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Panthers logo leak; Preds, Ducks Game 7; Tavares vs. Hedman (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 09:01:17 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at . 

What We Learned: How do you fix the NY Rangers? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:04:41 PDT)
The problems with the New York Rangers were evident, in the last few years, to anyone who paid attention . The defense wasn't very good and seemingly worsening every year. The forward depth wasn't being utilized in a particularly helpful way. Money was allocated seemingly at random, or at least based on deeply outmoded thinking. The cupboards were nearly bare from having routinely raided in pursuit of keeping the club competitive. The lineups on any given night were typically suboptimal. That was certainly the case Saturday in the 6-3 drubbing at the hands of a significantly superior Pittsburgh Penguins club. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Just about the only thing the Rangers had going for them, and it was a thing so valuable as to render a big chunk of the above-listed problems inconsequential, was Henrik Lundqvist. And things were so bad in the last week and a half that even Lundqvist was pulled THREE times in this series . But now, after Saturday's Game 5 bounce-out at the hands of the rejuvenated Penguins, all those faults are laid bare, if they weren't already. And that means so very difficult and probably costly decisions have to be made. The Rangers spent this season very much capped-out, and even dealt more futures — top prospect Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second-round picks — to get a guy who ended up being their deadline bust of a No. 3 center. More worrisome is that they already have more than $55 million committed to only 13 players and have multiple potentially pricey RFAs (Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller) who need to be re-signed. But when you think about what's wrong with this club, in all honestly, the first thing you have to consider is the defense. This year the Rangers spent nearly $27.5 million on an absolute mess of a blue line, with the most obvious problem being $11.2 million going to just Marc Staal and Dan Girardi alone. The first and most obvious step toward mitigating the team's cap problems for next season is to find some sucker to take Girardi off your hands with salary retained; or, failing that, buy him out. But considering he has a no-move clause for the next two years, the buyout is probably your only option. Girardi has four years left on his current deal (good lord!), meaning you'd be paying a lot of money in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to not-play him for the next eight years. It's undoubtedly worth it. The fact is that even at half the cap hit for twice as many years, you can probably find a defenseman to go at the bottom of your lineup for $1 million and you're not going to bleed goals. This is exactly what people mean when they talk about addition by subtraction; his position with this team, and probably in the NHL, is no longer tenable. Staal is a tougher case because it's difficult to evaluate his efficacy in preventing goals due to his continual pairing alongside Girardi. However, even if you think he'd be good sans the boat anchor sharing the ice with him, you have to also to say the contract is not commensurate with his capabilities . If someone's interested, you gotta deal him as well. Two other problems on the blue line, one manufactured and one very real, are possibly going to complicate things further. Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle are both in the final years of their deals and unlikely to be brought back: Boyle because he's 39 and looking more like it every single day, and Yandle because things never really worked for him on Broadway, for whatever reason. Well, not whatever reason. He was misused by coach Alain Vigneault more or less from the day the team gave up Anthony Duclair, John Moore, this year's first-round pick, and last year's second for him; more of that cupboard raiding mentioned earlier. Yandle will go elsewhere this summer, and some team is probably going to be happy to have him. The Rangers should lament taking his offensive talents for granted. As to the problems up front, well, the discussion kind of begins and ends with “Mats Zuccarello led them in scoring this year.” Zuccarello is a very good player and everything, but if you think he should be second on any legitimate semi-contending team in both goals and assists, you're suffering from Jeff Gorton Disease. The issue in attack for the Rangers is that they have a bunch of players who are pretty good and none who are super-impactful. Derek Stepan makes $6.5 million against the cap, and has career highs of 22 goals and 57 points. That's worrisome. Rick Nash has an AAV of $7.8 million and both cannot stay healthy and cannot score in quite the same way he could in the past. “Trade Nash” rumblings have been around for a while, and one wonders if we don't see that come to fruition this summer. Stepan obviously isn't going anywhere. But another big part of the problem has been Vigneault. Tanner Glass got into 57 games in the regular season and the first four playoff dates as well. The number he should be playing for any NHL team is a hell of a lot closer to zero. And guys he was scratching to get Glass more ice time included the aforementioned Hayes, who looks a hell of a lot like a guy who would score 30 given a change of scenery or a new coach. The odds he gets one or the other this summer seem pretty high. This is a talent evaluation problem, and I don't know how that gets addressed either behind the bench or in the GM's office without handing out pink slips. And the big issue for the team is that they've never been particularly good apart from Lundqvist, regardless of what anyone thinks. Their peak as this iteration of the club was undoubtedly in 2013-14, when they were better than 52 percent in score-adjusted possession. But even still, that number was only seventh in the league. Lundqvist has always been the great leveler. Reasons Nos. 1 through 500 the Rangers went to the conference final or beyond three times in a five-year stretch is that Lundqvist is a generational, Hall-of-Fame talent who was so good he could will teams of just about any actual quality that far. Reason No. 1 why that was as far as they ever got was that the team in front of him was never good enough to compete with truly elite teams. The fact that he didn't win a Cup with this team, and now — given that he's 34 — it's fair to say he might never do so, is a shame. The people who have run the Rangers during that time should feel very bad about what they did to this exceptional talent. In a lot of ways, the decision to yank him, again, when you're down 6-2 in Game 5 of a series in which you were almost laughably overmatched by a team that twice started its third-string goalie is fitting. It showed Vigneault and the Rangers writ large are just out of answers. When not even Lundqvist is saving you from getting pantsed on network TV, it's time to have a good, long look in the mirror and really study every contour of your many flaws flaws. The problems are so considerable here that there's no one way to address them. You could try to tear it down to the studs, I guess, but we all know that isn't going to happen for a number of reasons. Maybe the best way to deal with all this is to start by apologizing to Lundqvist for wasting another Vezina-worthy season with whatever this roster was supposed to be. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : This is starting to look very scary, and very middle-of-the-season familiar . Arizona Coyotes : This is going to be a very fun thing to hear about for the next few years. Arizona taxpayers aren't on the hook for nearly enough arenas these days. Boston Bruins : This is an absolutely spectacular take . Buffalo Sabres : How much bigger do you think a year gets than last year's excellent performance from future Masterton winger Ryan O'Reilly? Calgary Flames : The Flames have to re-sign Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau this summer. That'll get expensive in a hurry . Carolina Hurricanes : Just a bit of housekeeping for the 'Canes before they have to start making more difficult decisions in a few weeks. Chicago : Ahh jeez, it's happening again . Colorado Avalanche : It's happening, folks. Radulov to the Avs . That'll solve all their quote-unquote leadership problems. Why not bring Alex Semin back too? Columbus Blue Jackets : Well at least someone in this franchise is winning meaningful games . Dallas Stars : “ Now ?” Detroit Red Wings : If only a nice smart boy had been saying this for two or three years. Edmonton Oilers : A beautiful point by the wonderful Jonathan Willis here: Maybe Ales Hemsky appeared to suck in Edmonton because the team around him was trash. Just a thought, folks!         Florida Panthers : Friday's double-OT game , like the series as a whole, was super-duper fun. Los Angeles Kings : Hate to disagree here but maybe if Jonathan Quick had, like, more than one good game in the first round, we wouldn't be sitting here. Minnesota Wild : All blessings to the legend . Montreal Canadiens : Well, 47 percent of Quebec residents say they're “ depressed ” about how bad the Habs were this year. That's not good.

