Vesa Toskala

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Posted by bender 04/03/2009 @ 21:12

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News headlines
Offseason Needs: Toronto Maple Leafs -
CuJo, along with his comrades Vesa Toskala , Martin Gerber , and Olaf Kolzig , pushed the Leafs down deep in the conference, leading to their 4th straight season without any playoff hockey. Not something you would expect to hear from the Toronto Maple...
Swedish goalie prospect hot on Leafs -
The Maple Leafs have Vesa Toskala under contract for next season and general manager Brian Burke wants someone to come in to a) challenge Toskala for the No. 1 job; and b) provide the Leafs with a solid backup. Burke has held contract talks with The...
Gustavsson's choice -
In Toronto, Vesa Toskala will turn 32 in three weeks and he has one more season left on his contract before he'll be a UFA. That would allow Gustavsson a season to acclimate to the North America game, while also providing him a chance to seize the...
Ajax school hosts Fun Fair -
The silent auction will be featuring a second signed Maple Leaf Jersey as well as Maple Leaf hats signed by Vesa Toskala and Thomas Kaberle. There's a chance to bid for a collector's item NHL hockey helmet display as well as a signed Marlies' hockey...
Pens, Fleury Hold Off 'Canes Rally - FanHouse
As the Penguins struggled to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, the Hurricanes peppered Fleury with shots, including a point-blank chance from Eric Staal, and a 130-foot shot from the neutral zone that nearly gave Fleury his Vesa Toskala moment...
The Lowdown in Hogtown -
by Conrad Collaco, CBC Sports Goalie Vesa Toskala and the Leafs finished 12 points out of a playoff spot in 2008-09. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) For the 2008-2009 professional sporting season, no town took a beat down like Toronto....
Ask Adam: Awards, MVPs and trades - The Hockey News
7 overall pick, Tomas Kaberle or Pavel Kubina and Vesa Toskala, for Colorado's No. 3 overall pick and Brett Clark or Scott Hannan? My reasoning is this: Toronto acquires a pick in which they can draft Matt Duchene (a first-line center) or trade it to...
24. Toronto Maple Leafs: Další nepovedená sezóna -
Brankář Vesa Toskala absentoval kvůli zranění kyčle 20 zápasů. Nejproduktivnějším hráčem a zároveň také nejlepším střelcem týmu se stal útočník Jason Blake, který si na své konto připsal 63 bodů (25+38). Na druhém místě tabulky produktivity se umístil...
Ron Wilson: Rückkehr nach 20 Jahren -
Für eine Rückkehr Gerbers nach Toronto sieht es nicht gut aus, auch wenn Wilson das so direkt natürlich niemals sagen würde. Aber mit Vesa Toskala steht bei den Maple Leafs bereits ein Keeper unter Vertrag, "und den zweiten Platz möchten wir eigentlich...

Vesa Toskala

Vesa Toskala 2006 2.jpg

Vesa Tapani Toskala (born on May 20, 1977 in Tampere, Finland), is a professional ice hockey goaltender currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. He is a butterfly style goaltender.

Toskala was selected by San Jose in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft (4th round, 90th overall). The Sharks also took fellow Finn Miikka Kiprusoff in the fifth round. Toskala turned heads with his stellar play in the 1998-1999 season with Ilves of the SM-liiga, where he went 21-12-0 with a 2.14 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage and posted five shutouts. The next season, playing a style that modeled after Markus Korhonen he played with Färjestads BK of the Swedish Elitserien and posted an impressive 2.59 GAA. In one game with Färjestad, Toskala scored a goal. At this point, Toskala was not sure if he wanted to have a career in hockey. Wanting a more stable job, he was going to quit hockey altogether to go to school full-time, before San Jose enticed him to North America.

He holds the San Jose Club record as the only goalie to record a multiple point game as he tallied two assists against Chicago on February 3, 2007.

In his first season in North America in 2000-2001, he played with the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the AHL. Splitting time with second-year-pro Kiprusoff, he played 44 games, going 22-13-5 with a 2.77 GAA and a 0.911 save percentage, quickly adapting to the North American game and played three games for Kentucky in the playoffs. The next year, after the team's move to Cleveland he took over the starting role after Kiprusoff was recalled to San Jose, and in 62 games went 19-33-7 with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage. That season he led the league in games played and saves made (1,845). When Kiprusoff fell to injury, Toskala was called up to back-up Evgeni Nabokov. Toskala received ten minutes of playing time in his first stint in the NHL, where he stopped the two shots he faced.

In the 2002-03 NHL season, Nabokov and San Jose could not settle on a contract and Toskala served as Kiprusoff's backup. When Kiprusoff faltered, Toskala stepped in and played admirably, going 4-3-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a 0.927 save percentage. He earned his first shutout in a 25-save-effort against the Detroit Red Wings. When Nabokov was re-signed, Toskala was sent back to Cleveland, and he struggled going 15-30-2, with a 3.21 GAA and a 0.903 save percentage. Nonetheless, the Sharks brass remembered Toskala's stellar play in the big league, and at the end of the season, they recalled Toskala, meaning the Sharks now had three goaltenders on their roster. Since Nabokov was the established starter, Kiprusoff and Toskala fought for the backup position, and Toskala won the battle when Kiprusoff was traded to the Calgary Flames. When Kiprusoff enjoyed tremendous success in Calgary, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals, many believed that since San Jose had picked Toskala over Kiprusoff, Toskala could be even better. That season, playing in 28 games, Toskala went 12-8-4 with a 2.06 GAA and a 0.930 save percentage. He did not play in the playoffs.

2005-06 proved to be a career year for Toskala; he began as the backup to Nabokov, but after a start on February 8 he posted a record of 17-2-2 leading to a Stanley Cup playoff berth for the Sharks. Toskala's goals-against-average fell from 3.25 to 2.55, while his save percentage increased from 0.872 to .900. This earned him the nickname "The Finnish Horse" from Shark's broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky. Toskala's play earned him several accolades and relegated Nabokov to the role of backup goaltender. On February 27, the Sharks resigned Toskala to a two-year contract extension worth US$2.75 million. Toskala finished the playoffs with 2.45 goals-against-average and a 0.910 save percentage.

Since both Toskala and Nabokov were seen as number one goalies, the Sharks attempted to trade one or the other before the season began. No trade occurred, and Ron Wilson opted to alternate starts between Toskala and Nabokov. Through 71 games, Toskala played in 35 games, starting 31 and posting a 2.45 GAA, along with 3 shutouts. Nabokov got the nod after that, and played in San Jose's remaining regular season and playoff games.

On June 22, the first day of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft weekend in Columbus, Ohio, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson traded Toskala along with forward Mark Bell to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the club's 2007 1st (13th overall, which was later traded to the St. Louis Blues) and 2nd round draft picks, as well as Toronto's 4th round pick in 2009.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Toskala to a four year contract with the team worth 4 million dollars a season in July 2007. He and Andrew Raycroft shared starts until late November, when Toskala's GAA and save percentage improved dramatically. He recorded two shutouts in December, and the NHL named him best goaltender of the month. Toskala is now the Leafs' starting goaltender, who will be backed up by veteran and past Leaf starting netminder Curtis Joseph.

In the 2009 NHL regular season opener on October 9, 2008, the official scoresheet between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings listed Vesa Toskala as the Maple Leafs captain. Coach Ron Wilson stated that the scoresheet was a mistake.

On March 4, 2009, Toskala announced that he would be undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum; the Maple Leafs claimed goalie Martin Gerber off of re-entry waivers to replace him.

Toskala and his wife live in a condo in Toronto. Toskala spent two years in Finland training to be a chef, although he claims that he was not particularly good.

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2006–07 San Jose Sharks season

The San Jose Sharks 2006–07 season was the 15th season played by the franchise.

During the 2006 offseason, the San Jose Sharks made significant changes in order to bolster their defense and team grit. The Sharks signed Mike Grier from the Buffalo Sabres and former Shark Curtis Brown from the Chicago Blackhawks, two forwards noted for their defense prowess on both sides of the ice. After signing the two veterans, Doug Wilson traded their top offensive defenceman in 2005–2006, Tom Preissing, to the Ottawa Senators for centerman Mark Bell of the Chicago Blackhawks in a 3-way trade involving Martin Havlat going from Ottawa to the Blackhawks. Wilson then traded underachieving winger Ekman to Pittsburgh. In August, to round off their flurry of trades, the Sharks signed veterans Mathieu Biron and Patrick Traverse. The Sharks also signed many players such as Graham Mink and Scott Ferguson for their AHL affiliate. On October 2, 2006, the Sharks acquired Vladimir Malakhov and a first-round conditional draft pick in exchange for Jim Fahey and Alexander Korolyuk, who is playing in Russia.

