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May 30, 2017

Penguins Win Game One of 2017 Stanley Cup Final

The Pittsburgh Penguins escaped with a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in game one of the Stanley Cup final. 

The game was both weird and dull.  Maybe it was the lack of emotion as the Stanley Cup final lacks the conference rivalry? Maybe the two teams are not familiar enough with one another that they spent much of the night feeling each other out? I'm not sure, but for a series that promises a lot of excitement between two entertaining teams, this may have been the worst played game I've watched this post-season.

It was weird in that Pittsburgh scored five times on just twelve shots. That won't happen on Pekka Rinne again this series. At one point went Pittsburgh went 37 minutes of playing time between shots, and scored on both. 

The Penguins were so lackluster that they became the first team in NHL history (at least since 1958 when the stat was officially record) to go without a shot on goal in an entire period (period two) of any game played in the Stanley Cup final.

Pittsburgh was lucky to get out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, thanks mostly to a disastrous opening stanza for the Predators. It started with a disallowed goal by PK Subban due to a controversial missed off-side call. That was followed up by two quick Pittsburgh tallies and a late period fluke that saw the puck pinball wildly behind Rinne.

In the second and third period Nashville was the stronger team at both ends of the ice, eventually tying the game at three. They looked far from their best, either, but at least the Predators should know that they can play with the Penguins. On most nights they would have played well enough to win.

Cue Pittsburgh star rookie Jake Guentzel. With just a little over three minutes left the Omaha, Nebraska born Guentzel regained the lead for the home towners with his league leading 10th Stanley Cup playoff goal, and his first in nine games.  Only four other rookies in NHL history have reached double digits in goal scoring in the playoffs - Dino Ciccarelli (with a record 14 goals in 1981), Claude Lemieux, Jeremy Roenick and Brad Marchand.

Guentzel's goal was also a league-leading fourth game winner, which equalled a NHL rookie record set by Lemieux in 1986 and Chris Drury in 1999.

Playing on Sidney Crosby's wing should give Guentzel a shot at a couple more Stanley Cup rookie records. He now has 17 total points, just 4 shy of Ciccarelli's and Ville Leino's record of 21 points. He only needs one point to equal a record for most points by a US born rookie. Joe Mullen and Jeremy Roenick had 18 points in their rookie campaigns.

Despite their poor play, there is lots of good news for Pittsburgh.

Winning game one is seemingly vital to series success. Since the Stanley Cup final went to a best of seven format in 1939, the team winning game one has gone on to win the Stanley Cup 77.9% of the time, including in each of the last five years.

The other good news for the Penguins is that they probably have played their worst game of the series and got away with it.

Here's some Loose Pucks from the NHL's Morning Skate media release:

Nashville’s Ryan Ellis scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, tied for the League lead among defensemen with teammate Roman Josi . . . Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (1-0—1) and Sidney Crosby (0-2—2) registered their League-leading 25th and 22nd points, respectively, of the postseason . . . Predators forward Colton Sissons (1-0—1) picked up his 11th point of the playoffs (6-5—11 in 17 GP), one more than his total from the regular season (8-2—10 in 58 GP) . . . Penguins forward Nick Bonino (2-0—2), who posted the tiebreaking goal with 2:33 remaining in Game 1 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final vs. SJS, recorded his second career multi-goal postseason game (74 GP) and first since April 27, 2014 w/ ANA .

Game two of the Stanley Cup final goes on Wednesday night.

This Day In Hockey History: May 30th

1946 - Toronto Maple Leafs signed amateur Howie Meeker from the Stratford Seniors.

1979 - Don Cherry was named coach of the Colorado Rockies. The announcement came one week after he was fired by the Boston Bruins.

1985 - Edmonton Oilers beat Philadelphia 8-3 in Game 5 of the Finals to become the 1985 Stanley Cup Champions. Conn Smythe Trophy winner Wayne Gretzky scored a goal and assisted on three others to set single-year playoff records for assists & points.

1985 - Edmonton's Jari Kurri tied a Stanley Cup record with his 19th goal of the '85 playoffs. Kurri tied the mark set by Reggie Leach in 1976.

1991 - New York Rangers traded Brian Mullen and future considerations to San Jose in exchange for Tim Kerr.

1991 - Philadelphia Flyers traded Scott Mellanby and Craig Berube to Edmonton in exchange for Dave Brown, Corey Foster and Jari Kurri. They then traded Kurri and Jeff Chychrun to the L.A. Kings for Steve Kasper and Steve Duchesne.

1997 - Toronto Maple Leafs named Ken Dryden as the team's new President.

