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Color of Hockey: Riley helps granddaughter get back on ice –



William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past seven years. Douglas joined in March and will be writing about people of color in the game. Today, he profiles Ryerson University hockey player Kryshanda Green and her grandfather, former NHL forward Bill Riley.

Kryshanda Green already made one comeback. Her grandfather persuaded her to make another.

Green, a forward for Ryerson University in Toronto, was considering not playing this season, thinking she was too old at 26 for Canadian college hockey.

“I was just a little concerned about whether I would be able to keep up, what my impact was going to be, the dynamic in the dressing room,” she said. “My grandad spoke to me and made me see the light a little bit better.”

“Grandad” is Bill Riley, who was the third black player in the NHL behind fellow Washington Capitals teammate Mike Marson in 1974 and Willie O’Ree, who debuted for the Boston Bruins in 1958.

Riley’s message to his granddaughter: Get a grip.

“I said, ‘Listen, Kryshanda, Pop-Pop was in his 30s when Steve Larmer, Steve Ludzik and all those guys came in as 19-year-olds, played for us in the American Hockey League [for the New Brunswick Hawks], and looked up to me in the highest kind of way because of the leadership skills I displayed for them,'” he said, “I said, ‘These girls that are coming in, they will look up to you for eternity for all the things that you will help them with, so don’t think you’re too old to play.'”

Green took her grandad’s advice, and she’s glad she did. She’s captain of the Ryerson team this season and she’ll end her collegiate career as the university’s all-time leader in goals and points.

She has 74 points (33 goals, 41 assists) in 85 games. Green will also finish among the university’s leaders in assists, game-winning goals and power-play goals.

“Pretty proud, makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” Riley said. “I’m over the moon with what’s going on with her life right now and her career.”

Green’s success didn’t come easy. She quit hockey after playing her freshman season in 2012-13 at Western University in London, Ontario, where she finished with 21 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 26 games and earned Ontario Athletics All-Rookie Team honors. But her on-ice performance didn’t carry over to the classroom. Hitting the books wasn’t a priority, and Green left the university after that season, breaking her 69-year-old grandfather’s heart.

“He was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He wasn’t too happy. “Every time we spoke to each other he said, ‘You gotta get back to the game, you gotta get back to the game.'”

Green didn’t play hockey for two years. She filled the void by collaborating with Toronto-area hip-hop artists and becoming the rapper known as Krash. She performed around town and even released a video and extended play recording titled “Bankrupt For Quality” four years ago. But as much as she tried to deny it, Green missed hockey and wanted to give college another try.

“I think it’s the [most fun] game in the world, and I missed all the bonds, the connections I made and just playing the game,” she said. “It was very hard for me to accept the way I left the game. What made my decision in wanting to go back to school is an opportunity to just try to finish the story in a different way.”

Ryerson coach Lisa Haley remembered seeing Green play junior hockey and contacted her about a second chance. Green enrolled at Ryerson as a redshirt transfer in 2015. She didn’t play a single game that season so she could focus on her studies.

“I think both Krash and I would agree that we were optimistic that this could be the outcome, but we were both realistic that this was a risk,” said Haley, who was an assistant for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics. “She’s coming back to school much older than a lot of her teammates. It didn’t go very well for her the first time with the student-athlete life. It was definitely a roll of the dice on both ends.”

It was a roll Green wanted to take, especially when she learned that she could wear the No. 8, the number Riley wore with the Capitals from 1976-79, decades before Alex Ovechkin earned the nickname “The Great Eight.”

“When I came back, I was thinking going back the number I had at Western [97] but I suddenly changed my mind because I was just looking at a picture of my grandfather one day at my mom’s place and it struck a chord with me,” she said. “My grandfather is like a huge influence on me, he’s very inspiring. I know he dealt with a lot of adversity. His situation is something that I can be very proud of.”

Riley, who had 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 139 NHL games for the Capitals and Winnipeg Jets, jokes that he left a lot of goals in that Washington jersey for Ovechkin.

He said he was choked up about Green wearing his number but also issued a grandfatherly challenge to her.

“‘He said, ‘You better earn that number. You better do something with that number if you’re going to wear it,'” Green said.

