The secret to Sergei Bobrovsky’s playoff redemption tour


When Blue Jackets winger Nick Foligno first arrived in Columbus in 2012, he instantly bonded with goaltender Sergei nfl jerseys china nike

After every win, the team skated over to congratulate the goaltender. Usually guys tapped Bobrovsky on the helmet or shoulder. Foligno usually lurked by the end of the line and greeted Bobrovsky with both arms outstretched.

“When we were going on that run the first year, we missed the playoffs by a point … every game just got bigger and bigger,” Foligno says. “At first it was just a little hug, and then it just got bigger and bigger, because we kept winning and gave ourselves a chance.”10

Besides the one game the next season when Foligno forgot (and heard about it from Bobrovsky after), the two haven’t missed a hug since. And over the past six years, Foligno, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets organization have been through a lot. There have been highs of regular-season success (and many, many hugs) and lows of early playoff exits — or no playoffs at all. Until this spring, the Blue Jackets hadn’t made it past the first round in their 18 years of existence.

Bobrovsky, too, has wavered. He is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and unquestionably the greatest goaltender in franchise history. Yet the narrative surrounding Bobrovsky is one of a postseason bust. Between 2011 and 2018, Bobrovsky went 5-14 in the playoffs, with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bobrovsky allowed at least three goals in 79 percent of his postseason appearances in that span, by far the most of any goalie with at least 10 nfl jerseys cheap china

This spring, though, it’s been all warm and fuzzy in Columbus. Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets are rewriting the narrative, and it’s been one big redemption tour.

“I’m not in his head, but I think it’s obvious he was really motivated to have a strong playoffs,” says Joonas Korpisalo, Bobrovsky’s backup. “It doesn’t matter what people think about him, he just wants to work hard for himself and the team. And he works harder and is more of a pro than any goalie I’ve ever seen.”

Columbus in ‘you never know’ mode after ouster


The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the NHL this season by doing something few teams do: They went all-in.

Instead of selling off soon-to-be unrestricted free agents such as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin, the Blue Jackets kept both players on the roster as their own “rentals.” They also loaded up, adding center Matt Duchene, defenseman Adam McQuaid, winger Ryan Dzingel and backup goalie Keith Kinkaid at the trade deadline.

“You never know what’s going to happen this summer, who is going to stay, who is going to go,” veteran winger Cam Atkinson said. “We had the group to do it this year, that’s for sure.”

Chief among concerns are Panarin and Bobrovsky, two of the most talented players in franchise history. The club tried to work out extensions with both players; Panarin expressed an interest in testing unrestricted free agency, and Bobrovsky and the team were so far apart on money and term that talks broke nike nfl jerseys china

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen was characteristically blunt when talking to local reporters.9

“Guys that want to be here are going to be here,” Kekalainen said. “Guys that don’t want to be here, it’s, well, ‘Good luck.'”

Bobrovsky, a two time Vezina winner, spent seven seasons in Columbus. He said it was too early to talk about his future because “it’s a big decision, it’s a lifetime decision.”

“I’m definitely thankful for everything I had here,” Bobrovsky said.

Bobrovsky was somber as he spoke and repeatedly thanked fans for their support. Just as the Blue Jackets did, Bobrovsky rewrote his own narrative this postseason. He was always known as a terrific regular-season goaltender who had a tendency to crumble in the nfl jerseys china nike

Between 2011 and 2018, Bobrovsky went 5-14 in the playoffs, with a 3.49 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he allowed at least three goals in 79 percent of his postseason appearances in that span, by far the most of any goalie with at least 10 appearances.

Bobrovsky was spectacular in the first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a .932 save percentage, and he had some strong performances against the Bruins.

“We went through some good times, some tough times,” Bobrovsky said. “We’ve been together seven years, so that’s a long time. It was special.”

This was Panarin’s second season with the team after he was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks. He set a franchise record for points and became a fan favorite.

Panarin, who, like Bobrovsky, is Russian, rarely does media interviews, but on Monday, he spoke through an interpreter for a large media scrum.

