NHL offseason moves influenced by coronavirus' impact on cap
Zdeno Chara is no longer in Boston after the Bruins captain signed with Washington. And the Sabres made an even bigger splash in free agency by landing 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall in October. Hall, for example, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Buffalo by realizing the free-agent market was going to be tight. Oilers general manager Ken Holland chalked it up to the new economic realities facing the NHL. “It’s salary-cap related, which is related to the pandemic, which has given us a hard, flat cap for the foreseeable future,” Holland said.
Lightning Effect: Skilled NHL teams add grit to go for Cup
Rewind to 2019 and early 2020 and that description fits the Tampa Bay Lightning, who added some grit and toughness to their talented core and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning effect was clear as soon as NHL free agency opened. “You need guys that are going to have a little bit of sandpaper. “We maybe have taken a little bit of a step back from the most skillful lineup we’ve ever had to more of a balance between the will and the skill," Poile said. We certainly have a little bit more physicality, a little bit more grit and I think it’s probably and hopefully a better mix than we had last year.”___More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Goalies get shuffled in NHL free agency; Lightning depleted
Jacob Markstrom left Vancouver to sign a six-year, $36 million contract with the Calgary Flames. The Wild quickly addressed their goaltending needs after trading Devan Dubnyk to San Jose, by signing Cam Talbot signing a three-year, $11 million deal. — Veteran forward Wayne Simmonds was among the first free agents to sign, reaching a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Maple Leafs. With starting goalie Corey Crawford leaving for New Jersey in free agency, the Blackhawks also signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year, $1.7 million contract. — The Senators and newly acquired goalie Matt Murray agreed to two-year, $25 million deal.
Tampa Bay momentum over Dallas into back-to-back Cup games
The Dallas Stars have to fix some things in a hurry, or this Stanley Cup Final could be over quickly. After consecutive games with three-goal periods, Tampa Bay has all of the momentum and a 2-1 series lead. Dallas' top line is without a goal against Tampa Bay. The NHL is playing Stanley Cup Final games on back-to-back nights for the first time since 2009, when Detroit won each of the first two games against Pittsburgh, which eventually won the series in seven games. In its only back-to-back this postseason, Tampa Bay won Games 2 and 3 in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against Boston.
Lightning beat Stars 3-2 in Game 2, get even in Stanley Cup
EDMONTON, AB – Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning got themselves up off the ice to get even in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the first time in seven games Tampa Bay scored the opening goal. But Dallas interim coach Rick Bowness challenged that Tampa Bay was offside, and replay clearly showed that Blake Coleman was. ... Kucherov’s 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) are the most ever in a postseason for a Tampa Bay player. The Lightning have started all three of the Stanley Cup Final appearances the same way, losing Game 1 and then winning Game 2.
Stanley Cup: Stars and Lightning turn defense into offense
This is a Stanley Cup matchup for all of those who like their games to be a bit defensive. “In today’s NHL you need that for your team to be successful,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said Friday. “We're not surprised,” Stars defenseman John Klingberg said. ... He’s doing it all right now.”The Stars signed 14-year veteran Andrej Sekera as a free agent last summer, and he is finally in his first Stanley Cup Final with his fifth team. “Everyone is obviously very hungry to go all of the way,” said Hedman, part of Tampa Bay's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final five years ago.
NHLs final four have gotten deeper with plenty of newcomers
Chandler Stephenson won a Stanley Cup title two seasons ago with the Washington Capitals, the team he was still playing with at the start of this season. He was fired by San Jose in December and hired a month later after the Golden Knights parted ways with Gerard Gallant, the coach who took them to the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season two years ago. Tampa Bay's free-agent additions last summer were Maroon and veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, then defenseman Zach Bogosian became available in February when Buffalo terminated the 12-year veteran's contract. I think guys like Patty (Maroon), guys like Barclay, they kind of allow us to play with our chests a little bit puffed out. New York hasn't been to a Stanley Cup final since 1984, a year after winning its fourth title in a row.
Lightning outlast Blue Jackets 3-2 in 5 OT thriller
TORONTO, ONT Brayden Point scored 10:27 into the fifth overtime, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday in the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup playoff history. Point scored from just above the left circle, beating Joonas Korpisalo after the goaltender made an NHL-record 85 saves. Point also scored way back in the first period of Game 1 of the best-of-seven series. The teams combined for 151 shots most in a NHL game since the league began officially tracking the statistic in 1955-56. Its tiring for sure but then it gets fun at some point," Point said.
Familiarity breeds respect among NHL East playoff teams
TORONTO, ONT Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper took exception to the Columbus Blue Jackets being referred to as a blue-collar team. Is that a positive or a negative? Cooper said Monday, a day before his Eastern Conference second-seeded Lightning open the first round of the NHL playoffs against the seventh-seeded Blue Jackets. Thats in the history books forever, Cooper said, noting how both teams have made various changes to their lineups. Id call them a really good team.Familiarity is breeding respect among the East opponents entering the first round. The Islanders hold a 5-2 playoff series edge over Washington.