June 3 — Stanley Cup Blueprint & 3-Pointers

Yesterday’s NHL Score

Last Night’s News 📰

CLEAN SLATE JAKE: A day after one ex-Toronto Maple Leaf and current Carolina Hurricane bemoaned some late season injury woes that included an MCL tear, the Canes got some good news from another former Leaf. Jake Gardiner, who last played on May 19, 2021, announced medical doctors cleared him to resume his hockey career.

SUPER SUTTER: The announcements of NHL award winners continued on Thursday when Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter won the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach. In his first complete season at the helm in Calgary, the 63-year-old Sutter led the Flames to a 50-21-11 record (111 points) and a first-place finish in the Pacific Division.

TIME OUT BOOTH?: Denver’s football team is cheering on the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs, as the Broncos showed off their hockey knowledge during their organized team practice activities (OTA) on Thursday. The Broncos’ social media team asked players if they knew the meaning of hockey terms like “sin bin,” “light the lamp,” “drop the mitts,” and more. 

124 SECONDS: That’s all it took for the Avalanche to turn a 0-0 game into a three-goal lead. It started when Artturi Lehkonen tipped home a shot from the point before Josh Manson followed up with a rip from the top of the circle just 15 seconds later. Shortly after an Edmonton Oilers’ timeout, Mikko Rantanen finished off a two-on-one rush 1:49 after Manson’s goal to make it 3-0. Nazem Kadri provided the primary assist on all three goals as the Avs won Game 2 4-0. 

MASTERSON ANNOUNCED TONIGHT: Before the puck drops on Game 2 between the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, the NHL will reveal its 2021-22 Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy winner. Awarded annually, the Masterson Trophy goes to the player that exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. This year’s finalists are Zdeno Chara, Kevin Hayes, and Carey Price. 

Friday Favorites

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

McDavid vs. MacKinnon

We knew it would be hard to find a series more entertaining than the Battle of Alberta, but the hockey gods decided to shine down on us and give us the only matchup that could top it. On behalf of fans, we can confidently say that we are delighted to see Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid go head to head in the Western Conference Final. Both the Oilers captain and Avalanche forward have three points through two games. The best part of this series? One of these all-stars will be in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. What a time to be alive! 

A Goaltending Duel of Champions

Speaking of storylines, the main one out of the Eastern Conference Final is the goaltending matchup between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin. Vasilevskiy won the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and Conn Smythe Trophy in 2021, while Shesterkin is most likely securing some hardware of his own at the end of the month. Game 1 ended in favor of Shesterkin and the New York Rangers as they won by a final score of 6-2, but the Lightning have no reason to fret as Vasilevskiy is 17-0 in games after a loss since the 2020 Playoffs. Once Tampa Bay settles in, fans are in for a treat seeing two of the best goaltenders in the league duke it out. 

St. Louis Stays in Montreal

Montreal general manager Kent Hughes announced the Canadiens signed Martin St. Louis to a three-year contract to remain behind the bench. The former player took over for Dominique Ducharme on Feb. 9, 2022, and went 14-19-4 with the club. One player who benefited the most from working with St. Louis was Cole Caufield, who had 35 points in 37 games, including 22 of his team-leading 23 goals under the new coach. It will be exciting to see what the former Stanley Cup champion can do for the city of Montreal after a disappointing season. 

The Championship Blueprint

With the conference finals upon us, only the very cream of the NHL crop remains. And as there is no true Cinderella team among the bunch (sorry, 2020-21 Montreal Canadiens), it’s clear that these four teams still standing are just really, really good. Facing the elite caliber of the final four can be discouraging (“I have to stop Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl??”), but it can also offer valuable lessons.

The NHL is a copycat league, and the executives of fallen teams are eyeing this remaining quartet for possible roster-building inspiration. Here’s the blueprint that the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay Lightning have laid out (and it’s a whole lot easier said than done):

Started From the Bottom

The path from rebuild to contender is oft-taken, and these four teams have done it right. All four got enough lottery luck to land at least one No. 1 overall selection currently playing a significant role. Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), McDavid (Edmonton), Alexis Lafrenière (New York), and Steven Stamkos (Tampa) are all top picks who serve, to varying degrees, as core components of their clubs’ current successes.

Franchise D-Man

There is elite defensive talent represented within these last four teams, and it wasn’t simply a coincidence. Any list of the game’s top defensemen at the moment would include all of Cale Makar, Adam Fox, and Victor Hedman, each of whom is in this playoff round. Now, Darnell Nurse doesn’t quite fit the mold of franchise blueliner, but only five rearguards have averaged more ice time over the past two seasons than Nurse’s 25:18 per game.

Grit Grinders

Teams’ stars will always dominate the headlines, but the league has a rich history of hard-nosed grinders shining in their organization’s most significant moments. Sure, we remember the Steve Yzermans and Alex Ovechkins, but we also reminisce about the Darren McCartys and Joel Wards. Among this current crop, there is J.T. Compher and Darren Helm in Colorado, Zach Kassian with the Oilers, Ryan Reaves with the Rangers, and Corey Perry and Pierre-Édouard Bellemare with the Lightning.

Three’s Company

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had a goal and two assists Tuesday night in Colorado’s 8-6 Game 1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. It was the 23-year-old’s fourth three-point game of the 2022 Postseason and the sixth of his playoff career. Those six include a three-assist game against the Dallas Stars in 2020, a four-point night last year against the Vegas Golden Knights, a trio of three-point performances in the first round against the Nashville Predators, and Tuesday.

Only two defensemen in NHL history had six or more three-point playoff performances before the age of 24 before Makar, who turns 24 on Oct. 30, joined the club. By the time this postseason is over, he might pass these guys.

Paul Coffey (10)

Coffey, the sixth overall pick in the 1980 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, joined Edmonton as a 19-year-old and made his postseason debut in 1981, scoring a goal in each of his first three games, including a three-point performance in the third. His next such performance came in 1983, and he added two more (including a four-pointer) in 1984. The 1985 postseason was when the then 23-year-old Coffey broke out.

Paul Coffey was a high-scoring defenseman for the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers of the early 1980s (NHL.com)

That postseason, Coffey recorded a five-point game in Round 1 against the Winnipeg Jets, then a four and a six-point night in the second round against the Chicago Black Hawks. He followed that up with three straight games of three or more points against the Philadelphia Flyers to close out Edmonton’s Stanley Cup title. Coffey ended his Hall of Fame career with 19 instances of three or more points in the playoffs.

Ray Bourque (6)

Bourque, selected eighth overall in the 1979 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins, also began his career at 19. His first postseason (1980) included two three-point performances, but he wouldn’t reach three or more points in a playoff game until 1984 when he was 23.

While his team wasn’t the juggernaut that Coffey’s was, Ray Borque was still a prolific playoff scorer among defensemen (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

That 1984 Postseason was a productive one for Bourque, as he recorded three points in a game four times as the Bruins made a run to the Eastern Conference Final. The Hall-of-Famer, who finished his career with 1,579 points (410 goals, 1,169 assists) in 1,612 career games and 180 points (41 goals, 139 assists) in 214 postseason games, ultimately had 11 total three-point playoff games.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Brackets

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule