NEW YORK, NY – The Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup Champions again, thanks to the refs handing them a game six victory. The Predators had a good goal disallowed because of an early and errant whistle in the second period. The game was knotted at zero until the Penguins scored with a minute left in the third period to take the lead and the Cup.
Former New York Ranger Carl Hagelin scored an empty netter to ice the game with less than a minute left and the Penguins hoisted their second Stanley Cup in a row. Nashville had a great run in the playoffs and it’s a shame they lost the way they did. They deserved better… Hockey deserved better.
The refereeing in the playoffs had been pretty good. For the most part, the zebras let the players play. But all of that was undone when one referee was out of position and blew the whistle on a clearly loose puck that ended up in the back of the net. Now the Penguins get to celebrate again as PK Subban and the Preds are left to wonder what could have been. With that, the NHL’s playoffs ended and the third season began.
The off-season in swing now, and the Rangers didn’t waste any time in making a big move. With the imminent expansion draft, the Rangers looked to protect some assets by buying out the aging and declining Dan Girardi. The longtime Rangers blue-liner had a good career with the team but had been in a steep decline over the last few years. The move makes me think the Rangers are making a serious attempt at keeping Brendan Smith on Broadway. Smith proved to be one of the Rangers’ only reliable defensemen down the stretch and he could, along with Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei, form the backbone of a stout Blueshirts defensive core.
Brendan Smith won’t come cheap and his agent has said that the 28-year old isn’t going to give the Rangers a hometown discount. I’m hoping the Rangers can make a deal with Smith before free agency starts on July 1st. We’ll find out more about the Rangers’ future plans on Sunday when the teams release their lists of protected players for the upcoming expansion draft. There are rumors that the Rangers might also buy out Marc Staal’s inflated contract and are looking to trade Derek Stepan.
It will definitely be a new-look team next season. They are a team that has done a great job over the last decade of bringing in talent to stay relevant in a tough division. They’re always retooling an never rebuilding, for better or worse. It’s meant that the Rangers keep a good team on the ice to keep fans in the seats. But it’s a method that ensures the team is good but not great most seasons.
They haven’t had one of the rebuilding periods, like the Penguins had a decade and a half ago. The team almost left Pittsburgh because the fans weren’t turning out to watch a terrible team play. Then some draft sorcery landed them some guy named Sidney and they have three Stanley Cups to show for it. Now the Oilers and Maple Leafs are finding some success with the same formula.
Stay tuned for more as the NHL’s third season really heats up in the coming days. Who will be protected? Who will be poached by the Vegas Golden Knights? What will our teams look like when the dust settles in July? Only time will tell.
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