Last Night’s News 📰
HE’S ALL THAT: Producer, actor, and comedian Kenan Thompson will host the NHL Awards show on Tuesday, June 21, in either New York or Tampa. It will be the first time the show will be live since 2019.
GETTING TO THE POINT: The Tampa Bay Lightning might be getting some help ahead of a crucial Game 5 against the New York Rangers, as Brayden Point could return to action. Point scored 14 goals in each of Tampa’s past two Stanley Cup runs and has missed the past eight games with a lower-body injury.
CENTER STAGE: Rangers centers Ryan Strome and Filip Chytil are game-time decisions for Game 5 against the Lightning. Strome did not play in Game 4 after sustaining a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 3, and Chytil left with an upper-body injury in the second period on Tuesday.
WEDNESDAY OR SATURDAY: That is when Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place, depending on if the Eastern Conference Final goes the full seven games. Should the New York Rangers or Tampa Bay Lightning close out the series in Game 6, the Final will begin on Wednesday, June 15. If Game 7 is needed, the puck will drop on Saturday, June 18.
Top Shelf Thursday – Top Available NHL Coaches
It is a fascinating time to be a hockey fan. Some of us are fully invested in our team continuing their journey to win the Stanley Cup, while others are running mock trades in preparation for the NHL Draft and free agent frenzy. In the midst of that, several teams are looking for a new bench boss, including the Detroit Red Wings, Vegas Golden Knights, and Philadelphia Flyers. Let’s look at some of the biggest (and most surprising) names available this summer.
On Monday, the Boston Bruins shocked the hockey world by announcing they parted ways with Bruce Cassidy after six seasons. It’s a puzzling move as the 57-year-old Ottawa native led his team to a 44–14–12 record for 100 points earning the Presidents’ Trophy in the 2019-20 season, which earned him the Jack Adams Award. He has coached his team to a postseason appearance consistently dating back to the 2016-17 season, registering 245 wins in 399 games with Boston. Bruins fans are livid (and rightfully so), but as we know, someone’s loss is someone else’s gain.
Before the Bruins stunned the world, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello baffled the masses when he fired Barry Trotz after four seasons with the club. He coached his team to back-to-back Eastern Conference Final appearances and won the Jack Adams Award in 2019. Although the Islanders missed the postseason this year, they climbed up the standings to finish fifth in the Metropolitan Division. Trotz confirmed that he has met with the Winnipeg Jets and Flyers, but multiple teams should be lining up to bring him aboard.
While Pete DeBoer may not be on the same level as the coaches listed above, he has a knack for coaching his team to a deep playoff run in his first season with the organization. This trend began in 2012 when he was behind the bench for the New Jersey Devils, leading his team to the Stanley Cup Final after going 48-28-6 in the regular season and finishing fourth in their division. DeBoer did it again in 2016 with the San Jose Sharks, then coached the Vegas Golden Knights to the Western Conference Final in 2020. If he can find himself working with a team like the Dallas Stars, we can see the 53-year-old earning his own Jack Adams Award.
Conference Finals Home Cookin’
Tampa Bay beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night to become the first conference final series since 1991 in which the home team won each of the first four games—and just the third in the last 40 years. After the host Rangers won 6-2 in Game 1 and prevailed 3-2 in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden, the Lightning got back into the series when it shifted to Amalie Arena, winning 3-2 in Game 3 before tying it up on Tuesday. This occurrence is so rare that we have to travel back to a different era of hockey to look at the last time it happened. With that in mind, let’s dig into the previous two conference finals in which the home team won the first four games and how those series turned out.
1991 Prince of Wales Conference Final
The last time the home team won each of the first four games of a conference finals series, the conferences had different names. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Final, with the top-seeded Bruins hosting the first two games of the series, beating Pittsburgh 6-3 in Game 1 and the second game 3-2 in overtime.
Pittsburgh enjoyed home-ice advantage in Games 3 and 4, winning both by a score of 4-1. Despite Game 5 being played back in Boston, the Pens routed the Bruins 7-2, then finished off Boston at home in Game 6 5-3 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where they beat the Minnesota North Stars in six games.
1985 Clarence Campbell Conference Final
The defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers met the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1985 Clarence Campbell Conference Final, winning the games in Edmonton with ease, 11-2 and 7-3, respectively. However, the Black Hawks fought back in Chicago, beating Edmonton 5-2 in Game 3 and 8-6 in Game 4.
Edmonton extended the streak of the home team winning to five, smashing Chicago 10-5 to take a 3-2 series lead, then flipped the script in Game 6, winning 8-2 on the road. They went on to win their second straight Stanley Cup title, beating the Philadelphia Flyers, who won the Presidents’ Trophy, in five games.
If history is any indication, the winner of Game 5 between the Rangers and Lightning will go on to the Stanley Cup Final. However, the NHL has evolved in the last 31 years and both teams have proven they can win big games at home and on the road. For the sake of hockey fans everywhere, we hope this goes the full seven!
Oilers’ Year-End Presser: Reading Between the Lines
On Wednesday, Ken Holland and Jay Woodcroft faced the media for the Edmonton Oilers’ year-end press conference after an exciting season that ultimately fizzled out with a 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final. Apart from optimism and hope, Holland and Woodcroft provided some news and a healthy dose of honesty while also offering messaging that contained the occasionally hidden meaning, as is often the case with these things.
To parse it all down, let’s examine some of the more telling soundbites from the presser and explore what they might mean:
What He Said: “I don’t think we have a number one goalie.” – Holland
What He Meant ‘Sorry, Mike Smith, but for us to move forward, we need you carrying the clipboard most nights… if you’re still here. Available netminders, we are open for business!’
On Roster Retention
What He Said: “I can’t keep this team together.” – Holland
What He Meant: ‘Don’t be mad when I get rid of some guys you like, Oilers fans. Also, so long, Tyson Barrie!’ (this one didn’t take much parsing)
On Evander Kane
What He Said: “[Kane] had a big impact on our team… We’ve got decisions to make, and we’ve gotta go through the process.” – Holland
What He Meant: ‘Here’s hoping there’s no bidding war and we can fit him in under the cap!’
On the Full-Time Head Coaching Job
What He Said: “We’re not satisfied.” – Woodcroft
What He Meant: ‘How about we skip the formalities, and you name me the full-time head coach already??’
Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket
Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers
Today’s NHL Schedule
- Today’s newsletter was edited by Kyle Knopp, with contributions by Ben Fisher, Kristy Flannery, and Brooke LoFurno.
- Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.
- Give us a hand spreading the Morning Skate! Please forward this email to a hockey-loving friend today.
- Want more ways to talk hockey with The Hockey Writers? Join the discussion on Discord!