NCAA Frozen Four: Players to watch from every team in the tournament

Minnesota State goalie Stephon Williams (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

College hockey’s Frozen Four kicks off this week with 16 teams gunning for a spot in Boston, where the semifinal and final will be held in April. Regionals spread the squads across four cities and there is a lot of firepower at this year’s installment. But who are the players to watch for? Here’s a primer for every school, with an admitted bias towards NHL prospects.

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Lightning star Steven Stamkos gets into a fight – well, a wrestle – with Bruins’ Brad Marchand

Adam Proteau
Steven Stamkos grapples with Brad Marchand. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos doesn’t fight often, but when he does – well, as he showed Sunday in a brief, Greco-Roman wrestling-like encounter with Boston winger Brad Marchand, the Bolts’ captain still doesn’t throw a lot of punches.

The host Lightning were tied 1-1 with Boston midway through the first period Sunday when, after bumping into each other in the Bruins zone, Marchand and Stamkos both dropped their gloves and made a priority out of going after each other. But be warned: if you’re hoping for machine-gun fisticuffs from watching the following video (via SportsnetCanada) of the run-in, you’re going to come away disappointed: Read more

Five unsung heroes of the 2014-15 season

Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is having a year for the history books. Almost singlehandedly, with unthinkable saves and stellar play, he’s guiding Montreal to the playoffs.

For his efforts, there’s talk of Price not only taking home the Vezina Trophy as the season’s best goaltender, but the potential for him to earn the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. That Price is being recognized for what he has done this season is only right – if Montreal makes it deep into the playoffs, it might be one of the greatest goaltending seasons in modern hockey history.

But for every Carey Price, there’s a role player who has done their part to perfection, making the difference that doesn’t necessarily show up on the score sheet, but translates to victories in the long run. These are the NHL’s unsung heroes, and here are the top five this season: Read more

Ben Bishop stole a goal from Alex Galchenyuk thanks to a huge glove save

Jared Clinton
Ben Bishop (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

In any game involving Montreal this season, you would expect Canadiens goaltender Carey Price to be the one making the unthinkable saves. Monday night, however, Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop was not to be outdone by his Montreal counterpart.

Early in the first period, with the Canadiens on a power play, Tomas Plekanec let go a shot from the blueline that found its way onto the tape of Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk deked to his backhand and attempted to shovel a shot past Bishop on his glove side as he scrambled to locate the puck. But, before Galchenyuk’s backhand found net, Bishop reached back and snagged the puck, taking away what looked like a surefire power play goal for Montreal.

In real time, it doesn’t look like much, but the replay shows how great the stop was: Read more

Lightning’s Steven Stamkos scores with an assist by…Montreal’s Max Pacioretty?

Adam Proteau
Steven Stamkos (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lightning center Steven Stamkos is used to scoring after fantastic set-up passes from teammates, but Monday against Montreal, he scored after a feed from the most unexpected of sources: Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty was carrying the puck out of the Canadiens’ zone late in the first period and had made it past center ice, but his pass back toward who he thought was a teammate turned out to be Stamkos; the superstar took the puck just inside the blueline, promptly skated in alone on Carey Price and blasted it past him with a blistering slap shot for his team-best 38th goal of the season: Read more

Suspend him or not: Canadiens’ Brandon Prust drills Lightning goalie Ben Bishop

Adam Proteau
Brandon Prust battles Lightning players after checking goalie Ben Bishop. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens winger Brandon Prust is known around the league as a player who plays “on the edge”. Monday night against Tampa Bay, he appeared to go over that edge on a questionable hit from behind on Bolts goalie Ben Bishop that could earn him a date with the NHL’s discipline department.

The Lightning had a 3-0 lead on the Habs in the second period when the puck came around the boards toward the back of Bishop’s net. The goalie came out to play the puck, and Prust skated right into his back, knocking Bishop headfirst into the boards when Prust just as easily could’ve pulled up or avoided the collision: Read more

Lightning’s plan for rookie Jonathan Drouin was shocking but savvy

Adam Proteau
Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Jonathan Drouin was sent back to junior three months after being drafted third overall in 2013, it raised the eyebrows of many. And nowhere were eyebrows higher than in the THN office, where staffers had almost unanimously predicted him to be that season’s Calder winner. After all, he was the perfect fit alongside superstar Steven Stamkos.

But Tampa’s braintrust had a plan. Read more