Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Video: Huberdeau's Goal Disallowed Due to Interference

Jonathan Huberdeau's crease crash did not lead to a Florida Panthers' goal on Wednesday night in Brookly. The referee waved off the goal initially, ruling that Huberdeau had interfered with Islanders goalie Thomas Griess.

Later the play went to video review and the no goal call was upheld.

Most commentators on the NBC broadcast believed that the play would be ruled a goal--they couldn't see what Huberdeau had done to make this play a wash out.

But the NHL cited the following rule in its situation room explanation:

According to Rule 69.7, "In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck by an attacking player after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed." This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no penalty and no goal Florida.

The Panthers later challenged the call and argued that Huberdeau did not interfere with Greiss on the replay.

Here is the NHL's take on the challenge:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau interfered with New York goaltender Thomas Greiss before the puck crossed the goal line.

It's a difficult one to call. Goals like this have been allowed many times in the past, but it does appear that 1) Huberdeau takes away Greiss's ability to follow-through on the play when he slides into him (and he was not pushed into the goalie by Islanders' defenseman Ryan Pulock) and 2) Huberdeau actually puts the puck in the net with his skate (though not with a distinct kicking motion).

Scott Laughton Stretchered off After Scary Collision

Flyers forward Scott Laughton had to be taken off on a stretcher after this high-speed collision with John Carlson that ended with Laughton falling awkwardly into the boards as he was spinning wildly.

Laughton was taken immediately to Jefferson Hospital for precautionary reasons.

Bolts' Boss Cooper Very High on Drouin after Game 4 Win

With Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman out with injury, the Tampa Bay Lightning really need Jonathan Drouin to step up and play big.

He's not letting them down. And his coach Jon Cooper is pretty ecstatic about it.

Cooper said all the right things after his team's 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Detroit on Tuesday, praising the 21-year-old for his eye-opening performance that saw him net three assists and display serious patience and skill on the power play. Whether or not Cooper and the organization's tune will change in the off-season is another story, but right now it's clear that the more air the Lightning can put in Drouin's tires the better off everybody will be.

Could what started as a contentious, disastrous 2016 for the 21-year-old actually have a fairy tale ending? Drouin was sent down to the minors after asking for a trade from Tampa Bay earlier in the season, and then he was suspended for refusing to show up to play. Tampa GM Steve Yzerman made it clear that he was going to play hard ball with his former top pick and eventually, as trade rumors percolated, things took a turn. Drouin got back to business in Syracuse and started tearing up the AHL. The trade deadline came and went and he was still with the Lightning. Then came the injuries to Stamkos and Stralman and Drouin got the call.

With the Lightning on the verge of advancing to the second round, the fairy tale appears to have legs. Speaking to media on Tuesday, coach Cooper said all the right things.

"We never ever gave up on Jonathan," said Cooper. "Jonathan, he's a young kid and he's finding his way in pro hockey and he earned his way back and now he's earning his ice time and now he's helping us win hockey games, which we knew all along he could."

Surely Cooper's praise will get back to Drouin via the media and make him feel wanted. It hasn't always been the case. He has been criticized for poor defensive play by Cooper in the past, and he was regularly scratched during Tampa's run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, playing just six games. But he was a young, developing player on a stacked team. It's par for the course for a player like Drouin in the formative phase of his career.

"I'm just unbelievably proud of the way he's handled himself with our team with the staff," Cooper added. "He deserves this. The way he's played and come back and paid his dues, it's good for him. I'm really happy for him."

It hasn't exactly been a meteoric rise for Jonathan Drouin since he was selected by the Lightning with the third overall pick in 2013, but at least for now, the compass in his career is pointed north again. With the Bolts set to advance to the second round, Drouin might get the chance to show the world that he's an elite player in the making. Whether he stays in Tampa or gets moved in the off-season it's great news.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Watch: Matt Cullen Speeds Past Two Fumbling Rangers to Score Game Winner

The return of Ryan McDonagh on Tuesday night in New York led to a Dan Boyle-Keith Yandle defensive pairing for the Rangers during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Penguins, and all was going well until this double-gaffe allowed 39-year-old Matt Cullen to steam in on a breakaway against unsuspecting Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist looks like he's been caught off guard on the play as Cullen buries a wrister to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 4:16 of the third.

The lead would stand as Kris Letang added a late empty-netter to give the Pens a road win and a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts.

Yandle was in better position to drop back and defend before the turnover, and probably should have let Boyle take the one-on-one with Cullen. If Boyle had trouble, he'd at least be able to alter Cullen's path. Instead, both defenseman made Keystone Cop-like swipes at the puck and ended up colliding while Cullen raced off.

It's a split-second read-and-react play, and it burned the Rangers badly.

It was exactly the thing a pair of defenseman cannot afford to do in the third period of a crucial playoff game. Particularly in a game where the Rangers struggled to get through the neutral zone and only managed 17 shots on rookie goaltender Matt Murray.

"It's one of those things that happens over the course of the game," Yandle said after the game. "It's a 50-50 puck and we run into each other. It's a tough one to swallow right now and we just have to come back Thursday."

Video: Letang Takes Vicious Swipe at Stalberg's Face

It's a wonder that Pittsburgh's Kris Letang was still around to score an empty-net goal to seal the Penguins 3-1 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, because the defenseman very easily could have been tossed out of the game for this egregious high-stick on Rangers' forward Viktor Stalberg.

There was no penalty call on the play either, and Stalberg lost multiple teeth, according to Justin Tasch of the N.Y. Daily News.

Players are expected to control their stick whether or not they intend to inflict harm on another player, so it's a pretty big head-scratcher that this call was missed. Maybe the referee was watching in disbelief and swallowed his whistle inadvertently?

Some are alread hinting that a suspension from the Department of Player Safety would be a good call.

Will it happen?

Corey Crawford Attacks Robby Fabbri after Goal-Mouth Collision

During the second period of Tuesday's black and blue battle at the United Center in Chicago, Corey Crawford took offense to Robby Fabbri's buzzing of his tower (see video and ensuing brawl above) and all hell broke loose after the Chicago netminder took matters into his own hands, hunting down Fabbri in the corner and scrapping with him before a good, old-fashioned brawl broke out between the teams.

Remarkably, Crawford got the better of this tussle in more ways than one. St. Louis was given the extra penalty and the Blackhawks ended up getting a goal by Duncan Keith to take the lead.

Moments later, Vladamir Tarasenko tied things up with yet another twisted wrister (his 13th playoff goal in 17 career postseason games) while Andrew Ladd was off sitting for an interference minor.