NHL draft lottery: Last-place Leafs come out on top in our 10-spin simulation (Yahoo Sports)
(Fri, 22 Apr 2016 13:37:19 PDT)
With the NHL draft lottery coming up on Saturday, April 30, here's a simulation -- actually, 10 simulations -- of who might end up with the No. 1 pick and the right to select Auston Matthews.

Laughton out of hospital; Trocheck game-time decision; DiPietro, radio host (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 22 Apr 2016 09:33:26 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at .  hm... Who to root for... Who. To. Root for... #CapsTime ! — Chris Meloni (@Chris_Meloni) April 22, 2016 • Detective Eliot Stabler hops aboard the Washington Capitals bandwagon. • The Capitals need to start putting teams away in series when they get the opportunity. [ Japers’ Rink ] • Scott Laughton was released from hospital on Thursday and will be re-evaluated in a few days, according to Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall. [ Flyers ] • Dave Hakstol’s success in Philadelphia should open more doors for college coaches to jump to the NHL. [ AP ] • The Minnesota Wild face a big challenge to come back from a 3-1 deficit vs. the Dallas Stars. [ Star Tribune ]  • The two games in Minnesota could help the Stars close the door in Game 5. [ WFAA ] • The New York Islanders will be without defenseman Ryan Pulock for the remainder of their Round 1 series with the Florida Panthers. [ Newsday ] • Vince Trocheck, who hasn’t played since March 29, will be a game-time decision tonight for the Panthers. [ George Richards ] • These San Jose Sharks look different than previous editions. [ Mercury News ] • Special teams are killing the Los Angeles Kings. [ Jewels from the Crown ] • The big scorer the Tampa Bay Lightning should throw big money at? Nikita Kucherov. [ Sportsnet ] • The future looks bright for Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings. [ Freep ] • Trash talk on the ice has changed over the years and players are more mindful of what they say to opponents. [ Empty Netters ] • Rick DiPietro has used retirement to build up a sports radio career in New York. [ NY Post ] • Thatcher Demko never thought about remaining unsigned and waiting for UFA status. He was all about signing with the Vancouver Canucks. [ Vancouver Sun ]  • Greg Powers, head coach of the Arizona State men’s hockey team, talks about building a program. [ The Players’ Tribune ]  • Regarding NHL expansion, the signs point to Quebec City remaining on the outside. [ Globe and Mail ] • Who were the best UFA signings of the 2015-16 NHL season? [ Dobber Hockey ] • Looking at the impact Erin Ambrose can have on the New York Riveters’ blue line going forward. [ Today’s Slapshot ]  • “CalgaryNEXT could cost ultimately about $1.8 billion and have taxpayers pay up to two-thirds of the tab.” Ooh boy. [ Calgary Herald ] • Previewing the third round of the QMJHL playoffs. [ Buzzing the Net ]  • “A $30 billion hedge fund had staff program a robot to play air hockey to help make them better at making money” [ Business Insider ]  • Finally, here’s a look back at the Florida Panthers’ 1996 run to the Stanley Cup Final:  MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Hockey Wives, ep. 6: Prust bares all; Angela deals with media; Martine gets uninvited (Eh Game)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 20:18:08 PDT)
Each week on Hockey Wives, viewers are promised an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the lives of NHL players. That promise was certainly delivered this episode when we all got to see Brandon Prust pose naked. The show, however, kept it PG13; this is, after all, not an HBO show and there could be kids watching. (Disclaimer: Young children probably should not watch this opening scene. Or this show.) In any case, Prust stripped down alongside his fiancée Maripier Morin (MP) — who remained mostly clothed — for a photo shoot for the French version of Canadian magazine Chatelaine . And if you think this exposure might have been a tad embarrassing for Prust, think again. “Brandon doesn’t care about being naked. He actually enjoys it,” MP said. “He likes gracing people with his nakedness.” To be fair, Prust has likely spent a lot of time in locker rooms and is accustomed to baring it all. MP, on the other hand, might prefer we all didn’t see quite so much of her future husband. “I’m shy. I don’t want people to see him. Like this is my property — you don’t get to see this.” She was joking, mostly. Earnestly, however, MP did admit that the closeness of the shoot, which is ironically for an article on long-distance relationship, did make her pine for more time with her boyfriend. “That cover makes me wish we had that ‘normal life’ of me just being with him,” she admitted. Since the summer trade from Montreal to Vancouver, MP has repeatedly said — multiple times per episode, in fact — she’d move to British Columbia in the new year to be with Prust. Which is why when she revealed at the end that she’s choosing to stay in Montreal, I was actually surprised. Well, as surprised as a reality show shot months earlier can leave you. The reason, however, was predictable. In nearly two seasons of the show, MP has been cast as the workaholic, career-driven woman that stood in contrast with some of the other wives who decided to forgo — or delay — a career to be with their hockey player husbands. In fact, Tiffany Parros admitted this week that she “lost a ton of money in my clothing business” when husband George was traded to Florida and she had to move and “no one gives you credit for that sacrifice.” The series does a fine job of presenting both cases equally, casting neither as right or wrong, but rather an individual decision every hockey wife must make. In MP’s case, moving would have halted the momentum she had been building in the Quebec media industry for a while, so she stayed. However, it would be remiss to not wonder how much Prust’s lackluster year with the Canucks – he was injured, sent down and then shut down – played a part in the decision as well. Speaking of Quebec media, they are very curious about Carey Price and, by extension, his wife Angela Price. Back in October, the Montreal media revealed that the Prices were expecting a baby before the couple could announce it themselves. The news prompted Angela to write a blog post criticizing the reporters , but later removed it when she received an apology. The topic, though, was up for discussion when Angela visited her family this week. Here’s a bit of the conversation: Stephanie (Angela’s sister): So why do you even care? Angela : You wouldn’t care? Stephanie : I don’t know. I look at it kind of… Angela : What? Stephanie : When you’re in the eye of the public you… Angela : You just don’t deserve any human decency? Angela has clearly not let go of all the bitterness yet, which is completely fair. The media revealing news of the pregnancy was reportedly an honest mistake due to miscommunication, according to TSN reporter John Lu . It’s old news now and they made amends so I won’t dwell on the matter here. What was more interesting anyway about this episode was witnessing just how much of a celebrity Carey Price is in Montreal — and how Angela, who has fans routinely showing up at her door for example, handles that attention. For instance, at charity events, Angela constantly fields questions from curious fans and media about her husband’s injury and recovery status. At one point she says, “I am so excited for Carey not to be injured so he’s back playing a) and b) so I can freaking stop talking about his injury.” Well…this must not have been a fun season for Angela. And it’s not just the constant questions Angela faces, but it’s clear she also deals with intense pressure as the wife of the face of the Canadiens franchise goalie. During one segment, Angela clearly expresses guilt for not being able to speak French: “I don’t want to piss people off by going and speaking English,” she says ahead of her interview on a French program called En Mode Salvail. But despite the language obstacle, and the host at one point gesturing to his crotch region (it was an injury question so not totally outlandish) Angela handled the interview like a pro. “At the end of the day, everyone’s comments and questions are coming from a good place,” she said, seemingly making peace with the media attention. But Carey Price was not the only injured goalie central to this episode. Enter Jonathan Bernier. Even the most lukewarm Leafs fans know Bernier had a horrendous start to the NHL season. But what we didn’t see was the emotional turmoil Bernier and his family, namely fiancée Matine Forget, went through. When Bernier was sent down to the Marlies, the Leafs AHL affiliate, Martine said she was in shock. “I can feel he wants to cry, but he sees me crying so he’s like ‘babe, it’s going to be fine. I’m going to get through it. It’s part of the job.’ Sometimes it can be hard on them,” she admitted during her on-camera confessional. Strangely, Martine also told her pal Taylor Winnik that when her husband was sent down, the couple was barred from attending a Leafs gala. I was as surprised as Taylor was: “You guys aren’t invited to the gala?” she asked, eyes wide. That seems extreme, doesn’t it? The former starting goaltender gets sent down to the AHL for a conditioning stint and gets uninvited to the team party. If that was indeed the case, the NHL sure is an exclusive club. Clearly the Berniers learned that the hard way this season. Three Stars of the episode: Third star: Tyler Bernier Second star: The Chatelaine crew First star: Eric Salvail, the Montreal TV host Best line of the episode: Noureen DeWulf is speaking about her guest star role in the TV show Grandfathered, starring John Stamos. Noureen: “ This role requires me to be super into John Stamos — and it’s not a stretch.” Misplay of the episode: Car seats and ladies nights do not mix, apparently. Noureen DeWulf, while driving Paige Getzlaf and Tiffany Parros to dinner, admits maybe bringing the car seat along was a bad idea. Noureen: “Isn’t there something so bizarre about getting all dressed up sexy and then you get in your car and there’s a car seat in it?” Tiffany: Yeah. I actually take the car seats out…