Tavares jeered as ‘traitor’ in hostile Isles return


John Tavares stepped on the ice 18 seconds into Thursday night’s game at Nassau Coliseum. For the first nine years of his NHL career, this would have elicited cheers from New York Islanders fans. Now, for the first time, Tavares was on Long Island wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, having left the Islanders for the Leafs as a free agent last summer.

So the fans booed Tavares, loudly and lengthily. They chanted “JT sucks!” and “We don’t need you!” along with a few more anatomical phrases. Every time he was near the puck, they nfl jerseys china nike

“They always made it tough on the opponent when I played here,” Tavares said after the 6-1 loss to the Islanders. “They have their feelings, and that’s out of my control.”10

Before the game, the parking lot was filled with fans who had defaced their Tavares Islanders jerseys with nameplates that read “Traitor” and “Judas” and “Better Without You,” and turned his No. 91 into images of snakes. They placed his jersey on the road where cars could run over it — according to one Islanders fan, cars that missed the jersey on their first pass were instructed to drive over it again. They burned his shirts and jerseys in effigy in large oil drums.

During warm-ups, they chanted and booed Tavares. Signs papered the glass, disparaging him. One Islanders fan threw his Tavares jersey at the six-time All-Star as he left the ice for the Leafs’ locker room.

Tavares was drafted first overall by the Islanders in 2009 and quickly became the face of the franchise. The next nine years were lean as far as team success — Tavares played in only 24 playoff games — but he scored 272 goals and had 349 assists in 669 games.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

After maintaining that he wanted to remain with the Islanders in the months leading up to unrestricted free agency, Tavares decided to hear the pitches of several teams at his agents’ offices. The Leafs had one that blew him away, and Tavares, an Ontario native, signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with his childhood team.

Devils beat odds to win lottery, chance at Hughes


The New Jersey Devils won the 2019 NHL draft lottery after entering Tuesday night’s event in Toronto with the third-best odds.

It’s the second lottery win in three years for the Devils. They won it in 2017 and selected center Nico Hischier.

“I said the No. 1 thing we needed was [more] talent, and this is a huge part of getting more talent. It’s a huge day for the Devils,” GM Ray Shero said after the draw.

The 15 teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs were all eligible to win the lottery. The NHL uses three separate drawings to select the teams for the top three picks in the draft, in an effort to discourage nfl jerseys china nike

The Devils had a 11.5 percent chance of winning the lottery. The New York Rangers, who had just a 7.5 percent chance, jumped up from No. 6 to snag the second overall pick. The Chicago Blackhawks made an even more dramatic move, going from No. 12 all the way to the third pick in the draft. They had just a 2.5 percent chance of winning the lottery. The Colorado Avalanche, via a pick acquired from the last-place Ottawa Senators in a 2017 trade involving center Matt Duchene, entered the lottery with the best odds at 18.5 percent. The Los Angeles Kings (13.5 percent), Devils (11.5 percent), Detroit Red Wings (9.5 percent) and Buffalo Sabres (8.5 percent) rounded out the top five teams in draft probabilities.8

This year’s lottery was a painful one for Ottawa fans to watch. The Senators finished the regular season with the NHL’s worst record but did not own their first-round pick, which was traded to Colorado in the Duchene trade. They had the option to give Colorado their first-rounder in the 2018 NHL draft, but instead opted to select center Brady Tkachuk with the fourth overall pick. That gave Colorado the Senators’ 2019 pick and the best lottery odds. To add insult to injury, the Senators traded Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets in February after 118 games in Ottawa.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The prize of the 2019 NHL entry draft is Hughes, a special talent who skates at an elite level and can make plays at high speed.

The 17-year-old center’s footwork is unique among most players in that he skates deceptively well on top of having higher-end puck skills. Hughes also has elite vision, which combined with his shiftiness, allows him to exploit open ice and find teammates with ease. There are somewhat limited concerns about his size and physical strength, but they have done little to dissuade most that he belongs at No. 1.