The third period is underway--you might want to check it out.

Anderson Takes Weber Slapper to Mask

Frederik Andersen got the nod in goal for the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night in Nashville after the Ducks dropped games one and two with John Gibson between the pipes. Anderson has been solid thus far, facing all 14 shots he's faced, including this absolute bullet off the stick of Predator's defenseman Shea Weber (Yes, that's he of the 108.5 MPH slapper, also the defending, two-time champion of the NHL's annual fastest shot competition).

Talk about heat. Watch the puck fly afer it hits Andersen's mask, high up into the netting in the far corner behind the glass. Takes some courage to come out and cut off the angle against a shooter like Weber, and Anderson did it in style. He went down for a moment after the whistle, but appeared to be no worse for the wear.

Anaheim leads 2-0 late in period two on the strength of goals by Jamie McGinn and Rickard Rackell.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Coach's Challenge Give Isles a Big Boost in Game 3 win over Panthers

The New York Islanders were on the verge of getting blown out in their first ever playoff game at the Barclays Center when they got a huge break thanks to the NHL's new coach's challenge rule. Aaron Ekblad's goal in the third period was waved off thanks to video replay that showed Jonathan Huberdeau had entered the zone offsides just moments earlier.

This was about as close as an offsides can get, but Huberdeau later admitted that he thought he was offsides and was waiting for the lineseman to blow the whistle on the play.

"It's offside, so it's not going to count," Huberdeau said. "Of course it's tough because it would have been 3-0 instead of 2-0... we could have won that game and we didn't capitalize on our chances in overtime. "I thought [the linesman] was going to call it on the play and he said it was not so I just played it."

Here's a photo that shows just how close this call was--impossible to detect at the speed of the game and with the naked eye:

The Islanders would later rally to level the game at three in the second period. They went on to win in overtime on Thomas Hickey's first career playoff overtime goal to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series vs. the Atlantic Division champions.

"I thought the turning point was that offside call," Hickey said. "You won't find me saying that too much, I don't enjoy watching those when I'm watching the game but [the referees and linesmen] took their time and they got it right. Our fans rallied and I think there was a life, an energy on the bench we got out of that."

Many people have been critical of the coach's challenge rule during the playoffs. The system has been at the heart of controversy three times. In game two of the Blues-Blackhawks series, Vladamir Tarasenko's goal was wiped out when it was deemed (correctly) that Jori Lehtera was offsides by a smidgen on the play that sprung the goal.

The Blues would have had a goal lead late in the third. Instead they ended up dropping a tough decision to the Blackhawks.

The rallying cry from the anti-coach's challenge set? Why nitpick? Some argue that the offsides rule was written with the naked eye in mind. In other words, if you can't detect a play being offside while watching on the ice, than the infraction is probably not egregious enough to call.

To those folks, we say, would you want your favorite basketball team to lose a game at the buzzer when the opponent hits a three-pointer with his foot on the line? These days they have instant replay to make sure (do we need it would be, theoretically, possible for an NHL linseman to be bought off by a mafia member?). That's a pretty awesome development. The fact that the NHL is following suit and using replay to ensure the integrity of its on-ice product is a good call. Offsides is offsides, whether the lineseman misses the call or--an all-too-common phenomenon these days--didn't make the call because it was too close and he knows the team can always challenge if a goal occurs after the zone entry.

The third controversial offsides that involved a coach's challenge was actually deemed to be legal, and it was equally difficult to call on the ice:

Here, Derick Brassard was deemed to have control of the puck (correctly) when he entered the zone during Saturday's game at Pittsburgh. The call: Good goal. Extra points to the linesman who got it right on the ice. That's three impossibly difficult calls to make on the ice that the coach's challenge has cleaned up (or upheld) thanks to video review.

Help me understand. Why are we complaining about this? Do we really want offsides plays leading to pivotal goals in NHL playoff games? Let's take a minute, look at the replay, and get the call right.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Blues Get Better Bounces and a Big Win in Chicago

Andrew Ladd was oh-so close to giving the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead against the Blues during Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Sunday. In a close-checking battle like this one, it would have been a nearly insurmountable lead for the defending Stanley Cup champions. But it wasn't meant to be (see video above).

A period later, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz would tally in succession and the Blues and Brian Elliot (44 saves on 46 shots) hung on to snatch a 3-2 victory and reclaim home ice advantage in the series.

With the victory the Blues became the first team (regulation or playoff) to defeat the Blackhawks when trailing after two periods in Chicago since 5/21/2014.

Further proving the theory that good bounces lead to big wins was Berglund's equalizer, which caromed off of defenseman Michal Rozsival before bouncing off the ice and flying up and over Corey Crawford's shoulder.

But the Blues didn't need a lucky bounce to pull ahead. Check out the groovy tic-tac-toe work from Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera and Schwartz on this game winner. Absolute thing 'o beauty.

Game 4 is Tuesday night in Chicago.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Roussel's Strange Goal Spearheads Stars' Game Two Victory over Wild

File under: Lucky as all friggin hell.

Also file under: Playoff game-winner for Antoine Roussel. And: Enough to get the Dallas Stars' President Jim Lites' heart racing:

However you slice it, this random act of goal-kickery was the springboard to Dallas' 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night. It was originally ruled no goal on the ice, but after video review, the call was overturned.

Antoine Roussel, who was thrilled to earn the first playoff goal of his career, had the following to say about it:

Which prompted Mike Modano, scorer of 58 playoff goals, to tweet the following:

In other words, all is well in the world of the Dallas Stars. They head home with a 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Stars, and they have Tyler Seguin back as well. Seguin, the NHL's 10th-best goal scorer this season (33), played for the first time since March 17th after lacerating his achilles tendon in a freak accident when he was cut by an opponent's skate. He played 15:40 and had one shot on goal. Not typical Seguin numbers but he came, he skated and he'll be better for it in game three.

It all left Stars' coach Lindy Ruff pleased, after his team outscored the Wild 6-1 on the road.

"I think we're playing smarter hockey away from the puck," Ruff said. "It's what you need to do to win a game 2-1. We've come a long way, and we're playing the right way."

As far as Roussel's goal, Ruff thought it was a bit of payback for lots of hard work done by the 26-year-old Frenchman. "He's just going out and trying to work as hard as he possibly can," Ruff said, according to Michael Florek of "He doesn't change his game. He's hounding pucks. I think in some way he got rewarded for all the work he's done."

