Which teams have best capitalized on their expected Stanley Cup opportunities?

Dominik Luszczyszyn
Stanley Cup

If goals are the currency of the league, then the Stanley Cup is what teams are saving their pennies for. Great teams have great goal differentials and those teams tend to win the Stanley Cup. The better a team’s goal differential is, the more likely they are to win it all. To show that, here’s every team’s era adjusted goal difference compared to how often those teams won the Cup. Read more

Vermette’s stay in Chicago was short but very, very sweet

Antoine Vermette (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Antoine Vermette made his way through the mass of humanity in the cramped visitor’s dressing room at Amalie Arena after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, he was unfailingly polite.

“Sorry for the sweat,” he said as he brushed up against people on his way to the door. “I probably stink, too. But I guess that’s a good thing at this time of the year.”

There were games during the playoffs when Vermette didn’t stink at all. That’s because he was likely wearing expensive cologne under his designer suit while sitting in the press box. Check that. He kind of did stink, which was why he was in the press box wearing the expensive cologne under his designer suit in the first place. Read more

Daniel Briere retires as a trailblazer

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

It would be disingenuous to say Daniel Briere came out of nowhere. After all, he was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes back in 1996, the same year he scored 163 points for Drummondville of the Quebec League.

But since he was waived by those same Coyotes seven years later, after failing to make a permanent impression on the club, it is remarkable to think how quickly he became one of the most dangerous players in the NHL shortly thereafter.

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‘Battling’ Ben Bishop took long and winding road to NHL success

Brian Bishop (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

When the Montreal Canadiens chased Ben Bishop from the net in the second round of the playoffs, Habs defenseman P.K. Subban couldn’t resist taking a shot at the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, saying Bishop had been “sitting on a horseshoe” to that point in the series. Subban, of course, meant to imply that said horseshoe was wedged in a certain part of Bishop’s anatomy. Subban is subtle that way.

The implication was Bishop had luck rather than skill to credit for his play in that series. If that’s the case, then perhaps it was a case of karma coming around. Maybe Bishop was finally due for some good luck, because until he joined the Lightning, good fortune wasn’t something in huge supply for him.

By the time Bishop was dealt to Tampa at the trade deadline in 2013, he was a 26-year-old goalie with just 36 NHL appearances and was already in his third organization. His hometown St. Louis Blues had given up on him, trading him for a second-round pick. Then with no room on their depth chart for a goalie who takes up a lot of room in the net, the Ottawa Senators dealt him to Tampa Bay for Cory Conacher and a fourth-rounder, not the kind of bounty that has “future NHL star” written all over it. Read more

Meet the NHL’s burgeoning blueline beast

Victor Hedman (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Victor Hedman was 17, he was playing in the Swedish League and living in an apartment with his girlfriend in Ornskoldsvik, in northern Sweden, cooking his own meals, paying bills – on time – and doing laundry. Colors didn’t bleed, either. He didn’t think that was a big deal. But then again, Swedes rarely think anything they do is a big deal.

Hedman, like many of his countrymen in the NHL, isn’t terribly impressed with himself. He’s making $4 million a year to play in the best hockey league in the world and doing it very well. Yet there is no air about him. He prefers to allow his performance to do his communicating, and by that standard, he’s starting to scream from the rooftops.

Hedman has become the player the Lightning envisioned when they selected him second overall behind John Tavares in 2009. He has become a punishing shutdown defenseman with an offensive bent. He has an ability to make opponents look ordinary and teammates extraordinary. In short, he has all the makings of becoming one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Read more

Lightning coach Jon Cooper is a man with a plan

(Photo by Scott Audette/NHL)

There are no crazy outfits here, no marriage proposals, no millionaire anti-heroes repeating they just showed up so they won’t get fined. The NHL’s media day for the Stanley Cup final is not the exercise in excess and the sublime that is the Super Bowl’s, but you still get the occasional silly question. Jonathan Toews was asked what his second favorite cup is, after the Stanley Cup, of course. He begged off, but we’re thinking “protective” and “Red Solo” had to be high on his list.

It’s the kind of day when the athletes and coaches who are about to embark on one of the most intense and gruelling periods of their careers take time to share their thoughts. It’s also a day when Jon Cooper, the folksy former defense attorney from Prince George, B.C., can add to his growing reputation as the most interesting man in hockey. Sitting alongside GM Steve Yzerman, who was in his full suit and tie, Cooper was wearing flip-flops, shorts and a Lightning-issued golf shirt.

This story traces some of its roots back to 2011-12, when Cooper was coaching the Norfolk Admirals and his team reeled off a 28-game winning streak en route to the Calder Cup. In the words of Ondrej Palat, it was there that “(Cooper) taught me how to play big-boy hockey.” Read more

Where can you find a taste of Chicago, and the Blackhawks, in the Windy City?

PalaceGrill1

The Blackhawks have made a remarkable comeback since the days they were ranked the second-worst sports franchise in North America, ahead of only the Los Angeles Clippers. On game nights in the early 2000s, George Lemperis would look out at the Palace Grill and there might be three tables of fans.

Lemperis never gave up on the Blackhawks, even when his hometown did. But the last decade has been the salad days for the franchise and Lemperis, who owns the now-famous restaurant where you can get a pretty good salad and a sandwich before the game. The Palace Grill is an institution with Blackhawks fans and, for that matter, players. One morning in the early 1990s, Chicago defenseman Chris Chelios was out having some beverages with friends and popped into the Palace Grill at about 3 a.m. Lemperis hadn’t arrived yet, but none to worry. Chelios jumped behind the grill himself.

“My cousin came in with a bunch of his friends, and they didn’t believe I was friends with the Blackhawks,” Lemperis said. “And there’s Chris Chelios behind the grill cooking breakfast for his friends. I came in a little later and I missed it all, but they left me with a mess. Everything was dirty, but that’s OK.” Read more

Blackhawks’ Teuvo Teravainen “doesn’t have a heartbeat”

Teuvo Teravainen (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Teuvo Teravainen’s real father, Timo, is a dentist in Helsinki. His surrogate father is a 40-year-old teammate Kimmo Timonen, and while the hockey world was fawning over Teravainen after Game 1, good old dad had a sobering message. “He’s got a long way to go,” Timonen said. “He’s a skinny guy, so he’s got to start lifting weights. I told him, ‘This summer you’ve got to make sure you work out.’ Golf is not a workout.”

Gee, thanks, Dad. Teravainen’s father might be “far, far in Finland,” but that fatherly advice isn’t. As Teravainen makes his way in the world, he’s learning things might not be as easy as he would have thought. In 2013-14, when he led Finland to gold at the world juniors and finished with 44 points in the Finnish League, many thought Teravainen had the second-line center job in Chicago waiting for him. But he struggled. Read more