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Five Conn Smythe candidates entering Cup Final

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 2:38 PM / Kings vs Rangers - 2014 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Resiliency and emotion have carried the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers into the Stanley Cup Final. But neither would be getting prepared to play Game 1 on Wednesday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) without some phenomenal individual performances.

The Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, won't be officially handed out until a champion is crowned either on or before June 18. Here are the top five candidates after three rounds:


Five reasons why the Blackhawks were eliminated

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The sting was etched upon the faces of the Chicago Blackhawks and hung on every word they spoke following a classic Western Conference Final that ended with a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 7 on Sunday at United Center.

After battling back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-7 series, the defending Stanley Cup champions finished their season one goal short of returning to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We were pretty close to getting to the big dance," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at how close we were, how competitive it was, and it's a tough League. It's a tough thing to do, to win the Cup. And I couldn't be prouder of our guys. The way we competed in some tough situations down 3-1 and [being] one shot away from going and trying to do it again."


Panthers able to speak with Canadiens' Gallant: report

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 1:14 PM / News


Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon received permission Monday morning from his Montreal Canadiens counterpart, Marc Bergevin, to speak with Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant about the Panthers' vacant coaching position, according to several media reports.

Gallant left Montreal for South Florida on Sunday, according to RDS, but the request for permission from Bergevin to negotiate with Gallant came from Tallon on Monday morning.

Tallon fired interim coach Peter Horachek at the end of the regular season after the Panthers went 26-36-4 under his watch. Horachek had replaced Kevin Dineen on Nov. 8, inheriting a team that had started the season 3-9-4.


Bob Fallen named USHL commissioner/president

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 12:00 PM / News


Bob Fallen, former Reebok-CCM Hockey marketer and businessman, has been appointed league president and commissioner of the United States Hockey League, it was announced Monday.

Fallen, who is the third USHL commissioner in the past 20 years, officially assumed his role Sunday.

"I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead the finest junior hockey league in the world," Fallen said in a statement. "The foundation built by my predecessors, league owners and the stakeholders throughout the hockey industry have made the USHL an important step along the developmental path for players, coaches and officials. I look forward to working with our staff, aligned partners and the international hockey community at large to build upon our success."


Rangers sign two to entry-level contracts

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 11:00 AM / News


The New York Rangers on Monday agreed to terms with goaltender Mackenzie Skapski and defenseman Calle Andersson on entry-level contracts. Terms were not disclosed.

Skapski, 19, appeared in 53 games with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League this season, posting a 28-20-4 record along with a career-best 2.70 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. Skapski had a career-high 10-game winning streak from Jan. 12-Feb. 11, with a 1.80 GAA and .940 save percentage over the span.

Skapski, a sixth-round pick (No. 170) in the 2013 NHL Draft, is 74-52-7 in 141 career WHL games with a 2.81 GAA, .909 save percentage and eight shutouts. He also has a 4-8 record in 15 career playoff appearances with Kootenay.


Martinez shows just how deep these Kings are

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- This run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings has been defined by words like resiliency and character, but also depth and talent.

The Kings advanced past the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks with a Game 7, 5-4 overtime win Sunday night at United Center, and the depth was on display in the extra session.


Rangers' speed to test Kings' depth, toughness

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 2:45 AM / Kings vs Rangers - 2014 Stanley Cup Final


The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings may need a little time to feel each other out when they meet in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Not only have the Rangers and Kings not played each other in more than six months, they haven't met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since New York's 3-1 series victory in the best-of-5 first round in 1981. Their only other playoff meeting was in 1979, when the Rangers swept a best-of-3 preliminary-round series.

The Rangers and Kings concluded their two-game season series before Thanksgiving, with each team winning in the other's building. The Rangers came to Staples Center for their second game of the season and left with a 3-1 victory that featured a 160-foot shorthanded goal by New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the third period on a clearing attempt that bounced past the pad of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

The Kings got a measure of revenge Nov. 17, winning 1-0 at Madison Square Garden. Since-traded backup goaltender Ben Scrivens outplayed New York's Henrik Lundqvist by stopping all 37 shots he faced, making rookie Tyler Toffoli's second-period goal stand up for the win.


First-period rally sparks resilient Kings in Game 7

Monday, 06.02.2014 / 1:39 AM / Winning Ingredients

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- So often before a Game 7 players from the two combatants will stress the importance of the first goal, and the all-time numbers in NHL history back up that theory.

This Los Angeles Kings group has defied convention on so many occasions during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs that rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory after yielding not only the first but the second goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks was a fitting conclusion.

"Obviously we're looking around after being down 2-0, saying this wasn't it for us, it wasn't going to end this way," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "Heck, we've battled back so many times this year, so many times so far in these playoffs. We said, Why not again [Sunday]?"


Blackhawks give up too many leads, lose series

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- When they look back at the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a critical eye, the Chicago Blackhawks are going to have an extra sting added to the end of their season.

Aside from finishing one shot away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final a second straight year, losing 5-4 in overtime of Game 7 to the Los Angeles Kings at United Center on Sunday night, the Blackhawks' inability to hold leads caught up to them.

The defending Stanley Cup champions couldn't shake a playoffs-long trend of coughing up leads in Game 7 against the Kings, frittering away leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the first period and 4-3 in the third. For the series, The Blackhawks saw nine leads melt away thanks to the persistence of the Kings and some defensive lapses and, at times, Corey Crawford's goaltending.


Kings show mettle in Game 7 win vs. Blackhawks

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- The San Jose Sharks thought they had the Los Angeles Kings down and out. The Anaheim Ducks thought the same thing. On Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks became the latest team to make the mistake of pronouncing the Kings dead.

In a memorable Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks took a two-goal lead in the first nine minutes. To most everyone, it looked like the Kings had finally run out of gas after rallying from a 3-0 series deficit against the favored Sharks and from a 3-2 hole against the top-seeded Ducks.

But this Kings team is like no other the NHL has seen.

"We never thought we weren't going to do it," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Two of their goals were pretty lucky, one from behind the goalie and the chip shot or whatever that was.

"We weren't going to let those kind of goals defeat us. We knew that we were going to get them back, get some dirty goals from crashing the net. That's basically how we won the game; we never gave up."

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season