The Sharks got off to a sizzling 20–7–0 start, the best in franchise history. Soon however, several key players missed a few games each with injuries, and the Sharks continued to struggle with consistency as their results dropped off. At the end of February, they lost four games in a row, their longest losing streak of the season.

When the trading deadline approached, Wilson used some of his carefully acquired assets to address the team's areas of need, trading draft picks and prospects for Craig Rivet from the Montreal Canadiens and Bill Guerin from the St. Louis Blues. With Rivet playing quality minutes on defense and Guerin scoring goals on offense, the Sharks began winning at a torrid pace, finishing the last 16 games of the regular season with a record of 13–1–3. They concluded the regular season with a total record of 51–26–5 for 107 points, the most wins and points in franchise history. However, in the stacked Western Conference, their record was only good enough for the #5 playoff seed, and they had to open the playoffs on the road.

Unique to note is that the Sharks spent most of the season rotating their two goaltenders, Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov every other game. The only time either one has played for any extended period of time was when the other was injured or otherwise unable to play. When Toskala injured his groin, Nabokov made 14 straight starts and played arguably the best hockey of his career, significantly contributing to the Sharks' late-season spate of victories. As a result, even when Toskala returned from injury, Coach Ron Wilson retained Nabokov as the #1 goalie to finish off the regular season and going into the playoffs.

The Sharks iced four rookies during the season: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Carle, Ryane Clowe, and Joe Pavelski, with each making significant contributions to the team's success. Vlasic, at just 19 years old, was not even expected to make the team, but he put together a stellar preseason and was on the Sharks' opening night roster. He went on to play 81 games, leading all NHL rookie defensemen in average ice time at over 21 minutes a game, and was arguably the Sharks' most consistent defenceman the whole season.

In the first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks again met the Nashville Predators, and advanced to the second round after defeating them 4 games to 1 for the second straight season. They then fell to the Detroit Red Wings in the semifinals in 6 games.

The San Jose Sharks ended the 2006–07 regular season as the Western Conference's fifth seed.

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2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The NHL unveiled a new logo for the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The finals concluded on June 19 with the Carolina Hurricanes winning the Stanley Cup, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the final series four games to three. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.

While the 2005–06 NHL season introduced a shootout to break ties after 5 minutes of 4-on-4 overtime, the Stanley Cup playoffs retained their traditional format of unlimited 20-minute periods of 5-on-5 sudden-death overtime to break ties.

The Western Conference made history in the first round when all four series were won by the lower-seeded teams. The eighth and lowest seeded Edmonton Oilers proceeded to win the conference and participate in the Stanley Cup Finals.

After the 2005–06 NHL season, a total of 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings were the Presidents' Trophy winners with the best record at 124 points (58 wins, 16 regulation losses, 8 overtime losses), while the Ottawa Senators won on the last day of the regular season to earn the Eastern Conference regular season crown.

These are the top five goaltenders based on either goals against average or save percentage with at least four games played.

The Senators entered the 2006 playoffs with a new head coach and a new goaltender. Bryan Murray led the Sens to a successful season. The Lightning slipped into the playoffs this year, beating out the Maple Leafs and the Thrashers by only two points. The Senators history was marked by playoff collapses, mostly to the Maple Leafs. However this series would be different.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Ottawa Senators, who held off Carolina to earn the Eastern Conference regular-season title on the final day of the regular season. The teams had never met before in the playoffs, but in four regular-season meetings, Ottawa had dominated, winning all four games in regulation.

In Game 1, Tampa Bay scored first, but in the third period, two quick powerplay goals by Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza, respectively, gave Ottawa the lead. Mike Fisher added a short-handed goal three minutes later, and the Senators went on to win, 4–1. In Game 2, the Senators held a 3–2 lead in the third period, but Dan Boyle tied the score, and 55 seconds later, Martin St. Louis scored his second goal of the game. The Lightning won 4–3, evening the series.

Two days later, the series resumed in Tampa Bay for Game 3; the visiting Senators scored three goals in the first period. Havlat had two goals, giving him a total of four for the series thus far, as did Antoine Vermette. The Senators routed the Lightning, 8–4, in a game marked by the teams combining for 129 penalty minutes. Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina earned a "Gordie Howe hat trick", with a goal, an assist, and two misconduct penalties earned in a late fight. In Game 4, the Lightning took a 2–1 lead after the first period, but a trio of second-period goals gave the Senators a lead. Dany Heatley finished with a goal and two assists in the 5–2 win which put Ottawa on the verge of advancing.

In Game 5, back in Ottawa, Martin Havlat continued his solid play, completing a series in which he scored in each game. He scored a power-play goal in the second period which gave Ottawa a 3–1 advantage. The Lightning closed the gap to 3–2, but could not get the tying goal. Havlat finished the series with 6 goals and 4 assists, while Heatley and Spezza each had 2 goals and 8 assists.

The Canadiens had struggled throughout the beginning of the season, prompting GM Bob Gainey to fire Coach Claude Julien. Gainey took over behind the bench and posted a 23–15–3 record.

Though the Carolina Hurricanes were disappointed to lose the race for the Eastern Conference regular-season crown to Ottawa, commentators believed they might have actually gained an advantage from that fault. They faced a seventh-seeded Montreal Canadiens team they had beaten each game in the regular season. Though the Canadiens had since traded goaltender Jose Theodore, Carolina's fast puck-possession game was expected to roll over the Habs easily.

However, with Carolina goaltender Martin Gerber battling a then-undisclosed stomach ailment, the Canadiens beat the Canes in Game 1 in Raleigh, 6–1, as Cristobal Huet continued his late-season hot streak. After three quick Montreal goals early in Game 2, Carolina coach Peter Laviolette made what would prove to be a fateful decision, switching in 22-year-old rookie backup Cam Ward for Gerber. Though Ward yielded a regained Carolina lead in that game and which they lost 6–5 in the second overtime, Laviolette stuck with him going into Montreal even with Habs fans waving brooms, signifying a possible sweep.

Carolina prevailed in a 2–1 overtime win in Game 3, with Eric Staal scoring the game winner. During the game, Canadiens captain Saku Koivu took an inadvertent stick blade in the eye from the Hurricanes' Justin Williams from behind as both players lunged for a puck in the Carolina slot. The incident went unpenalized, but Koivu's series was over. In Game 4, Williams scored the game-winning goal in a 3–2 win to tie the series.

The final two games were tight-checking games, but Montreal had lost the mental advantage gained over two wins in Raleigh; the Canes took Game 5 in front of their home fans, 2–1, then returned to Montreal to close the series, 2–1, on a long, fluttering, tipped shot by Cory Stillman over Huet's left shoulder at 1:19 of overtime.

The Canes would continue their dominance, en route to winning their first ever Stanley Cup. Canadiens GM Gainey would relinquish his coaching duties, and give the reins to Guy Carbonneau.

The Devils posted a 14–13–5 record in November when General Manager Lou Lamoriello took over as coach from the ailing Larry Robinson. The team turned their season around under Lou and made the playoffs. The Atlantic Division title came down to the final day of the regular season. The Devils came from behind to defeat the Montreal Canadiens for their eleventh straight win, while the Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators for their fifth straight loss. These results capped off a record-breaking comeback, as the Devils, who had trailed the division-leading Flyers by 19 points in January, clinched the division title and the third seed in the playoffs. The Rangers, on the other hand, slipped to the sixth seed but still qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

The Devils and Rangers were meeting in the playoffs for the fourth time in their respective histories, with the Rangers having won all three past meetings, including the classic 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, when Mark Messier guaranteed a win and backed it up with a hat trick in Game 6, and Stephane Matteau scored the game-winner in double-overtime of Game 7. More recently, the teams split their eight games in the 2005–06 season, with each team going 3–1 on their home ice, and winning one game in overtime.