She responded by putting up 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 2016-17 and finishing 10th in the OUA in scoring. She had six multipoint games and led Ryerson with three power-play goals that season.

Green was an OUA Second-Team All-Star last season after finishing with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 24 games. She was also a finalist for Ryerson’s H.H. Kerr Female Athlete of the Year award.

“I’ve learned that I’m resilient and that I’m not a quitter, and that’s important to me,” Green said. “That no-quit attitude that’s the biggest thing for me because there are a lot of challenges in life in every area and I want to make sure that I’m not going to quit in those moments.”

Green hasn’t figured out what she’s going to do when she completes her studies at Ryerson. She has already earned her undergraduate degree in politics and governance from the university and is working toward a graduate certificate in criminal justice.

Whether she continues in hockey as a professional player or coach or puts her degrees to use, Haley is certain that Green will succeed in whatever she chooses.

“I think she’s a tremendous success story of someone who needed a second chance, was given it and has made the most of it,” Haley said. “If it’s being a rapper or being the next prime minister of Canada, I think she’s capable of either one of those things.”

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2020 Stanley Cup Final Preview: Lightning vs. Stars –



On Sept. 17, 2019 the Tampa Bay Lightning played their first pre-season game and dropped a 3-0 decision to Carolina. Exactly one year later, they punched their ticket to a Stanley Cup Final that will bring to an end that same 2019-20 season.

It’s been a strange and wild season that we didn’t always think would be able to get finished, but the Lightning and Dallas Stars have outlasted everyone and are the final two teams standing. No one will ever forget this historic 2019-20 season that will end without fans inside a bubble, and that’s what could also make this the hardest final ever to lose.

By the time the puck drops on Game 1, these two teams will have been separated from the outside world for 55 days, dating back to the end of July when the return to play plan came to fruition. It’s been a grind for more reasons than usual and now everything is on the line.

Tampa Bay arrives in the final as a long-held favourite, while Dallas is a bit more of a surprise, though they qualified as one of the top four teams in the West. Here’s a preview of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.


Playoff 5-on-5 numbers via Natural Stat Trick

Dallas: 47.96 CF% (16th), 49.37 GF% (10th), 91.8 SV% (15th), 8.48 SH% (8th), 1.003 PDO (11th)

Tampa Bay: 55.59 CF% (4th), 62.5 GF% (1st), 94.09 SV% (5th), 8.11 SH% (9th), 1.022 PDO (4th)


Dallas: 27.3 PP% (5th), 83.3 PK% (9th), 2.95 GF/G (7th), 3.05 GA/G (16th)

Tampa Bay: 17.9 PP% (12th), 83.6 PK% (8th), 3.11 GF/G (4th), 2.21 GA/G (3rd)


Dallas: 2-0-0

Tampa Bay: 0-0-2

How the Dallas Stars got to the Stanley Cup Final: Although they were the West’s No. 3 seed after the round robin, Dallas has been regarded as something of an underdog for this run. Their backup goalie, Anton Khudobin, has started nearly every game with Ben Bishop “unfit to play.” The Stars had the 26th-ranked offence in the regular season, and if the return to play order was determined by standings points instead of points percentage, they would have had to go through the qualifying round.

The Stars advanced past the Calgary Flames in six games and then met a Colorado Avalanche team that was among the favourites to win it all. While defence was supposed to be Dallas’ strength, and generating offence a weakness, they managed to outlast the Avs in a high-scoring, seven-game slugfest in which the Stars were actually outscored 29-28. Dallas may have benefitted from the fact Colorado was also without its starting netminder, but it was the second series in a row that Dallas averaged over three goals per game.

Heading into the conference final, Dallas was the second-highest scoring team in the playoffs behind only Colorado, which was one of the more surprising developments out of Rounds 1 and 2. But there they met a tougher defensive team in the Vegas Golden Knights, and the best goalie they had seen all playoffs in Robin Lehner. Dallas’ goal output slowed, but Khudobin was spectacular and the advantage he gave the Stars was enough to lift them to a five-game series win that whipped past quicker than anyone anticipated.

