Happy Monday (that’s a thing, right?), everyone. I guess for NHL fans anyway, this is a “happy Monday.” The Stanley Cup Final kicks off tonight with the Montreal Canadiens seeking their first title since 1993 and the Tampa Bay Lightning going for their second straight championship.
So without further ado, grab some coffee — be like Sammi and open a soda — and kick off the day off right with the latest news and happenings from the world of hockey.
- Washington’s ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays fell in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals, but a four-goal second period in Game 2 helped the Rays even the series against the Fort Wayne Komets. Jeff Hartsell has more on the victory. (Post & Courier)
- Saturday marked the anniversary of Washington selecting Alex Ovechkin first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Ian Oland takes a look back at draft day and Ovi’s lasting impact. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov trade talk continues to heat up, especially with Frank Seravelli putting Kuzy at No. 3 on his trade list. CJ Witt breaks down five possible suitors for the Russian center. (Stars & Sticks)
- Trevor van Riemsdyk didn’t see much game action in 2020-21, but he made a major impact when he did play. Here’s why he could be a difference maker and earn a bigger role this coming season. (Washington Hockey Now)
- The Bolts are four wins away from going back-to-back, and they’re channeling their 2020 Stanley Cup run for inspiration. Bryan Burns explains how Tampa’s memories of last year serve as motivation for a repeat. (Tampa Bay Lightning)
- On the other side of the matchup are the underdog Habs. Amid an unexpected run, Cole Caufield has made a seamless transition to the NHL while also reshaping Montreal’s offense. Arun Srinivasan breaks down the former Wisconsin forward’s performance through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Yahoo! Sports)
- New York is still reeling from its Game 7 loss, and the Isles now have to think about a potential future without Casey Cizikas. Christian Arnold shares more on his future and thoughts from Isles’ exit day. (NYI Hockey Now)
- Speaking of Stanley Cup-caliber teams, the Panthers, who surprised with a strong season as legitimate contenders, face tough decisions heading into the expansion draft. George Richards takes a look at who makes Florida’s protected list (Florida Hockey Now)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Stick taps to NBC Sports Washington’s Capitals PxP announcer Joe Beninati. The National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded Joe B with the Emmy for Sports Play-by-Play.
- Game 1 is going to be an absolute roller coaster. I’ve been talking to some people who think this is going to be an easy series for Tampa, but I think the Canadiens are going to put up a tough fight. Their defense and penalty kill has been impressive and Carey Price has been phenomenal. And, if the Vegas series told us anything, Montreal has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with top teams.
- As more rumblings and speculation emerges surrounding Kuznetsov, I can’t help but think it’d be a mistake to not give him one more chance unless a really good offer comes along. He’s a top-line talent and with the right attitude, he can be a 70-plus point player consistently. Getting another opportunity to redeem himself could work wonders, especially in a regular season that’s (hopefully) not shortened/impacted by COVID-19. Whatever the case, losing him in the expansion draft would be a mistake, and he shouldn’t be shipped out for a low price. Just my two cents.
- Also, in regards to Seattle, which three defensemen should Washington save from exposure? John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov are likely going to get the seal of protection, but there’s a lot of talent on the blue line and not just one more spot on that list with the 7-3-1 option).