The Devils jumped out to a quick lead, winning Game 1, 6–1, behind five power-play goals, and Patrik Elias's two goals and four assists, while Rangers star Jaromir Jagr left the game with an arm injury late in the third period. This injury kept Jagr out of Game 2, which the Devils won, 4–1, led by John Madden's hat trick, including two short-handed goals, making Madden the first player since Wayne Gretzky to score two shorthanded goals in the same playoff game. In Game 3, Jamie Langenbrunner scored 68 seconds into the game, and Martin Brodeur earned his 21st career playoff shutout, with 25 saves, as the Devils won 3–0. Jagr's injury woes continued in Game 4, as he was knocked out with a hit in the first minute of the game. Despite this, the Rangers took their only lead of the series on Jed Ortmeyer's goal late in the first period. But New Jersey responded with two goals in each of the second and third periods, including two by Elias, giving him five for the series. They won, 4–2, eliminating their rivals and advancing to the Conference Semifinals.

The Sabres earned a playoff spot for the first time since 2001. In a repeat of the result of their 2001 playoff series, right down to the blowout victory in the deciding game, the Buffalo Sabres eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.

Game 1 went to Buffalo, 3–2, as co-captain Daniel Briere ended the game with a double-overtime goal on his team-record 14th shot of the playoff game. Game 1 was also notable for a monstrous hit laid upon Philadelphia's R. J. Umberger by Buffalo's Brian Campbell during the first overtime period. Philadelphia goaltender Robert Esche was outstanding, turning aside 55 Buffalo shots before finally allowing the game-winner.

The Flyers, looking for revenge from Game 1, took 17 penalties in Game 2, including 3 misconducts and a 5-minute major for checking from behind. Unfortunately for the Flyers, those penalties resulted in eleven Buffalo power plays. The Sabres scored three power-play goals, rolling to an 8–2 victory. J. P. Dumont and rookie Jason Pominville each recorded hat tricks for Buffalo.

The series then shifted to Philadelphia, and the Flyers were able to even it up with wins in Games 3 and 4. Peter Forsberg scored two second-period goals in Game 3 to break a 1–1 tie. The Flyers went on to win the game, 4–2. In Game 4, the Sabres had an early 2–0 lead. Forsberg once again scored two goals, including an empty netter with 49 seconds remaining. The empty-netter proved to be the game-winner, as Buffalo's Mike Grier scored with 19 seconds left in the game to make the final score 5–4 in favor of the Flyers.

Home-ice advantage continued to be key as the Sabres returned to the HSBC Arena for Game 5 and scored a 3–0 victory. Sabre goaltender Ryan Miller made 24 saves to earn his first career playoff shutout. In Game 6, home-ice advantage was finally broken as the Sabres jumped to a 3–0 lead by the end of the first period in the Wachovia Center. Six different Sabres scored as they finished off the Flyers with a resounding 7–1 victory.

The Flyers game 6 defeat seemed to continue into the next season as they would start 1–6–1 resulting in Ken Hitchcocks firing.

Craig Mactavish's Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002–2003 season. It came down to the final week to determine who would be in, and it turned out to be the Oilers who sneaked in ahead of the Canucks.

After Red Wings winger Kirk Maltby scored two goals including the winner in double overtime in Game 1, the Oilers were able to respond by winning Game 2, 4–2. The series moved to Edmonton tied 1–1. Jarret Stoll provided the game-winner in double overtime in Game 3, giving the Oilers a 2–1 series lead after the Red Wings had appeared to score in the first overtime, but had the goal waived off. The Red Wings responded with a Game 4 4–2 victory to tie the series.

Back in Detroit, the Oilers jumped out to a 3–0 lead in the second period of Game 5. Brendan Shanahan closed the gap to 3–1, and Henrik Zetterberg added his fifth goal of the series to pull Detroit within one, but Edmonton held on to take a 3–2 series lead. Returning to Edmonton, the Oilers found themselves trailing 2–0 after two periods. Fernando Pisani tied the game with two goals, his fourth and fifth of the series, before Detroit reclaimed the lead. With 3:53 to play, Ales Hemsky tied the game on a controversial power-play goal which was reviewed for several minutes, questioning whether it was kicked into the goal. The goal was counted after it was determined that no kicking motion was made. Hemsky subsequently provided the game-winning goal with 1:06 left in the third period.

The first upset of the 2006 playoffs came in this series when the seventh-seeded Avalanche defeated the second-seeded Stars in five games. The Stars had won three of the teams' four regular-season meetings, although two of those wins were in overtime.

In Game 1, the Stars came out quickly, going up 2–0 on goals by Brenden Morrow and Bill Guerin, but five different Colorado players scored, allowing the Avalanche to claim a 5–2 win. Colorado continued its momentum with three first-period goals to open Game 2, but Dallas responded with four goals in the second period, including two goals by Jere Lehtinen and a goal in the closing seconds by Mike Modano. Brett Clark tied the game with a short-handed goal with 2:04 to play in regulation. Four minutes into overtime, Jason Arnott got a shot past Colorado goalie Jose Theodore but it hit the post. The Avs quickly counter-attacked, and Joe Sakic scored his NHL-record seventh career overtime goal to end the game.

Returning to Denver with a 2–0 series lead, Sakic scored the first goal of Game 3. Stu Barnes tied the game with a short-handed goal, but Colorado led, 2–1, after one period. Dallas took a 3–2 lead in the second period, but Andrew Brunette scored with 57 seconds remaining in the third period to tie the game, and Alex Tanguay tallied his second goal of the game at 1:09 of the first overtime to give the Avalanche a 4–3 win and a 3–0 series lead. Dallas staved off elimination in Game 4 as Niklas Hagman scored two goals in a 4–1 win.

However, the Avalanche denied the Stars a chance at a continued comeback by winning Game 5 to clinch the series. Joe Sakic scored with just two seconds to play in the second period to give his team a 2–1 lead. The Stars tied it in the third period, but Sergei Zubov's attempted game-winner late in the period glanced off the goal post. After nearly 14 minutes of overtime, Andrew Brunette scored to finish the game and the series.

The entire series was a back-and-forth affair with the teams trading victories throughout the first six games. Game 1 saw an overtime win thanks to Darren McCarty to gain the upper hand, but the Ducks responded back to tie the series. Game 3 was a blowout on the Flames part when Giguere seemed to open the floodgates in the third period. In Game 4, the Ducks jumped ahead 2–0 in the first period and managed to hold a lead for two periods, but two quick goals by Iginla would tie it. It would end on a slap shot from Duck defenceman Sean O'Donnell in overtime shortly after a power play expired.

In Game 5, Giguere played poorly, allowing three consecutive goals, so coach Randy Carlyle boldly put in backup goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov, despite not allowing any goals causing the momentum seemingly to shift late in Game 5, the Flames jumped ahead for the third time. Bryzgalov actually started Game 1 because of an injury to Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who played extremely well despite losing, 2–1 in overtime. When Giguere proved ineffective through the next four games, Bryzgalov returned to the net. Game 6 saw the Flames jump ahead in the first period thanks to Stephane Yelle, but Selanne would tie the game, and Niedermayer scored a short handed goal from a deflection off of the Flames goalie to tie the series once again. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim ended the Calgary Flames' season by winning a decisive Game 7, 3–0, behind the stellar play of Bryzgalov.

The 4–5 matchup in the West pitted the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, the first playoff meeting between the two teams. Nashville had dominated much of the season on their way to the fourth seed in the conference, while San Jose rallied back from an early-season slump all the way to the fifth seed, thanks to a November trade for Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins that resulted in Thornton winning the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring. Linemate Jonathan Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals. The teams split their regular season series, with both of San Jose's wins coming in overtime.

Both teams came into the series with alternate goaltenders. After Sharks starter Evgeni Nabokov stumbled through most of the regular season, backup Vesa Toskala earned the spot as playoff starter with his impressive play during San Jose's stretch run to clinch a playoff spot. Nashville's star goaltender Tomas Vokoun would be diagnosed with a blood disorder in early April that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season, forcing backup Chris Mason to become Nashville's goaltender for the playoffs.

The Predators won the first game at home, 4–3, with four power-play goals, three of them coming in the first period. In Game 2, San Jose scored three first-period power play goals from Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and Mark Smith. Toskala earned a shutout on the Predators in a 3–0 victory.