But how surprised should we really be by this Stars team? In 2019, Dallas took the eventual Cup champion St. Louis Blues to Game 7 overtime in Round 2, and were a goal line save away from eliminating them. The Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlexander Radulov trio are the headline names, but this roster is all about depth and a variety of different skill sets. Defenceman Miro Heiskanen is averaging over 25 minutes a game and is a Conn Smythe candidate with 22 points in 21 playoff games. Joe Pavelski, an off-season free agent acquisition, leads Dallas in goals with nine, tied with 23-year-old Denis Gurianov, who is a playoff rookie. Roope Hintz and Radek Faska are highly valuable third line contributors, although Faska’s health status is up in the air. John Klingberg is another star defenceman who can make someone like Esa Lindell fly under the radar. Joel Kiviranta has come out of nowhere with four goals in eight games.

All this is to say: there is a lot to like personnel-wise in Dallas and they all are completely bought into a defensive system first implemented by former coach Jim Montgomery and continued by Rick Bowness. As respected as the Stars were as a defensive team before this run, they’ve proven they can keep up in a track meet with more offensively dynamic teams as well.

How the Tampa Bay Lightning got to the Stanley Cup Final: A popular pick to win the Cup at the start of all this, the Lightning were the East’s No. 2 seed after the round robin and have taken a fairly quick route to the final.

After being swept out in Round 1 of the 2019 playoffs by Columbus, Tampa was challenged right away in 2020 with a rematch against those same Blue Jackets. An historic 5OT win in Game 1’s “August Epic” set the tone for a tightly contested series in which each game but one was decided by a single goal. But the Lightning rebounded from last year’s disappointment and proved their playoff mettle by turning that into a short five-game win.

Round 2 brought another familiar opponent in division rival Boston who didn’t show particularly well in the round robin and had Jaroslav Halak in net after Tuukka Rask had to leave the bubble. Tampa dropped Game 1, though, and faced their first trial of adversity in a Game 2 that was forced to overtime when Brad Marchand scored late in regulation. It was a key moment and had the Lightning dropped the first two games against the Bruins, perhaps we’re writing about a different team right now. But Ondrej Palat‘s winner gave the Lightning a second wind, and they followed up with wins in Games 3 and 4 as well by a combined 10-2 score. Palat’s goal was the turning point, and the Lightning advanced in another five-game series.

The conference final was the longest series Tampa has seen so far, and it was clearly advantageous for them to be so well-rested in Game 1. With the Islanders playing on short rest following a seven-game Round 2 series, the Lightning blew them away 8-2 in Game 1 and seemed on the way to another quick win. But the Islanders were much more themselves the rest of the way — tough on defence and not letting Lightning scorers get many quality opportunities.

The two teams exchanged wins in Games 2, 3 and 4, leaving Tampa with a 3-1 series lead and on the doorstep of the final. The Islanders, not going quietly, forced the final two games to overtime — Jordan Eberle scored in the second OT period in Game 5 and Anthony Cirelli‘s winner in Game 6 moved Tampa to the final. Though the Lightning had reached Round 3 four times in the past six years, this is their first shot at the Cup since 2015, when a younger core lost in six games to Chicago.

The Lightning are catching no one by surprise being here. A big favourite, Tampa has stars at every position. Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, Victor Hedman on the blue line and Nikita Kucherov on forward, all of whom are award contenders each season. Cirelli is an emerging two-way force and Brayden Point has become one of the better centres in the league. And heck, they’ve lasted through this whole run without having Steven Stamkos for a single game.

Dallas Stars X-Factor: Joe Pavelski

This series reminds us of the Dallas-Colorado matchup in Round 2. Like Colorado, the Lightning can score a bunch and are led by a super first line. Tampa’s defence can play big and move the puck well. But unlike the Avs, the Lightning still have a healthy starting goalie and that will make it a challenge for the Stars to keep up on offence this time.

If there is one place the Stars could have a leg up on Tampa, it’s on the second line. The Lightning’s second unit has three minus players on it. When Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn have been on the ice, Tampa has controlled less than half the shots on goal at 5-on-5, and only one other Lightning player (Cedric Paquette) is under 50 per cent.