Canucks sign goalie Thatcher Demko to entry-level contract (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 14:52:42 PDT)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks signed former Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko to a three-year entry-level contract Wednesday.

Thatcher Demko signs entry-level deal with Canucks (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 11:29:40 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks’ long wait to sign goaltender Thatcher Demko has come to an end as the Boston College product put pen to paper and inked a three-year deal on Wednesday . This means the Canucks won’t have to endure any Jimmy Vesey-type drama had Demkos chosen to return for his senior season. Demko, a 2016 Hobey Baker Award finalist and Mike Richter Award winner, was phenomenal for the Eagles in his junior season. He posted 10 shutouts and a .935 save percentage in 39 games, leading Boston College to a share of the Hockey East title and a Frozen Four appearance. A second-round pick by the Canucks in 2014, the 20-year-old Demko has only improved as his young career has gone on, as Lambert noted earlier this month over at Canucks Army. Vancouver has both Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom signed  for at least one more  season. This will give Demko time to season in the AHL and be groomed as the franchise’s goalie of the future. “Once you start facing shooters who can really rip the puck and have a fast release, there’s going to be a learning curve and he’s no different than any other goalie coming out of college,” Canucks GM Jim Benning told Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province this week . “Ryan Miller won the Hobey Baker and turned pro and there were things he needed to do to adjust his game. All young goalies have to go through that curve. Thatcher is intense and competes hard and I’m confident he’ll be able to figure out what he needs to do." - - - - - - - Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Canadian NHL ratings ‘shockingly low’ for 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:44:26 PDT)
For the first time since 1970, no Canadian teams qualified for the NHL postseason. Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that there was “uncertainty” about what the ratings would look like for the Stanley Cup Playoffs north of the border, and (infamously) noted that the playoffs were still Canada-friendly because of all the Canadians on playoff teams.  Perhaps that appeal was overstated. According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, the ratings for Stanley Cup Playoff games have plummeted 61 percent from last season. From Campbell: Through the first five nights of hockey in the playoffs – from last Wednesday (April 13) through Sunday (April 17) – an average of just 513,000 viewers tuned into the 20 NHL playoff games. Compare that to last spring when there were five Canadian teams playing in the first round and an average of 1.306 million viewers tuned into the first 21 first-round games. That’s a drop of 61 percent from last season. “Even with no Canadian teams, those are shockingly low numbers,” said one industry expert. “There were regular season games on TSN two years ago that did better than that.” Ouch. The TSN thing, we mean. So what happened here? One theory Campbell notes is that since no Canadian teams were even in the playoff hunt at the end, interest diminished rather early. “Fans of those teams have tuned out and, apparently, remained tuned out,” he writes. But the primary reason remains that if your team, or a team you hate, fails to make the postseason, you’re just not going to be that engaged. That holds true in both of our great nations. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins all being on the outside of the playoff hurts. Ditto the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, who made the cut last season. Canadian fans simply don’t have the same level of engagement with the Eastern Conference teams playing in the first round; and in the west, the most intriguing series is happening after 10:30 p.m. almost every night. All of this is devastating for Rogers – who, in full disclosure, produces our podcast Marek Vs. Wyshynski . As David Shoalts notes, they were already in cost-cutting mode before the postseason: But what those changes will be, aside from cost-cutting, has the staff guessing. The cost-cutting measures are obvious – only three Rogers play-by-play crews are covering an entire series in the first playoff round, which saves money on production costs. The fourth crew, play-by-play broadcaster Dave Randorf and analyst Greg Millen, will see spot duty on select games in the first round along with a small technical crew. A year ago, Rogers had crews at most first-round series which, of course, included five Canadian teams. With production costs running around $100,000 a game, Rogers could save about $500,000 over a seven-game series by cutting back to three full-time play-by-play crews, according to a broadcast industry source. This could add up to $2-million by the end of the playoffs, which run four series. There’s still hope that the playoff ratings could spike. As Bettman optimistically put it: "As long as the hockey is entertaining and exciting and competitive we're hoping and expecting that fans will tune in and watch great hockey.” There are plenty of twists, turns and Game 7s left in these playoffs. There are plenty of compelling matchups that could make the casual fans take notice, especially with a few teams that have never won the Stanley Cup looking viable. And, of course, there’s the one thing for which Rogers is praying to whatever deity that will listen: Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby in the Metro Division final. One in every 69 Canadians may not care about Round 1 of the postseason, but give’em Canada’s golden boy against the Russian machine and those numbers will get sunnier for Rogers. If you're a Canadian not watching the playoffs (but, for some reason, reading a hockey blog), why aren't you watching? Please leave feedback in the comments. -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