The series went to San Jose for Games 3 and 4, but the Predators' tendency for penalties continued to be taken advantage of by the Sharks. In Game 3, a short-handed goal by Kimmo Timonen gave the Predators an early lead, but San Jose bounced back with four unanswered goals, two of them by Marleau and one on the power play by Steve Bernier, en route to a 4–1 San Jose victory. In Game 4, Marleau scored a hat trick, with two of his goals coming on the power play (and another by Smith scored right after another Nashville penalty expired). San Jose won the game, 5–4, as the series changed back to Nashville for Game 5. Unfortunately for Nashville, a Paul Kariya goal was not enough to combat power-play goals by Marleau and Bernier in a 2–1 victory for San Jose in Game 5, giving the Sharks the series.

In a battle of the top two teams from the Northeast Division in 2006, the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres squared off in this series. The Senators won five of the eight meetings between the teams in the regular season, including several lopsided results early in the season.

Game 1 of the series was a back-and-forth affair, with the Sabres tying the game five separate times - including a goal by Tim Connolly with just 10.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 6 - before winning just 18 seconds into overtime on a goal by Chris Drury.

The remainder of the series was tightly played defensively, though. Goaltending by both Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Ottawa's Ray Emery became the key to the series. A 2–1 victory by the Sabres in Game 2 was highlighted by 43 Miller saves - including one on a breakaway by Jason Spezza - which allowed Buffalo to take a 2–0 series lead home.

Game 3 went to overtime and was won once again by the Sabres on a shot by J.P. Dumont. In Game 4 Sabre fans were prepared for a sweep, but were disappointed when the Senators were able to stave off elimination with a 2–1 victory.

Ottawa returned home for Game 5 with hopes of pulling even closer. The game went to overtime but ended quickly as Jason Pominville scored a shorthanded goal just 2:26 in to end the Senators' season. There had been six short-handed overtime goals in Stanley Cup Playoff history up to this point, but this was the first one to ever end a series. This put the Sabres into the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in the past eight seasons.

The Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, both division champions, met in the Conference Semifinals. The teams had met twice before in the playoffs: In 2001, the top-seeded Devils dispatched the Hurricanes in six games in the first round; Carolina won the following year as the third seed (the Hurricanes had an inferior record but held home advantage as a division champion). In the 2005–06 season, the Hurricanes won both games in 2005, while the Devils won both games in 2006, the last towards the beginning of their 15-game winning streak.

Game 1 of the series, in Carolina, featured sloppy play by the Devils. Ray Whitney scored a power-play goal in the first period and added another in the second period. Frustration set in for New Jersey as the Hurricanes scored two quick power-play goals late in the second, and then two more power-play goals midway through the third period, leading to Martin Brodeur, on his birthday, being pulled from his position, as Devils' goalie in favor of Scott Clemmensen. The game went to Carolina, 6–0.

Game 2, also in Carolina, was a much cleaner and low-scoring affair than the first game. After Zach Parise pushed the Devils ahead 2–1 with twenty seconds to go in the third period, Eric Staal scored a game-tying goal with just three seconds left to send the game into overtime. Niclas Wallin tallied the game-winner 3:09 into overtime. Back in New Jersey for Game 3, the Devils lost another 3–2 game, with Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour scoring the game-winner with 1:01 to play in the second period. The third period featured stellar play from goalies Cam Ward of Carolina and Martin Brodeur of New Jersey.

New Jersey jumped out to a 5–0 lead and won Game 4 with a final score of 5–1, including two goals by Scott Gomez and Jay Pandolfo's first goal of the postseason. Goalie Cam Ward of Carolina was pulled after the fourth goal for Martin Gerber, the man that he displaced behind the goal in Game 3 of Carolina's first-round series with Montreal.

Ward returned a day later back in Carolina in Game 5, and it looked like he might have a similarly short outing after Brian Gionta tallied in the game's first minute. However, Ward and the Carolina defense clamped down on the Devils attack as the Hurricanes killed off five straight New Jersey penalties. Hurricanes defenceman Frantisek Kaberle also added a goal to tie the score at 1. When the Hurricanes received their first power-play over halfway into the game, Carolina rushed up ice, with Brind'Amour and Justin Williams passing to an open Cory Stillman who beat Brodeur. Whitney and Staal added late goals to make the final game and series totals 4–1 in favor of the Hurricanes.

Game 1 was a muddled, penalty-filled battle. Edmonton took a first-period lead off a Jaroslav Spacek power-play goal. Patrick Marleau scored one goal (raising his playoff-leading total to eight) and assisted on another, leading the Sharks to a 2–1 win. Game 2 was also a 2–1 San Jose victory, with Joe Thornton scoring the game-winning goal on a power play in the second period.

The site changed to Edmonton for Game 3, and the Sharks and Oilers engaged in a triple-overtime match, the longest playoff game in the postseason to date, before Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff finally ended the game with a goal giving the Oilers a 3–2 win. Edmonton came back from an early 3–1 deficit in Game 4 and scored five unanswered goals late in the game - including three in the final period to force goalie Vesa Toskala from the game - to win, 6–3, and to even the series, 2–2.

In San Jose, Game 5 was the first time that a road team won a game in the series, the result being a 6–3 Edmonton victory. The teams entered the third period with Edmonton up 2–1, having killed off six penalties in the first and second periods. Twelve seconds into the period, Shawn Horcoff of the Oilers managed to put in a short-handed goal past Vesa Toskala making the score 3–1. Shortly after, the Sharks scored their first power-play goal in three games with Christian Ehrhoff scoring 44 seconds into the period. Less than two minutes later, Jonathan Cheechoo scored another goal to tie the game, 3–3. However, the Oilers answered back with Fernando Pisani scoring his second goal of the game. The Sharks took six penalties in the third period, which proved very costly. Jarret Stoll quickly capitalized on a Cheechoo interference call and then Ryan Smyth scored later in the period, sealing the game.

The two teams headed back to Edmonton for Game 6, where the Oilers took the game, 2–0, with the game-winning goal from Michael Peca, to win the series, 4–2.

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim advanced to play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. The Avalanche went 3–1 against Anaheim in the regular season, though all four games were decided by a single goal, and Anaheim's win was in overtime. The series was the first playoff series between the teams.

Game 1 started slow with no goals in the first period, but Samuel Pahlsson gave Anaheim the lead early in the second period. Two goals in the last minute of the period gave Anaheim a 4–0 advantage that extended to 5–0 by game's end, as rookie Ilya Bryzgalov recorded his second straight shutout.

In Game 2, Bryzgalov became the first goalie since his teammate, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, to record three straight playoff shutouts as the Ducks won, 3–0. Bryzgalov joins Frank McCool as the only rookie to accomplish such a feat, which was tested late when the Avalanche pulled goalie Jose Theodore in a desperate attempt to score. Stretching back to midway through the first period of Game 6 of the previous series, the Ducks had not been scored upon in 229:42, giving Bryzgalov the fourth longest playoff shutout streak in NHL history.

In Game 3, Dan Hinote scored late in the first period for the Avs, setting Bryzgalov's shutout streak at second all-time, with just under 250 minutes. Joffrey Lupul brought the Ducks back even in the second, but a Jim Dowd score gave the Avs another lead. Two more from Lupul, his first career hat trick, put the Ducks in a 3–2 lead late, but a Rob Blake follow-up goal from a heavy Alex Tanguay shot tied the score. At 16:30 of overtime, Joffrey Lupul scored his fourth goal of the night to put the Ducks at a 3–0 series lead. A newspaper in Edmonton reported the final score as Lupul 4, Avs 3.

In the fourth game, the Avs lost 4–1, in Colorado. Joe Sakic scored the only goal for the Avs early in the first period. The Ducks equalized late in the first period via a Todd Marchant goal. Bryzgalov did not allow the puck past him in the next two periods, with Teemu Selanne scoring the winning goal early in the second period. Also, Dustin Penner scoring in the sixth minute of the third period, and Marchant scored his second goal of the game late in the third period to secure Anaheim's berth in the Western Conference Finals.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres began the series labeled as "mirror images" of each other. Both teams were expected to do little in the pre-season, largely because of a lack of major moves in free agency in the off-season attributed to both teams' small-market status. Yet, both teams succeeded, thanks to a successful adjustment to the new, up-tempo game played in the NHL. The two teams were separated by just two points in the regular season, and both finished with 52 wins (Carolina had more points by virtue of taking two more games to overtime than Buffalo did). In their post-season runs, both teams had won their first-round series 4–2 and their second-round series 4–1. Both teams' post-season success had been credited to team defense, offensive scoring depth and the outstanding play of a rookie goaltender: Ryan Miller for the Sabres, and Cam Ward for the Hurricanes.

