Penguins advance to the Stanley Cup Final, Chris Phillips retires & more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM/TAMPA BAY TIMES: For the first time since 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup Final. Rookie forward Bryan Rust scored both of his club’s goals in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Not even the surprising return to action of captain Steven Stamkos could help the Lightning, who got their only goal from Jonathan Drouin and a 37-save performance from goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins victory in this series showcased their resiliency throughout this season. It was also fitting that it was one of their rookies who scored both goals. That injection of youth and speed played a significant role in the Pens overcoming a poor start to this season.
As for the Lightning, their depth in young talent means their championship window remains open for the next few years. The big question is whether Stamkos will be a part of that. An unrestricted free agent in July, he may have played his final game for the Lightning.
DEADSPIN: The NHL reportedly threatened to fine the Lightning if they didn’t cancel their planned Game 7 watch party for their fans. “The NHL and NBC pressured the team to cancel tonight’s event because of worries about low TV ratings”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that’s a great way to attract and retain fans. Way to go.
NHL.COM: The 2016 Stanley Cup Final schedule is out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plan your watch parties accordingly…provided you’re allowed to have watch parties. Consult the NHL and NBC.
CBS SPORTS: A shutdown defense and terrifying power play are among the reasons why the San Jose Sharks are going to the Stanley Cup Final.
OTTAWA SUN: After 19 seasons and 1,179 career NHL games. long-time Senators defenseman Chris Phillips officially announced his retirement yesterday. He finished with 71 goals and 217 assists for 288 points. Phillips will be employed by the Senators in a front-office role. He’s also the co-owner of Big Rig Brewery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Phillips and his family in his retirement.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are eyeing a one-year contract for long-time captain Shane Doan, who’s eligible on July 1 for unrestricted free agency. Doan said he has no desire to play anywhere else.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Got to admire Doan’s loyalty toward the Coyotes. He and his family set down roots in Arizona and have no willingness to move now. Scratch him off your club’s list of potential free-agent targets, folks, as he’ll likely re-sign with the Coyotes for one more season.
VANCOUVER SUN: Despite the howls of criticism from the analytics community over the Vancouver Canucks acquisition of rugged defenseman Erik Gudbranson, GM Jim Benning defended his move. “To be quite honest, I don’t get it sometimes,” said the Canucks GM. “There’s a place for analytics. We use analytics. But you use analytics like vitamins — to help you out, not as your staple. Decisions have to be made by hockey people who know what winning teams look like and how to build them.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe advanced stats are a vital part of analyzing performance, but they’re not the end-all and be-all. Regarding the criticism of the Gudbranson trade, I think TSN and ESPN analyst Pierre LeBrun sums it up best: “I know what the analytics community is saying, but not every single player has to be a puck possession superstar. You do need some physicality and some guys that can move people around. So I wouldn’t be so quick to judge this either way. I think you’ve got to let this play out.”
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Detroit Red Wings acquired prospect Dylan Sadowy from San Jose for a 2017 third-round draft pick.
NEWSDAY: For the first time since 2007, the New York Islanders will face the New York Rangers in preseason action this fall.