auston Matthews1630(119-49-15-6-4)
2Connor McDavid1111(29-66-56-20-19)
3Igor Shesterkin738(24-26-41-29-24)
4Johnny Gaudreau617(3-19-44-66-36)
5Jonathan Huberdeau506(13-21-21-31-31)

Matthews is only the third Maple Leaf in the franchise’s 104-year history to win the Hart Trophy and the first since 1954-55. He’s the club’s only player to win the Ted Lindsay.

He finished the year sixth in scoring with a career-high 106 points but only played in 73 games due to injuries and suspension. Matthews’ 1.45 points per game trailed only McDavid (1.54) among players to suit up in at least 50 contests this season. His 0.82 goals per game in 2021-22 is the highest clip in the salary-cap era and the most since Mario Lemieux’s 0.99 in 1995-96.

On top of leading the league in goals for the second year in a row, Matthews excelled defensively. He finished 10th in Selke voting and led all forwards with 92 takeaways. Matthews also paced all forwards to play at least 1,000 minutes with a 64.15% expected goals rate and finished second under the same parameters in expected goals against per 60 at 2.04, according to Evolving-Hockey.

Matthews was also a Hart Trophy finalist in 2020-21.

New York Rangers star Igor Shesterkin is the 2022 winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.

Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames and Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators were the other finalists. The NHL’s 32 general managers voted to determine the winner at the end of the regular season. Here are the results:

1Igor Shesterkin (NYR)154(29-3-0)
2Jacob Markstrom (CGY)53(0-14-11)
3Juuse Saros (NSH)32(0-9-5)
4Frederik Andersen (CAR)21(1-3-7)
5Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB)14(1-2-3)
6Ilya Sorokin (NYI)11(1-1-3)
T7Thatcher Demko (VAN)1(0-0-1)
T7Ville Husso (STL)1(0-0-1)
T7Tristan Jarry (PIT)1(0-0-1)

Arguably the key to the Rangers’ success in 2021-22, Shesterkin led all NHL goalies who played at least 25 games with a career-best .935 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average across 53 appearances.

Shesterkin, who was also nominated for the Hart Trophy, posted the league’s third-best goals saved above average (22.34) and second-best goals saved above expected (21.08) at five-on-five, according to Evolving Hockey.

The 26-year-old helped propel the Rangers to a surprising second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division with a 36-13-4 record and six shutouts.

Markstrom, 32, paced all netminders with nine shutouts. He boasted a 37-15-9 record while piloting the Flames to a finish atop the Pacific Division.

The Swede rebounded fantastically after a tough first season in Calgary, rocking a career-best 2.22 goals against average and a sparkling .922 save percentage.

Saros put the Predators on his back en route to an unexpected playoff appearance after authoring a .918 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average in a league-leading 67 outings.

The busiest goaltender out of the trio of finalists, Saros faced 2,107 shots this season, emerging with a 38-25-3 record. Those 38 victories trailed only Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky for the most wins in 2021-22.

Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar is the recipient of the 2022 Norris Trophy awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”

Makar edged out Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi and Tampa Bay Lightning stalwart Victor Hedman for the honor. The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Here’s the results:

1Cale Makar (COL)1631(92-98-5-0-0)
2Roman Josi (NSH)1606(98-76-17-3-0)
3Victor Hedman (TB)940(4-14-142-30-2)
4Charlie McAvoy (BOS)358(1-7-22-55-24)
5Adam Fox (NYR)248(0-0-4-61-45)

For the full results, click here.

It’s the first career Norris Trophy for Makar, but likely not the last. He’s just 23 years old and was the runner-up for the award a year ago despite missing 12 games.

Makar recorded 28 goals this season, the most among defensemen. He ranked second to Josi in points with 86, but his underlying numbers were far superior, specifically on the defensive side of the puck.

Makar led all NHL defensemen with 22.7 goals above replacement, according to Evolving-Hockey. Josi ranked fourth with 20.2, and Hedman ranked fifth with 19.8.

Despite having star defensemen like Sandis Ozolinsh, Rob Blake, and Ray Bourque don Colorado’s blue and burgundy in its storied past, Makar is the first player in Avalanche history to win the Norris.

The Calgary, Alberta, native may need to make more room on his trophy shelf, as he’s also currently the favorite to win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie in 2022.

The only blue-liner among this year’s finalists, Seider dazzled on a struggling Red Wings squad. He led all Detroit skaters in average ice time (23:02) while appearing in all 82 games in 2021-22.

The 21-year-old German became just the third rookie defenseman to reach 50 points in the salary-cap era, joining Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. Seider also paced the rookie class in assists (43), power-play points (21), and blocked shots (161) while ranking third in shots on goal (187).

Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks and Michael Bunting of the Toronto Maple Leafs were the other two finalists.

Here’s how the vote broke down:

1Moritz Seider1853(170-18-3-4-0)
2Trevor Zegras1191(15-100-57-18-2)
3Michael Bunting877(7-51-65-34-23)
4Lucas Raymond499(1-10-40-61-36)
5Jeremy Swayman210(2-3-14-22-33)

Zegras tied for second in the rookie class with 23 goals – including five game-winners – and his 61 points trailed only Troy Terry on the Ducks’ roster. The forward also set a franchise record for most points by a rookie.

If there were a trophy that rewarded virality, Zegras would have it in the bag. The 21-year-old quickly became known for his ability to execute highlight-reel plays with alarming consistency.

Bunting topped all rookies with 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) after thriving on the Maple Leafs’ top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for much of the 2021-22 campaign. Fifty-eight of those points came at even strength, which led the rookie class by a substantial amount: Zegras was a distant second with 44.

The 26-year-old Bunting was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, making him the only 2022 finalist who wasn’t a first-round pick.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes annually to determine the Calder Trophy finalists and winner.