What We Learned: Evgeni Malkin and the risk of playing injured (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 18 Apr 2016 06:06:44 PDT)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) Come playoff time, no one likes to miss games. Which is why you see so many guys playing a level below their normal capabilities. Anyone who watched Saturday's 4-2 Rangers’ win over Pittsburgh likely noted the return to the lineup of Evgeni Malkin, out since March 11 with an, ahem , “upper body” injury. And watching him play, you had to think to yourself, “Maybe he should have stayed out of the lineup.” Medically, that seems like a correct diagnosis. He was injured early in a game on March 11, and was supposed to miss six to eight weeks. Given that Saturday was April 16, it's fair to say that “not even five weeks” does not equal six-to-eight. You could tell he was playing ahead of schedule, because he didn't look anything like the Malkin fans know and opponents dread. This has nothing to do with the absurd “But the Penguins went 17-2 without him” argument, and everything to do with the fact that he flat-out looked pretty bad, save for a few flashes of brilliance, in his return. He played the second-most minutes at 5-on-5 of all Penguins but in a game in which they out-attempted New York 59-50 in all situations and 43-37 at 5-on-5, they were 9-13 when Malkin was on the ice. That is to say, going 32-24 when he's off is a dominant number (57.1 percent). The kind of number one might expect when, say, a healthy Malkin is on the ice. But he was awful and probably not playing at anything close to 100 percent. Let's put it this way: If you give Malkin 12 minutes of 5-on-5 TOI, you expect him to attempt at least a single shot and not get pinned in his own zone more often than not. It's a minor miracle that he wasn't on the ice for a goal against, because Pittsburgh conceded eight scoring chances of various quality during that time. Now, you can argue that part of the problem was that Mike Sullivan was playing Malkin on the wing for a good chunk of the game, which is obviously not his natural position. After the game, he told reporters his preference is to play in the middle of the ice, but it was probably judicious for Sullivan to limit the exposure he was getting, especially because he was regularly taking a shift with Crosby against the Nash-Brassard-Miller line. Not exactly soft competition. Malkin did indeed end up with a marginal shooting advantage when playing alongside Crosby, but given how bad he looked you can guess he also got run over when occasionally away from the world's top player. When criticizing Malkin, you have to also note that he ended up with a point in his return. Fair enough. But that was a secondary assist on a 5-on-3 goal, and more to the point Malkin still looked like he was very much out of sorts even on the man advantage. Sullivan deployed him liberally here, giving him more power play TOI than anyone on the team except workhorse Kris Letang, and nonetheless he attempted a single shot. As you can probably guess, it did not end up on net, despite the fact that he was in a high-danger area. That kind of thing happens even to players running at 100 percent but again, just looking at him, you could tell something was off. Given the secrecy with which NHL teams conduct themselves even for out-of-conference home games in November, one can assume that we won't know until the Penguins are eliminated (or win the Cup, I guess) what's ailing Malkin, or how much he rushed his comeback. You give away that kind of info and you're asking for Malkin to absorb more (and more-targeted) than just the three checks for which various Rangers were credited on Saturday — and buddy, it felt like a lot more than three. Point being, you have to wonder if Malkin playing at, let's say, 60 or even 75 percent (if we're being extremely generous) is actually beneficial to the Penguins. Especially if you're going to insist on throwing him back into the deep end — playing mostly with Crosby, and mostly against top competition — and hope for the best. No one is saying Oskar Sundqvist, who drew in for Game 1 in Malkin's absence, is moving the needle in any appreciable way for the Penguins, but he's making Sullivan bump everyone he's using up a spot, instead of shuffling everyone down one to make room for Malkin. Fast being a minus-1 possession player in minutes against the third or fourth line is probably a lot less damaging than Malkin being minus-4 against the top one. Of course, the insistence on playing top players when they're clearly injured is not exclusive to Pittsburgh. For example, Henrik Sedin was injured at some point in late November but played most of the season anyway, much to the detriment of both his own play and that of his team. Word out of Vancouver is that it was some sort of injury — still classified, somehow — to his torso, but which made it eminently difficult for him to do the things he's usually extremely good at, like win draws and drive possession. One might be able to argue that Sedin is also getting quite old, given that he turned 35 in late September, but the splits between “clearly healthy” and “probably injured” here, as delineated by the turn of the calendar from November to December, is pretty obvious. His age didn't catch up to him that quickly or immediately. His 5-on-5 ice time dropped nearly a full minute per game, and his goal-scoring cratered from 0.5 per 60 to just 0.1. He was also passing far more often than he was shooting, as his assists per 60 actually went up from 1.2 to 1.7. (Other issues, including a broken finger late in the year and getting boarded toward the end of January, further diminished his capability, but you see the point vis a vis the core injury.)

NHL fighting hits lowest levels since 1968 (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 15 Apr 2016 12:39:18 PDT)
For many sports fans, hockey still conjures images of players pummeling each other with fists, fourth-line goons and line brawls. Yet since 2009, the number of fights in the NHL, and the number of fights per game, has been in decline. How much has it declined? Consider this: According to’s decades of data, provided to Yahoo Sports, the 0.28 fights per game average in the NHL’s 2015-16 regular season is the lowest total since the 1967-68 season (0.21). It’s also the first time the NHL’s fights-per-game average came in under 0.30 in 48 years. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] That season had 444 games and 12 teams, while this season had 1,230 games and 30 teams. The total number of fights in the 2015-16 season – with “fight” defined as “when at least one player involved receives a fighting major” – finished at 344. That’s fewer than we saw in either the 2012-13 (347) or 1994-95 (506) lockout seasons, and the lowest total in the NHL since 1973-74, which had 267 fights. Here’s a look at the trends:

Canucks sign North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:23:32 PDT)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks signed North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher on Wednesday.

Fleury game-time decision; Datsyuk's last run; Linden sticking to plan (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 13 Apr 2016 08:23:36 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at . 

Parise's health; Maloney's management style (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 12 Apr 2016 10:30:53 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at .   The @LAKings presented @HEELZiggler , @IAmJericho , @RicFlairNatrBoy & @MsCharlotteWWE w/ personalized jerseys! #RAW — WWE (@WWE) April 11, 2016 • Chris Sutter, son of Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, meets some of wrestling’s biggest stars. [ WWE ] • Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise may not be ready in time for the start of his team’s first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars. [ Star Tribune ] • Don Maloney’s management style led to his downfall with the Arizona Coyotes. [ Arizona Sports ] [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   • After a trying season, Jimmy Howard enters the playoffs as the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goaltender. [ MLive ] • New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle talks about the trade that brought him from Arizona to New York, and what it means to be a Ranger: “Once everything was settled the next morning, I flew into New Jersey. When I arrived, the Rangers had a helicopter waiting for me to take me into Manhattan. Talk about a New York entrance. They took me up and flew me right over the skyscrapers and everything, right into MSG. It was just incredible.” [ Players’ Tribune ] • The NHL Awards are staying in Las Vegas, but will move to the Hard Rock Hotel. Last year they were at the MGM Grand. [ Review Journal ] • Blood clots will force Buffalo Sabres forward Cody McCormick to retire. McCormick hasn’t played since he was briefly hospitalized when clots spread to his lungs after he blocked a shot in January 2015. [ Buffalo Hockey Beat ] • On the importance of Ed Snider. The longtime Philadelphia Flyers owner died Monday after a battle with bladder cancer. [ ] • Snider created a lasting legacy with minority hockey players with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation: “Snider Hockey was his, created in 2005 to teach the Philadelphia-area’s at-risk youth about the world of possibilities beyond their neighborhoods and life skills lessons through the prism of hockey.” [ Color of Hockey ] • Meet David Gunnarsson, the man behind some of the most creative goaltender masks in the NHL today. [ Wall Street Journal ] • Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar believed his team was “a little too soft” with how they practiced this season. [ Ottawa Citizen ] • Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Stephane Robidas is set to retire. He missed the entire 2015-16 season with multiple injuries. Robidas has one year remaining on his three-year, $9 million contract with a cap hit of $3 million. [ Eh Game ] • Why the New York Islanders can make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. [ The Hockey Writers ] • There’s more to just puck possession than just holding onto the puck.  As we look deeper into puck possession, we see that there is a difference between having the puck for a long time and meaningful puck possession." [ JenLC13 ] • Vancouver Canucks goaltending coach Rollie Melanson is leaving the team after six seasons to spend more time with his family. Melanson may also leave professional hockey as well. [ Vancouver Sun ] • WHL playoff preview for second-round matchups in the Eastern Conference. The Brandon Wheat Kings take on the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Red Deer Rebels face the Regina Pats. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Taking a closer look at the Boston Pride’s draft picks from 2015. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • Team USA and Team Canada are the best women’s hockey teams in international competition. Taking a look at the best of the rest. [ Along the Boards ] • Team Canada named their first 18 players to their 2016 men’s World Championship team. Canada opens the tournament against the United States on Friday, May 6, with preliminary-round games scheduled through Tuesday, May 17. The bronze and goldmedal games will be on May 22. The tournament will be held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.[ Hockey Canada ] • How to pick your playoff fantasy team. [ Dobber Hockey ] • University of North Dakota freshman forward Brock Boeser said he will return to college rather than join the Vancouver Canucks next season. Boeser notched 60 points to lead UND to a National Championship. He was picked 23rd overall by the Canucks in the 2015 NHL Draft.  [ Grand Forks Herald ] • A neat look at teams’ statistical power ranking data throughout their histories. [ Hockey on Stats ] • Top five Washington Capitals concept logo designs. [ Hockey by Design ] •   Finally, 2016 draft prospect Parik Laine with the goal.    MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY    

