It’s Thursday, but more importantly, it’s July 1. It’s Canada Day, and usually, this holiday goes hand-in-hand with the start of NHL free agency. But given the pandemic, that’s not the case this year. Regardless, there’s still plenty of news to catch up on, including the Tampa Bay Lightning going up 2-0 over the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final, a couple of Washington Capitals report cards and check-ins and more.
Let’s get going, shall we?
- As we discussed earlier in the week, Daniel Sprong‘s 2020-21 performance spoke volumes and laid a promising foundation for the future. Luke Adonamis (fittingly) takes a deeper dive into his play. (Japers’ Rink)
- While Washington’s season saw bright spots, there were also a few tough times. Michael Marzzacco breaks down what went wrong for the Capitals last year, from injury setbacks to another early exit. (Stars & Sticks)
- Speaking of adversity, the Capitals crease also experienced peaks and valleys throughout the year. Henrik Lundqvist was supposed to provide some insurance between the pipes before he was sidelined with a heart condition, and if he’s healthy and willing to return, Washington should consider keeping the veteran around. (Washington Hockey Now)
- Shifting the focus to prospects, Tobias Geisser is on the rise. Jon Sorenson breaks down the 6-foot-4 blueliner’s play and explains why he could compete for a major role with Hershey next season. (NoVa Caps)
- The Lightning took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-1 victory over Montreal, and while Andrei Vasilevskiy saved the day, mistakes continued to plague the Habs. Sean Leahy has more on what we learned from Game 2 as Tampa moves within two wins of their second consecutive Stanley Cup. (Pro Hockey Talk)
- For Montreal, Carey Price is still doing what he can between the pipes and will be key to helping the Habs rally back against the Lightning. Grant Robinson details how the longtime netminder worked to become such a force in net this season and explains how Beau McCue played a major part in Price’s success. (Globe & Mail)
- Per reports, Duncan Keith and Chicago are working together on a trade, and it could lead to Western Canada. Joe Pope shares more insight on a potential deal that could send Keith closer to home. (Chicago Sun-Times)
- In other Blackhawks news, Jonathan Toews opened up about his struggles with “chronic immune response syndrome” that sidelined him for 2020-21. Mark Lazerus details the captain’s road to recovery and “the best worst thing that’s ever happened” to him in an exclusive piece. (The Athletic)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- First off: Happy Canada Day to all of our Canadian friends, family and readers out there. It truly is such an amazing nation that brought us the greatest sport in history. So have some poutine, grab some Tim Hortons, belt out the anthem and make the most of this glorious day.
- As we mentioned, July 1 usually signals the start of free agency, but we’re still a few weeks away. We’ll have to wait and see what it’ll bring for the Capitals, including an Alex Ovechkin extension and possible other signings depending on the expansion draft or other scenarios. Last season serves as evidence that having depth is imperative to a deep run, so we’ll see what Washington makes of it.
- While Montreal needs to clean some things up defensively, they’re on the right track when it comes to solving the Lightning. Vasilevskiy is a brick wall for Tampa, but any team that can get 42 shots on goal against a high-flying, dominant team like the Lightning — including nine from Nick Suzuki, will eventually break through. Not only that, but they seemed more engaged and more aggressive on the forecheck. Ultimately, that Blake Coleman buzzer-beater was a momentum changer and Ondrej Palat‘s goal was a nail in the coffin of sorts, but there’s a glimmer of hope and positives to take away for the Habs.
- Stick taps to Toews for speaking up and being vocal about his health as he works to get back on the ice. This past year has been something of a nightmare, an alternate, bleak reality where stress really did take a toll on so many people’s health. It’ll be a huge boost for Chicago to have No. 19 back in action as the Hawks look to return to playoff territory.