Happy Friday evening. We're a few hours from Game Seven of the Eastern Conference final, so that's where we'll start ...
*The Boston Bruins thought they excised the specter of last season's postseason collapse when they finished off the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals this year.
Yet here they are again, one round later, trying to turn back another comeback.
The Bruins will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Seven of the conference finals tonight, with the winner earning a chance to play the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. But Boston could have avoided a winner-take-all predicament if it had merely protected a three-goal lead in Game Four; scored more than one power-play goal a week in the playoffs; or kept Tampa Bay from scoring, as often as not, in the first 90 seconds of the game.
"We've got a Game Seven, it's at home, and we're one game away from the Stanley Cup finals. Why shouldn't we be excited?" Boston coach Claude Julien said.
*Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa never doubted teammate Ryan Kesler would come back after limping off the ice and into the locker room during Game Five against the San Jose Sharks.
And there was no question Kesler, who returned to score the tying goal with 13.2 seconds left in regulation, would be ready to start the Stanley Cup finals, especially after the NHL announced they won't begin until Wednesday.
*The phone calls and resumes have been reaching the Buffalo Sabres' offices for years. The hopeful play-by-play announcers would start their chats or cover letters with something like this:
"I know you have an iconic broadcaster, but if and when Rick Jeanneret decides to retire or cut back ... "
The Sabres can expect a spike in the inquiries. The time for Jeanneret to cut back has arrived.
*Bucky Gleason writes that for Jeanneret, often, it was about the people.
That's one reason Jeanneret has been top shelf, where mama hides the cookies, for the past four decades and counting. His booming voice and personality came through the broadcasts, confirming he had as much fun describing the games as the fans had listening to them and the players had playing in them. RJ makes icing sound exhilarating.
*Sabres prospect Gregg Sutch has played in all three of St. Michael's tournament games, helping it reach tonight's Memorial Cup semifinal against Kootenay and recent Buffalo signee Brayden McNabb.
"It's the time of my life right now," Sutch said. "Memorial Cup championships, it just doesn't come around very often. I'm just taking it all in. I'm just trying to make the best of it. It's been really great for me."
*The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes negotiations on a sale agreement between the Atlanta Spirit and True North Sports and Entertainment that would result in the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba, continue to move slowly and may not be completed until next week.