Welcome back for your Stanley Cup Monday edition of Links, News, and Notes. With the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche having punched their tickets to the finals, the festivities will get underway on Tuesday night. It’s rarely the case that the two best teams make it to the championship round, but it would be hard to argue against this year’s finalists. It should be great.
- Ken Wiebe has a good piece at Sportsnet breaking down some of the critical match-ups that could determine the outcome of the series. Nathan Mackinnon vs. Anthony Cirelli could be a bellwether for each club’s chances.
- Over at ESPN, Greg Wyshynski has a nice recap of what we’ve learned about the Tampa Bay Lightning during their run back to the Stanley Cup Finals
- Injuries will no doubt be a factor, as they always are, but it seems like Tampa will have Brayden Point back and the Avs might even see Andrew Cogliano and Nazem Kadri return to their line-up.
- Steven Stamkos has sometimes been overshadowed by his superstar teammates, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskyi or Victor Hedman, but his play this season, and this play-off run, has been a reminder of just how good he is.
- After Colorado swept the Oilers, Travis Yost over at TSN asked the question: How do you prepare for a team as good as the Avs? There’s no obvious answer, but starting with a goalie as good as Vasilevskyi is a good place to start!
- The Ottawa Senators are auctioning off their game-used Pride Tape with proceeds going to support You Can Play. We love to see it!
- Team Canada will meet Team USA in the finals of the women’s U18 World Championships. After a rocky round robin for the Canadians, they rode a spectacular goal midway through the third of their semi-final to get past Finland. Meanwhile, the US outlasted Sweden 3-2. The two titans of women’s hockey meet yet again in a major international final tonight.
- The recently eliminated New York Rangers have signed a one year deal with their promising young prospect Vitaly Kravstov who you may remember had been on loan to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL after he refused an assignment to the AHL. Another talented but perhaps temperamental youngster for Gerard Gallant to butt heads with? How could this go wrong?
- Speaking of controversial, apparently there’s some consternation in Edmonton over what to do about Jesse Puljujärvi. I put close to zero stock in Spector’s analysis, but it certainly seems like Ken Holland is debating whether he can pay the young Finn. If Puljujärvi is available, someone get Pierre Dorion on the phone NOW!