Watch: Mason Commits Epic Playoff Gaffe on Chimera Goal

During a 1-0 game at the Verizon Center in Washington, Flyers goaltender Steve Mason was holding down the fort nicely. The only goal the Caps had managed half way through the game was a seeing-eye wrister from the point by John Carlson on the power player. The Flyers were where they needed to be. Stable. Gritty. Tight.

An then, this happened.

Possibly the worst goall allowed in NHL playoff history? Could be.

All history will tennis, 100 years from now, is Chimera from Alzner and Niskanen at 2:26.

But the video above tells a far different story.

Hopefully, for the sake of this being a competitive series, Steve Mason can put this behind him and act like it never happened.

Big Hit: Ovechkin Sends Schenn Over the Boards

Talk about getting your shift ended prematurely.

He's third on the NHL's all-time goals scored list among active players, behind only Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla. And, he makes his presence felt in more ways than one. Alexander Ovechkin is a flat-out burly beast and here he plows Brayden Schenn into his own bench, and really, it didn't even seem to take that much effort from the 30-year-old Russian.

He just glides in and puts the hurt on.

When you are 6'3, 239 and made from the finest Russian steel, these things happen.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Watch: Lightning, Red Wings Get Down and Dirty, Abdelkader Even Dirtier

As we mentioned earlier, things have gotten absolutely nutty at Amalie Arena during Game Two of the Lightning-Red Wings series in Tampa.

Don't believe? Just watch the video above. Hard to comprehend what Justin Abdelkader was thinking when he was throwing blind punch after blind punch after blind punch after blind punch into the relatively innocent mug of Mike Blunden.

That's a serious case of road rage demonstrated by Abdelkader. Things have been heated all series between Detroit and Tampa, and we're all for hard-nosed, chippy playoff hockey. But maybe we want to draw the line somewhere between trying to kick your opponent's ass and actually trying to mutilate them (when they are defenseless)?

Hopefully it looks worse than it was. Not so sure that's the case though.

Update: No word on what the league is going to do about Abdelkader just yet, but here's a poll from a Sportsnet article on the subject:

Watch: DeKeyser Lowers the Boom on Palat and Zetterberg Finds Datsyuk's Missing Tooth

The violence is escalating in Game Two of the Lightning-Red Wings series and there's still plenty of hockey left to be played.

This big hit by Kenny DeKeyser on Ondrej Palat drew the ire of the Lightning. There was no call on the play.

Jonathan Drouin and Riley Sheahan got coincidental roughing minors in the ensuing melee.

Here's another angle of the hit:

A few minutes earlier in the period, Pavel Datsyuk and Victor Hedman got into a skirmish along the boards and after the dust settled, Henrik Zetterberg ended up scooping up Datsyuk's missing tooth as the Russian looked on from the penalty box. Oh, yeah. PLAYOFF HOCKEY, BABY!

The Bolts lead 2-1 after two and are trying to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Update: Palat and Datsyuk are both back in the game.

Rakell, Perron Will be in Ducks Lineup for Game 1

The Anaheim Ducks are getting key members of their squad back just in time for the playoffs.

Rickard Rakell (appendicitis) and David Perron (seperated shoulder) will both be available for game one of their Western Conference quarterfinal against the Nashville Predators.

Rakell, who scored a career-best 20 goals and 23 assists for the Ducks in 72 games, had been out since March 28th since after his appendix had ruptured. He was kept in the hospital for six days, with tubes inserted in his stomach to drain it.

Perron, a sparkplug for the team in the 28 games he has played for the Ducks after being traded from the Penguins on January 15, had 20 points in 28 games.

The return of Perron and Rakell allows Bruce Boudreau to keep Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on different lines, which could create matchup nightmares for Peter Laviolette and his Predators.

The Ducks could also get defenseman Kevin Bieksa (upper-body) back on Friday.

Both Anaheim and Nashville come into this series with a lot of confidence. Since February 12th, Anaheim and Nashville have the second and third best point totals in the NHL. The Predators went 2-1 vs. the Ducks this season and they won the franchise's only previous playoff series in six games in 2011.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sweeney: Julien Staying with Bruins

Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney gave head coach Claude Julien a vote of confidence on Thursday despite the fact that the Bruins have missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons.

Sweeney also said that fans should not expect a major overhaul of the club, though he admitted that some changes will be necessary to get the Bruins where back to the playoffs.

I think that we’ve looked at, and will continue to move players that aren’t going to help us moving forward,” said Sweeney. “In going in a different direction, that might open an opportunity for a young player that is ready to step into that. ... The fan base should really understand that there’s no complacency whatsoever, and that speaks to the assessment of the group that has won. We haven’t won the last couple of years, and we need to get back there.”

Most believe that Boston's problems lie on the blue line. The team gave up 230 goals this year, compared to 211 in 2014-15. They were also unable to win at home, going just 17-18-6 at TD Garden.

Julien, who many believed was to be fired, will be behind the Bruins' bench for a tenth year. If he had been fired, speculation was that either Ottawa or Montreal may have been ready to make a big pitch to keep him in the Atlantic Division.

But speculation on Julien's fate ended at Thursday's press conference.

“I did a self-evaluation: do I still have the ear of the dressing room? Are they still listening? All of that stuff that you go through after being here for nine years," Julien said. "Everything that came out of if after my evaluation with Don [Sweeney] on Sunday morning was that I wanted to be here, I want to bring this team back to where we once had it and I know that there’s some bumps along the way. I’m going to be honest with you. Would it have been easier to go somewhere else and get off to a fresh start? That’s not what I want. To me this organization has been has been good to me, and loyal to me. I love this city and I love these fans. I love the environment here."

Video: Greiss Makes Game-Saving Save on Jagr During First Career Post-Season Win

The Islanders found a way to pull off a 5-4 victory over the Panthers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal at BB&T Center on Thursday night, thanks largely in part to Thomas Greiss's 42 saves. None of those 42 were as crucial as this splitsville stop on Jaromir Jagr in the game's waning moments.

Jagr takes a beauty cross-ice feed Aleksander Barkov and nearly deposits the puck beneath Greiss, but the Isles' netminder gets his body on the puck before Travis Hamonic clears it to safety.

Greiss was pretty strong in net for the Isles, and they needed him pretty badly as the Panthers were buzzing in the Islanders zone for much of game one. The German went 23-11-4 this season with a .925 save percentage. He took over the starting job when Jaroslav Halak went down with a lower-body injury in March.

Now, thanks to a fine effort on Thursday, he's got his first career playoff win.

Watch: Isles Argue to No Avail as Martin Gets Weird Slashing Penalty

It's been a wild game one between the Islanders and the Panthers in Florida. Even the penalty calls have been a little wild. Matt Martin was handed a rather weak slashing call during the third period when he casually lifted the stick of defenseman Brian Campbell in the neutral zone.

