Hurricanes Reach the Cup Final After All, Back and Forth with Duncan Keith, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Hurricanes Reach the Cup Final After All, Back and Forth with Duncan Keith, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

We said it before Game Four and we were wrong. But I’ll still say it again now before Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final tonight, it just feels like a matter of time before the Lightning close this out. They had the opportunity in overtime in Game Four, but the Canadiens were able to find the game-winner and extend the Series. Now heading back to Tampa Bay, to the delight of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Montreal will have to pull out some more magic to get the series back to the Bell Centre.

•   Maybe all they need to do is force overtime for the next three games?

•   Although, that seems not only highly unlikely, but the numbers don’t favor the Canadiens in this very situation against the Lightning. Tampa Bay holds a 3-0 record in these Stanley Cup Playoffs following a loss in overtime on the road, outscoring their opponents 13-6 in the process.

•   But the Lightning are not taking the Canadiens lightly, as is evidenced by Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper’s assessment of the Canadiens following the Game Four overtime loss.

•   High praise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be categorized as a team as a “pain in the ass.”

•   Heading into last night, there was a chance that Game Five could be in jeopardy with the potential for Hurricane Elsa to reach the Tampa-St. Petersburg area overnight.

•   Well, it may have arrived as Hurricane Elsa, but it has left as Tropical Storm Elsa. Tampa Bay seems just fine.

•   You’ll remember the last time the Lightning played in the Stanley Cup Final with the Cup in the building and there was hurricane-like conditions…it didn’t end well for Tampa in 2015. Might be a good omen for the Canadiens.

•   You know that we’ve talked a lot about the importance of the NHL Entry Draft this offseason for the Chicago Blackhawks and have placed a lot of focus on the 11th overall pick. But the Lightning are a testament to the depths of scouting and the importance of not only hitting on your early draft picks, but also your late-round ones.

•   Drafting well is only one part of building a competitive team and the Blackhawks in recent years have looked better in their drafting strategy, as well as being able to sign European and undrafted talent, but it’s going to take a grade A draft this summer to help move the Blackhawks forward in their rebuilding process.

•   Drafting is one thing, making good trades is another. Something the Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers have been on both ends of in recent memory. For both organizations, more often on the wrong side of them…

•   Well here we are now with the Oilers and Blackhawks in what appear to be deep trade talks involving Duncan Keith. From our Blackhawks side of things, it seems like the right time to move Keith to be closer to his family and allow him the best chance to finish his career with the chance to contend for a Stanley Cup one last time. From the Oilers side of things, it seems like acquiring Keith would sink the franchise to the depths of hell.

•   I talked about it yesterday in the Mailbag post, but a potential trade involving the Blackhawks and Oilers in which Duncan Keith is the major piece moving between teams would Riley have to end up using a third team to help Chicago retain Keith’s salary to make the deal more enticing to Edmonton. It’s either that, or Chicago gives up a pick and/or a prospect, which would be a bad idea…

•   There has also been mention of the Blackhawks buying Keith out if a trade deal cannot be reached for him. I see virtually no reason for the Blackhawks to go that route. If a trade deal isn’t reached this summer, what harm would it be for Keith to begin the season in Chicago and have the chance to be moved prior to the trade deadline next season? Again, this whole situation is fluid as the Seattle Expansion Draft and NHL Entry Draft approach this month.

•   Speaking of Seattle, it was announced yesterday afternoon that the Kraken have added to Dave Hakstol’s coaching staff, adding Jay Leach and Paul McFarland as assistant coaches.

•   Leach has been the head coach of the AHL Providence Bruins from 2017-20, while McFarland has served as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs over the past three NHL seasons.

•   Finally, in yesterday’s bullets, I mentioned the intermission interview done on Hockey Night in Canada by Ron MacLean with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. MacLean faced backlash after not questioning Bettman on the league’s response to the investigations, lawsuits, and sexual assault allegations surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks and former video coach Brad Aldrich. I said yesterday that it is likely Bettman would not agree to the interview if those kinds of questions would be asked and it was possible MacLean was told not to ask them. Apparently that was not the case…

•   Talking with Ken Campbell, MacLean says that he made the decision not to ask the. questions during the intermission interview in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final.

•   So I’ll retract my defense of MacLean from yesterday, giving him the benefit of the doubt that the call not to ask those questions may have come from over his head. He made the decision not to ask, citing the timing was not right to have that kind of conversation with Bettman. So when is the right time? You have the Commissioner of the NHL in front of you and you have the biggest story in the hockey world not tied to the Stanley Cup Final and it becomes a missed opportunity to keep the story at the forefront of the hockey world.

•   It’s a display, to me, of the “old boys club” of hockey. Which is part of the problem in the culture of the NHL and a major part of the problem within the allegations and lawsuits against the Blackhawks and against Aldrich. In MacLean’s position, it’s not a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” ask the questions type of situation. If you ask me, the backlash faced from not asking Bettman anything has turned out to be worse than had MacLean asked him about anything pertaining to the situation.

•   We’ll keep up with this story as it progresses. I would just hope the hockey world continues to do soar well.

•   That will do it for today. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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