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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Cup winner, Backes' future, Ducks' coaching search

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the June 12 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday throughout the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

 

Who do you predict will win Game 7 on Wednesday, and why? -- @nyrprpokemon

Funny you should ask, because the NHL.com staff covering the series collaborated on a prediction roundtable that was published Tuesday.

Provided you clicked on the link and read the roundtable, you now know my prediction, that the Stanley Cup will be handed to Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for the second time in his career.

I picked the Bruins to win the series in seven games before it began because I felt they were as good at responding to adversity as the St. Louis Blues and they had the better goalie. We've seen that play out through six games. Boston's response in Game 6, a 5-1 win, was indicative of a championship team. Backs against the wall after losing Games 4 and 5, the Bruins relied on Tuukka Rask (28 saves) and took advantage of the Blues' mistakes, including scoring on a 5-on-3 when Ryan O'Reilly was in the box for shooting the puck over the glass and Brayden Schenn was with him for an unnecessary boarding penalty on Joakim Nordstrom. They also scored directly off a turnover and didn't give the Blues a chance to regain momentum after O'Reilly made it 3-1 with 7:59 remaining in the third period. David Pastrnak scored 2:05 later to make it 4-1.

The goalie and special teams will make the difference in Game 7. Rask has a .925 save percentage (13 goals on 173 shots) and a 2.16 goals-against average in the series. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington has a .901 save percentage (17 goals on 172 shots) and a 3.07 GAA. He was pulled in Game 3 and has allowed at least four goals in two games. Rask has completed every game and hasn't allowed more than three goals in any game. Boston is 7-for-23 on the power play; St. Louis is 1-for-18.

Boston 3, St. Louis 1.

Video: Advantage of Bruins' Game 7 experiences

 

Has any other team come back from multiple 3-2 deficits in the same playoff year to win the Cup? Game 7 prediction? -- @BRGNYRFan

You already saw the prediction, but the answer to the first question is yes.

After doing so in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins can become the seventh team in NHL history to come back from down 3-2 in a best-of-7 series multiple times in a single postseason.

The last team to do it was the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who won the Cup. The Kings trailed 3-0 in the Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks. They also trailed 3-2 in the second round against the Anaheim Ducks after losing Games 3-5. Los Angeles then won in seven games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final before defeating the New York Rangers in five games, with three victories coming in overtime, in the Cup Final.

The 1971 Montreal Canadiens are the last team to come back from down 3-2 in the Cup Final after trailing 3-2 in an earlier round.

The Bruins, by the way, are trying to become the ninth team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after trailing 3-2 in the Cup Final. The others are the 2011 Bruins, 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, 2001 Colorado Avalanche, 1971 Canadiens, 1964 Maple Leafs, 1950 Detroit Red Wings and 1942 Maple Leafs.

 

Do you think the Bruins will be able to trade David Backes in the offseason? -- @jmshannon95

Possibly, but if the Bruins want to move on from Backes, I lean more toward them having to bite the bullet and buy out the remaining two seasons on the five-year, $30 million contract he signed July 1, 2016. It's going to be hard, though I'd never say impossible, for the Bruins to trade Backes because other teams see what the Bruins see, which is a 35-year-old passionate, physical forward who doesn't have the same skill or speed he used to have. The Bruins could entice a team to take Backes if they retain some of his salary in a trade, but they would likely have to attach an asset, be it a player off the roster, a top prospect or a draft pick, to make it work. Do they want to do that? Is it worth it to them? Would it be better for them to have dead money against the NHL salary cap from Backes in the form of a buyout or a trade? Or is it better to keep Backes and try to use him in a fourth-line role or as a 13th forward? He's been effective this season when they've brought him back after scratching him. If that's his role, then so be it. He's expensive for that role, but that's what they signed up for when they signed a 32-year-old bruising player with a lot of miles on him to a five-year contract.

Bottom line, it's not an ideal situation with Backes, and the scenario the Bruins are in now is basically the reason the Blues didn't want to re-sign him to a long-term contract three years ago.

 

Who do you think the Anaheim Ducks hire as their next coach? Think it happens soon? -- @ChrisJK_21

I thought it would have happened already. It's surprising that it hasn't, but clearly general manager Bob Murray is taking his time with this massive decision. The Ducks' next coach has to take them through a period of transition, away from what they once were and into a new regime of getting younger, faster and more skilled, all the while maintaining their identity of being a physical team.

I think Dallas Eakins is the best choice. He has been in the organization coaching San Diego in the American Hockey League. San Diego has been good. It reached the Western Conference Final of the Calder Cup Playoffs this season. Eakins has coached a lot of the young players the Ducks will try to use next season and beyond. He has a leg up on knowing them as players, understanding whose game might be suited for the NHL, where to put them. He has also been in the NHL, albeit in an unsuccessful 113-game stint with the Edmonton Oilers from 2013-15. He insists he's learned from that, and his four years in San Diego have helped him grow as a coach. Coaches have had success coming back to the NHL from the AHL in recent years. Just look at the Cup Final, with Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and Blues coach Craig Berube. Each had a stint in the AHL after his first NHL coaching job went south. They returned from the AHL as better coaches. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did the same. Could Eakins join them? The Ducks may bet on it.

Video: Anaheim Ducks are on the hunt for a new head coach

 

What moves do you see the New York Islanders making this offseason? -- @eriic_1995

The first thing they'll do is re-sign forward Anders Lee, their captain. The Islanders can't lose a captain to free agency for a second straight year after John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs in 2018. There is still time to get a contract done. The window for pending unrestricted free agents to start talking to teams opens June 23. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has always said if you have time on your side, use it. He's using it. From everything I know of Lee, he wants to stay with the Islanders, but you can't blame him if he wants to see what else could be out there for him and maybe try to use it as leverage for a better contract from the Islanders. He's earned that right.

Beyond Lee, it's a question of what they do with goalie Robin Lehner, who is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and the Masterton Trophy. If the Islanders think they can sign Sergei Bobrovsky, they'll wait on Lehner. They may learn that in the interview period. If it's a no on Bobrovsky, they can swing back to Lehner, but the danger is Lehner can also talk to other teams at that time, and if he feels the Islanders are looking for something better, he could try to find something different too. The other thing to consider is the future of Russian prospect Ilya Sorokin, who is signed in the Kontinental Hockey League through next season. If the Islanders view Sorokin as their goalie of the future, they won't want to sign another goalie to a four- or five-year contract. Lehner might be able to get at least a four-year contract on the open market. Ultimately, the Islanders have to get a goalie under contract for at least next season to share the net with Thomas Greiss. If it's not Lehner or Bobrovsky, their other options are Semyon Varlamov, Mike Smith, Cam Talbot, Brian Elliott and maybe Petr Mrazek, if he doesn't re-sign with the Carolina Hurricanes.

I think the Islanders will move away from right wing Jordan Eberle and try to find a replacement either in the UFA market or through a trade. They need more scoring. Eberle, with 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 78 games this season, didn't provide enough.

There has also been talk of trading defenseman Nick Leddy. I'm not sold on that one. Leddy is an elite skater and puck carrier who had a strong season, especially defensively. I'd leave him be unless he's part of a bigger trade to address multiple areas, especially top-six scoring.

It will also be interesting to see what they do for a No. 3 center behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson and ahead of Casey Cizikas. Valtteri Filppula played well in that role this season, but he's 35 years old and if he wants a multiyear contract, the Islanders might have to look elsewhere, either in house or outside the organization. If he's willing to take another one-year contract, he fits.

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