Finnish fans tuning into the Stanley Cup final have two national heroes to cheer for in Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and San Jose Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi, but only one has been the cause of the best goal call of the post-season.
Throughout Game 3, Donskoi, a member of the Sharks’ second line, had a few chances to either tie the contest or put San Jose ahead but wasn’t able to capitalize. However, after a third-period goal by Sharks winger Joel Ward set up overtime in Saturday’s game, it was Donskoi who managed to net the game winning goal on a brilliant move and perfectly placed shot in the extra frame.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the first overtime, Donskoi helped create a cycle behind the Penguins net that resulted in Chris Tierney putting the puck back on Donskoi’s stick. Cutting around the net, Donskoi warded off the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin and an oncoming Justin Schultz to find a sliver of space over the shoulder of goaltender Matt Murray for the game-winning tally.
The goal itself was nice, as were the calls by NBC’s Mike Emrick and CBC’s Jim Hughson. That said, neither of the play-by-play men could match the excitement of Antti Makinen, Viasat’s game-caller, who delivered the goal call of the playoffs: Read more
Forget playing in his first Stanley Cup final. For Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Conor Sheary, this is his first NHL post-season.
Through 19 games, the 23-year-old winger has seen a massive increase in ice time and that’s come along with a bump in his production. And with the final only two games old, Sheary has made as big an impact on the series as anyone. He scored in Game 1, netting the Penguins’ second goal of the game, and he did the same in Game 2. The only difference was this time, when Sheary scored Pittsburgh’s second tally of the contest, it was the overtime game-winner.
On a set play off the faceoff, Penguins center Sidney Crosby won the faceoff back to defenseman Kris Letang. Trying to guard against Letang’s shot, Sharks center Logan Couture ventured out to the blueline to block any shot attempt from Letang, but the Penguins rearguard delivered a short slap-pass to Sheary. With more space to work than anyone had had all game, Sheary stepped up, fired a shot between the legs of San Jose defenseman Justin Braun and up over the glove of goaltender Martin Jones before exploding in celebration: Read more
Be it George Costanza’s parents or the reviled neighbor, Newman, the cast of secondary characters on Seinfeld were sometimes the show stealers. And though there’s no replacement for Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, one secondary character who was always a fan favorite was the mechanic-turned-salesman David Puddy, expertly portrayed by Patrick Warburton.
Puddy only appeared in 10 episodes of the show — it somehow feels like more — but he left a lasting mark on the series and, as far as sports go, on New Jersey Devils fans. As the main plotline of a 1995 episode titled ‘The Face Painter,’ Puddy took to a Devils playoff game against the New York Rangers with Jerry, Elaine and Kramer, only for Puddy to emerge from the bathroom pre-game with his face painted Devils green and red. Why, you ask? Because, as Puddy says, “Gotta support the team.”
The face-painted antics of Puddy, who was also sporting a Martin Brodeur jersey in the episode, landed him a spot this past season on Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood’s mask. Mask artist David Gunnarsson, a fan of Seinfeld and the man behind Wedgewood’s lid, made a replica recently and shipped it off to Warburton. He was wowed by the gift from the DaveArt mask designer: Read more
David Backes has captained the St. Louis Blues through three consecutive first-round playoff exits, and as the team’s captain he no doubt felt as though he was in part responsible for the team’s shortcomings. But this season, St. Louis made a playoff breakthrough, first with a series win over the Chicago Blackhawks and then getting by the Dallas Stars in the second round.
The Blues’ run towards a potential Stanley Cup final, which was the deepest they had been since the 2000-01 playoffs, ended Wednesday night with a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. And post-game, Backes, who has potentially played his final game in St. Louis, got choked up talking about the commitment to each other that this Blues team had.
It was especially difficult for Backes to get through a story about Game 5. Backes had watched from the bench for most of Game 4 after suffering an unspecified injury, but the Blues captain was back in the lineup and played 16-plus minutes in Game 5 thanks to some help from teammate Steve Ott. Backes could barely get through the story: Read more
Let’s be honest: we could rhyme off several Conn Smythe Trophy candidates from the San Jose Sharks before we get to goaltender Martin Jones. It’s nothing against Jones. It’s just that he hasn’t been too busy. Entering Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the St. Louis Blues, Jones had faced 26 or fewer shots in every game, though he was pulled in one of those.
The Blues managed just five shots in the first period of Game 5 as they faced elimination, and they’d fallen behind 2-0 by the 5:02 mark of the second period. They gained momentum later in the second, however, managing 11 shots on Jones. They finally tested him, none more than center Jori Lehtera, who had a 10-bell chance in the slot on a one-time feed from Robby Fabbri halfway through the period. Watch Jones’ smooth pad save:
Picking the Stanley Cup before the playoffs start — let alone before the season begins — isn’t an easy feat.
That’s especially true for this post-season. Of the final four, the Pittsburgh Penguins were hot coming into the playoffs but without their starting goaltender, the Tampa Bay Lightning were without the services of Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman, the San Jose Sharks were up against the possession-juggernaut Los Angeles Kings in the first round and the St. Louis Blues had to get past the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks before a meeting with the division-champion Dallas Stars.
Suffice to say, a lot of brackets were busted early, and that’s even without including the upset that saw the Anaheim Ducks exit in Round One at the hands of the Nashville Predators.
But amidst all the busted brackets stood one famous face, Will Arnett, actor and host of the 2016 NHL Awards, who had a foolproof strategy for picking the Stanley Cup winner. Take a look: Read more
If Brian Boyle hadn’t already shown his worth to the Tampa Bay Lightning in terms of being a checking-line center, he’s showing this post-season that he also has the ability to make things happen offensively and that he can even add a little flair.
In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, the Lightning were trailing 3-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into the final frame. Tampa Bay carried the play from the outset of the third period in an attempt to get anything going offensively, and eventually it was Boyle who would break through, although fortuitously as his shot from the right wing boards would deflect off of Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel and into the net.
But for as lucky as Boyle’s first goal was, his second tally made Boyle look like a bonafide sniper. Again on the right wing, Boyle managed to pick up a bouncing puck that was thrown cross-ice by defenseman Slater Koekkoek, settle it and fire home a seeing-eye shot that went perfectly into the top corner. And then Boyle gave us the best celebration of the post-season, blowing a kiss to the Tampa Bay bench. Seriously: Read more
In the 78 career post-season games St. Louis Blues winger Troy Brouwer had played heading into the 2015-16 playoffs, he had always performed well but he wasn’t exactly a consistent goal scorer or frequently found on the scoresheet. Through the six playoffs that Brouwer had played in, he had scored seven goals and 19 points. Not bad, but not great.
This season’s playoff run has been different, though, and through 19 games Brouwer is having the post-season of his career.
Heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference final, Brouwer had scored seven times, matching his career output over the course of one single playoff. And it took only 15 minutes of play in Monday’s contest for Brouwer to get goal No. 8, and the tally came in style.
As the Blues rushed into the offensive zone, a shot from Paul Stastny was turned aside by San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. But Jones’ attempt to turn the puck aside and into the corner caused it to go into the air into the path of an oncoming Brouwer. As he came toward the puck, Brouwer took aim, swatted it out of mid-air and into the cage behind Jones: Read more