The NHL shootout: the part of the game practice and coaching can’t solve

Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Florida Thursday marked their fifth loss in as many shootouts this season. With even one or two wins in those five games, Philly would be within sniffing distance of a wild card berth and not, as they currently are, closer in the standings to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes. And when veteran center Vincent Lecavalier was asked after the game whether the Flyers practiced the shootout enough, his answer likely didn’t make beleaguered head coach Craig Berube very happy.

“Well, obviously not,” said Lecavalier, who was one of the Flyers’ shooters. “I mean, maybe we could do more. They’re obviously very important points that you’re kind of leaving on the table. We have been practicing, but we probably could do more.”

Berube maintained the Flyers do practice enough, but the truth is, since it was first implemented in 2005, the shootout has been a Bermuda Triangle of expectations and logic. And the more you think about the so-called solution for a team’s shootout woes, the sillier it is. I mean, players have to practice scoring more? These men are almost universally dominant scorers at lower levels of the game and who think of different ways to score constantly, so what exactly would another 20 minutes or a half-hour after practice do for them, when it’s all but impossible to replicate the game conditions (including thousands of screaming fans potentially attempting to intimidate them) of an actual shootout? Read more

The Lightning are releasing a t-shirt based on a player prank

Jared Clinton
Tampa Bay third shirt

With a single, ominous message, the Tampa Bay Lightning warned us all of the dawn of a new, palm tree-littered t-shirt. “Soon,” was the only hint the Lightning gave.

The shirt, pictured above, bears striking resemblance to the jersey that was the centerpiece of a joke played on the Lightning players by the training staff. Before the Lightning had unveiled their third jersey to fans and players, they gave the players a look at a jersey that, among other things, had palm trees filling the piping along the bottom.

Watch as Tampa’s players react to seeing the jersey for the first time: Read more

Steven Stamkos’ race to 250 goals even more impressive than it sounds

Ryan Kennedy
Steven Stamkos (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Early in the second period last night, Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos wheeled around and fired a wrist shot from just above the hashmarks, beating Washington goalie Braden Holtby through a crowd of Caps. It marked Stamkos’ 250th career goal and at the age of 24 years and 305 days, ‘Stammer’ became the 10th-youngest player in NHL history to achieve the mark. The list of players ahead of him is impressive:

Read more

Getting To Know: Brenden Morrow

Mark Malinowski
Brenden Morrow featured

Status: Tampa Bay Lightning left wing.

Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 205 pounds

DOB: January 16, 1979 In: Carlyle, Sask.

First Hockey Memory: “I think probably losing. I think we lost the game. Someone that’s a competitive guy, it probably drove me to get better and play better. I think we lost that first game. And it’s probably something I won’t ever forget.” Read more

Tampa Bay and Buffalo combine for more than 100 penalty minutes in three separate brawls

Jared Clinton
Tampa Buffalo Brawl featured

In Thursday night’s contest between the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning and the lowly Buffalo Sabres, there were three beat downs: one on the scoreboard and two on the ice.

The Lightning walked out with 5-0 win over their Atlantic Division opponents, but they didn’t leave the ice without throwing a few fists in the process. The Sabres, who have been on a run of late, and the Lightning mixed it up on three separate occasions, with the two teams combining for 110 penalty minutes.

Things weren’t actually getting too crazy, but less than eight minutes into the third period the first brawl started: Read more

Anaheim Ducks acquire Eric Brewer from Tampa Bay for third-round pick

Jared Clinton
Eric Brewer featured

With injuries to Francois Beauchemin and Clayton Stoner, the Anaheim Ducks were in dire need of blueline help. They got some on Friday, trading a 2015 third-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Eric Brewer.

The deal makes sense for both sides. For Tampa Bay, Brewer was expendable. With Victor Hedman well on his way to returning, there would be little room for the veteran blueliner to make his way back into the top half of the lineup. Brewer is also a pending unrestricted free agent, so it makes sense to get rid of an expiring contract while the Lightning can still get something back in return. Read more

Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens all billion dollar organizations according to Forbes

Madison Square Garden

My, what a difference one year and a massive TV contract can make.

In 2013, when American business magazine Forbes released their NHL franchise valuations, only one team was said to be a billion dollar organization: the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.15 billion). That the Leafs were – and still are – the most valued team in the NHL comes to little surprise what with a fan base that continually shells out top dollar regardless of the outcome. It is hockey mecca, like it or not.

But Tuesday, when Forbes released its rankings for 2014, two franchises, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, found themselves in the billion dollar club thanks in large part to a friendly bump from the NHL’s league-wide television deals plus some added money from local television contracts. Read more