Canadiens Extend the Series, Bettman Avoids the Topic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Canadiens Extend the Series, Bettman Avoids the Topic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Yesterday was a difficult day for the hockey world with the sudden and tragic loss of Matiss Kivlenieks. The Stanley Cup Final continued in Montreal as the Canadiens tried to avoid being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but with the news of Kivlenieks fresh in the hockey community, we took a moment to recognize his life and impact on others around him.

•   A moment of silence held for Kivlenieks before the puck drop in Game Four.

•   24 years old. Damn.

•   As the game started, the Canadiens were being dominated in shots and scoring chances by the Lightning, but Carey Price was able to keep the Lightning off the board. With shots on goal favoring the Lightning 11-1 heading into the final five minutes of the opening period, of course the Canadiens would find their opportunity to take the game’s opening lead.

•   Josh Anderson scoring his fourth goal of the postseason gave the Canadiens the 1-0 lead.

•   Tampa Bay would tie the game 1-1 late in the second period to give us some much-needed drama in a rather less-than-dramatic Final series so far. In the third period, two players who were inserted back into the lineup for the Canadiens made their biggest impacts of the postseason.

•   Jake Evans fed the puck to Alexander Romanov and he found the back of the net through traffic in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy to give Montreal the 2-1 lead. Evans’ first assist of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Romanov’s first goal of the postseason had the Canadiens leading in the third period.

•   That would be until Pat Maroon, seeking his third-straight Stanley Cup Championship, tied the game late in the third period with his second goal of the postseason.

•   In a postseason that has been dominated by big name stars like Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, it would make sense that one of the more tense games in the Final would come down to players like Pat Maroon and Josh Anderson.

•   Speaking of Anderson, the game would head to overtime tied 2-2. With Shea Weber taking a four-minute minor penalty in the final minute of regulation, the Canadiens were forced to kill-off the penalty to end regulation and to start the overtime. Somehow they were able to kill all four minutes and just moments later, Josh Anderson had a breakaway attempt…

•   Following up his first effort with an incredible second effort, Anderson scored his fifth of the postseason and second of the game to give the Canadiens the 3-2 win in overtime of Game Four and avoids getting swept on home ice. Needless to say, Montreal was stoked for their first win in a Stanley Cup Final since 1993.

•   Following the 3-2 overtime win, the Series will now head back to Tampa with the Lightning still leading the series 3-1. Maybe the Mayor of Tampa will get her wish after all. Or maybe it’s the start of one of the biggest jinxes in NHL history…

•   With the overtime goal last night, Anderson adds his name to a list that includes some absolute hockey legends.

•   Also making his mark with the Canadiens in these Stanley Cup Playoff has been rookie Cole Caufield, who will remain a rookie for next season too. Caufield recorded two assists in Game Four last night and ranks third on the team in points with 12 in 19 games.

•   Hockey never fails in the superstition category…

•   Not only did Josh Anderson’s overtime goal extend the Stanley Cup Final, it also extended the NHL on NBC coverage for at least another game.

•   On the broadcast last night, with the potential for it to be the final game played on NBC sports, the network said goodbye to the league as best they could. Take it away, Doc…

•   For all the guff that the network has taken during these Stanley Cup Playoffs for their noticeably lackadaisical efforts as they head out the door, the NHL on NBC product for the last 15 years has been something to behold in the sport. So many memories are tied back to how NBC broadcasted the games and told the stories of the players on the ice. For many, the NHL being on NBC has been all they’ve known. While it’s exciting to see what is ahead for the league with ESPN and Turner, leaving behind NBC will take some getting used to.

•   While the American broadcast on NBC was saying farewell, the Canadian broadcast on Sportsnet had its own moment, or a missed moment, last night. In an on-air interview with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean did not bring up the sexual assault, abuse, and harassment allegations and lawsuits being brought upon the Blackhawks and former video coach Brad Aldrich.

•   Bettman, along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, addressed the media ahead of the Stanley Cup Final and made a statement at that time about the situation with the Blackhawks. That likely served as the ONLY time the league will make remarks of any kind on the situation.

•   The outrage online over MacLean’s lack of questioning to Bettman about the Blackhawks is completely understandable. that is a moment for the Commissioner of the NHL to have his feet put to the fire on a HUGE issue that is only going to get bigger the more less is said about it from the league. MacLean is a major figure in Canadian hockey media and his lack of questioning to Bettman can open the door to criticism that he was soft on the league’s Commissioner.

•   All of that can be true, but at the same time, it’s likely this interview for Sportsnet never happens if the Blackhawks questions are on the agenda. I’ve worked in television production, I’ve been in those pre-interview meetings with guests who have controversial issues surrounding them, there’s a 100% chance that the idea of MacLean grilling Bettman was talked about. There is also a 100% chance that at some point, Bettman or someone from the league’s PR department, said absolutely not to asking those questions.

•   Could MacLean have gone off-script? Sure. But that’s a decision that could have made for an incredibly unfortunate moment for Bettman, MacLean, or for Sportsnet. Should the topic have been covered? Yes, 100%. But I can see exactly how and why it was not. For that, I can’t put so much of the blame on MacLean.

•   In other Blackhawks news, it appears Russian “prospect” goaltender Ivan Nailmov is heading back to the KHL after a season with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.

•   I would imagine this effectively ends Nalimov’s opportunities with the Blackhawks. Just move on already.

•   A happy Blackhawks birthday to Steve Sullivan, who turns 47 today!

•   This may be the best moment of Sullivan’s Blackhawks career, but it is an all-time classic.

•   Side note, those black third sweaters need to make a full-time comeback.

•   That will do it for today, hope you all enjoy your Tuesday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.