Thus, something had to give when the two teams first took the ice for Game 1 on May 20 in Raleigh. One theme that held true early was Buffalo's propensity for scoring first, as defenceman Henrik Tallinder finished off a barrage on Ward by beating the rookie goaltender three minutes into the period. Rod Brind'Amour scored to tie the first period at 1–1. Buffalo responded in the second period, outshooting Carolina, 13–4, and getting a goal from co-captain Daniel Briere in transition. Carolina applied plenty of pressure in the third period, but the Sabres took advantage of a failed power-play when Jay McKee emerged from the penalty box to beat Ward for another Buffalo score. Mike Commodore cut the deficit to 3–2 with a shorthanded goal with three minutes left in the game, but the Sabres won with no more goals scored.

Urged on by a raucous RBC Center crowd, the Hurricanes played well in the first period of Game 2, which was climaxed by a Frantisek Kaberle power-play goal. However, Buffalo evened the game 48 seconds from intermission. Perhaps as a result of the tie score, the Hurricanes dominated Buffalo in the second period, outshooting the Sabres, 16–4, and picking up two goals from veteran forward Ray Whitney. A near Buffalo goal, saved going in the net by defenceman Glen Wesley, and a Justin Williams goal in the third period both seemed meaningless at the time, but two late Buffalo goals (by Chris Drury and Derek Roy) made them quite important. The 4–3 Hurricanes win was not without controversy; Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette accused the Sabres of diving in order to draw four penalty calls against Carolina in the third period. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff replied that the Sabres were just following Carolina's example.

Game 3 was similar, except this time the two teams were reversed. Buffalo had the better of the play in the first period but the game was tied at 1 when Chris Drury deflected a shot past Ward. In this second period, Buffalo dominated, unleashing a barrage on Ward that yielded three goals: two Briere and one for Ales Kotalik. After the Kotalik goal, Ward was pulled in favor of Martin Gerber. Gerber made two saves on break-aways, giving Carolina momentum. The Hurricanes responded with goals from Cory Stillman and Eric Staal, extending Staal's point streak to 13 games. The Sabres emerged with a 2–1 series lead but lost Tallinder, one of their top defensemen, to a broken arm.

Game 4 provided the series' first large margin of victory for either side. The game went Carolina's way, as the Hurricanes emerged with a 4–0 shutout win. Much of the pregame conjecture centered around who Laviolette would turn select for goaltender. In the end, the call went to the veteran Gerber, and the Swiss native responded. Gerber kept the score deadlocked before Mark Recchi and Staal scored to give the Hurricanes a 2–0 first-period lead. In the second period, Andrew Ladd and Bret Hedican added their first goals of the post-season.

In Game 5, Gerber started in net for the Hurricanes, but he did not play well. Drury scored his ninth of the post-season to open the scoring and, after a Williams goal 17 seconds later tied the score, Derek Roy scored on Gerber to give the Sabres a 2–1 lead at the first intermission. Two minutes into the second period, Toni Lydman scored, giving Buffalo a 3–1 lead. Laviolette once more made a mid-game switch, this time turning back to Ward. Within 10 minutes, the Hurricanes had evened the score thanks to a goal from Recchi and then a power play goal off the crossbar from Brind'Amour. The Hurricanes registered only one shot on goal in the entire third period. The game went to overtime for the first time in the series. In overtime, Stillman recovered a shot that went wide off the boards and beat Miller low to give Carolina a momentum-grabbing 4–3 win. The Hurricanes earned their first lead of the series. Eric Staal received an assist on the Brind'Amour goal to push his consecutive points streak to 15 games. The record is 19 games, set by Bryan Trottier for the New York Islanders in 1981.

With Teppo Numminen returning to the bench, Game 6 started out comfortably for the Sabres, as J.P. Dumont scored on a rebound early in the first period to give the Sabres a lead. It held until late in the third period, when Bret Hedican put a shot into the top corner to send the game into overtime. After Doug Weight was given a boarding penalty for his hit on Pominville early in overtime, Daniel Brière sent the series to a Game 7 by putting a shot in that went off Cam Ward's glove and into the net.

In Game 7, the Sabres remained competitive despite the loss of defenceman Jay McKee, leaving them with four defenders sidelined, and seven players overall, missing from the roster because of injury. Buffalo took a 2–1 lead with 2 seconds left in the second period on Jochen Hecht's wraparound bank shot off Ward's pads. But Carolina answered early in the third with a goal by Weight, atoning for his penalty that cost the Hurricanes in the previous game, and then took the lead on a power play goal by Brind'Amour with about seven minutes left. Justin Williams would tally an insurance goal on a rebound from Brind'Amour with a minute left, and the Hurricanes took the game 4–2 and the series 4–3, securing their second trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in four seasons.

The Oilers opened up the scoring in the first game of the series in the first period, when Michael Peca scored his second short-handed goal of the playoffs on a long pass from Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson. The Ducks quickly answered back with a goal on a power play, tying the game. The Oilers took the lead in the middle of the second period when Ales Hemsky knocked in a high rebound. The Oilers' Todd Harvey scored on an empty net to clinch the game.

The second game of the series was one which many declared a "must-win" for Anaheim in order to avoid going down 2–0 in the series heading to Rexall Place, where they had not won since 1999. However, the Oilers opened with another special-teams goal in the first period when Chris Pronger scored on a power-play with a shot off the blue line thirteen minutes into the first period. However, the Ducks responded in the second period with Jeff Friesen putting a rebound past Roloson. Roloson stopped 33 shots on the night. Fernando Pisani, who led the Oilers in goals, scored his eighth of the playoffs with three minutes left in the second period. During the third period, the Ducks pressured Edmonton, much like Game 1, but were unable to beat Roloson as well as the Edmonton shot-blocking. Michael Peca scored his second goal of the series on an empty net as time ran out, giving the Oilers a 2–0 series lead.

Game 3 was played at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The Ducks sought to break the Oilers' six-game playoff win streak in a building they had not won in since 1999. The first period was marred with over 40 penalty minutes assessed in total. However, Toby Petersen managed to put the Oilers in the lead on a failed Bryzgalov clearing attempt which left the net wide open. Both teams could not score in the second period as things seemed to calm down a little. The third period had much more scoring. First, Michael Peca scored on a breakaway. Just over a minute later, Steve Staios scored his first goal of the playoffs on a power play, giving the Oilers a 3–0 lead. Chris Pronger seemed to put this out of reach on a 5-on-3 power-play goal. The Oilers had scored three goals in two and a half minutes, giving them a seemingly safe 4–0 lead. However, the Ducks' Sean O'Donnell scored at just past the seven-minute mark of the third period. Teemu Selanne, who had been quiet for much of the series, put the Ducks right back in the game with his first goal of the series. Chris Kunitz then put the Ducks within a goal as the momentum had completely shifted over. However, Pisani scored his ninth goal of the playoffs off a bad Anaheim faceoff putting the Oilers back ahead by two. This tied him for the most goals in the playoffs with Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks with nine. Selanne then scored his second goal of the game with less than two minutes left, bringing it back to a one-goal game. However, the Oilers managed to hang on in the dying seconds and secure a 3–0 series lead with a chance to sweep at Rexall Place in Game 4. The game had a total of 76 penalty minutes handed out by the time everything was done.

After a less-than-stellar performance in Game 3, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle replaced Bryzgalov with Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Game 4, hoping the shakeup would energize his team. It worked quite well, as the Ducks allowed only three shots in the first period, scoring three goals. Edmonton did lead a comeback in the second period, coming within one of the Ducks, but Joffrey Lupul scored two goals to win the game, 5–2.

Game 5 returned to Anaheim, and the Oilers had several penalties called against them in the first period. Although the Oilers successfully killed off the penalty to Matt Greene, Jaroslav Spacek's hooking minor led to a power play goal for the Ducks, scored by Francois Beauchemin. The first period ended with the Ducks up 1–0 and outshooting the Oilers, 14–8. Early in the second period, the Ducks took a penalty that was successfully killed off, but immediately after the penalty expired, the Oilers tied the game with a rebound goal from Ethan Moreau. Five minutes later, Raffi Torres tipped in a shot from Marc-Andre Bergeron to take the lead in the game. Although several good chances for both teams followed, the lead was held by the Oilers.