Islanders captain John Tavares argued the call to no avail, and the Islanders killed the penalty and still lead 5-4 late in the third.

Have you ever seen a player called for slashing while lifting a stick? Pierre McGuire hasn't....

Panaccio: Couturier Out for Remainder of Series with Shoulder Injury

The Flyers got bad news after tonight's 2-0 loss to the Caps in game one of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals. They'll have have to soldier on without Sean Couturier. The 23-year-old was hammered into the boards by Alexander Ovechkin in the second period and immediately left the ice.

According to Flyers insider Tim Panaccio, Couturier has an A/C sprain in his left shoulder and will not be back for the rest of the series.

Watch: Couturier Hurt After Big Hit from Ovechkin

The Flyers suffered a tough break in Game 1 of their series with the Washington Capitals on Thursday night after Alexander Ovechkin gave Sean Couturier a rough ride into the boards in the second period (see the play above).

After the hit Couturier comes up lame, obviously favoring his left arm. When the puck comes in his direction he can barely grip the stick to sweep it away.

He left the ice shortly after the play.

The Capitals took the lead shortly thereafter on a power play goal by John Carlson.

Couturier, 23, had 39 points and was a plus-8 in 63 games during the regular season.

Flyers fans everywhere are howling in distress:

Update: Couturier is not on the Flyers bench to start the third period.

Second Update: Couturier will not return and will be re-evaluated tomorrow, per the team's Twitter:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hornqvist Nets Hattie in Pens' Playoff Opener

The Penguins got off to a flying start on Wednesday night as they took it to the Rangers, 5-2, behind Patric Hornqvist's first career playoff hat-trick.

Hornqvist racked up a four-point night, meaning he has already tied his career-best total for points in a post-season (he got four in ten games in the 2011-2012 playoffs for the Preds).

The Swede became the first player to record a hat-trick in his team's playoff opener in 13 years. The last player to do it was Alexander Mogilny in 2003 (with Toronto):

Here's Hornqvist's first of the night:

Here's Hornqvist's second of the night.

The third was an empty-netter.

Backes Wins it for St. Louis in OT

David Backes opened the scoring--and closed the door--on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime.

Backes scored on a sharp-angle shot at 9:04 of the extra session to give the Blues a much-needed victory at home against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Brian Elliott stood tall in goal, stopping all 35 shots he faced, including seven in overtime. Corey Crawford only faced 18 shots, the last one a seemingly innocent attempt from Backes at the goal line that slipped by him as the crowd went berserk.

The puck actually bounced off Blackhawks' defenseman James van Riemsdyk before caroming through Crawford's legs and over the goal line:

The teams will meet again on Friday in St. Louis at 5 P.M. Eastern time.

Video: Fabbri Knocks Rozsival out of Game with Huge Hit

The scoring hasn't happened in game one of the Blues-Blackhawks series tonight, but the hitting? Oh, it's been just fine. Check out this giant hit by Robby Fabbri on Michal Rozsival. Didn't know Fabbri was that kind of hitter.

Rozsival left the ice after the whistle. No word on his condition yet.

Chicago and St. Louis are locked in a scoreless tie with just over 12 minutes left in the third.

Update: Rozsival is back on the ice and good to go.

Rozsival Levels Upshall into Boards

If you've ever tried to buy real estate in New York or San Francisco, you might have an idea of just how much that precious patch of ice just in front of the crease is going to cost during the first-round series between the Blackhawks and Blues.

Michal Rozsival just countered Scottie Upshall's offer on a little spot right in front of Corey Crawford with a booming hit that had Upshall seeing stars.

The play resulted in a two-minute interference minor and the Blackhawks killed the ensuing penalty.

It's still scoreless with 13:00 left in the first period at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Watch: Bonino Delivers a Backhand Directly to Tanner Glass' Face

Backup goaltenders dueling for a precious game one? Check. (It's Jeff Zatkoff vs. Antti Raanta now)

Stick to the eye? Check. (Henrik Lundqvist took a stick to the eye from his own defender and, after finishing out the first period, has since left the game.)

It's been a strange period-plus at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, and it got a bit stranger as Tanner Glass took this puck to the face. Sort of an odd decision by Nick Bonino to flick that backhand cross ice there, but hey, all's fair in love and war, right?

Extra credit to Glass for sliding half way across the rink without stopping. Fresh ice at the beginning of a period makes that sort of thing fun.

Video: Henrik Lundqvist Takes Stick Near the Eye and Stays in Game

UPDATE: Lundqvist did not return for the second period.

Henrik Lundqvist took a bit of friendly fire during the first period of Wednesday night's playoff battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as his own defenseman Marc Staal accidently stabs his stick through the grates of Lundqvist's helmet, sending the goalie tumbling to the ice in panic.

After spending time with trainers and at the bench, Lundqvist was deemed good to go back into the game (thankfully).

Not long after his return, Patric Hornqvist scored at 19:42 to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at fist intermission.

Here's another look at the play:

Video: Tampa and Detroit Get Reacquainted in Heated Scrum

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings are getting up close and personal with one another during Game One of their playoff series tonight at Amalie Arena.

That didn't take long.

Hey boys, whaddya say we get together every other night for the next two weeks and keep it lively, eh?

Sounds like a plan...

The score is still tied 2-2 in the second as Detroit goes to the power play with 6:00 left.

These two teams tangoed in the first round last year as well, with the Lightning winning in seven en route to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Watch: Kucherov Buries First Playoff Goal of '16

The post-season party is officially underway. First goal goes to Tampa's Nikita Kucherov, who rifled this one-timer past Jimmy Howard to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 1-0 lead in period one over the Red Wings.

It was an absolute beauty one-timer from the off-wing that most players wouldn't have even attempted.

Kucherov, who hit the 30-goal mark for the first time this season, was an absolute beat in the post-season last year, turning in 10 goals and 12 assists in 26 games.

With Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman out for the post-season, the Bolts will likely need that type of performance from Kucherov again to go deep.

He's off on the right foot...

Zatkoff to Start Game 1 for Pens

The New York Rangers were always going to have a goaltending advantage against the Pittsburgh Penguins with Henrik Lundqvist as their goalie. Now they have a massive advantage as Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and Matt Murray (head) are both out of action for Wednesday night's playoff opener in Pittburgh.

Lundqvist has won 24 playoff games in the last two post-seasons, including eight against Pittsburgh.