What We Learned: Is this the best the Minnesota Wild can do? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 11 Apr 2016 07:19:01 PDT)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) You want to talk about Detroit backing into the playoffs, and that's fair enough because they did. But no one backed in harder than the Wild, which lost its last five games of the season in regulation, including dropped results against Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary.  Yup, they made the playoffs alright, finishing in the final wild card spot in the West. With 87 points. Eighty-seven. The lowest total in the shootout era to make the postseason. We're sitting here worrying about the Bruins finishing outside the playoffs because they have a bottom-10 D corps, but they finished the year with six more points than Minnesota. They finished two points ahead of a truly dreadful Ottawa team, and with the same number of wins. Look, the top of the Central was tough this year. These guys played Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis five times apiece. They also had three games each against Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim. That's 24 games against really good teams just in their conference. And hey, outside those six 100-point teams, only Nashville (with nine extra points) did better out West. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone under the illusion that this Wild team has a better roster than the Predators. But remember, this was a Wild team that had materially improved from the 100-point campaign they turned in last year, following the addition of an actual goaltender who got them into the playoffs after a season-plus of going without. Not that they actually appeared to be a 100-point team once again, but something in the high 90s seemed very reasonable. Instead? Eight-seven. What's interesting is that apart from the Devan Dubnyk acquisition and extension last year, the Wild haven't changed much. They added David Jones at the deadline from Calgary, but that's it. No other substantial moves were completed since the Dubnyk trade. They signed NCAA free agent Mike Reilly in late summer after he bailed on the Blue Jackets, but he only got into 29 games with the Wild this year. Not exactly an impact player in that regard. But here's the thing: The Wild last season were a decent enough team — a little better than even in possession — that was almost ruined by bad goaltending. This year, high-level goaltending is the only thing that saved them; because Dubnyk was very good this year (.918 overall, .933 at 5-on-5) the team finished 14th and eighth in overall and 5-on-5 save percentage, respectively. He was occasionally criticized, but there's no denying that with an even average goalie this team doesn't come close to sniffing the postseason. And that's the big issue this team has. There was supposed to be a mix of veteran experience and youthful verve that got this team to step up a bit, and it just didn't happen. The leading scorer was Mikko Koivu with 56 points. Koivu is a good enough player at what he does, but under no circumstance should he lead the team in scoring. Zach Parise finished with 53 in 70 games, including 25 goals, which is good and everything, but given what you pay him, is it enough? And what about the kids? Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Charlie Coyle are all 23, and all topped 40 points. That's good. But again, is it enough to engender any sort of faith in the future as these guys being able to pick up the torch and run with it? That doesn't even address the near-constant rumors that the team was looking to offload Jonas Brodin (not that you can't see why), but that leaves Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon as the only two defensemen you can really and truly trust on this team right now. Maybe you say Matt Dumba as well, but I'm not so sure he's an actual difference-maker at this point. This is a weird mix of players in general. Almost all the guys who are supposed to move the needle — at least insofar as they're well-paid to do so — are in their early 30s and not likely to get much better. But that doesn't stop them being signed long-term. Suter and Parise have their (in)famous contracts that see them carry a $7.5 million cap hit until 2025, but Koivu is 33 and signed two more years. Jason Pominville is the same age and locked up for three more. God, Thomas Vanek has another year left on his $6.5 million deal. Let's not forget, this is basically a cap team, as General Fanager has them ending the season with about $628,000 in room. How does a roster this frankly underwhelming cost $70.8 million in cap commitments? It's worrisome, especially because even after firing their coach, this is a team that's still trending in the wrong direction. And it got worse under John Torchetti, who is still only the interim head coach. The club would be wise to not cut the first word off that title. For the year, they're just a 48 percent possession team that got outchanced and outshot more often than not. Dubnyk is the only reason they weren't outscored. Fortunately he'll be around for a while.