Despite late pressure by the Ducks, including a 6-on-3 power play in the final minute of play, the Oilers held on to win the Western Conference and move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. They were the first eighth-seeded team to reach the Finals under the current playoff format (which was introduced in 1994).

This series marked the first time that the Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1990, when they won their fifth Stanley Cup in team history. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2002, when they fell to the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in five games.

This series marked the first time that two former World Hockey Association teams played against each other for the Stanley Cup since they merged with the NHL in 1979. The Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes team is the only former WHA club to have never contested a Finals. As a result of the new scheduling formula that was implemented before the 2005–06 NHL season, the Hurricanes and the Oilers did not meet during the regular season.

These were also the second Finals contested by two teams that had both missed the playoffs the previous season (assuming one skips the unplayed 2005 Stanley Cup playoffs), after Pittsburgh/Minnesota 1991. Even more interestingly, it would also prove to be the first Finals contested by teams that would both go on to miss the following years' playoffs. Prior to these Finals only one team, the 1938–39 Chicago Blackhawks, had ever missed the playoffs one year, then played in the Stanley Cup Finals (win or lose) the following season, and then missed the playoffs again the season after that. Both the Hurricanes and Oilers have now accomplished this dubious feat.

In Game 1, Carolina tied the biggest comeback in Stanley Cup Finals history, overcoming a three-goal deficit to win, 5–4. Edmonton scored first, 8:18 into the first period, with a goal from Fernando Pisani. In the second period, Chris Pronger scored the first penalty shot goal in Stanley Cup Finals history after defenceman Niclas Wallin illegally covered the puck inside his own goal crease, and Ethan Moreau's goal at 16:23 gave the Oilers a 3–0 lead. But at the 17:17 mark, Rod Brind'Amour scored the Hurricanes' first goal of the game. Carolina then tied the game in the third period with two scores by Ray Whitney. The Hurricanes jumped ahead, 4–3, on a shorthanded goal by Justin Williams, but Edmonton's Ales Hemsky scored on a power play to tie the game with 6:29 remaining. Late in the final period, Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson suffered a series-ending knee injury in a collision and was replaced with Ty Conklin. With 32 seconds to go in regulation, Conklin misplayed the puck, and it deflected off Jason Smith's stick to the front of the empty net, allowing Brind'Amour to score the winning goal.

With Roloson's injury, Jussi Markkanen started for the Oilers in Game 2. Although Markkanen had played 37 games in the regular season - sharing the job with Ty Conklin and Mike Morrison - he had watched the entire post-season from the bench; he also had not played in a game since March 1, 2006. The Hurricanes shut out the Oilers, 5–0, with five different Carolina players scoring goals. Markkanen was Edmonton's third goaltender in the series. It was the first time three goaltenders had been used in a Cup Finals since May 1970, when the St. Louis Blues employed Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall and Ernie Wakely on their way to being swept by the Boston Bruins.

In Game 3, Markkanen once again started in net with Roloson still out. Shawn Horcoff scored just over two minutes into the first period. During the second period, a short-handed goal was waved off by the referee, because he had lost sight of the puck and had blown the whistle, despite the fact that the puck had not yet been covered. The Hurricanes responded midway through the third period with their captain, Rod Brind'Amour, taking a rebound off a blocked shot past Markkanen. However, with 2:15 left in the game, Edmonton's Ryan Smyth scored the winning goal after crashing into Ward inside the crease as they both tried to get control of a rebound off of a shot by Ales Hemsky. Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette and many other Carolina players complained that Smyth should have been penalized for interference, but no penalty was called since the referees felt that he did not make enough contact with Ward to prevent him from attempting a save.

In, Game 4, Edmonton got off to a good start when Sergei Samsonov opened the scoring at 8:40 of the first period. However, the lead was short-lived as Cory Stillman replied just 29 seconds later to tie the game, 1–1. Mark Recchi scored the eventual game-winner with just over four minutes to go in the second period. Once again Edmonton's power-play was futile, failing to capitalize on five chances, including a 2-man advantage in the first period. When the game ended, the Oilers were 1-for-25 on the power play to this point in the series.

Carolina entered Game 5 with a 3–1 lead in the series and a chance to win the Stanley Cup on their home ice. However, Edmonton scored first on Fernando Pisani's goal 16 seconds into the game. The Hurricanes then went ahead, 2–1, on two power-play goals by Staal and Whitney before the Oilers scored a power-play goal by Hemsky to tie the game. Peca then gave Edmonton a 3–2 lead with 17.4 seconds left in the first period. In the second period, Staal scored another power play goal to tie the game. With 7:47 remaining in the third period, Whitney missed what might have been the Hurricanes' best chance to close out the series with a shot that just hit the post. The game went to overtime, and Pisani scored the first short-handed overtime goal in Finals history to give the Oilers the win.

Edmonton, in Game 6, shut out Carolina, 4–0, scoring three power-play goals and limiting the Hurricanes to only 16 shots on goal. Edmonton held Carolina to seven shots through 40 minutes of play. Fernando Pisani got his post-season high fifth game winning goal (and 13th in total, also tops amongst scorers in this playoffs).

The Hurricanes returned to their home ice to defeat the Oilers in Game 7, 3–1, to win the Cup. Aaron Ward and Frantisek Kaberle gave Carolina a 2–0 lead before Pisani scored for Edmonton at 1:03 of the third period to cut the lead. With a minute and a half to go in regulation, the Oilers pulled Markkanen in hopes of tying the game. Seconds later, a loose puck wound up on the stick of Bret Hedican. Hedican dumped the puck to Eric Staal, who fed it to Justin Williams. Williams sprinted down the ice and tapped the puck into the empty net at 18:59 of the third period, sealing the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward became the first NHL rookie goalie to win a Stanley Cup Finals series since Patrick Roy lead the Montreal Canadiens in 1986, and he was also the first rookie since the Philadelphia Flyers' Ron Hextall in 1987 to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.

Cory Stillman earned a Stanley Cup title for the second straight season, having won in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the first player to win back-to-back titles with different teams since Claude Lemieux (1995 New Jersey Devils, 1996 Colorado Avalanche).

The Hurricanes' victory ended Glen Wesley's 18-year drought without winning the Cup. He had played close to 1,500 regular season and playoff games before winning the Cup, the longest such drought in the NHL. Wesley was the last player remaining from the franchise's days as the Hartford Whalers. Other notable veterans to win their first Cup were Rod Brind'Amour, Doug Weight, Ray Whitney, and Bret Hedican. Mark Recchi won the second Cup of his career, having won 15 years prior as a member of the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Hurricanes became the third former World Hockey Association franchise to win the Stanley Cup, following the Oilers and Quebec Nordiques, who won as the Colorado Avalanche.

The 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs marked the second time in a row that an Alberta-based team had made it to the NHL finals only to lose in seven games to the Southeast Division champions; the Calgary Flames were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. This also marked the third straight occurrence of the Curse of Detroit, where since the last time the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002, the Western Conference team that defeated the Detroit Red Wings during the playoffs went on to the finals, and lost the series to the Eastern Conference team in seven games.

In each game of the Finals, the team that won the opening faceoff went on to win that game.

This was the first major-league professional championship for the state of North Carolina.

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2008–09 Toronto Maple Leafs season

The 2008–09 Toronto Maple Leafs season is the franchise's 91st, and their 81st as the Maple Leafs. The Leafs have not qualified for the postseason since the 2003–04 season.

The Leafs faced an offseason challenge to hire a General Manager. Brian Burke was a favorite for the position held by interim GM Cliff Fletcher but Burke decided to stay with the Anaheim Ducks. He was not given permission to talk to the Leafs about their vacancy by Ducks owner Henry Samueli. Burke had one more year left on his contract as the general manager of the Ducks and those close to him say he was interested in the Leafs' job.

On May 7, the Leafs fired head coach Paul Maurice, along with two assistant coaches after missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. On May 8th, the Leafs asked the Vancouver Canucks permission to speak to Dave Nonis about hiring him for a position with the club.