Zatkoff has never played an NHL playoff game, but he did have a .958 save percentage in two games with Wilkes-Barre in last year's AHL playoffs. No word on whether or not Zatkoff slept at a Holiday Inn last night.

Zatkoff was 4-7-1 with a .917 save percentage in 14 games this season. He has played in a total of 35 games.

That should ease the sting of not having Ryan McDonagh for the Rangers. But it sure will sting if they lose.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blues Healthy but Will it Be Enough to Dethrone Chicago?

For the first time all season the St. Louis Blues will be a fully loaded, accessorized hockey team. All the guns and whistles a coach could ever want will be on display as David Backes and Troy Brouwer returned to practice on Monday, and on Wednesday when the Blues open their playoff series with Chicago, St. Louis will hope to turn that good health into good fortune against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

All that good news was enough to leave coach Ken Hitchcock giddy. Well, for at least 20 seconds until he cut his press conference short by walking away from a crowd of confused reporters.

I guess the important quote to take away from this is when Hitchcock says "We're ready to go."

Ah, forget about Hitchcock, he's clearly preoccupied. David Backes summed it up more eloquently, so we'll run his quote:

"This is the first day since the middle of the summer that we've had every body available to us as a team, and that's impeccable timing because this is when you want all of your weapons on hand, and we have that," Backes said. "We'll have plenty of depth and ability to go and do whatever we need to with all the people available for the first time. Great for the guys in here sticking together to get where we've gotten. Now it's a coaching decision on who gets to wear the jersey for the game and give us success."

Words are all good, but this St. Louis Blues team will be judged on their actions. The Blues have been one of the best regular season teams in the NHL over the last five seasons, but that hasn't stopped them from losing four straight playoff series (and breaking the broken hearts of their faithful fans). So, is their anything different about this version of the Blues that points to success in the playoffs?


The Blues have certainly been better down the stretch. Since March, the teams have been headed in different directions. The Blues were 7th in the NHL in points, going 13-4 in 17 games (and at times playing nearly perfect defensive hockey, the kind that tends to fly well in the post-season), while Chicago won only eight of its 18 games, good for 17th in points accrued in the NHL from March until the final day of the season.

Also working in favor of the Blues is the fact that Vladimir Tarasenko has matched up well against the Hawks this season, scoring five goals and seven points against them. Having home ice should allow him to get more favorable matchups and the Russian, who has ten playoff goals in his last 12 playoff games, could catch fire.

Obviously Chicago, which has won three Stanley Cups in the last six years and has taken eight of its last 11 playoff series with the Blues, has experience on its side. But what has been going wrong with the Hawks down the stretch? It's hard to say, but the banged-up team is almost back to full health as well. Besides missing Duncan Keith for game 1 due to suspension, both teams will start this series with a relatively cleen injury sheet.

Along with Sharks-Ducks, this Blues-Blackhawks matchup is one of the most enticing of all the eight first-round matchups. Two teams primed to make a run for the Cup will tangle, and somebody is going home with a first-round loss (and a broken heart). Can't ask for much more than that in April.

Flyers Pumped to Make Ed Snider Proud against Capitals

The passing of the man who brought hockey to Philadelphia is currently adding passion to the boys who play hockey in the city of brotherly love.

Flyers' founder Ed Snider died on Monday at the age of 83, succumbing to bladder cancer after a two-year bout, and the memory of the man who is known as one of the most enthusiastic sports owners in professional sports will be heavy on the hearts of his players as they take on the daunting task of facing the NHL's President Trophy winning Washington Capitals in the first round.

"We'll be playing with heavy hearts."But at the end of the day, I think Mr. Snider wanted us to win a Stanley Cup," Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday's practice. "It's time to focus in on that now. We've made it, and now we have to kind of set the reset button and focus on Washington."

Simmonds said he had been thinking a lot "about what Mr. Snider meant to all of Philadelphia. It kind of puts a little extra pep in your step, a little bit extra motivation, because we know we now have an angel looking on us. We've got to play our butts off and make him proud."

Earlier today Greg Wyshinski revealed a funny story on his Marek vs. Wyshinski podcast about Snider. He said that he was waiting in the locker room with reporters to talk to the Flyers after a big win (2011), and in came Snider to address the team first. As Snider was leaving the room, he got down on the ground and busted out five motivational pushups while his team looked on and laughed. Note: In 2011 Snider would have been 78 years young.

Snider was a man that lived for his team, and it's one of the reasons that so many players come to play and live in a city that is known for being brutal to players and coaches when things go bad.

His family wrote about Snider's love for the team in a statement. This is pretty moving:

"With every game during the push to make the playoffs this spring we hoped he would survive to see the Flyers win just one more game," Mr. Snider’s children wrote. "He gave the last ounce of his indomitable energy and strength to live through this hockey season, but now the Flyers must win without him. He fought his last years, months and days with courage and grace and recounted his love for many, including his Flyers family and fans. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the community, his friends and all those who were fortunate to have been touched by him in some way, large or small."

What is also moving is this Facetime video that Claude Giroux recorded for Snider on Saturday when the Flyers clinched the playoffs.

Snider, who was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, has also won numerous awards for philanthropy over the years. He was a wildly successful businessman on many fronts, but always his heart and soul was with the Flyers.

Here's what Bobby Clarke, who won two Cups with Snider in '74 and '75, had to say about his boss, per Sam Carchidi of

"He was a great owner, and it wasn’t just because he wanted to win all the time. He treated us as players so much better than all the other teams when we first got started. We were the first team where the wives got Christmas presents, the first team to fly on the good airlines and stay in the good hotels."

Earlier this season the Flyers stopped at Snider's home in California while on a west coast trip. He was ailing at the time, and for the first time in a long time he did not make the season opener in Philadelphia. Giroux said the first thing he noticed was a massive Flyers banner decorating the driveway area.

The Flyers won't have Snider with them in body as they try to derail the juggernaut Capitals starting Thursday night in Washington, but the spirit of the man will most certainly be with the team.

"We’re pretty glad we were able to make the playoffs for him," Giroux told the media on Monday. "The whole year, we were playing for him. That’s not gonna change for the playoffs. The best thing we can do right now is play as hard as we can. We know it’s not going to be easy against a good team, but we know he’ll be watching and he’ll be cheering us on."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Subban, Pacioretty Hug it Out

There has been a dearth of good news to come out of Montreal this winter, but thankfully two of Les Habitants' biggest stars still have their sense of humor.

When asked about having a fued with Canadiens' captain Max Pacioretty as the pair cleaned out their lockers on Monday in Montreal, P.K. Subban quickly quipped, "What do I have to do? Go over there and make out with him?" Subban didn't do that, but as you can see from the hug (above) and Pacioretty's quotes (below), there is zero animosity between the two.

