Some Monday musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:
The AHL Calder Cup West final will begin with the Texas Stars playing host to the Toronto Marlies on Friday. In the East, the St. John's IceCaps await the winner of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins series that the Penguins lead 3-2.
The 2014 world championship will conclude with the gold-medal match in Minsk, Belarus on Sunday.
The Memorial Cup final will be contested in London, Ont. on Sunday.
Is Price right?
The big question to be answered on Monday will be whether Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price will be in goal for Game 2.
He was shaken up in a second-period collision with New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider in the East final opener on Saturday. The Canadiens goalie did not practice with his teammates on Sunday and Montreal coach Michel Therrien did not shed much light on whether Price would be ready.
Meanwhile, Canadiens fourth-line forward Brandon Prust spoke out about his former teammate Kreider's actions.
"Whether it's on purpose or accidental, he ran him pretty hard," Prust said. "Everybody thinks it was accidental, but we call it accidentally on purpose.
"He did nothing to really avoid him. We're in the NHL. We know how to fall, how to not put our skates first when we fall. He did the same thing against [Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre] Fleury in the last series. I mean he's not doing anything to avoid him. It's not totally intentional, but he doesn't do anything to lighten it up a bit."
Rangers veteran Brad Richards came to Kreider's defence.
"I've never seen a hockey player that can score an important goal on a breakaway and would rather run into a goalie or figure out a way to hit a goalie," Richards said. "He's trying to score a goal. If you've watched him, he's a pretty fast, big player. When he gets going, it's hard to stop sometimes."
(Editor's note: Less than a hour after this was published, Michel Therrien revealed that Carey Price is out for the Eastern Conference final, at least.)
Teammates mourn together
Martin St. Louis was there for his former Tampa Bay Lightning teammate when Dominic Moore's wife Katie pass away in January 2013 from a rare form of liver cancer. Moore has been by St. Louis' side since his mother France passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 63 earlier this month.
On Sunday, the Rangers attended the funeral of France St. Louis, a day after they opened the East final with a 7-2 victory in Montreal against the Canadiens.
"Marty and I have a lot of respect for each other," Moore told the New York Daily News. "Over the last few years getting to know each other we've gotten close. Obviously he was there for me and it's nice that we're here for him this weekend. I think one thing he said to me is that he understands better what I went through having gone through something similar myself. That's something we can share and come closer through.
"Obviously everyone goes through different experiences and I don't know what everyone's gone through on a personal level necessarily. But certainly I can understand some of the emotions that Marty's father and Marty and those people are feeling."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews leads all playoff performers with four game-winning goals this spring. He became only the fourth Chicago player in Blackhawks history to score at least four game winners in a postseason. The others were Dustin Byfuglien (five in 2010), Darryl Sutter (four in 1985) and Bobby Hull (four in 1971).
Here are the leading active players with the most career game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs:
Jaromir Jagr 16 (202 games)
Patrick Marleau 15 (147 games)
Daniel Briere 13 (119 games)
Johan Franzen 12 (107 games)
Daniel Alfredsson 11 (124 games)
Teemu Selanne 11 (130 games)
Marian Hossa 10 (164 games)
Jonathan Toews 10 (87 games)
Money in the Brookbank
Chicago Blackhawks veteran defenceman Sheldon Brookbank has made stops in pro hockey in Mississippi, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Lowell and Anaheim before he became a Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks a year ago.
He's played more in the Blackhawks playoff run this spring (six games compared to just once last year), but just to get to the NHL the 33-year-old Brookbank beat the odds. He not only went undrafted as a junior, he made the jump from the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the ECHL.
Brookbank credits fellow Saskatchewan native and current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Bob Woods for giving him a chance to play pro hockey. Brookbank is from Lanigan, Sask. Woods is from nearby Leroy.
Woods' youngest brother Lance played for the Broncos, so he offered Brookbank a roster spot when Woods was in his first year as head coach of the Sea Wolves.
Brookbank's inspiration, however, was his older brother Wade. Wade also made the jump from the SJHL to the pro ranks.
"I credit Wade for paving the way," Sheldon said. "He climbed his way out, too. It wasn't the easiest route, but I got to where I want to be. It's all been worth it. I have no complaints whatsoever."
The nice part of this story is that Wade has been along for the ride over the past few weeks. Wade and his wife live in Chicago. At 36, he attended Blackhawks training camp last fall and as a veteran player has mentored the organizations young defencemen with the AHL Rockford IceHogs this season.
"It's fun living in the same city as him," Sheldon said. "Whenever a young guy got called up this year, they would tell me stories about [Wade]."
Old and new
In just three-and-a-half seasons running the Guelph Storm, former NHLer Scott Walker, 40, has pushed the right buttons as a head coach. He steered his team to the OHL championship this spring and a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Storm's first game at the Memorial Cup tournament on Saturday.
When Storm general manager Mike Kelly hired Walker halfway through the 2010-11 season, Kelly also brought in veteran coach Bill Stewart to assist the rookie head coach. Walker and Stewart may seem like an odd couple, but they have been good for each other.
Stewart, 56, has OHL titles with the 1996-97 Oshawa Generals and 1999-00 Barrie Colts and guided to the 1997-98 Saint John Flames to the Calder Cup final. He's also won a championship in Germany.
"He's been great," Walker said. "We laugh at how our paths have crossed and how we got together. Not many people would have put us together. He's a very smart hockey man.
"He's a little bit older than me and with me fresh out of the NHL I've learned from him and he's learned from me about how the new era player has to be communicated with. I've learned the part of [from him] on the game preparation part and practice schemes.
"I've enjoyed working with him, not just him, but also [Storm assistant coach] Todd Harvey. He's the only change we've made to the coaching staff. So he may be the key," Walker said jokingly.
By the Numbers
5 - Consecutive Game 7 wins for goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers over the last three playoffs to become just third team in league history to post that many Game 7 wins in a row behind the Detroit Red Wings (1949 to 1964) and Boston Bruins (1983 to 1994).
5 - Wins in five games for the Kings when they have faced elimination this spring.
6 - Game 7s so far in the 2014 NHL playoffs, one short of the record set in 1994 and matched in 2011.
9 - Times in the last 11 playoffs a California-based team has advanced to the West final.
11 - Wins in a row for the Blackhawks in Games 5 through 7 in their last six playoff series.
87 - Goals in 89 games for Val d'Or forward Anthony Mantha this season. The breakdown for the 19-year-old Detroit Red Wings prospect has been: 57 in 57 regular-season games; five in 7 games for Canada at the 2014 world junior; 24 in 24 QMJHL playoff games and one in one Memorial Cup outing so far.
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