Howdy to all the Washington Capitals, Hershey Bears and other hockey fans out there. We made it to Friday and close the book on a busy week of launching. It consisted of a lot of late nights and plenty of coffee and soda, but it’s been an absolute blast.
Thursday was an exciting day, with the Kraken hiring their first-ever bench boss, the Canadiens continuing their historic run, the Islanders and Lightning preparing for Game 7 and happenings in Hershey, P.A. It’s time to drop the puck on this fine day and kick things off with your links, news and ramblings.
- First off, congratulations are in order for Zack Fisch, manager of media relations and broadcasting for the Capitals’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. The voice of the Bears and fill-in PxP announcer for the Caps won the league’s Ken McKenzie Award for 2020-21. The award recognizes “the important role played by team management in building a successful franchise” and is given to “an AHL team executive who most successfully promotes his or her own club.” (AHL.com)
- Speaking of Hershey, the Bears enter 2021-22 with a solid projected lineup. Eric Lord breaks down what the roster may look like, as well as standouts to watch. (NoVa Caps)
- Ilya Samsonov still has potential to be Washington’s No. 1, but what will the pending RFA’s next deal look like? J.J. Regan and Andrew Gillis take a look. (NBC Sports Washington)
- The Capitals offseason report cards continue with J.P. taking a look at the Caps’ GOAT and grading Alex Ovechkin‘s 2020-21 campaign. (Japers’ Rink)
- The Montreal Canadiens pulled off an incredible overtime victory in Game 6 against Vegas and are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 28 years. Adam Gretz recaps the victory. (Pro Hockey Talk)
- Meanwhile, the Islanders look to make history with their long-awaited return to the Final. Stefen Rosner explains how New York is starting to solve Andrei Vasilevskiy, a good sign ahead of the deciding Game 7 Friday. (NYI Hockey Now)
- In other news, Seattle tapped Dave Hakstol as their first bench boss in franchise history following two seasons with the Leafs, time in Philly and an impressive NCAA career. He also has a direct tie to T.J. Oshie, as their paths crossed with the Fighting Hawks. (Washington Hockey Now)
- The NHL Draft is right around the corner, and that means it’s mock draft time. Corey Pronman predicts how the first round will go, from Buffalo to the eventual Cup Champs. (The Athletic)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- We’re launching our inaugural WHN Mailbag and we couldn’t be more excited. Don’t forget to submit your questions by 11:59 p.m. tonight (no bibliography required) by tweeting @sammisilber or @WSHHockeyNow with the hashtag “#WHNMailbag,” posting on our Facebook page or replying here in the comments.
- Some thoughts about the Capitals’ depth chart: there should be more confidence in the center position. Yes, there’s uncertainty with Evgeny Kuznetsov and even Lars Eller, but Washington’s in a good spot with Connor McMichael, Garrett Pilon, Michael Sgarbossa and of course, Hendrix Lapierre, who’s headed in a great direction and could be the steal of the 2020 NHL Draft).
- My oh my, Montreal. The Habs’ underdog story is truly a sight to behold as they bring the Cup Final back to Canada for the first time in over a decade. Shea Weber didn’t touch the Campbell Bowl, joining the Stars and Blues as the last recipients to avoid contact with the trophy. Dallas fell in six games to Tampa last season, while St. Louis won the Cup in seven games vs. Boston in 2019. Prior to that, Vegas hoisted the Bowl, then fell to Washington in five games in the final. However, my take is that it all comes down to who touches the Prince of Wales. Over the last five seasons, each team to touch the Prince of Wales went on to win the Stanley Cup. So, Bolts and Isles, if you’re reading this… take from that what you will.
- Despite Vegas’ loss, Marc-Andre Fleury deserves major props. The 36-year-old, who was outstanding in 36 regular-season starts (1.98 GAA and .928 SV%) came up huge throughout the Knights’ run. He bailed them out on several occasions and posted a 2.04 GAA and .918 save percentage in 16 postseason games. Though he struggled against the Habs, leading Pete DeBoer to go with Robin Lehner, he was the one who carried Vegas this far in my opinion. Also, he should be this year’s Vezina winner after taking 17 years to even be a finalist.