End of season. End of story.

Eichel Says Culture of Sabres is Changed

Jack Eichel finished the season as the first Sabre to lead the team in goals in 28 years, but the 19-year-old is more concerned with the big picture moving forward than his goal tally. “As a team, we did a lot of good things and we definitely changed the culture of the Sabres, but you’re never satisfied when you’re not in the race," Eichel said, after finishing the season in the top three of all NHL rookies in goals, assists and points. “You look at our last 40 games and we had a good winning percentage and next season is the time to make the turn.”

The Sabres turned up their play in the second half of the season, going 20-17-7 since January 1st, and Eichel hopes he can be better at managing the grind of an 82-game season next year. “I think I took that turn after Christmas time, I started to take notice in my own game, take more responsibility and expect more out of myself," he said. "There are a lot of ups and downs in an 82 game season, but try to find a consistency and be better night in and night out.”

On other news, U.S. hockey fans will be disappointed by the fact that Eichel announced that he will skip the World Ice Hockey Championships this May in Russia in order to rest and recuperate from a long season. But it's a decision that Eichel is making with his future conditioning in mind. He'll be missed at the Worlds, but Sabre fans will enjoy getting him back fresh and ready for a beastly sophomore season late next summer. “It’s time for me to take a little break and unwind a little bit here and take a deep breath for the first time in a while," he said.

He added: “It’s important mentally, physically, emotionally to take some time, be with your family, collect yourself, put the hockey bag away, stay out of the gym. Just relax a little bit, rejuvenate your mind, rejuvenate your body and prepare for your offseason training the right way where you can get the maximum results to help you come back next season feeling better than ever and hopefully take that next step.”

Don Maloney Fired as Coyotes Begin Search for New GM

The Arizona Coyotes fired longtime GM Don Maloney, saying they want to take their ongoing rebuild in a different direction. Maloney, who has held the position for nine years, has spearheaded a rebuild that has seemingly left the franchise pointed in the right direction. With draft picks Oliver Ekman-Larson, Max Domi and Dylan Strome joining the organization, as well as Anthonly Duclair, who was brough in by trade.

The team made the playoffs only three times with Maloney as GM, but they did manage to reach their first Conference Final in 2012 after winning its first division title.

After the club filed for bankruptcy in 2009, the NHL managed the team for four seasons before the current ownership group stepped in.

Maloney, 57, was the team's 7th GM. Assistant general managers John Chayka and Chris O’Hearn will run the team while majority owner Andrew Barroway, alternate governor Gary Drummond and CEO and co-owner Anthony LeBlanc search for candidates. They plan to fill the vacancy in six weeks.

“He absolutely has done a great job of laying the groundwork for the future," LeBlanc said of Maloney. “However, we believe a change in leadership is needed in order to move our franchise to the next level.”

Arizona has failed to make the playoffs in the last four seasons. Arizona finished the season at 35-39-9, good four fourth place in the Pacific Division.

Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett will remain with the organization. Reportedly he had an opt-out clause from his contract after the season but will not exercise it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kane Makes History by Winning Art Ross Trophy

Chicago Blackhawks' center Patrick Kane became the first American to win the NHL scoring title as the league's regular season closed its books on Sunday. Kane was the NHL's lone 100-point scorer in the NHL this season, amassing 46 goals and 60 assists, both career highs.

The next-closest player in points was Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, who finished with 89.

Kane had a 26-game points streak this season, which was the longest ever for an American-born player and the longest in the NHL since the 1992-93 season.

The 27-year-old has 663 points in 658 NHL games to date.

Kane does not hold the all-time points record for an American-born player, however. Pat LaFontaine put up 148 for the Buffalo Sabres in 1992-93, but finished second for the Art Ross Trophy to Mario Lemieux that year.

Pierre Dorion Takes over as Senators' GM after Murray Steps Down

Let the off-season shuffling begin in Ottawa. Bryan Murray, the team's head coach for three years before becoming its General Manager for the last nine, has stepped down as GM with his assistant Pierre Dorion moving in to replace him. The Senators reached the Stanley Cup final in 2007, Murray's last year as coach, but have not been back since. They missed the playoffs in four of the nine seasons with Murray at the helm, including two of the last three.

Dorion, an Ottawa native, becomes the 8th GM in franchise history.

Murray, 73, is battling stage 4 colon cancer, and says he wants more time to be with his family. He will remain on board with the team as an advisor to Dorion.

Dorion became Murray's assistant in January of 2014. “There’s an evaluation process,” said Dorion, of his team and staff that struggled to a sub-par 38-35-9 record. “Sometimes we’re quick to judge. There will be changes but we have to do the proper changes and we have to take our time doing it and make sure every change we make is the right one.”

Watch: Ovechkin's Hattie Gives Him a Seventh 50-Goal Season

Alexander Ovechkin cracked a huge milestone in his team's penultimate regular season game on Saturday, scoring three goals to become just the third player in NHL history to record seven 50-goal seasons in a 5-1 victory over the Blues on Saturday night in St. Louis.

“It’s harder and harder to score goals in this league,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a pretty big number so I’m pretty excited.”

It was Ovechkin's second hat-trick of the season and 15th of his career.

The Russian sniper is 33rd on the NHL's all-time goals scored list with 525, in 839 games.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Flyers Qualify for Post-Season with Win over Pens

The Philadelphia Flyers are going to the playoffs.

Wayne Simmonds scored a pair of goals to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over the Penguins, assuring the Flyers the final wild card spot and a first-round date with the Washington Capitals in the post-season.

The Flyers finish at 41-27-14, capping a frantic run that saw them eliminate Boston from the playoffs on Saturday.

Philadelphia split its four season meetings with the Capitals. The teams last met in the playoffs in 2008, with the Flyers winning a seventh game in OT.

Bruins Shellacked in Final Game, Eliminated as Flyers Win

The Boston Bruins came in hot and finished stone cold, losing to the Ottawa Senators in a dreary season finale that left the home faithful booing and head coach Claude Julien puzzled.

“We all have to accept responsibility here,” Julien said after the game. “Our goal was certainly to duplicate our effort that we had (Thursday night) against Detroit, and when you look at what happened (today), it’s even more disappointing because we could have controlled our own fate again. ... Right now, all you can do is cross our fingers and almost hope for a miracle. That’s all that’s left for us. It’s totally out of our hands now.”

Unfortunately for Boston, that miracle faded later in the afternoon as the Flyers earned two points at home by defeating the Penguins.