Scouting 2018 NHL draft prospect Brady Tkachuk


Boston University product Brady Tkachuk — one of the best-known prospects heading into the 2018 NHL entry draft — is cut from the same cloth as his dad, Keith Tkachuk, who scored 538 goals over an 18-year NHL career, and his brother, Matthew Tkachuk, who was the sixth overall pick by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL draft and has already become one of the league’s top agitators. nike nfl jerseys cheap china Opinions vary on Brady’s overall pro potential, but there’s no doubt that the 18-year-old is a favorite among scouts for his competitiveness, physical strength and solid all-around game. The winger is in the mix to be among the top five players — and first American — selected once the draft opens in Dallas on Friday.102

He’s ultra-competitive. He’s going to run through the wall for you. He’s going to want that puck and to win those battles. His competitive urge is stronger than everybody else’s on the ice. That’s the biggest strength he has.1 Once he gets comfortable and he knows he’s stronger than you, you’re done. He has that mentality. The Tkachuks are all like that.2 Matthew is ultra-competitive, too, but Brady has that little-brother syndrome. He’s tougher, he’s quieter and he’s sneakier. He knows how to get into those spots and disrupt people but also how to maintain his cool.3 The [Tkachuk brothers] have been taught how to play the game. To go where the goals are scored. If they’re not contributing on the score sheet, they know how to contribute with their physical game.4 Brady has the skill on top of it to be dangerous around the net. He has soft hands and can make plays and score goals. That’s a rare combination (competitiveness, physicality and skill) in a player in this day and age, when the emphasis is on skating and speed. 5 china nike nfl jerseys cheap

As for his weaknesses … even though he’s a big kid, he’s still a kid. He hasn’t developed his core, that three-period body [that allows him] to control the game, go for long periods of time and not disappear. His body hasn’t caught up to where his mind is yet. 6 The knock right now is his game speed — and his ability to turn and get back down the ice. I think it’s just a lack of strength, and not a skating issue. 7 I don’t think he’s ready for the NHL yet. He still needs one more year somewhere, whether it’s back at BU or in the AHL or the OHL. He needs that time to develop — not only his skill set, but his strength set. It all depends on who drafts him, though. I don’t think he’s too far away. I think he’s a year away. 8 Long term, I see him as a top-line guy for sure. And he’ll be put in situations where he’s very dangerous 5-on-5, very dangerous when the game’s on the line. 9

Tragedies loom large at 2018 NHL Awards show


Roberto Luongo walked around the table, shaking hands with each player wearing a vibrant yellow hockey sweater. Their honor in meeting an NHL star was reciprocated by the Florida Panthers goalie in meeting nine of the 13 surviving members of the Humboldt Broncos, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team whose bus was hit by a semitruck on April 6, killing 16 nfl jerseys china nike

These players were young, and they were survivors. Luongo couldn’t help but think about others who fit the description.

“It brought me back to what happened back home,” Luongo said Tuesday in Las Vegas, site of Wednesday’s NHL Awards, where the Broncos players have reunited for the first time since the crash. “It’s obviously not the same kind of tragedy. But you see it in their faces. They’ve been through a lot. They’ve seen a lot. You just try to make them at ease as much as you can. It’s not easy to do. But if even for a few moments you can, then you try. It’s the least you can do. You try to put yourselves in their shoes. But it’s impossible to do that.”101

Luongo has tried. On Feb. 22, eight days after 17 people were killed in a shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Luongo took the ice before the Panthers’ game against the Washington Capitals to talk about a tragedy that literally hit home for the Parkland resident.

“To the families of the victims, our hearts are broken for you guys. There’s not much to say. It’s heartbreaking,” he said mournfully. “You guys are in our thoughts. We’ve been thinking about you every day constantly for the last week. Just know that we’re there for you if you guys need anything. You’ll be in our prayers.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

It was the second time in the NHL regular season that an active player grabbed a microphone and offered solemn words in support of a devastated community. Before the Golden Knights’ first regular-season home game in franchise history, longtime Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland reassured the fans that they were “Vegas Strong” days after a gunman left 58 people dead and 851 injured.

What We Learned: Let Ovechkin be Ovechkin


Just a few days after they led 2-0 in the series and were heading home, and it looked for all the world like the Capitals were going to roll Tampa, a team any observer had every right to feel was vastly superior.