NHL Three Stars: Playoff field set; Hartnell's huge night (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 10 Apr 2016 00:50:14 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Scott Hartnell, Columbus Blue Jackets   Scott Hartnell’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets an entertaining 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his second goal of the game and completed a four-point night. No. 2 Star: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals Ovechkin’s hat trick gave him 50 goals for the third straight season, as the Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues, 5-1, allowing goalie Braden Holtby to tie Martun Brodeur’s 2006-07 record of 48 wins in a regular season. No. 3 Star: Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers Wayne Simmonds scored two goals as the Flyers clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 win over the Crosby and Letang-less Pittsburgh Penguins. Simmonds has 32 goals on the season. Honorable Mention: In what could have been his final game as a Devil, Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists in their 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Adam Henrique also had two goals. … The Ottawa Senators scored four second-period goals en route to a 6-1 embarrassment of the Boston Bruins. Andrew Hammond made 39 saves. The Bruins were eliminated from playoff contention. …  Oscar Lindberg had a goal and an assist in the third period to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Weep not for the Wings, they still backed into a playoff spot. … Jakob Silfverberg had two goals and Corey Perry had three assists in the Anaheim Ducks’ 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, keeping their postseason hopes alive. … Late goals from Brandon Bollig and Patrick Sieloff gave the Calgary Flames a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. … Alex Galchenyuk ended his strange season with two goals and an assist, giving him 30 tallies on the season, in the Habs’ 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Max Pacioretty had two goals as well. ... Jonathan Drouin had his fourth for the Lightning. … The Florida Panthers scored three first-period goals and never looked back in their 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. … Brian Gionta scored in overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders, but the Isles still picked up a charity point ahead of Sunday’s game vs. Philly. It was Gionta’s second of the game. … Jason Spezza’s hat trick accounted for all three Dallas Stars goals in their 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. He now has 33 goals on the season. … Emerson Etem scored a goal and had the game-deciding one in the shootout as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. The Oilers finish 29th, while Vancouver is 28th. … The Los Angeles Kings blew a 3-0 lead and Mark Scheifele scored in the shootout to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory, preventing the Kings from clinching the division. … Martin Jones pitched a 20-save shutout as the San Jose Sharks used a Joe Pavelski goal to beat the Arizona Coyotes, 1-0. … Shane Doan isn’t sure what the future holds, but went out fighting: Did You Know? Patrick Kane secured the first Art Ross Trophy by an American-born player with 106 points.  Dishonorable Mention: Robby Fabbri and Carl Gunnarsson were a minus-3. … Brian Elliot’s Blues-record 11-game winning streak ended with him getting pulled for the third. … Loui Eriksson and Ryan Spooner were a minus-3. … Tuukka Rask was too sick to play in the Bruins’ critical game. … Andreas Martinsen was ejected for a late hit on Ryan Garbutt . … Jason Garrison was a minus-3. … Chris Terry, Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask were all minus-3. … TJ Brennan and Martin Marincin were a minus-3. … Thomas Fleischmann was a minus-4. … The Blackhawks blew a three-goal first-period lead. … Derek Dorsett was ejected for squirting water bottle at Oilers bench. … Tyler Johnson was injured in the first period for the Lightning on this hit by Greg Pateryn, for which he earned a game misconduct.   -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:  

Etem scores shootout winner as Canucks beat Oilers 4-3 (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 23:58:27 PDT)
If this was Alexandre Burrows' last game for the Vancouver Canucks, he went out on his own terms. The veteran forward scored one of Vancouver's three goals in the shootout Saturday night as the Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 to wrap up disappointing seasons for both clubs. Burrows, who turns 35 on Monday and has spent the last 10 years in Vancouver, averaged nearly 30 goals a season while playing with on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin from 2008-'09 to 2011-'12, but had just 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 79 games in 2015-'16 in a reduced role.

Dose: All Hands on Deck (Rotoworld)
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 23:25:00 PDT)
Ryan Dadoun breaks down all of Saturday's action.

Derek Dorsett ejected for squirting water bottle at Oilers bench (Video) (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 22:47:02 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers played their finals games on Saturday night, but there was just enough time left for Derek Dorsett to earn one of the most ridiculous game misconducts of the regular season.  At 18:33 of the third period, Patrick Maroon of the Edmonton Oilers scored his 12th of the season to tie the game at 3-3. He went back to the bench and mockingly motioned over to Dorsett, who was standing in the Canucks bench area. They yapped at each other across the cameramen in between the benches. Suddenly, Dorsett gave his water bottle a squeeze, sending a stream of liquid at Maroon. The Oilers forward turned away, and then raised his hand in disbelief that Dorsett just wasted good water. Maroon stared at the on-ice officials until they skated over and handed Dorsett a misconduct. Dorsett finished the season strong in the penalty minutes department. He had 17 minutes in his last three games to claim first overall in PIMs this season with 177. So unless Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals goes bananas in their season finale, Dorsett will be the penalty minutes king this season. Congrats, or something.   Meanwhile, we really, really hope this isn’t a harbinger of water bottle incidents to come. No one needs a repeat of the squirting shenanigans of the 2014 playoffs. -- Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:  

NHL-Highlights from NHL games on Saturday
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 22:22:33 PDT)
Highlights from National Hockey League games on Saturday: NY Rangers 3, Red Wings 2 Center Kevin Hayes scored with 5:38 remaining in the third period to help give the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the regular-season finale for both teams. Despite the loss, the Red Wings clinched their 25th consecutive trip to the postseason after the Boston Bruins lost to the Ottawa Senators. Detroit clinched third place in the Atlantic Division and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey: Saturday's bargains and values (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 04:52:36 PDT)
By  Sasha Yodashkin Saturday's 11-game evening slate shouldn' t be short on drama with plenty of teams still jostling for playoff position down the stretch. This marks the final appearance for most of these guys, so it's important to make smart lineup choices so they can help you enjoy the sweet taste of victory one final time. Utilizing the value plays below should allow you to grab an important win in the final massive regular-season slate of the year. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] GOALIE Thomas Greiss, NYI vs. BUF ($30)  - Greiss is one of the night's most appealing options in goal in addition being one of the cheapest. He should be fully engaged as his Islanders look to stave off the Rangers for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division, while the visiting Sabres have nothing to play for and will be skating in the second leg of a back-to-back set. Greiss owns a fantastic 14-4-3 record at the Barclays Center, and all signs point to him improving on that mark without burning a hole through owners' wallets. Goalie to Avoid : Braden Holtby, WAS at STL ($41)  - Holtby has borne the brunt of the first-place Capitals' lack of late-season motivation, averaging a mere 9.0 fantasy points per start while only winning one of his last four appearances. Even if Washington is fully focused for this one, don't expect an easy night for Holtby on the road against a Blues team that needs a positive result to have a shot at the first seed in the Western Conference.  CENTER Connor McDavid, EDM at VAN ($26)  - McDavid had a goal and two assists against these same Canucks on Wednesday, so he's surely excited to see Vancouver's name on the schedule to close out the season. The rookie has been nothing short of phenomenal when healthy, as his 48 points in 44 games give him a scoring rate exceeded only by  Patrick Kane  when extrapolated to a full 82-game season. McDavid's healthy now, and his $26 price doesn't do the 19-year-old justice against an opponent he absolutely torched last time out.  Center to Avoid : Sean Monahan, CGY at MIN ($28)  - Monahan's four assists and minus-2 rating in the last five games make for a solid-but-unspectacular stretch, but that level simply isn't good enough to warrant an astronomical $28 price tag. He's not a bad player, but all the other options in his price range are rounding out the campaign in more dominant form than the third-year forward. WING Jaromir Jagr, FLA vs. CAR ($21)  - Jagr will (most likely) fall a little bit short of hitting the 30-goal milestone for the 16th time, but it's not for lack of trying. The ageless winger is making a late-season push with three goals and seven assists in his last eight games, and he'd surely like to add a couple more to enter the playoffs on a high note. He has 40 points in 38 home appearances this season, and should put on one final show for the BB&T Center crowd after a three-game road trip with a below-average Hurricanes team in town.  Nino Niederreiter, MIn vs. CGY ($16)  - Niederreiter is far from the only man to shine against Calgary's 30th-ranked defense this season, but that shouldn't diminish his three points in two previous meetings with the Flames. It's not just Niederreiter's scoring that makes this matchup notable, though, as his plus-3 rating against the Flames is his best mark against any team save for a surprising plus-6 in five meetings with the Blackhawks. He plays a valuable offensive role as a top-six forward and member of the top power play unit, and is primed to take advantage of this opportunity for an affordable price. Wings to Avoid : Jaden Schwartz, STL vs. WAS ($18)  - Schwartz is mired in a miserable slump, averaging only 3.0 fantasy points per game in his last eight. He's no longer skating in a top-six role for the Blues, which makes breaking out even more difficult.  Kyle Palmieri, NJ vs. TOR ($21)  - Palmieri has been mired in a cold spell since scoring twice against the Penguins on Mar. 24, failing to find the back of the net in seven consecutive contests. Devils fans might overvalue Palmieri because of the offensive mediocrity around him, but it's important not to overpay for him in hopes he reaches 30 goals against the Leafs. There are more established options with more to play for on the board in the same price range. DEFENSE Ryan Suter, MIN vs. CGY ($18)  - Suter leads the Wild with 21 power play points this season, and a date with the least effective penalty kill in the NHL offers a tremendous opportunity for the all-around blueliner to add to that total. With a career-high 186 shots and 142 blocked shots, he can also contribute consistently in other categories regardless of his scoring output. At just $18, Suter's high floor and standout matchup make him a can't-miss value play. Brent Seabrook, CHI at CLS ($23)  - Don't let one so-so showing against an excellent team discourage you from going back to Seabrook, especially in a much more convenient matchup with the Blue Jackets. The veteran usually thrives when  Duncan Keith' s not around, and his five points in three games prior to Thursday's loss indicate that he's primed to do so again. Defensemen to Avoid : Zach Bogosian, BUF at NYI ($25)  - Bogosian saw his price skyrocket due to a recent hot streak during which he recorded four points in three games from Mar. 29 to Apr. 2, but the former Jets defenseman's 24 points and minus-11 rating in 63 games suggest he's unlikely to maintain that form. Don't overpay for a short productive stretch when years of evidence support Bogosian's abilities being far below those of a $25 player. Kris Russell, DAL vs. NSH ($18)  - The Stars will likely be careful with Russell after he just returned from a foot injury, so he may not play his regular load of minutes. Add in the fact that he's not much of an offensive threat and Russell should be avoided.  Get a FREE RotoWire 10-day trial (no credit card required) at MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Getting ready for a busy day (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 22:41:00 PDT)
Ryan Dadoun highlights some key contests on Saturday and breaks down Friday's contest.