It was a disappointing finish for the Bruins, and in the end they were done in by their inability to win at TD Garden. Boston put up a 17-18-6 record on home ice, and they finished poorly down the stretch, going 3-6-1 in their final ten games.

In their defense, the Bruins got a bit of bad news when it was announced that Tuukka Raask would not be able to go due to illness. But their can be no excuse for a 6-1 loss in a must-win game against a middling team like Ottawa.

“I don’t think anybody can say they had a good game,” Bruins' defenseman Zdeno Chara said.

The Bruins have now missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons.

Detroit Extends Post-Season Run to 25 Years

The Detroit Red Wings started Saturday in control of their own destiny. In the end they needed a little help to reach the playoffs for a record 25th consecutive season. But that help came in the form of Ottawa's 6-1 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden, and it enabled the Wings to stretch their run of post-season appearances despite their off-kilter, head-scratching 3-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Red Wings, who finished 41-30-11 in Jeff Blashill's first season as coach, are now set to head to Tampa Bay for a first-round series. They defeated the Lightning in seven games in the first round last season.

"It's a new season now, and you know what? You just go out there and you just play," said goaltender Jimmy Howard after the game. When told that some people would say that Red Wings had backed into the playoffs, Howard replied "They can say whatever they want. We're in the playoffs. That's all we care about."

The Red Wings streak is the longest active post-season in North American sports. The last time they didn't qualify for the playoffs was the 1989-90 season.

Find out more about what the world was like the last time the Wings missed the playoffs here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Watch: Jonathan Drouin Scores in his Tampa Return

It didn't take Jonathan Drouin very long to get in the swing of things with his old team on Thursday at the Rock in New Jersey.

The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game since December 30, notched his third goal of the season, and registered four shots on goal in 15:41 of ice time in Tampa's 4-2 victory over the Devils.

Drouin has been one of the most talked-about players in the NHL this season. He requested a trade and was eventually demoted to the AHL, where he has remained. The trade deadline came and went, and though there were many suitors, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman couldn't find the deal he wanted for the skilled forward.

Drouin, who was suspended from the AHL club in January for failing to show up in a game, had his suspension lifted in March. More recently, he has caught fire, scoring nine goals in his last nine games. That appears to be a fortunate occurrence now, as the Lightning roster has been decimated as the playoffs approach (Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman and Ryan Callahan are all injured). Drouin could give the team a much-needed dose of scoring punch, and he could also help strengthen Yzerman's hand if the team wishes to deal him in the off-season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Video: Hickey Hit on Hedman Causes Injury

Islander defenseman Thomas Hickey has upped his game over the last two nights, but on this play during Monday's win over the Lightning he might have gotten a little ambitous. Hickey gets the elbow up and drives it into Hedman's head, earning a two-minute roughing call.

On Tuesday, Hedman was out of the Tampa lineup and Lightning coach Jon Cooper said there is no guarantee that Hedman will make it back for wither of the Lightning's two remaining regular season games.

It's tough news for a Tampa team that has lost Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Ryan Callahan and now Hedman to injury in the last week.

Tampa qualified for the playoffs despite losing to the Rangers on Tuesday.

Watch: Girardi Leveled by Ex-Ranger Boyle

Rangers' defenseman Dan Girardi had an injury scare late in the third period of Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Lightning, as ex-Ranger Brian Boyle shoved him into the boards as they jockeyed for a loose puck behind the Ranger cage.

Boyle was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. It appears that Girardi was caught off-balance by the hit, and went in hard to the boards before laying flat on the ice.

Boyle doesn't think his hit was egregious at all. “I honestly don’t think it was a hit, I disagree strongly,’’ Boyle said, according to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune. “I don’t know what happened, I don’t know how it happened like that, I didn’t think it was much force at all. I was just trying find (the puck) and make sure I was ready for it and brace myself. There is no (malicious) intent there to go after one of their guys.’’

“He’s being evaluated by our medical staff right now,” Vigneault said of Girardi, according to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants. “But as far as I could tell when I left everything looked good.” Vigneault declined to say if Girardi had lost consciousness on the play. “Uh, I didn’t get into the details,” he said said. “I just asked if Dan was all right and everybody shook their head (yes).”

The Rangers announced that Ryan McDonagh will miss the rest of the regular season after injuring his hand while blocking a shot on Monday against Columbus. Girardi would be a huge loss with just two games remaining in the regular season.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Carter OT Winner Puts Kings Back in First

Jeff Carter stole the puck from Sean Monahan and blazed end-to-end for a breakaway winner to put the Kings, at least temporarily, in 1st place in the Pacific Division. Carter's goal, scored at :40 into the 3-on-3 session, capped a furious comeback for the Kings.

Kris Versteeg scored at 19:24 of the third with the goalie pulled to tie it, before Carter buried his 24th to help the visiting Kings snap a five-game road losing streak.

The Kings are a point ahead of Anaheim, but the Ducks currently lead Winnipeg 1-0 after two periods. If Anaheim closes out the victory they'll restore their one-point lead and have a game in hand on the Kings.

Islanders, Lightning Clinch Playoffs

The New York Islanders stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to clinch their second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.

Kyle Okposo and Anders Lee scored to tie it before Thomas Hickey won it in overtime after this most excellent feed from John Tavares.

The Islanders also stretched their lead to six points over the Flyers, which means that this might be the last time they have to see the Washington Capitals for a while.

If the playoffs started today, the Islanders would open with the Florida Panthers in the first round. Here's the complete playoff picture:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are also celebrating a playoff berth despite blowing a 2-0 lead against the Rangers on Tuesday. Tampa gets in thanks to the Bruins 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina.

Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit each have 91 points, but the Bruins are on the outside looking in with just two games remaining. The Flyers have four games remaining while the Red Wings have three.

Here's a look at the current standings:

McDonagh out for Rest of Regular Season

The Rangers will be without captain Ryan McDonagh for the rest of the regular season, the team announced on Tuesday. McDonagh, who hurt his right hand blocking a shot by Brandon Dubinsky during Monday night's 4-2 win over Columbus, will be re-evaluated at before the playoffs.

Rookie defenseman Brady Skjei, who was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League, will play against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

McDonagh is averaging over 22 minutes of ice time and has 34 points in 73 games this season. The Rangers' captain is a team-leading plus-26 on the year.

Rangers Holding Breath after McDonagh Injured Blocking Shot

The Rangers clinched a playoff berth on Monday, but the news wasn't all good for the Blueshirts. The team's top defenceman and captain Ryan McDonagh was injured while blocking a Brandon Dubinsky shot during the Rangers 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Monday. McDonagh, who took the puck off of his right hand, skated for three shifts before leaving the game for good.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said that McDonagh would be re-evaluated on Tuesday, but didn't have any more information about the injury.