In the three games since, Tampa has proven that superiority time and again. In Game 3, Tampa got by on special teams. In Game 4, they got by because Tampa’s overwhelming talent did the kind of things overwhelming talent occasionally does to steal a authentic jerseys wholesale

Then on Saturday Tampa led for all but 0.5 percent of the game’s run time, and led by at least two for more than 80 percent. And when a team like Tampa gets up two goals for 50-plus minutes it’s going to be a long road back for whoever is trying to level the score.

The problem for the Caps, as it was for the Jets in much of the Western Conference Final, is that they flat-out didn’t show up in the first period. They got outscored 2-0, yes, and then gave up the third goal on the first shift of the second period, but they also got outshot 13-4. Tampa was up three before the Caps even decided they were going to play in this one, and while they put together a pretty good run down the stretch — they out-attempted Tampa 43-17 after the third goal — they also trailed by three so it didn’t really matter.

This is how score effects work; Tampa didn’t have to try too hard to score any more goals than it already had because three is plenty in most hockey games. Let the Caps empty the arsenal down the stretch, because you have an all-world goaltender and a roster of guys Nos. 1-18 who are at least pretty good defensively. The best defense is a good offense, sure, but the second-best defense is a good defense and Tampa absolutely has that. Washington came most of the way back — it was 3-0 for less than four minutes — but at no point did it feel like the game was winnable for the Caps.

The thing is, though, it should have been.296

Even if you’re adjusting for score and all that stuff, Washington has certainly outplayed Tampa in this series, but is getting smoked on special teams (Tampa has six power play goals to Washington’s three) but in Game 5 in particular, Washington’s problems proved out.

For one thing, the way Barry Trotz has been managing his best player this series is a bit confusing. Let’s talk about Alex Ovechkin’s usage in Game 5, because it’s bizarre. Ovechkin played a little more than 20 minutes in the loss, after only about 17 per in Games 1 and 2, and at least 23 in Games 3 and 4. You say, “Okay, well in the first two games they led for a pretty good chunk of both and in Washington they trailed more than they led.”where to buy official nfl jerseys

That’s fine. You give your best players a breather when you don’t need them (or in this case when you need to protect a lead and you think their defensive contributions are suspect). I’d rather have Ovechkin out there but I get the rationale even if I disagree with it. And when you’re trailing, you put those guys over the boards more often because you absolutely, positively need a goal.

So why, then, in this game in which the Caps trailed by at least two goals for like 50 minutes, do you only play him 20:16 in the entire game? And more to the point, why does 4:28 of his ice time come in the last 4:48? You mean to tell me that Trotz couldn’t find a Devante Smith-Pelly shift to give the Ovechkin line instead?

Ovechkin, Capitals prepare for ‘biggest game of life’


”I’ve never been in this position before,” he said Tuesday, looking ahead to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The winner Wednesday night earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the Vegas Golden Knights, who will try for hockey’s biggest prize in their inaugural season.

Ovechkin and the Caps are hoping to shed a label as playoff underachievers, where can i buy nfl jerseys a franchise that dazzles during the regular season only to disappoint at the most important time of the year.

”I’m excited. We’re all excited. … We all want to be in this position and move forward,” said Ovechkin, who is playing in the conference final for the first time during his prolific 13-year career.

”(Wednesday night) is probably biggest game in my life, this team, organization probably. … We still haven’t reached our goal. Tomorrow is going to be a huge step forward.”

Not if the Lightning have their way.295

Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

”Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. ”It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”

Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game authentic jerseys wholesale

In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.

Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.

”When you get this deep into a series, everyone knows each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself for this moment,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

”I do like the fact there will be 19,000 people helping us, to will us to victory. I want the guys to enjoy the game. It will be a phenomenal experience. … You just have to remember, don’t let the game get bigger than it really is. Go out there, execute, leave everything out there and we’ll see what happens.”

This will be Washington’s 11th Game 7 since the start of the 2008 playoffs, most among all NHL teams in that span. None of them, however, have been for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s win in Washington that there’s no other team he has coached that he would rather lead into a seventh game.

The Jets built Cup contender by drafting, developing talent


Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was one of the few.

The former owner, general manager and coach of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings said he watched Winnipeg play 20 times last season, giving him a peek at what was to come.