Oilers-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 14:24:21 PDT)
The Edmonton Oilers are in a familiar situation heading into their season finale Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Edmonton is once again in position to earn the best chance for the top overall pick in the draft, a selection it has made four times in the last six years. The Oilers (31-43-7) will have a 20 percent chance of winning the draft lottery if they finish with the fewest points in the NHL.

Who's to blame when a team goes south? (Trending Topics) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 13:17:57 PDT)
When teams run out of tangible answers for why they're not good, they always turn to the same thing: intangibles. For instance, this week we saw both Vancouver and Colorado turn to issues of leadership, character, and culture for the reasons that these bad teams are bad. The Patrick Roy stuff has been out there more than enough this week, because he thinks that the deficiencies in the quality of the job he's done coaching, and the quality of the roster he and Joe Sakic have put together (both extraordinarily low) are not to blame for the team's ongoing woes. Less publicized has been Jim Benning in Vancouver telling TSN 1040 that the reason the Canucks aren't good has nothing to do with the roster he's cobbled together being second-last in scoring and eighth from the bottom in goals allowed. He in fact said that his No. 1 priority for turning the team around is “competing.” [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] (Included in that Benning interview was the line, “We knew coming into this year that we were going to take a step back.” However, before the season, Benning was on the record as saying the Canucks should have been a 100-point team, which is an amazing bit of ret-conning, but you gotta spin it how you need to spin it.) And last year when the Boston Bruins turfed Peter Chiarelli, Cam Neely talked about the need to return to the Bruins' “identity,” which involves being “hard to play against.” But let's reiterate: This is what teams say when they are bereft of actual answers, or at least out of answers that won't make them extremely uncomfortable. The Bruins are an important team to talk about here because Vancouver and Colorado have been train wrecks for a a while now. Vancouver has three first-round exits and two missed playoffs in the last five years, and Colorado has three postseason appearances (two of which were total flukes) since 2007. On the other hand, Boston was very good for a long time and has only recently “crashed and burned” insofar as they've become a deeply mediocre one. Let's not forget, they went from a Cup Final to maybe missing the playoffs twice in a row in three years flat, which is a pretty substantial fall from grace. But look at what Boston has lost since making that Cup Final in 2013: Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, etc. These were all very solid contributors in various roles for the Bruins, and all went on to success elsewhere (with the exception of Horton and Peverley, both victims of unfortunate health problems outside their control). If you have those seven players on your roster today, you're winning a whole hell of a lot of games, but various issues came together to prevent the Bruins from keeping them. When you have to let those players walk (Horton), trade them for relative peanuts (Seguin, Lucic, Peverley, Boychuk, Hamilton), or whatever else, the fact is you're replacing them with players of a lesser quality. Which makes winning more difficult. Which is what the team's executives are now learning to their absolute shock. Now, the thinking in Boston is (apparently) that the losing is the result of Claude Julien not being an effective coach, as opposed to the quality of the team he's given having declined. Has Julien made some troubling roster decisions this season? Sure he has. Is that the reason the Bruins don't appear to be a playoff team at this moment? Good lord no. The question you have to ask yourself any time you fire a coach is, “Who would do a better job with this group?” The uncomfortable answer for Cam Neely and Don Sweeney — whose qualifications for their jobs are limited to “played for the Bruins when they were good” and “???” — is that there probably isn't such a coach out there. It's a paradigm shift, to be sure, but we just have to get used to the idea that the Bruins probably aren't going to be making the playoffs in the foreseeable future given the quality of the roster, and in particular the defense. It is, in fact, arguable that Julien has been the one of the three or four most-effective coaches of the Behind the Net era in a lot of ways. Coincidentally and helpfully, he took over Boston at the same time the league started tracking every shot attempt, making it very easy to judge his team's performance against every other coach in the league. And to that end, it's hard to find anyone who could just step in and take over, especially when you discount guys who already have jobs.

The Seven: McDavid's rookie mistake; the end is nigh for Canadian NHL teams (Yahoo Sports)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 10:46:57 PDT)
Weekly look at Canada's seven NHL teams: the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks & Winnipeg Jets.

