Hump Day is finally upon us, hockey nation. There’s plenty in store on this wild Wednesday as the Montreal Canadiens look to even the series following a 5-1 loss in Game 1 at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. But before we get down to business, we have to recap a busy Tuesday that featured the NHL Awards and more.
Here’s your daily dose and everything to know, from who won big at the awards, a look ahead to Game 2 and a look at a couple of impressive Washington Capitals’ left wingers.
- With the Cup Final in full swing, there’s plenty of pending free agents to watch on both sides. J.J. Regan takes a look at which Canadiens’ RFA and UFAs could fit in well with Washington. (NBC Sports Washington)
- Conor Sheary shined in his first season the Capitals, earning himself a two-year extension after an uncertain offseason. Becca H. recaps his performance in 2020-21. (Japers’ Rink)
- Following the expansion draft, the Kraken may have a surplus of players. Harrison Brown ponders if Washington could potentially target a defenseman from Seattle. (NoVa Caps)
- Daniel Sprong has sprung. After breaking out with a career-best performance last season, the Netherlands native could be a vital part of the Capitals’ success going forward. (Washington Hockey Now)
- T.J. Oshie came up big both on and off the ice for Washington last year, while also bringing the same contagious energy night in and night out. Michael Marzzacco explains why he’s the Capitals MVP for 2020-21. (Stars & Sticks)
- The NHL Awards didn’t disappoint, as Connor McDavid (Hart, Ted Lindsay), Marc-Andre Fleury (Vezina), Adam Fox (Norris) and Kirill Kaprizov (Calder) took home some hardware. Tom Callahan shares what Fleury had to say following his first career goalie-of-the-year victory. (Vegas Hockey Now)
- Meanwhile in Buffalo, the Sabres removed the interim tag from Don Granato’s head coaching title. Sean Leahy takes a look at the team’s newest bench boss. (Pro Hockey Talk)
- ESPN announced its roster for NHL coverage kicking off in 2021-22, and the list doesn’t disappoint with the likes of Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kevin Weekes, A.J. Mleczko, Rick DiPietro and more top names. Grace Coryell has more. (ESPN)
- Montreal’s on a mission to prove they belong with the top teams like the Bolts. Ben Shpigel details the Habs’ journey and pursuit of Canada’s first title since 1993. (New York Times)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins signed an eight-year extension with the Oilers worth $41 million. Daniel Nugent-Bowman breaks down the deal and how it could help and hurt the Oilers over time. (The Athletic)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- The NHL Awards did not disappoint. McDavid won the Hart again — unanimously, I might add — but mad props go to Fleury and Rangers sophomore blueliner Adam Fox. Fleury more than deserved the Vezina (it’s still hard to believe this was the first time he’s won the award) after carrying Vegas this season. As for Fox, he’s living proof that hard work pays off and Carolina is probably regretting dealing his rights away for a 2019 second-rounder.
- Speaking of NHL Awards, the Capitals still earned some recognition. Freshman netminder Vitek Vanecek finished sixth in Calder voting and came in third for goalie voting for the All-Rookie Team following his standout (and arguably unexpected) season where he led all rookie goalies in wins. Also, John Carlson was 12th in Norris voting after having been a finalist last season. And lastly, the Great 8 finished ninth in All-Star Team voting.
- IceDogs goaltender Tucker Tynan continues to inspire with his comeback. He suffered severe blood loss after his leg was cut by a skate blade in 2019, but vowed to make an impressive comeback. He’s lived up to that promise and now heads to the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase. Taking his road to recovery and the hardships of the pandemic into account, it’s inspiring to see how far he’s come.
- My players to watch for Game 2 are Steven Stamkos and Cole Caufield. Stammer’s play has been remarkable, from his shot to his speed to his leadership ability. Had it not been for injuries over time, the Lightning captain would be much higher on the all-time goals list. As for Caufield, he had a tough introduction to Tampa but is ready to continue being a difference-maker on offense.
- The Nuge signing is a good one for Edmonton. The Oilers get to keep their solid two-way center and strong secondary scorer, while RNH gets maximum term and an NMC. Great deal for both sides that’ll serve the Oilers well.