In mid-May, there were rumours that Wayne Gretzky was in the running for a position with the Maple Leafs. Gretzky responded to the rumours linking him to the Toronto Maple Leafs by stating that his focus was on the Phoenix Coyotes and developing their young talent.

On June 10, Ron Wilson was hired as the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wilson was fired in May by San Jose after the Sharks lost to the Dallas Stars in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Wilson has also coached the Anaheim Ducks and the Washington Capitals. The former U.S. college player spent parts of three NHL seasons with the Leafs in the 1970s.

The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Al Coates as their player-personnel director on Monday, June 16. Coates comes to Toronto after spending the previous six seasons with Anaheim. Coates has spent more than 30 years in pro hockey and has been part of two Stanley Cup-winning teams ('07 with Anaheim and '89 with Calgary). The move perpetuated speculation that Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke will become the Leafs' GM once his deal with the Ducks expires in 2009, but this speculation is premature. New head coach Ron Wilson played hockey with Burke at Providence, but this is largely considered moot and mildly coincidental.

Former NHL star Joe Nieuwendyk was named as general manager Cliff Fletcher's special assistant on July 8. While playing for the Florida Panthers, Nieuwendyk gained experience as a special consultant to GM Jacques Martin.

Throughout the offseason, the Maple Leafs have been involved in numerous transactions. On June 24, the Toronto Maple Leafs put Goaltender Andrew Raycroft and Forward Kyle Wellwood on waivers. Also, Interim GM Cliff Fletcher informed Darcy Tucker that he is to be bought out of his three-year contract, however it will not be official until June 25th.

The Maple Leafs bought out goaltender Andrew Raycroft on June 28, making him eligible for free agency on July 1st. When the free agent signing period began on July 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed on defenceman Jeff Finger, goaltender Curtis Joseph to back up current starting goaltender Vesa Toskala and former Dallas Stars forward Niklas Hagman. Another transaction was made on July 3, as Cliff Fletcher was busy again as he traded for former Montreal Canadiens forward Mikhail Grabovski in exchange for the rights to Greg Pateryn and a 2nd round draft choice in 2010. The Leafs also resigned forwards Dominic Moore, John Mitchell, and Greg Scott. On July 14, the Maple Leafs acquired forward Ryan Hollweg in a trade with the New York Rangers for a 5th round draft pick in 2009.

With a young roster, the Leafs were expected to have a lacklustre season. This proved to be correct, as they fell out of the playoff race relatively early and showed little sign of recovery. However, they showed signs of improvement in February and March 2009, during which they had a remarkable stretch of seven consecutive games which went to overtime. The Leafs lost the first two in shootouts then won four in a row with two overtime wins and two shootout wins, followed by an overtime loss.

In November 2008, Brian Burke obtained his release from the Anaheim Ducks and joined the Leafs as President and General Manager.

The Leafs were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on March 31, 2009, with six games remaining in the season.

If the Leafs had qualified for the playoffs, it would have been their first qualification since the 2003–04 NHL season.

On October 6, the team placed Mark Bell on waivers.

Toronto's picks at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa, Ontario.

Updated March 30, 2009.

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Andrew Raycroft

Andrew Joseph Ernest Raycroft (born May 4, 1980) is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He attended Nicholson Catholic College in Belleville during the majority of his high school tenure.

Prior to entering the junior hockey ranks, Raycroft grew up playing minor hockey with the Quinte Red Devils AAA (OMHA) system in the Eastern Ontario AAA League.

Raycroft played for the Kingston Frontenacs and Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He also played for the Wellington Dukes of the OPJAHL.

Raycroft was drafted 135th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. In his first full-season with the Bruins in 2003-2004, he compiled a 29-18-9 record with a goals against average (GAA) of 2.05, a save percentage of .926 and three shutouts to help lead the Bruins to a second-place finish in the regular season in the Eastern Conference. Raycroft was rewarded for his efforts with the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the league's top rookie.

He struggled with the Boston Bruins in the 2005-06 season, managing only 8 wins, losing the starter and backup goalie jobs to new starting goalie Tim Thomas and new backup rookie goalie Hannu Toivonen. He would be a healthy scratch for the rest of that season. On June 24, 2006, Raycroft was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the rights to Finnish goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask. He began playing for the Maple Leafs in the 2006-07 season and earned his first shutout (and his first win) as a Leaf in a 6-0 win against the Ottawa Senators on October 5. On April 3, 2007, Raycroft tied the Leafs' franchise record for most wins by a goaltender in the regular season (37), previously held by Ed Belfour in 2002-03. However, he played more games than Belfour and earned three shootout wins, which did not exist prior to the 2005-06 season.

Raycroft struggled at the start of the 2007-2008 season, and Vesa Toskala became the Leafs' starting goaltender. The Leafs placed him on waivers on June 24, and bought out the remainder of his contract on June 27, 2008. On July 1, he signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche, where he backs up Peter Budaj.

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San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are a professional ice hockey team based in San Jose, California, United States. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They play their home games at the HP Pavilion at San Jose.

Although Northern California was not considered a particularly fertile hockey market, the NHL's 1967 expansion included a Bay Area team, primarily because the terms of a new television agreement with CBS called for two of the new teams to be located in California. Thus, the Oakland Seals were one of the six expansion teams added, but were a failure both on the ice and at the gate. In 1976, after nine money-losing seasons and continued low attendance, the Seals (renamed the California Golden Seals in 1970), partly owned by Cleveland businessmen George and Gordon Gund, were moved to Cleveland, where they became the Barons. After two more years of losses, the Gunds were permitted to merge the Barons with the financially struggling Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars). The Gunds emerged as the owners of the North Stars as part of the deal.

The Gunds had long wanted to bring hockey back to the Bay Area and asked the NHL for permission to move the North Stars there in the late 1980s, but the league vetoed them. Meanwhile, a group led by former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin was pushing the NHL to bring a team to San Jose, where a new arena was being built. Eventually the league struck a compromise: the Gunds would sell their share of the North Stars to Baldwin's group, with the Gunds receiving an expansion team in the Bay Area to begin play in the 1991–92 season and being allowed to take a certain number of players from the North Stars to their new club. In return, the North Stars would be allowed to participate as an equal partner in an expansion draft with the new Bay Area team.

For their first two seasons, the Sharks played at the Cow Palace in Daly City, just outside San Francisco, a facility that the NHL and the Seals had rejected in 1967. Pat Falloon was their first draft choice, and led the team in points during their first season. George Kingston was their first coach during their first two seasons. Though the 1991-92 roster was primarily comprised of NHL journeymen, minor leaguers, and rookies, the Sharks had at least one notable player when they acquired 14-year veteran and former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Doug Wilson from the Chicago Blackhawks on September 6, 1991. Wilson was named the team's first captain and All-Star representative in the inaugural season. The Sharks, however, were one of the worst teams in the NHL their first two seasons, as often happens to expansion teams — the 71 losses in 1992-93 is an NHL record, and they also suffered a 17-game losing streak, while winning just 11 games and earning a mere 24 points in the standings. Kingston was fired following the end of the 1992-93 season.

Despite the Sharks futility in the standings, several team "firsts" happened in the 1992-93 season. On November 17, 1992, San Jose goaltender Arturs Irbe recorded the first shutout in team history, stoning the Los Angeles Kings 6-0. On December 3 against the Hartford Whalers at the Cow Palace, right winger Rob Gaudreau scored the first hat trick in franchise history; he also scored the team's second ever hat trick nine days later against the Quebec Nordiques. Gaudreau's prolific scoring earned the Sharks their first ever league-wide award as the NHL's Rookie of the Month for having scored 14 goals and 5 assists for 19 points during the month of December, 1992.

The early era also saw the birth of the San Jose Sharks long-time mascot, S. J. Sharkie. On January 28, 1992 at a game vs. the New York Rangers, the then-unnamed mascot emerged from a Zamboni during an intermission. A "Name the Mascot" contest began that night, with the winning name of "S. J. Sharkie" being announced on April 15, 1992.

