Manchester Monarchs advance to Calder Cup final with conference final sweep

Jared Clinton
Zach O'Brien and the Manchester Monarchs celebrate (via Streamable/AHL)

While the NHL post-season is staring down two crucial Game 7s to determine who will play for the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs simply walked through the Hartford Wolf Pack in four straight games to move on to play for the Calder Cup.

It’s not shocking, however, that the Monarchs are going to play for the league’s top trophy. After all, in the regular season, there was no team better than Manchester, who racked up 109 points for top spot in the AHL and were the only team this season not to lose at least 20 games in regulation. Read more

5 Stanley Cup-winning goalies who were “just OK”

Antti Niemi

A hot goalie can take his team deep into the playoffs, but a cold one can also go pretty far with a strong enough team in front of him. A goaltender has won the Conn Smythe Trophy six out of the last 20 years, but we’ve also seen some pretty mediocre performances from Stanley Cup champion goalies.

We may well be in for another one this year. The Ducks’ Frederik Andersen is the only remaining goalie in the playoffs with a goals-against average under 2.00, and the rest of the pack have all had their struggles this post-season. Henrik Lundqvist is just getting over allowing 12 goals in two games, and Ben Bishop just allowed five goals in back-to-back appearances. Then there’s Corey Crawford, who temporarily lost his net to Scott Darling earlier this post-season.

The goaltending hasn’t been great, but does that mean Andersen is the odds-on favourite to win the Cup this year? Or will a mediocre performance in net be enough to carry the Rangers, Lightning or Blackhawks to the final?

The latter is certainly possible. Just look at these five netminders. To quote former Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, these guys were OK. Just OK.
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Los Angeles Kings named 2015 Sports Team of the Year

Jared Clinton
Los Angeles Kings celebrating their 2014 Stanley Cup championship. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

They’re not playing for the Stanley Cup this season, but the Los Angeles Kings have been named the 2015 Sports Team of the Year at the eighth annual Sports Business Awards.

The Kings, who won their second Stanley Cup in the past three seasons in 2014, won the Sports Team of the Year award for the first time in franchise history and beat out the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy, NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and IndyCar and NASCAR’s Team Penske. Read more

How to snuff out a superstar

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.

If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.

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Why the Los Angeles Kings need to spend smart to plan for the future

Jared Clinton
Andrej Sekera (Jared Silber/Getty Images)

After a disappointing season in which the Los Angeles Kings failed to make the post-season – let alone defend their Stanley Cup championship – there was little doubt that changes would be coming to the roster. However, whatever moves the Kings do make, they would be wise to keep the next couple of seasons in mind.

According to Jon Rosen of L.A. Kings Insider, the Kings and Andrej Sekera, Los Angeles’ big acquisition at the trade deadline, have started discussing a potential contract to bring Sekera, an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, back to the Kings next season. But if Sekera, who was highly sought after and could earn himself a big buck on the open market, wants to get paid what he’s worth and the Kings pony up a contract worthy of Sekera’s services, things could get extremely tight when it comes to staying salary cap compliant. And Sekera, as good as he is, shouldn’t be the biggest of the Kings’ concerns. Read more

Your 2014-15 Norris Trophy finalists: P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson

Drew Doughty (Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL announced its three finalists in Norris Trophy voting this season - Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty – and the fact none of the three were finalists in 2013-14 says something about the calibre of defenseman currently working in hockey’s top league. Read more

Fan favorite Paul Bissonnette & the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs hope to leave on top in final season

Ryan Kennedy
Paul Bissonnette (Photo By Fred Kfoury)

The Manchester Monarchs were one of the top teams in the American League this season and witnessing their Game 1 dismantling of Portland in the playoffs, it’s not hard to see why. But if you want to see the Monarchs flying next year, you’ll have to switch coasts and head out to California, when they become the Ontario Reign.

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This year’s Selke Trophy finalists identical to last year’s: Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar

Patrice Bergeron (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For the second consecutive season, the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward are the same three NHL star centers: Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and L.A.’s Anze Kopitar. And the latter is looking to win his first this time around. Read more