Game Story: Bruins 1, Lightning 0

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Game Story: Bruins 1, Lightning 0

The complete story of the Bruins' 1-0 win over the Lightning, from pregame to postgame.

Sunday, May 21: Has Kessel changed?

Sunday, May 21: Has Kessel changed?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while finding it unbelievable that some people are questioning the heart of Isaiah Thomas at this point.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur with a column on Phil Kessel playing all of his cards right with the Penguins. It’s something he never did in an untenable Toronto situation where he and Dion Phaneuf were expected to be franchise players instead of the “third banana” type roles they were meant for on good teams with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.

That was very clear when he was with the Bruins early in his career, was not a good match with the hearty crew that ended up winning a Cup in 2011 and basically didn’t want to play for Claude Julien anymore after just three seasons. It was more clear when he pulled the same reluctant public figure card as Toronto’s high-paid star forward in the NHL’s biggest media market, and never did more than put up his numbers. Now in Pittsburgh he’s clearly well behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the pecking order, plays in a place where he can fade into the background a little bit without too many problems and a lot of his eccentricities are viewed as charming, or Phil being Phil, rather than Kessel being viewed as a bit of an odd duck or a malcontent.

But to this Bruins writer he’ll always be the guy that clashed with Julien over the stick that he preferred to use, clashed with Zdeno Chara on the ice for his work habits and was ultimately a player that wasn’t very popular at all in the Bruins dressing room despite the obvious talent and the courageous battle with cancer he waged during his first year in Boston. He’s obviously matured and is more well-rounded in some ways than his Boston days, but in many ways he’s the exact same Phil that doesn’t want to change for anybody or anything.

*Here’s the New York Islanders season in review after disappointing with a failure to get into the playoffs, and a big situation coming up with John Tavares.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen done for the playoffs after being diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome.” What a big blow to the Predators.  

*The Ottawa Senators are still looking to push the Penguins to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s obviously going to be a difficult task for them.

*Don Cherry and Ron MacLean had their Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, and tackled some hot topics like the Nashville crowd throwing a dead duck on the ice.

*Ryan Getzlaf addresses the fine from the NHL for using a vulgar slur on the ice, apparently aimed at nobody in particular according to the player.

*Here’s a set of statistics that effectively sums up the pathetic regular season put forth by the Colorado Avalanche.

*For something completely different: In an interesting rumor, the Mr. Robot show creator is apparently in talks on an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone movie.

Morning Skate: Time for Sullivan to coach Pens up

Morning Skate: Time for Sullivan to coach Pens up

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving two thumbs up to Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It doesn’t sneak up on you like the first movie did, but this one hits all the right notes once again with some great new characters added for good measure.

*The current play of the Pittsburgh Penguins is going to force Penguins coach Mike Sullivan into coaching them up and finding some strings to pull. The fact that they’re missing Kris Letang makes it all the tougher this time around.

*As the only Canadian team still left standing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ottawa Senators are going to add Canadian flags to their helmets.

*Down Goes Brown debates the issues of the week in the world of hockey.

*This will be Stan Bowman’s most difficult summer with the Chicago Blackhawks as he needs to find a way to jolt the current mix and deal with a situation where he’s consistently up against the salary cap every season.

*Craig Custance takes a look at the Eastern Conference Finals, and what the Senators are doing to hold down Sidney Crosby in this series.

*Speaking of a very Ottawa Senators-heavy morning skate, Sens fans are bristling at the notion that they cheer for a boring team that plays a dreadful 1-3-1 trap when it comes to entertainment value.

*Team USA fell in the first elimination round of the IIHF World Championships on Thursday in an upset defeat to Finland, continuing a long string of disappointing performances for the Americans in the spring international tournament. They haven’t even been to the Gold Medal game at the world championships since 1960, which isn’t in line with USA Hockey’s finishes at the Olympics or the World Junior tournament over the past 10-20 years. So, what’s the reason behind it? Here’s an article that attempts to explain it, but it’s pretty simple to me.

This isn’t a tournament that sends over America’s best, obviously, and instead, submits a roster of the best leftover players from the teams no longer alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That doesn’t make them unique among the other countries, but I just don’t think the American players view this as a particularly important tournament. I just don’t see the competitiveness there like you see at the Olympics, or at the World Juniors. At least this spring’s roster was decent enough with guys like Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin playing for Team USA and wasn’t the embarrassing no-show of US players that ended up on last spring’s bare-bones roster at the world championships. Auston Matthews and Frank Vatrano were the two best forwards on that team. That tells you how many American players declined to suit up in the Red, White and Blue.

Nevertheless, Team USA isn’t going to have more success at the world championships until they start to treat that tournament with just as much gravitas and import as the rest of the world clearly does. And a 2-0 loss to Finland after playing very well in the pool-play portion of the tournament feels like a pretty big choke job to me.

*For something completely different: In a study, it was found that journalist’s brains function at lower than the normal levels because of excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption. This doesn’t surprise me in the least, but I imagine it would have been much, much worse if this study had been taken 20 years ago.