”It was pretty easy to see that it was going to happen,” McCrimmon said. ”This year, certainly it has.”

The Jets earned 114 points during the regular season, trailing only nike authentic jerseys

Winnipeg advanced in the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets lost only once to Minnesota in the first round, and eliminated the top-seeded Predators on the road in Game 7 of the second round.

Unlike other NHL teams, which fire general managers and coaches if they don’t quickly have success, the Jets have allowed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to build a championship contender since hiring him in 2011 when they left Atlanta. He was just 20 games above .500 in his first five seasons as Winnipeg’s GM, and its only previous postseason appearance in 2015 lasted just four games against Anaheim.188

Coach Paul Maurice, likewise, was afforded the opportunity to lead the team for fourth-plus season this year. He made the most of it by helping the Jets go 52-20-10 during the regular season.

But ultimately, it comes down to having talented, unselfish players, and the Jets have plenty.

When Winnipeg had high draft picks, as it often did as a struggling team, it didn’t miss.

Patrik Laine, a 20-year-old winger, was drafted second overall two years ago and is one of the league’s best young players. He had 70 points in the regular season and scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 1.

Mark Scheifele, selected No. 7 overall in 2011, leads all postseason scorers with 12 goals and has averaged more than a point per game the past two seasons. On the back end, defenseman Jacob Trouba has been exceptional in the playoffs as the franchise hoped he would be eventually after taking him No. 9 overall in 2012.

The Jets have also hit on some late-round picks, including Hellebuyck, whom they took No. 130 overall six years ago.authentic nfl football jerseys

”Hit home run after home run in the draft,” captain Blake Wheeler said . ”A lot of our marquee players are guys we drafted and have taken huge steps in the last year or two to be impact players.”

Winnipeg didn’t draft its best player, Wheeler, but the franchise acquired him from Boston in a trade while it was in Atlanta in 2011 and has built around him. That same year, the Thrashers took advantage of Chicago’s need to get rid of salaries by dealing for Byfuglien.

Capitals pull away, beat Lightning 6-2 for 2-0 series lead


The Washington Capitals scored in the opening minute of the game and twice in the last 1:02 of the second period to pull away to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference final.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller each had a goal and two assists. nfl authentic nike jerseys Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist apiece.

Devante Smith-Pelly and Brett Connolly also scored for the Caps, who took the first two games of the best-of-seven matchup on the road. Since 1974-75, teams that take a 2-0 lead in the conference final or semifinal have a series record of 39-2 (95.1 percent).

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Washington.187

Braden Point and Steven Stamkos had early power-play goals for Tampa Bay, which rebounded after falling behind on Wilson’s goal 28 seconds into the game.

Smith-Pelly’s one-timer finishing an odd-man rush made it 2-2 at 2:30 of the second period. The Caps took control when Eller scored with 1:02 remaining and Kuznetsov – with assists from Ovechkin and Eller – delivered on a power play less than a minute later.

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was called for tripping Washington’s Andre Burakovsky with 10 seconds left in the period. Kuznetsov scored seven seconds later to make it 4-2, the second time in the series the Caps stunned the Lightning with a power-play goal in the closing seconds of a period.

Ovechkin and Connolly finished the rout with third-period goals. Braden Holtby stopped 33 of 35 shots to improve to 10-3 this postseason.

Ovechkin, playing in the conference final for the first time, also had a goal and an assist in Washington’s 4-2 victory in Game 1.

Vasilevskiy was pulled from the opener after facing 25 shots in two periods, nfl nike authentic jerseys but the Lightning didn’t pin the loss on him. Instead, they vowed to player harder in front of the young goaltender, who finished with 31 saves in Game 2.

Tampa Bay benefited early from a couple of questionable penalties – Wilson for goaltender interference and T.J. Oshie for high-sticking Victor Hedman, when the Tampa Bay defenseman actually was struck by the puck – to score twice in just over three minutes on the power-play for a 2-1 lead.

Stamkos and Hedman assisted on Point’s goal at 7:08 of the first. Stamkos’ fourth goal in five games gave Tampa Bay its first lead of the series.