For their third season, 1993–94, the Sharks moved to their current home, the San Jose Arena (now the HP Pavilion at San Jose). Under head coach Kevin Constantine, the Sharks pulled off one of the biggest turnarounds in NHL history, finishing with a 33-35-16 record, making the playoffs with 82 points — a 58-point jump from the previous season. They were seeded eighth in the Western Conference playoffs and faced the Detroit Red Wings, one of the favorites in the Western Conference to win the Stanley Cup. However, in one of the biggest upsets in Stanley Cup playoff history, the underdog Sharks shocked the Red Wings in seven games. In the second round, the Sharks had a 3-2 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs but lost the final two games in Toronto, including an overtime loss in Game 6 where, moments before Toronto's decisive goal, Johan Garpenlov's shot rang off the Toronto crossbar.

In 1994-95, the Sharks returned to the playoffs and again reached the second round. Ray Whitney scored a goal in double overtime of Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals against the Calgary Flames, continuing the Flames' streak of not winning a playoff series after they won the 1989 Stanley Cup (which would not be broken until 2004). Key Sharks players were goalie Arturs Irbe, defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and forwards Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov. The 1995 season also saw the only rainout in the history of the NHL, when the Guadalupe River flooded its banks in March 1995, making it impossible for anyone to get into the San Jose Arena for a game between the Sharks and the Red Wings.

In 1995-96, the Sharks finished last in the Pacific Division and failed to make the playoffs. The team also underwent major changes: during the season they traded Ozolinsh and Larionov; Irbe, who had suffered an off-ice injury, was released at the end of the season. The team began rebuilding, acquiring forward Owen Nolan from the Colorado Avalanche, as well as several other players. Constantine was fired midway through the season and replaced by interim coach Jim Wiley. The next season was no better under Al Sims, with the Sharks again finishing last and winning only 27 games. Their standing would help them draft Patrick Marleau (no.2 overall) in the 1997 NHL entry draft.

The Sharks returned to the playoffs in 1997-98, with goalie Mike Vernon, whom they acquired from the Red Wings (the season after Vernon won the Conn Smythe Trophy), and new head coach Darryl Sutter. For the next two years, the Sharks made the playoffs, yet never advanced past the first round. This changed in the 1999-2000 season, when the Sharks finished with their first-ever winning record, but earned a match-up against the Presidents' Trophy champion St. Louis Blues in the first round. However, in an upset on par with the one they had pulled on Detroit six years earlier, the Sharks managed to eliminate the Blues in the full seven games. San Jose, however, managed to last only five more games before being eliminated by the Dallas Stars that year.

In 2000-01, Kazakh goalie Evgeni Nabokov won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie. The team also acquired Finnish star forward Teemu Selanne from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for Jeff Friesen and Steve Shields. In the 2001 playoffs, the Blues downed the Sharks in six games in the first round, avenging the 2000 defeat to San Jose. The team's breakout year was 2001-02. Veteran Adam Graves was acquired for Mikael Samuelsson. The Sharks won their first Pacific Division title, and defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, but fell to the Colorado Avalanche in second.

Following the 2001-02 season, the Gunds sold the Sharks to a group of local investors headed by team president Greg Jamison. Kyle McLaren was acquired in a three-way trade with the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins for checking-line winger Niklas Sundstrom and promising prospect Jeff Jillson, and Dan McGillis was acquired for Marcus Ragnarsson, but the team could not turn itself around. Sutter was fired and replaced by Ron Wilson midway through that season.

In 2003, Owen Nolan was traded to Toronto, and the newly-acquired McGillis, Bryan Marchment, AHL star Shawn Heins, and forward Matt Bradley were moved. Selanne left to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. Centers Alyn McCauley (from the Maple Leafs) and Wayne Primeau (from the Pittsburgh Penguins) were brought in to stabilize the locker room. Jim Fahey led all rookie defensemen in points despite playing in only 43 games.

2003-04 saw another turnaround for the team, resulting in the team's best season ever. An injection of youth, with players like Christian Ehrhoff and Tom Preissing, and the influx of energy with Alexander Korolyuk jump-started San Jose. They posted the third-best record in the league with a team-record 104 points (31 more than the previous season, and the first time the team had earned 100 points), won the Pacific Division championship, and were seeded second in the Western Conference. In the playoffs, the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4 games to 1 in the conference quarterfinals and stopped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 in the conference semifinals. The San Jose Sharks, for the first time, went to the conference finals. However, they fell to the Calgary Flames and ex-coach Sutter 4-2 in the conference finals with former Sharks goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in net for the Flames. Kiprusoff was traded early in the season to the Flames for a second round pick (Marc-Edouard Vlasic was drafted for that second pick).

The Sharks started the 2005-06 season slowly, dropping to last place in the Pacific Division. In the previous off-season, they didn't add any players from outside their own organization — the only team out of 30 not to do so. After a 10-game losing streak, the Sharks traded Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm to the Boston Bruins for star player Joe Thornton. The trade re-energized the team, and with excellent play by backup goaltender Vesa Toskala, the Sharks rallied back from their early season slump to clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference. In the playoffs, the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 in the conference quarterfinals before falling to the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in the conference semifinals. Joe Thornton was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player, as well as the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points, with a total of 125. Jonathan Cheechoo was awarded the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals during the regular season, with a total of 56.

The Sharks entered the 2006-07 season as the youngest team in average age, as well as the biggest team in average weight, and they raced out to a 20-7-0 start, the best in franchise history. Ron Wilson chose the uncommon strategy of alternating both Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov every other game. Two significant trades were made at the trade deadline for defenseman Craig Rivet and winger Bill Guerin. The trades coincided with Nabokov, playing full time while Toskala recovered from an injury, putting together a string of outstanding performances and earning the number one job. The Sharks finished the regular season with the best record in franchise history at 51-26-5. In the conference quarterfinals, the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators for the second year in a row with the same 4-1 result. In the Western Conference semifinals, the Sharks faced the Detroit Red Wings. After taking a 2-1 series lead, they lost a pivotal game 4 when the Red Wings scored the tying goal with 33 seconds left and went on to win in overtime. The Sharks would go on to lose the next two games in a row, losing the series to Detroit 4-2.

In that offseason, San Jose lost defenseman Scott Hannan to the Colorado Avalanche but managed to re-sign pending free agent Craig Rivet.

In advance of the 2007-08 season, the Sharks updated their logos and jerseys to adjust to the new Rbk EDGE jersey. The Sharks rode on a very hot streak in the month of March. They were aided by the trade-deadline acquisition of Brian Campbell, who they gave up Steve Bernier and a first-round-pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Going the entire month without a regulation loss, they captured their third division title with a franchise-record 108 points, second in the league to the Detroit Red Wings. San Jose started the 2007-2008 playoffs beating the Calgary Flames 4 games to 3 in San Jose's first ever home Game 7, advancing to play the fifth seeded Dallas Stars in the second round. On Monday April 21, goalie Evgeni Nabokov was named one of the three finalists for the Vezina trophy for the NHL's most valuable goaltender. San Jose eventually lost to Dallas 4-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Game 6 required four overtime periods, and was the longest game in the team's history.

The Ron Wilson era officially came to an end on Monday, May 12 when the Sharks fired Wilson, citing the Sharks' disappointing second round losses in the past three seasons. Wilson ended his tenure in San Jose with a overall record of 206-134-45 in 385 regular-season games and a 28-24 record in 52 postseason games.

On June 11, 2008, the San Jose Sharks named former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, Todd McLellan, as their new head coach for the 2008-09 season.

During the offseason, San Jose's major headlines included signing defenseman Rob Blake, acquiring defensemen Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich for defenseman Matt Carle, defensive prospect Ty Wishart, a first round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, as well as trading defenseman Craig Rivet to the Buffalo Sabres for a second round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and a second round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

San Jose also re-signed trade-deadline acquisitions Jody Shelley and Brian Boucher as well as free agents Jeremy Roenick, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, Lukas Kaspar and Douglas Murray.

On March 4, 2009 Travis Moen was traded to the San Jose Sharks along with Kent Huskins for Nick Bonino, Timo Pielmeier and a conditional draft pick(4th round pick in 2011 which becomes a 2nd round pick in 2011 if the San Jose Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final).

On March 17, 2009, the Sharks won the Pacific Division title for the fourth time after the second place Dallas Stars lost in regulation to the Vancouver Canucks.

Records as of May 5, 2008.

Updated March 29, 2009.

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Since 2007, the team sponsors Beijing's Asia League Ice Hockey team, known as the China Sharks.

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Source : Wikipedia