The weekend is here at long last. It’s been a wild week that kicked off with the Lightning and Canadiens kicking off the Stanley Cup Final. Now, the Bolts are within 60 minutes of closing out the series and going back-to-back.
Outside of the playoffs, the Capitals celebrated a meaningful anniversary, report cards continue and free agency raises questions. Here’s your daily dose of happenings across the NHL.
- Six years ago yesterday, Washington acquired T.J. Oshie from the Blues. Here’s more on why the deal was one of the team’s best and how he continues to make an impact on and off the ice. (Washington Hockey Now)
- The King hath returned! Henrik Lundqvist announced on Instagram that he’s resuming with “light workouts” after his comeback was cut due to complications surrounding the heart condition that sidelined him in 2020-21. Ian Oland has more. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
- Speaking of Capitals netminders, Vitek Vanecek made his unexpected NHL debut this past season in place of Lundqvist. Peerless grades the 25-year-old’s rookie campaign. (Japers’ Rink)
- Washington has benefitted from a veteran core, but rising prospects and offseason questions could lead to roster changes. J.J. Regan and Andrew Gillis examine how the Capitals can become a younger team heading into next year. (NBC Sports Washington)
- Well… that’s quick. The Lightning are now 60 minutes away from going back-to-back following a dominant 6-3 victory over the Canadiens in Game 3. James O’Brien breaks down the victory and how a quick start and strong second paved the way for Tampa. (Pro Hockey Talk)
- Shifting attention to the 2021 NHL Draft, there are several top names available, including a couple of strong goaltenders in Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa. Sheng Peng takes a look at the history of drafting goaltenders and if the Sharks may want to consider taking a netminder at No. 7. (San Jose Hockey Now)
- Joel Eriksson Ek‘s in it for the long haul, signing an 8-year, $42 million extension with Minnesota on Friday. Michael Russo discusses the signing and what’s next on the Wild’s offseason to-do list. (The Ahtletic)
- The Islanders face a bit of uncertainty this offseason. Andy Graziano explains why keeping the core together will be vital to the team’s success and how general manager Lou Lamoriello can pull it off. (NYI Hockey Now)
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- This Stanley Cup Final is honestly going faster than I thought it would. Mistakes continue to plague the Habs as the Lightning pounce on every single opportunity. If Tampa takes Game 4, the Bolts will be the first time to go back-to-back since the 2017 Penguins and more importantly, the first team to sweep the Final since Detroit did it against Washington in 1998 (that one hurt).
- Montreal is no stranger to a 3-0 deficit in these playoffs, though. That’s exactly what happened with the high-flying Maple Leafs, and the Canadiens ultimately won in seven games. However, this Lightning team is extremely different, more disciplined and experienced in the art of winning. If the Habs want to win — or as of right now at least live another day — their play needs to be flawless from start to finish. That includes Carey Price stepping up.
- There are reports brewing that former Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt wants out of Vancouver. There’s essentially a mini Caps reunion going on right now in British Columbia, with Tyler Graovac, Travis Boyd, Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle all in the mix. Though Jim Benning denied it in his exit interview, Rick Dhaliwal said on the Donnie and Dhali Show that the rumors “won’t go away.” Several teams would benefit from having solid puck-mover and strong left-handed blueliner like Schmidt in the top-4. Heck, maybe a team like Washington, who lost him to Vegas in 2017 and faces a lot of questions on defense with the Kraken lurking. Just my take.
- Duncan Keith and Chicago are reportedly working on a trade, and there’s speculation that Edmonton could be an ideal fit. I can’t help but agree; the Oilers would greatly benefit from another veteran presence, especially one who can play top-4 minutes and knows how to win.