It's Getting To Be A Hab-it With Bolts

Lightning continue to shine. Win Game 2, heading to Montreal up 2-0. Olympic update. Sabres get their coach. Blackhawks news. Awards votes all public.

Form holds.

That's the two-word summary of the Lightning's relentless pursuit of Stanley.

Sure, the series now moves to Montreal where the noise will be loud and the hot dogs juicy. 

But that will help the down-two-games Canadiens as much as a Jeep going up against a heavy tank. 

The long and short of this mismatch of a Final Round is that the defending Champs are long on talent and Les Canadiens have more spirit than they have a winning formula. 

Sure they outshot the Bolts last night. No matter, they lost 3-1, and that's that.

From the get-go in this series, Carey Price had to be nothing short of invincible and maybe -- just maybe -- the Montreal miracle would continue. 

But after last night's combat, the Habs have learned what the Islanders and other challengers have; there's just too much strength up and down the Lightning lines to tip the scale the other way.

Sure, Marc-Andre Fleury won The Vezina but Andrei Vasilevskly is the world's best goalie and proved that again by frustrating the Visitors fusillade.

But there's another superstar in the making that's making it even more difficult for clubs taking on Tampa and that's third stringer Anthony Cirelli who scored another biggie last night.

Imagine, this Tony Boy is behind Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos on the Tampa Bay depth chart. If this fact of life wasn't so true, you'd have to say that it was insane. 

I know I'll be reminded that all can change when the clubs cross the border for Game Three. 

For now, we know one thing: and that is, since Montreal invaded the State of Florida, the Canadiens are oh-for-two when it comes to making playoff miracles.

In this tourney, four strikes and you're out.

But, for the Habs, if Strike Three happens in the next game, the old Brooklyn equation will hold for any Canadiens fan.


Stan’s Java Jive



THE JIVE: Both league leaders -- Gary Bettman and Bill Daly -- are making it clear that there's still doubt about NHLers participating in The Games. Blame it on the Pandemic, fallout or blame it on red tape having to be cut between the league and the assorted Olympic bodies. Blame it any where you want but as the league's leaders point out, "Time is running short" for a deal to be cut.


THE JIVE: This is one tale that proves that there is justice in hockey.

When Donny got the interim gig he turned the Sabres from the league's laughing stock -- or sad sacks, if you will -- into a club that at the very least could compete. The Swords will be better by a lot under Granato and especially if g.m. Kevyn Adams gets value once he finally unloads Jack (Get Me Outa Here) Eichel. 


THE JIVE: In his first interview in months, Jonathan Toews spoke with Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, and told him that he "absolutely" plans to be in the lineup on opening night. More excerpts: 

"I think a lot of things just came to a head. My body has been under so much stress for a long time. I’ve had some different times where I just hit the wall. I don’t think I ever really recovered the way I should. It’s kind of crazy to say you went through your 20s and never felt your best, but that’s what it was. So I think there are a lot of things that added up, just different stress factors and underlying issues that I’ve been dealing with, health-wise, plus catching COVID.

"I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity in my life to have that quiet, and that space, and that stillness,” he said. “I’ve been playing hockey year-round, on a year-round schedule, for as long as I can remember. Since I was a young teenager. And when you’re doing that, no one really respects the fact that you’re a human being. They look at you as this person who’s got it all figured out, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. … You look at guys like Seabs, (Corey Crawford) and Shawzie — those are pretty early retirements that came at a heck of a price. They gave a lot to this organization. I’m thankful that, knock on wood, it’s not ending that way for me yet. But if I would have kept going down that road I was going down, there’s no doubt it would have."


THE JIVE: The full ballots for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng, and Masterton trophies, as well as the All-Star and All-Rookie teams, were revealed by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

“This was an incredibly unique season to evaluate Awards winners,” said PHWA President Frank Seravalli. “When the NHL was forced to pivot to intradivision play by the COVID-19 virus, our organization also pivoted to ensure the fairest possible selection process. 

“We’re so proud of the countless hours our voters put into their ballots – researching, watching at the rink and at home, and gathering opinions from trusted sources to make sure we got it right.”


THE JIVE: According to Sportsnet's Eliotte Friedman, "There are rumblings Chicago is working on a potential Duncan Keith trade to either the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada. Word is Keith and team are working together to get him to a place he wants to go. We will see where this goes."

Keith has a no move clause in his contract, so he has the final say over his next team, if he indeed is traded.

The Blackhawks may be looking to free up cap space to potentially acquire defenseman Seth Jones or Dougie Hamilton via trade.

If he desires to play in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, or Winnipeg are the list of teams in that region.

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