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Lightning confident underdogs heading into Game 6

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 8:01 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- For the third time in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning will face elimination on the road in a game they'll enter as underdogs.

For a team that was relatively inexperienced when this postseason began, this situation is one they no longer feel uncomfortable in.

The Lightning trail the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, and Game 6 of the best-of-7 series is Monday at United Center (8 p.m., NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). Either Tampa Bay wins, or an offseason likely filled with disappointment and remorse about being so close to claiming the Stanley Cup begins.

These Lightning have faced this scenario before, though the stakes weren’t quite as high. Tampa Bay trailed the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in an Eastern Conference First Round series. The Red Wings had frustrated the high-powered Lightning with shutouts in two of the previous three games and had Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.

Avalanche center O'Reilly on trading block: report

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 6:46 PM / News

Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly is on the trading block, Sportsnet reported Saturday.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is believed to be asking for at least a “significant defenseman” in exchange for O’Reilly, Elliotte Freidman reported.

O’Reilly, 24, signed a two-year, $12 million contract last summer after he had 28 goals and 38 assists to help the Avalanche go from the worst record in the Western Conference in 2012-13 to a first-place finish in the Central Division in 2013-14. Negotiations, however, reportedly were contentious.

Versteeg responds for Blackhawks after tough start

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 6:44 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg met the media at United Center on Sunday, smirking and happy to play along with captain Jonathan Toews, who referred to him as "the new guy," at the press conference table.

There hasn't been a lot of face time for Versteeg at press conferences in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs; a turbulent postseason has bounced him in and out of the lineup since playing in all six of Chicago's games in the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators.

Despite his familiar name and face, Versteeg does seem like a new guy for the Blackhawks, who can win their third championship in six seasons with a victory in Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Thanks in part to Versteeg's effort on center Antoine Vermette's game-winning goal in Game 5 at Amalie Arena on Saturday, the Blackhawks have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. They have a chance to clinch a championship on their home ice for the first time since 1938, but the "new guy" is trying to take a measured approach.

Playoff-tested Blackhawks aim for third title since 2010

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 6:27 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- If it were left up to history to decide which team will win the Stanley Cup this season, the Chicago Blackhawks would just have to show up Monday night at United Center and would be crowned champions.

It obviously doesn't work that way. The Tampa Bay Lightning are not history. Far from it.

The Lightning are down 3-2 in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 6 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports), but they rallied from the same deficit against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round to advance. They also beat back the history stacked against them in the Conference Final to be the first team ever to defeat the New York Rangers in a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

Desjardins: Soccer keeps Blackhawks loose

Andrew Desjardins - Special to

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins will be blogging for periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In this edition, he explains why players use soccer to warm up before games.

CHICAGO – I know a lot of you have probably seen hockey players playing soccer to get warmed up for a game, and I love doing it, but I thought I’d explain how the game works for those of you who don’t know.

I can’t say it goes as far back as the beard thing, but playing soccer before the game has become a hockey tradition. It’s one of those things that’s just been done. I did it in the Ontario Hockey League, I did it in Laredo, Texas when I played in the Central Hockey League, I did it in American Hockey League in Worcester, and I did it in San Jose. I don’t know where it came from or what the history behind it is, but it’s one of those things where it seems like every single team does it.

Farrish: Extra day off helped Blackhawks defense

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 4:38 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 in seven seasons in the NHL.

Dave Farrish said he was curious to see how or if the extra day off between Games 4 and 5 in the Stanley Cup Final would benefit the Chicago Blackhawks' minute-heavy top-four group of defensemen.

He figured out quickly that they used the time wisely.

Whereas Farrish thought after Game 4 that defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were fatigued, he said he thought the opposite as he watched Game 5.

Goalie matchup: Inside Game 5 for Bishop, Crawford

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 2:04 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

A big part of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final has been the battle between 2013 Cup winner Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bishop returned for Game 5 after missing Game 4 with an unspecified injury. scouted the goalies before the series and is tracking their performances each game, identifying attack trends and shot quality. Kevin Woodley, managing editor of InGoal Magazine, uses Double Blue Sports Analytics software to chart goals and shots in each game. Here are his findings from Game 5, a 2-1 victory by the Blackhawks.

The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t get as many shots on Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in Game 5 as they managed when he was clearly hobbled in Game 3, but they did a much better job of making the big goalie move laterally more often.

Five of Bishop’s 36 saves came off lateral passes in Game 3, but after sitting out Game 4 to rest an undisclosed injury that seemed to cause him the most discomfort moving side to side, the Blackhawks welcomed him back to the crease by forcing him to make eight of his 27 saves in Game 5 after lateral passes. After seeing 20 clean shots in Game 3, Bishop faced 11 clean looks Saturday.

Lightning, Blackhawks goalies create key sequence

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 11:14 AM / "Obvious Choice" Moments Staff

With each of the five games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final decided by one goal, the margin for error has been razor thin. That was evident in Game 5 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, when a couple of goaltending gaffes helped decide the course of the game and perhaps the remainder of the series.

During a sequence early in the first period, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford erased a mistake of his own doing, the Lightning lost a key player, and Chicago forward Patrick Sharp cashed in on a big mistake by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop. It added up to a 1-0 lead and a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks, who lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and are in position to win the Stanley Cup in Game 6 at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

It started when Crawford played the puck to the left of his net and his outlet pass hit Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Crawford stopped Kucherov's shot at an open net with his stick to deny Tampa Bay the first goal of the game. In the process, Kucherov collided with Crawford, crashed shoulder first into the post, and left after three shifts 5:22 into the game and did not return.

Lightning's Drouin could play bigger role in Game 6

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 10:22 AM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin has been an afterthought for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The third pick in the 2013 NHL Draft has played in five games and has a minus-6 rating.

But Drouin could be a major piece of the Lightning's lineup in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) if forward Nikita Kucherov is unable to play.

Kucherov left Game 5 in the first period after he slammed into the goal post chasing after a loose puck. Chicago won 2-1 in Game 5 at Amalie Arena on Saturday and has a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. Kucherov did not return and Lightning coach Jon Cooper had no further information on his status.

Physical defenseman Zboril adapted well in QMJHL

Sunday, 06.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When European players come to North America, there's always an adjustment to the style of hockey played on this side of the Atlantic.

In the case of Czech-born defenseman Jakub Zboril of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, scouts didn't need long to see he would do just fine on the smaller rink with the more physical play.

Zboril, a 6-foot-1, 184-pound left-shot defender, had 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games. As skilled as he was offensively, he also had 73 penalty minutes and never backed away from physical play. NHL Central Scouting ranked him No. 12 on its final ranking of North American skaters for the 2015 NHL Draft.

"We think he's a solid two-way player," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "His game with the puck, without the puck, I don't know there's too many holes in his game. … He's a solid two-way guy that these are the type of guys you see playing in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs."

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