June 24 — Brunette’s Future in Florida & Playoff GWGs

Last Night’s News 📰

SHA-WIN AGAIN!: Special teams played a significant role in Thursday’s Memorial Cup matchup between the Hamilton Bulldogs and Shawinigan Cataractes, as the Cataractes capitalized on the man advantage three times for a 3-2 victory. Shawinigan is in first place after two games for each club, earning the maximum six points with two regulation wins. 

FOUR PLUS FORSBERG: Nashville Predators GM David Poile said on Thursday that the team offered unrestricted free agent Filip Forsberg an eight-year contract with the hope of retaining him. They are the only team that can extend him that many years. The 27-year-old forward has spent all 10 seasons of his NHL career in Nashville and is the Predators’ all-time leader in goals with 220.

BERGERON, SMITH RE-SIGN?: NHL free agency may be short a pair of defensive-minded veteran forwards. Selke winner Patrice Bergeron and Vegas original Reilly Smith have reportedly agreed to new contracts with the Bruins and Golden Knights, respectively. Expectations are that Bergeron will sign a one-year extension with Boston, while Smith’s deal will be for three years.

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

Moritz Seider Takes Home the Calder

The young Detroit Red Wings defenseman left Tampa with some hardware as he won the Calder Trophy, an award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. Seider’s calm demeanor was on full display as he started by saying he did not prepare a speech, so he was going with the flow and hopefully would not mess it up. With all due respect to host Kenan Thompson, Seider had the best one-liner of the night, saying his parents just got back from Croatia and thought vacation was more important than going to Tampa. Congrats, Moritz! 

Kadri’s Storybook Comeback

Regardless of your opinion on Kadri, you can’t deny how impactful he has been this postseason. He was the hero in Game 4, netting the controversial game-winning goal in overtime after the 31-year-old missed the last four games undergoing thumb surgery. His performance has him in the conversation for the Conn Smythe with 15 points in 14 games this postseason. 

Chris Snow Presents the Norris

One of the most heartwarming moments of the NHL Awards was when Chris Snow and his family took the stage to present the Norris Trophy. The Calgary Flames executive and his wife have been transparent about their experience with ALS since he received his diagnosis in June 2019. Snow told the media that it was a huge honor for his family to participate in the evening’s events. It was a classy move allowing them another platform to share their story. 

Andrew Brunette: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Imagine being Andrew Brunette right now. Your first head coaching opportunity, which came amidst the tumultuous circumstances of Joel Quenneville resigning in light of his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual abuse scandal, resulted in a Presidents’ Trophy and a Jack Adams nomination. But then, rather than removing your interim tag, the Florida Panthers hired Paul Maurice and, according to reports, invited you to come back as an assistant.

You’d probably have sore feelings and maybe a thing or two to say to Panthers GM Bill Zito about where he can take that assistant offer but is that the right move for Brunette? Let’s look at the pros and cons surrounding the decision that awaits the 16-year veteran.

Brunette Should Return as an Assistant

Brunette made all the right moves amidst his first season in the lead bench boss role (until the second round of the playoffs anyway, but we won’t dwell on that), but he’s still pretty wet behind the ears. He’s never been the head guy at any level of hockey and could still use some seasoning in an assistant’s role, particularly under the wing of another veteran coach like Maurice.

From a resume-building standpoint, staying in Florida makes sense, too. The Cats will return much of their 122-point roster from a year ago. Unless he makes a lateral move elsewhere to avoid stepping back in the pecking order, none of the existing vacancies in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, or Winnipeg offer the same immediate path to contention.

Brunette Should Move On

Here’s the thing about Brunette: no matter how things play out, the 48-year-old will land on his feet somewhere. The current openings may not offer the same win-now lineup (although the Bruins could be close). However, each situation carries individual appeal, and you couldn’t blame Brunette for being interested in them.

We’ve seen 12 openings come available since the start of the 2021-22 season, so opportunity could come knocking for Brunette regardless of where he ends up. And while it might seem like a poor career choice to give up a plum role on a winning team, there is something to be said for one’s pride. With all due respect to Maurice, only once in his 24-year career has he managed more than the 51 wins and 108 points Brunette had in his 75 games behind the bench last year.

By the Numbers: Game-Winning Goals

In his first game since having thumb surgery caused him to miss four games, Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri played hero. He netted the overtime goal to put the Avalanche one win away from their first Stanley Cup title since 2001. It was Kadri’s fifth game-winning goal of these playoffs, tied for the fourth-most all-time in a single postseason. Here are some remarkable numbers regarding game-winning playoff goals.

Nazem Kadri has provided the deciding goal five times this postseason for the Avalanche, who are one game away from a Stanley Cup title thanks to his overtime winner (Getty Images)

7 – Game-winning goals Tampa Bay Lightning center Brad Richards had (in 23 games) during the 2004 Playoffs, the most all-time in a single postseason. Colorado’s Joe Sakic (six in 1996) and Joe Nieuwendyk of the Dallas Stars (six in 1999) share second place on the all-time list. All three players won the Stanley Cup in those seasons. 

9 – Number of players, including Kadri, who scored five game-winning goals in a single postseason. The last player to do it was Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel in 2017.

15 – Games Kadri has played this postseason. Of the nine players in NHL history with five game-winning playoff goals in one year, that ties for the least amount of games played. Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux also had five GWGs in 15 games during the 1992 Playoffs.

2 – Players, out of the 12 total who have scored at least five game-winning goals in a single postseason, whose team didn’t win the Stanley Cup that year. Despite five game-winners from him in the 1991 Playoffs, Bobby Smith’s Minnesota North Stars fell in the Final to Pittsburgh. Fernando Pisani also had five in 2006 for the Edmonton Oilers, but the team lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Final.

3 – Number of overtime goals scored by one player during a single postseason. Shared by Mel Hill of the Boston Bruins (1939), Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens (1951), and Corey Perry with the Anaheim Ducks (2017).

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Stanley Cup Final Schedule

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