It has already been a difficult year for McDonagh on the injury front. He was knocked out of the lineup when he was sucker-punched by Wayne Simmonds on February 6th. He was then injured again when he suffered a head shot from Leo Komarov on February 19th in just his second game back from the concussion.

The Rangers clinched a post-season slot for the tenth time in the last eleven seasons, but still have work to do in order to avoid falling down in the standings. If the season ended today they would face the Penguins on the road to start the playoffs, but they are just three points behind Pittsburgh and each team has three games remaining.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Video: Quick Smashes Hamhuis' Stick, Throws it

Jonathan Quick can be a mean guy. Just wanted to put that out there.

And, in other news, the Canucks have won three games in a row! Rejoice, western Canada! Vancouver downed the Kings, 3-2 tonight, behind a 40-save performance by Ryan Miller. Vancouver had failed in its eight previous opportunies to win three games in a row--not tonight.

The Kings have now lost six of eight and five in the row on the road. Not an ideal way to be playing in the week's final season. L.A. is currently a point behind the Anaheim Ducks in the race for first place in the Pacific Division. Anaheim has four games remaining, while Los Angeles has three.

But in the scheme of things, a second-place finish could be nicer for the Kings than actually winning the Pacific. They'll likely face the Sharks if they come in second. Easy travel, and a team they know how to beat in the playoffs. If they win the Division they'll likely face the red-hot Predators. Tough travel, and a big, ornery team that has won six of its last eight against the Kings.

Better just to play well and not think about it, right?

There was, however, some uplifting news for the Kings tonight. Tyler Toffoli notched his 30th goal. It's the first time in seven years that Los Angeles has had a player reach the 30-goal plateau:

Watch: Clutterbuck Injures Knee after Taking High-Stick from Brown

Things are going good on the scoreboard for the New York Islanders tonight in Brooklyn. The team leads the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 after two periods, but they've already lost two players, as well.

Defenseman Calvin de Haan left the game with a lower body issue after blocking a shot in the first. He tried to return to action twice, but has since gone to the dressing room.

Key checking-line forward Cal Clutterbuck also went down, late in the second. After taking a high-stick from J.T. Brown, the Isles' forward fell awkwardly into the boards, twisting his left knee. He had to be carried off the ice by teammates.

The Islanders recently lost defenseman Travis Hamonic for the remainder of the regular season, and today announced that backup goalie J.F. Berube is day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Kadri Suspended Four Games for Cross-Checking Incident

Nazem Kadri's season is over.

The Maple Leaf's center lost his cool during Saturday night's game with the Red Wings in Toronto and ended up cross-checking Luke Glendening to the head at the end of a skirmish between the two.

"Kadri gets to his feet and takes several hard strides towards Glendining," the NHL states in the video. "Ignoring the puck entirely, Kadri raises his stick and uses his momentum to drive it directly into the head of Glendening."

Kadri, who was assessed a two-minute minor on the play, gets four games without pay for his offence. Toronto, which failed to make the playoffs, has four games left in the regular season. This is the third suspension of the 25-year-old's career.

Stamkos Has Blood Clot, and Maybe a Rib, Removed

Steven Stamkos has successfully undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from his right arm on Monday. According to TSN, Stamkos also likely had a small rib removed from his right side in order to ensure that blood flows without restriction in the region.

The two-hour procedure was performed Monday by Dr. Karl Illig in Tampa. Illig said in a statement released by the team: "Everything went as expected for Steven. We plan to re-evaluate him in about two weeks and we should know more about his prognosis at that time."

According to experts, Stamkos will be put on blood thinners--perhaps for as long as a month--which will complicate the star's recovery timeline.

Roy Rips Duchene After Milestone Goal

Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy had some heavy-duty criticism for his star center Matt Duchene, after the 25-year-old scored his 30th goal of the season against the Blues on Sunday in a game that was, by that time, way out of reach.

It was the first time that Duchene has hit the 30-goal mark, and the first time that any Colorado player has hit the 30-goal plateau since the 2006-2007 season, but that didn't change the way Roy felt about his celebration. See video of Roy's press conference here.

"The thing I have a bit of a hard time with is the reaction of Duchy after he scores. It's a 4-0 goal. Big cheer. Are you kidding me? What is that? It's not the reflect that we want from our guys. Not at all."

On NHL Network, Mike Rupp was quick to question Roy's methods.

"I understand what he's saying--you want people to think a certain way," said Rupp on the NHL Network. "I don't like the way it was done. This was something that needs to be kept internal, because you know what, Matt Duchene's been their best player all year."

Roy wasn't only disappointed about Duchene. "I think we have a losing mindset right now," he said. "I think we have to find ways to believe more in ourself."

The Avs have gone 4-6-0 in their last ten, and have all but lost their chance to catch the Wild in the race for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They are five points behind Minnesota with three games left to play.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Video: Simmonds Elbows Falling Letang

Things got seriously chippy during Sunday's Penguins-Flyers tilt at the Consol Energy Center. (Flyers got the 6-2 win, and luckily, didn't lose anybody to injury). Here's one major contributing factor: This hit by Wayne Simmonds on a falling Kris Letang in the second period. It appears that Simmonds is trying to get through Letang to pick up a loose puck in the corner. He's pretty rough with the elbow, especially when one considers that Letang was falling and in a vulnerable position.

Will he hear from the NHL's Department of Player Safety about the hit? Tough to say, but our guess is no.

Note: Letang returned in the third period and finished out the game.

The hitting picked up considerably in Pittsburgh after that. There was a missed attempt by Radko Gudas on Carl Hagelin that left the Swede checking his neck for cuts and saw Gudas nearly hurt himself as he went head-first into the boards.

There was also this hit on a falling Andrew MacDonald, which left the Flyers unhappy, and the Pens with a 5-2 lead:

And to top it all off, Simmonds took this swipe at the neck of Penguins goalie Matthew Murray, which was not called:

The Penguins, who clinched a playoff berth on Saturday with a 5-0 win over the Isles, hit the 100-point mark with the win, which was their sixth straight.

The Flyers, remain a point ahead of the Bruins for the final wild card slot in the Eastern Conference. Philly has four games remaining (Detroit, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Islanders) while Boston has three left (Carolina, Detroit, Ottawa).

Mark your calendars for next Saturday as the Pens and Flyers collide in a game that could be huge for the Flyers, who are fighting for their playoff lives.