Why Canada was shut out of Stanley Cup Playoffs (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 09:25:53 PDT)
There are similarities between Canada in 1970 and Canada in 2016.  The Trudeau bloodline in back in the Prime Minister's office. Tim Hortons still serves fresh coffee. And, perhaps most importantly, there are no Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sure, there are differences, like the fact there were only 12 NHL teams and two divisions 46 years ago. But just like in 1970, Canada's inability to put a single team in the postseason hs become one of the biggest stories of the year. Especially when five of the 16 teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season were Canadian.  “Last year we enjoyed a modicum of success as did some other Canadian teams,” Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “Obviously a (defending) Stanley Cup champion didn’t make the playoffs last year, so I think it just underscores the fact that each and every year is a different.”  [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ] While all share a nation and the same burden to succeed all situations were different and some are considered preventable from happening again. - The Calgary Flames had fewer comebacks this season.   - The Winnipeg Jets couldn’t recover from a November swoon and saw a drop-off in their play with mostly the same roster as a team that was a sleeper upset pick in last year’s postseason. - The Vancouver Canucks doubled down on the aging Sedin Twins and Ryan Miller. Also their younger players never took the step they hoped for this year.  - The Ottawa Senators couldn’t catch fire near the end of the season like they did a year ago. - The Montreal Canadiens couldn’t overcome the loss of goaltender Carey Price. - Both the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs continued on the rebuilding track. “When you have all seven teams that don’t make it, I get it. There’s a story,” Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. “Generally speaking, is there some commonality between the group? Maybe certainly to a degree but I think there are individual issues and characteristics for each of the teams and this was one of those anomalies where all went through trials and tribulations and we all ended in the same place.”  *** The dropping Canadian dollar is often referenced as a reason for financial concern for the NHL. But Canadian general managers didn’t see at as the reason for this year’s drop-off with their clubs. As of early April last year, the Canadian dollar was trading at around 80 cents per one US dollar. By January it had dropped to about 68 cents, and has since rebounded to near 77 cents. The NHL has said their collective bargaining agreement with the players accounts for drops in the Canadian dollar and has no bearing on the league’s competitive balance. “It has nothing to do with the Canadian dollar because we’re all under a cap system,” Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. Said Treliving, “I don’t look at that as the fluctuation of the dollar as a reason for a team to have or not have success. That’s a sidebar issue.”  Still, the dropping dollar does cause some long-term business worry. For example, Forbes’ valuations for six of the seven Canadian teams dipped because of the dollar drop. “I don’t think you can make too much of it about what effect it’ll have long term, that I couldn’t answer,” Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “I think short term a little less, but long term I think it will have an effect.”

Dose: Grabbing a Round (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 03:51:00 PDT)
Career-highs, teams locking in home-ice advantage for a round and so much more in Friday's enormous Hockey Dose.

NHL Three Stars: Tarasenko, Crosby, Byfuglien, Gardiner, Josi OT heroes (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 00:01:23 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues Tarasenko continues to be a nightmare for the opposition. He scored goal No. 38 to tie the Chicago Blackhawks with 1:22 left on the clock. Goal No. 39 came 3:37 into overtime. No. 2 Star: Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets In a game that meant nothing for the Jets, Big Buf had 4-points. The Jets came back against the Sharks three times during the game. With 10 seconds left and the game tied, Byfuglien sent the game winner past Martin Jones. No. 3 Star: Torey Krug, Boston Bruins The Bruins needed a huge game from someone to stay alive in the playoff race. Look no further than Krug. The defenseman has put up 8 points in his last 5 games; with 3 of those points coming against the Detroit Red Wings in the must-win game. Honorable Mention: Jonathan Quick broke his own franchise record by earning his 40th win of the season. The Los Angeles Kings held the Anaheim Ducks to 20 shots on goal in their 2-1 win; retaking first place in the Pacific. Drew Doughty played an incredible 30:02 ... Mark Scheifele netted two goals and an assist in the Jets win. Both the Sharks and Jets power plays were 2-for-4 ... In the battle for futility, the Calgary Flames pummeled the Vancouver Canucks 7-3. Mikael Backlund picked up his first career NHL hat trick with three different goals: one on the power play, one at even strength, and one shorthanded. ... Kari Lehtonen improved to 25-10-2 as the Dallas Stars beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Congrats to Stars rookie Jason Dickinson for scoring his first NHL goal. Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky had 2 assists each in the win ... Chicago will start their first round playoff series on the road. Brian Elliott is now 23-7-6 for the Blues ... The Arizona Coyotes were up 2-0 to start the third period, and the Nashville Predators scored three straight goals to win it in overtime. Roman Josi assisted on the game tying goal with 19 seconds left and scored 20 seconds into OT ... Congrats to Buddy Robinson for scoring his first NHL goal in his second game in the league. The Ottawa Senators beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 ... With the Philadelphia Flyers season on the line, Wayne Simmonds scored his 30th goal of the season to tie the game with 58 seconds to go. Yet it would be Jake Gardiner who'd score for the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime to win. Jonathan Bernier made 41 saves for his 12th victory of the season. William Nylander earned a goal and 2 assists ... Shane Prince, John Tavares, and Kyle Okposo each had 2 points for the New York Islanders in their 4-1 season sweep of the New York Rangers. Thomas Greiss faced 37 shots and allowed only 1 goal ... Newly signed Charlie Lindgren, formerly of St. Cloud State, won his first game as a member of the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 ... Jonathan Drouin netted what would stand up as the game winner in his first game back with the big club. The Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils guarantees them home ice in at least the first round. Ben Bishop picked up his 35 win of the season ... The Pittsburgh Penguins had a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. The Washington Capitals scored three straight goals to tie it up. Then it was Sidney Crosby time - with some help from Kris Letang - in overtime. Did You Know? Erik Karlsson credited with point 81 & assist 65 on the #Sens goal. Both records for him & now most points in a season by a Swedish d-man. — Sens communications (@Media_Sens) April 8, 2016 Dishonorable Mention: Sami Vatanen was a late scratch for the Ducks with the flu ... By dropping the game against the Jets, the Sharks have secured their spot as third place in the Pacific. It's up to the Ducks and Kings to decide who plays them ... Poor Ryan Miller. He faced 43 shots on net and allowed 7 goals ... Eric Johnston was tossed and assessed a five minute major for boarding Johnny Oduya. boarding major & game misconduct to Johnson — Stephanie (@myregularface) April 8, 2016 ... Henrik Lundqvist did not start the third period after allowing 3 goals on 16 shots. Per Arthur Staple, Anders Lee is out with a possible fractured leg ... Cam Ward reportedly declined to speak to reporters after what could be his last home game with Carolina ... The Detroit Red Wings were lifeless against the Bruins, tossing up only 15 shots on goal. After winning Wednesday night in Philadelphia, Jimmy Howard was started again. He was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 26 shots through 40:45. Justin Abdelkader was injured in the third period ... Braden Holtby remains one win away from tying Martin Brodeur. Alex Ovechkin took a beauty of a dive to earn an embellishment penalty. Tom Wilson boarded Nick Bonino at the beginning of the second period. Wilson saw three shifts total the rest of the game as he was trapped in the coach's dog house. - - - - - - - Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

NHL-Highlights of Thursday's NHL games
(Thu, 07 Apr 2016 22:53:42 PDT)
Bruins 5, Red Wings 2 The Boston Bruins seriously brightened their playoff picture Thursday night. Coming off back-to-back losses that left their postseason chances very much in doubt, the Bruins scored twice in the first 2:44, then added two more in the first 45 seconds of the third period in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins, who host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, are tied with Detroit but trail in the tiebreaker.

Mikael Backlund has first hat trick, Flames beat Canucks 7-3 (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 07 Apr 2016 22:14:55 PDT)
Mikael Backlund had his first NHL hat trick to help the Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 on Thursday night. Dougie Hamilton, Joe Colborne, Deryk Engelland and Sam Bennett also scored for Calgary. ''Tonight they were coming at us in waves and we didn't have a push back,'' Canucks left winger Daniel Sedin said.

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