Adam Proteau, currently the brand's columnist/writer, has worked for The Hockey News since 2002 and won the Professional Hockey Writers' award for best column in 2006. He also won the Esso Medal of Achievement for most improved player as a 13-year-old at the 'A' level in 1985, but he's less proud of that.
In the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored three goals in 13 games. Unfortunately for the New York Rangers, Stamkos has become much more productive in the Eastern Conference Final against them – and Sunday in Game 5, the star center continued his hot streak by scoring for the fourth straight game in a 2-0 Bolts victory.
Tampa was leading 1-0 on a Valtteri Filppula goal 13:29 into the second period at Madison Square Garden, and nearly five minutes later, with the Bolts on the power play, Stamkos tipped in a shot from Ondrej Palat to record his seventh of the post-season and his 14th career playoff goal in 39 games: Read more
With the incredible contributions made by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s younger players in the 2015 playoffs, veteran center Valtteri Filppula hasn’t been in the spotlight all that often. But in Game 5 of the Bolts’ Eastern Conference Final series against the New York Rangers, Filppula collaborated with star Steven Stamkos to score the first goal of the night.
Game 5 was scoreless through the first 33 minutes at Madison Square Garden, but Stamkos took the puck at the Rangers’ blueline late in the second period and quickly moved it along to Filppula, who wired a wrist shot past Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist to make it 1-0 for the visiting team: Read more
The Ducks and Blackhawks played nearly two full hockey games Tuesday in “Game” 2 of their Eastern Conference Final, and many expected there might be a physical letdown when they squared off again Thursday in Chicago. But after losing home ice advantage in that triple-overtime 3-2 loss to the Hawks, Anaheim got it right back by locking down the opposition’s offense in a 2-1 Game 3 victory that marked Chicago’s first home defeat of the 2015 post-season.
The Blackhawks weren’t awful – they were the stronger possession team and outshot Anaheim 28-27 on the night – but other than one-man gang/star winger Patrick Kane (who scored their only goal in Game 3), they couldn’t solve Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. The 25-year-old posted a .964 save percentage Thursday and improved his playoff goals-against average in 12 games this year to a sparkling 1.75 and his SP to .935, and is quietly making a very good case as a candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the post-season’s most valuable player.
Andersen’s resolve in net meant the Ducks’ offense didn’t have to get much past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford to win the game, and other than Patrick Maroon’s goal that opened the scoring at 12:55 of the first period and Simon Despres’ game-winner and first career playoff goal with 55 seconds left in the second frame, they didn’t. But they did block more shots than the Hawks by a 3:1 ratio (a total of 27 to Chicago’s 9) and their special teams were sharp: although they were undisciplined, their penalty kill successfully defended against all five Blackhawks power plays, and they capitalized on their only man advantage of Game 3 when Maroon scored.
In other words, it wasn’t perfect, but after the Ducks believed they deserved to win that three-overtime game, they probably believe they had a little good fortune coming. Read more
You’ve got to understand this about Phil Brooks, professionally known as CM Punk: he was never handed anything as a blue-collar kid coming out of Chicago, as a student, as a pro wrestler who rose to the pinnacle of the industry or in his current line of work as a nascent mixed martial arts fighter. Punk, 36, has had to grind and scrape for everything he’s earned, and he’s plied his trade (often injured) in hockey arenas across North America and around the world.
No wonder Punk has a love for the NHL, and no wonder he’s come to be acquaintances with many NHL players. There’s a camaraderie at play here, an understanding of serious and constant physical sacrifice and a respect for performing through pain that both parties endure on the regular. “A lot of the physicality is the same, and I was always drawn to hockey because of that physicality,” Punk said. “There’s definitely similarities between what I did, what I’m currently doing, and what hockey players do. And there’s an appreciation there that goes both ways.” Read more
In the first two games of the Western Conference Final between his Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks, superstar right winger Patrick Kane did not have a point. If you know him, that’s kind of unlike him. So he was probably due for a spectacular goal or setup of one – and sure enough, in Game 3 Thursday, Kane added to his already-impressive playoff scoring total with a no-look, backhanded goal most of us couldn’t perform on a video game.
The host Hawks were trailing Anaheim 1-0 late in the first period at United Center when Kane picked up the puck between the faceoff dots and directly in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen; in one fluid motion, he took the puck on his backhand, and, without glancing toward the net, perfectly fired it between Andersen’s right arm and hip for his eighth goal of this post-season: Read more
The New York Rangers had won the majority of their playoff games this year via low-scoring affairs. Well, by 2-1 scores, mostly. More often than not, they depended almost wholly on the brilliance of star netminder Henrik Lundqvist and carved out only enough offense to squeeze by. However, for the third game in this post-season – this time, Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Final series with the Tampa Bay Lightning – the Blueshirts were able to score more than two goals in one night when they got five goals past Bolts goalie Ben Bishop.
Unfortunately, Lundqvist wasn’t at his best for the second straight contest, allowing six goals for the second game in a row – and because of that inability to match a solid goaltending performance with a respectable showing on the scoresheet, the Rangers now trail the Lightning 2-1 in their third-round series after losing 6-5 in overtime. Read more
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos doesn’t care whether he’s in the spotlight, but there was something odd about seeing Tyler Johnson excel thus far in the NHL playoffs while Stamkos struggled (at least, by his standards). But Wednesday in Game 3 of the Bolts’ Eastern Conference Final series against the Rangers, the Lighting captain was a threat to score – and to run the opposition over with a robust physical game that included a massive hit on Blueshirts winger Kevin Hayes.
Just two minutes into the first period, Stamkos leveled Hayes, who was carrying the puck behind the Rangers’ net with his head down: Read more
So, let me get this straight: Mike Babcock, one of the most respected, productive hockey coaches alive today and the most sought-after free agent this summer – player or otherwise – signs with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this is a negative? The Maple Leafs use some of the millions they’ve saved under the NHL’s salary cap system and establish instant credibility in a dressing room that needed a full fumigation after the the toxic 2014-15 campaign, and team president Brendan Shanahan somehow screwed this hire up?
Sorry, not buying it. Read more