With that in mind, Pavelski could be a big difference maker if he keeps the goal scoring up. After scoring just 14 times all season, Pavelski leads Dallas with nine goals in 21 post-season games from the second line. On Pavelski’s flank is Gurianov, who also has nine goals. Dallas’ top line will need to provide some level of offence and if the second unit can outdo their counterparts in Tampa it might just be a key to success. If this is going to be a close series, a clutch goal or two will be required and playoff veteran Pavelski is a good bet to play that role.

Tampa Bay Lightning X-Factor: Brayden Point

How healthy is Tampa’s top centre and how impactful can he be in the final? Point has been a beast for the Lightning so far with 25 points in 17 games and averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game. When he’s in the lineup Tampa has been near unbeatable, winning 11 of the past 12 games he’s played. But an apparent lower-body injury forced him out of Games 3 and 5 against New York, both Lightning losses.

Point did return for Game 6 and wasn’t held back, playing over 25 minutes with four shots and four blocks. It will be a quick turnaround for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, though, and the Lightning need Point at full gear for the duration, especially if Stamkos remains out. With a strong finish to this run, Point could come out as the Conn Smythe winner.

Dallas will win if… Khudobin wins the goalie battle
The Stars’ playoff starter had a .950 save percentage against Vegas in the conference final, but was scored on 23 times in the Colorado series. Against those Avs the Stars faced a backup goalie, just as they did against Calgary and Cam Talbot. Now they’re up against one of the league’s best in Vasilevskiy who has a .931 save percentage and minuscule 1.82 GAA this post-season. Vasilevskiy has allowed more than two goals just once in his past nine games. Khudobin will be under fire at times and can’t falter, because the goalie at the other end won’t give Dallas any breaks.

Tampa will win if… their offence dictates the series

In the Western Conference Final, Dallas was mostly outchanced by Vegas and controlled just 41 per cent of the high danger chances through the series. Vegas converted on less than five per cent of its shots, though, which Peter DeBoer chalked up to being rattled by Thatcher Demoko in Round 2. This series could go much the same way, with Tampa controlling shots and Dallas attempting to keep as many of them to the outside as possible. But they can’t rely on their opponent having a low shooting percentage this time. The Lightning had the best offence all season long and if given enough opportunity, they won’t fail now.

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Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart Had Heated Confrontation After Game 2 Loss –



Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart had a heated confrontation following their Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat and had to be separated by teammates, multiple sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Smart stormed into the locker room saying that other players needed to be held accountable. 

As Smart continued and his voice grew louder, Brown shouted that players must stay together and that their actions must come as a team and not individually. 

Objects were thrown around during the interaction between Smart and Brown with teammates diffusing the situation before a physical altercation could take place. Smart and Brown have smoothed over tensions.

“They will move past this and focus on the task,” a source said late Thursday.

Smart also had verbal exchanges with a couple of assistant coaches during the game.

The Boston Celtics trail 0-2 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

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Marcus Smart Heard Yelling At Teammates Following Game 2 Loss –



Marcus Smart reportedly yelled at his teammates in the locker room following the Boston Celtics’ 106-101 loss to the Miami Heat in game 2, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

The Celtics, who blew their second straight lead in the second half, are now down 2-0 in the series.

“Y’all on some bulls—,” Smart yelled while leaving the locker room. Several other teammates were also reportedly heard yelling following the game.

Smart did not talk to reporters after the game.

Brad Stevens, Kemba Walker, and Jayson Tatum all downplayed the situation, chalking it up to the emotion of the loss.

“It really just, a lot of emotions just flying around. Obviously we feel like we could have won, we should have won, but we didn’t. So just a lot of emotions flying around. That’s it,” said Jaylen Brown. 

The Celtics were outscored 37-17 in the third quarter.

Walker added that the Celtics were simply outplayed during the third. 

“Man, they outplayed us. They outplayed us. It’s really unacceptable on our behalf. It was just a really bad quarter for us. We didn’t continue to do the things that we did to get us up and get us that lead. I think we got kind of comfortable and those guys, they took great advantage of it. They played hard. They played really hard. They played a lot harder than us. They wanted it.”

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