Happy Birthday to Jiri Slegr, Vic Ripley, Greg Joly, Wes Jarvis, Jackie Leclair, David Wilkie, Alexander Sulzer, Rick Heinz and Gilles Villemure.

May 29, 2017

This Day In Hockey History: May 29th

1973 - Los Angeles Kings obtained defenseman Bob Murdoch and forward Randy Rota in trade from Montreal, in exchange for a future first round draft choice (which the Canadiens used to select Mario Tremblay).

1984 - Los Angeles Kings named Pat Quinn as their new head coach, replacing Roger Neilson.

1992 - Pat Burns resigned as coach of the Montreal Canadiens, and later that same day was named the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1993 - Wayne Gretzky set a Stanley Cup record, with his 8th career playoff hat trick, and added an assist to lead the Kings to a 5-4 win at Toronto, in Game 7 of the Campbell Conference Finals. The win advanced the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.

1996 - Joe Sakic scored two goals and an assist as the Avalanche won 4-1 over the visiting Red Wings, eliminating Detroit from the playoffs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

1999 - Montreal Canadiens obtained veteran Trevor Linden from the New York Islanders, in exchange for the Canadiens first round pick in the 1999 NHL Draft.

2001 - Columbus Blue Jackets signed free agent Brett Harkins, who went on (during the 2001-02 NHL season) to become the first native of Ohio to play for the team.

2008 - Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon died in a motorcycle accident.

Happy Birthday to Jason Allison, Mike Keane, Nathan Horton, Brian Noonan, Art Chapman, Claude Loiselle, Jason Dawe, Alyn McCauley, Bill Carse, Alex Smart, Steve Mason and Jarmo Myllys

This Day In Hockey History: May 28th

1974 - In the NHL Amateur draft held in Montreal, the expansion Washington Capitals used the #1 pick overall to select Greg Joly.

1981 - Jean Ratelle announced his retirement from the NHL.

1987 - Philadelphia Flyers defeated the visiting Oilers 3-2, in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals forcing a decisive game 7.

2003 - Goalie Parick Roy announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons with Montreal and Colorado.

Happy Birthday to Mark Howe, Errol Thompson, Terry Crisp, David Perron, Doug Hicks, Red Horner, Jack Lynch, Ron Wilson, Pat Peake, Taffy Abel, Damian Rhodes, Gary Inness and Jim Hrivnak

May 27, 2017

This Day In Hockey History: May 27th

1955 - Chicago Black Hawks traded Dave Creighton, Jerry Toppazzini, John McCormack and Gord Hollingworth to Detroit, in exchange for Tony Leswick, Glen Skov, Johnny Wilson and Benny Woit.

1966 - The "Kings" was picked as the name of the new Los Angeles franchise in the NHL, scheduled to begin play in October 1967.

1975 - Bernie Parent shut out Buffalo 2-0 (his 6th and final career playoff shutout) in Game 6 of the Finals, as the Flyers won their second straight Stanley Cup Championship. Parent became the first back-to-back winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

1982 - Colorado Rockies franchise was sold to Dr. John McMullen, who moved the team to New Jersey, where they became known as the "Devils".

1993 - Wayne Gretzky scored a power play goal at 1:41 of overtime to give the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Finals.

1994 - Stephane Matteau scored the winning goal at 24:24 of overtime to lead the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Devils, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in New York. Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals vs Vancouver.

2004 - Brad Richards tied an NHL record with his sixth game winning goal of the 2004 playoffs, and added an assist as the Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 , in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Happy Birthday to Ray Sheppard, Darren Jensen, Richard Park, Ed Van Impe, and Evgeny Davydov.

This Day In Hockey History: May 26th

1966 - Chicago's Bobby Hull was named the winner of the NHL's Hart Trophy, as the league's MVP.

1976 - New York Rangers traded center Rick Middleton to the Boston Bruins, in exchange for Ken Hodge.

1977 - Quebec Nordiques defeated the Winnipeg Jets 8-2, to win the 1977 Avco Cup, as the champions of the World Hockey Association.

1978 - Vancouver Canucks hired Harry Neale as the sixth head coach in team history. Neale replaced Orland Kurtenbach.

1992 - Hartford Whalers named Brian Burke as their new General Manager, replacing Ed Johnston.

1997 - Montreal Canadiens hired Alain Vigneault as their new coach, replacing Mario Tremblay.

2004 - Florida Panthers named Mike Keenan as the team's new General Manager, and Jacques Martin as their new head coach.

Happy Birthday to Lorne Ferguson, Pat Riggin, Steven Rice, Louis Berlinguette, Ralph Nattrass and P.J. Stock

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