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Shore, Manchester aim for franchise's first Calder Cup

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 1:42 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to

For a team that has dominated the American Hockey League from the start of the season, Saturday night will mark the Manchester Monarchs' first Calder Cup Final appearance in the franchise's 14-year history. Despite all the individual and team accolades, and the continued success in 2014-15, the top development affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings remains even-keeled, ready to take on anything.

"Whether we're up in a game or down in a game, everyone is still the same," Monarchs center Nick Shore said. "If we keep playing the way that we can, we still have a really good chance at the end of the night. It was a good series for us to sweep Hartford [in the conference finals] and that earned us the 10 days to rest and get ready for the next one."

After dispatching familiar foes in the Portland Pirates, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Hartford Wolf Pack, "the next one" is the 2015 Calder Cup Final against the Utica Comets, a team that they haven't played this season.

Two-way forwards Palat, Hossa ready to shine in Final

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 1:38 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

The Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game, is generally the province of centers.

In January, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper made a case for Ondrej Palat, who plays on the left wing, to break the run of centers winning the award for each of the past 10 years.

"I still believe Palat is the straw that stirs the drink on that line," Cooper said. "He's oozing with hockey sense and he's skilled. He is like Patrice Bergeron as a winger to me."

Opposite Palat in the Stanley Cup Final is Marian Hossa, another defensively skilled forward whom the Selke has eluded.

Each of these players, though, is key in their team's defensive schemes, and each will be relied upon in that capacity for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) as the Tampa Bay Lightning look to even up the series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Combine bike tests will push prospects to their limits

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 8:03 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Goaltender Luke Opilka offered a simple approach to the two stationary bike tests the players at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine will take part in at HarborCenter during the next two days.

"I haven't prepared ahead of time other than my regular training. But I'm going in there with the mindset to do my best and just ride until I drop; that's my plan," Opilka said.

He might not be alone in his approach.

DeGregorio to step down as president of USA Hockey

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

Ron DeGregorio will step down as president of USA Hockey after 12 years and four terms on Saturday with a legacy of excellence as one of the architects of the United States National Team Development Program.

Founded in 1996, the USNTDP is a two-year residency program for the top 16 and 17-year-old players in the United States. DeGregorio's vision was to build teams that can compete with the big boys of the world. Winning Olympic gold twice in 20 years (1960, 1980) wasn't enough. DeGregorio's mission was turning a miracle into a model.

"We wanted to have a program of excellence that set standards and something that people would have to compete against in terms of the most high-performance players to attract them," DeGregorio said. "I believe right now it's not a miracle when we win. Frankly it's a great disappointment when we don't win gold, let alone participate and contend very well. Our goal is to [win the gold medal] each and every tournament now. That's the perspective that I think is it a bit changed since the last two decades."

Farrish: Lightning got 'great education' in Game 1

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 11:22 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Final, has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.

Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.

The fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning learned in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final that they have nothing to fear as long as they play their game is a good thing, former NHL assistant coach Dave Farrish said. It should benefit them come Saturday, when they play Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Farrish called the Lightning's 2-1 loss on Wednesday "a great education for them." He also said it's great for their confidence to know that they can make the Blackhawks vulnerable.

Lightning strategy may force split of Toews-Kane line

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 4:26 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

TAMPA -- Entering the Stanley Cup Final, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were playing so well together, he saw no reason to split them up.

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have given him one.

The Blackhawks won Game 1 of the series on Wednesday 2-1, but the way the line of Toews, Kane and Brandon Saad was neutralized by the Lightning's top defensive pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, as well as the surprise use of Cedric Paquette as a checking center with Ryan Callahan on his wing, might give Quenneville something to think about heading into Game 2 on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Quenneville has used Toews and Kane on separate lines most of the season, with Marian Hossa playing with Toews and Kane lining up next to center Brad Richards. When that's the case, opposing teams are forced to pick their poison when deploying their best defensive players, particularly on the back end. When Toews and Kane are together, as they were in Game 1, that decision becomes much easier.

Lightning must find more offense in Game 2 of Final

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 4:24 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning tried to win a 1-0 game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. It didn't work.

Although the Lightning were happy with their defensive work for much of the 2-1 loss on Wednesday, they are going to need more offense as the best-of-7 series progresses. Game 2 is Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I think we had the chance to take that game in the first couple periods," coach Jon Cooper said Thursday. "We get that second one, we had chances. … We just couldn't get that second one. I felt if we got that second one, it would have put them away. We didn't. We let them hang around. It burned us."

After a strong start for the Lightning, which included Alex Killorn's highlight-reel goal and 10 of the first 13 shots on net, Tampa Bay struggled to find quality chances against Chicago and goaltender Corey Crawford.

Garrison: Playoff beard constant topic of conversation

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 4:04 PM / Player's Blog with the Lightning's Jason Garrison

Jason Garrison - Special to

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison will be blogging for periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final. In this edition, he talks about his beard, which has become a storyline during his team's long postseason run.

TAMPA -- My beard has gotten a lot of attention during our run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so I figured today for my blog I'm just going to lay it all out there to explain to you the evolution of the beard and what it means, and has done to me and for me.

The reason I'm doing this is I'm getting so many compliments on my beard, and even people who want to touch it. I've walked outside signing autographs for fans and I've had teenage guys who want to grab it. That's, well, interesting.

Lightning coach Cooper finds 2nd-year success again

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 3:52 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- There are two rules that must be followed by any team coached by Jon Cooper.

Rule 76: No excuses, play like a champion.

Rule 113: Don't look for opportunities, make them.

These should sound familiar if you're fans of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

"They're from the movie 'Wedding Crashers,'" Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio told, "which is hilarious."

They are among the 115 rules that serve as Vaughn's character's code of conduct in the comedy, released in 2005.

"They have symbolism for us," Cooper said.

Lightning's Boyle laments missed chance in Game 1

Thursday, 06.04.2015 / 3:16 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final must have felt like deja vu for Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle.

The Lightning took an early 1-0 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks on a goal by Alex Killorn, only to lose the lead and the game 2-1 on goals by Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette during a flurry in the latter stages of the third period.

Chicago leads the best-of-seven series 1-0 with Game 2 to be played at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, I guess so. That empty-netter was pretty lucky, but I'll take it.

— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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