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Nashville's lack of Game 7 experience could turn tide for Ducks (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:10:11 PDT)
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For the first time in three years, the Anaheim Ducks may have their best chance at winning a Game 7. They just needed the right opponent, and in the Nashville Predators, they might have it. In the 22-season existence of the Ducks, they've made the playoffs 12 times, playing a total of 24 series. Of those series, only seven have ever gone to Game 7.   Round 1 Round 2 WCF SCF   Win Loss Win Loss Win Loss Win Loss 1996-97 4 3 0 4 - - - - -  - - - - -   2002-03 4 0 4 2 4 0 3 4 2005-06 4 3 4 0 1 4 - - - - -   2008-09 4 2 3 4  - - - - -  - - - - -   2012-13 3 4 - - - - -   - - - - -    - - - - -  2013-14 4 2 3 4  - - - - -  - - - - -   2014-15 4 0 4 1 3 4 - - - - -   They've only won two series decided in Game 7; in 1997 and 2006. With the exception of losing to Detroit in 2013, Anaheim has lost to teams who either went on to play in the Western Conference Final and/or for the Stanley Cup. By most accounts, their opponents were more experienced, and well, better than the Ducks. That brings us to the Predators. In their 17-season existence, the Preds have been to the playoffs nine times. They have been in a Game 7 exactly  zero times. Wednesday night's meeting will be a first for the majority of the Predators roster. Check out the players on both teams with  no  NHL Game 7 experience: Ducks - No Gm 7   Preds - No Gm 7 Ryan Garbutt (F)   Viktor Arvidsson (F) Brandon Pirri (F)**   Cody Bass (F) David Perron (F)   Gabriel Bourque (F)** Mike Santorelli (F)   Filip Forsberg (F) Chris Stewart (F)   Calle Jarnkrok (F) Chris Wagner (F)   Ryan Johansen (F) Josh Manson (D)   Miikka Salomaki (F) Shea Theodore (D)   Colton Sissons (F) Korbinian Holzer (D)   Craig Smith (F)     Austin Watson (F)**     Colin Wilson (F)     Anthony Bitetto (D)     Mattias Ekholm (D)     Ryan Ellis (D)     Petter Granberg (D)**     Roman Josi (D)     Shea Weber (D)       **Has not played in series Nashville's side of the ledger is clearly more comprehensive, and has bigger names (i.e. Josi and Weber). Of the six defensemen expected to play in the game, only Barret Jackman has Game 7 experience. The Predators plan on leaning on those that have been there to get them through this game. From : “There’s such good leadership in our room,” [Coach Peter] Laviolette said. “The leaders in the room are quality people and great character people, guys that would want to be in these situations. [Monday] night was a perfect example: Paul Gaustad, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Mike Fisher, James Neal, lots of guys. The leadership is really important in those situations, and we have some good leaders.” Can leaders lead when they don't know what they're going through? It's not to say the Preds don't have elimination game experience; just not in the vaunted Game 7. The name alone carries weight. Of the leaders mentioned, only Gaustad, Neal, and Fisher have played in a Game 7. Here's how they and the other experienced Preds skaters fared in those games: NASHVILLE PREDATORS     Gms 7 Result             POS. Win Loss G A PTS +/- PIM Mike Fisher F 0 2 0 0 0 -3 0 Paul Gaustad F 0 2 0 0 0 -2 0 James Neal F 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 Eric Nystrom** F 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 Mike Ribeiro F 1 2 0 0 0 -6 10 Barret Jackman D 0 1 0 0 0 -1 0 **Has not played in series Ribeiro's one win in Game 7 came 2003-04 as a part of the Montreal Canadiens. For Nashville, they may not have the players on the ice with Game 7, but they have one person that could make all the difference in the world - head coach Peter Laviolette. Again, from the Preds website : "Tonight's contest will be Laviolette's fifth time to be behind the bench of a Game Seven matchup. He has a 4-1 record, winning the 2006 Eastern Conference Final against Buffalo 4-2, the Stanley Cup Final versus Edmonton in 2006 (3-1), the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinal versus Boston (4-3) and the 2011 Quarterfinal against Buffalo (4-3). His only Game Seven loss came in the 2002 Quarterfinal series against Toronto (L, 4-2)." It goes without saying, Laviolette's 4-1 record in Games 7 far outweighs Bruce Boudreau's 1-7. Boudreau has picked up three of those losses with the Ducks in the past three seasons. Boudreau said something interesting in his off-day meeting with the media: "In the past I haven’t said anything going into Game 7. I just thought [in Tuesday's meeting] we needed something to be said." When asked if he cared to elaborate, Boudreau quickly responded with, "No." The Ducks definitely have the more experienced squad on the ice when it comes to Game 7, and that could, for once, be of help to them. "I don’t have as much anxiety about it as when I was a little bit younger," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. "Anytime you go through them, it helps you prepare for the next one. It’s not always the easiest thing when you’re a young player to get yourself in the right frame of mind for a Game 7, but the more times you do it, the easier it gets. Still have to be ready and prepared for a hard fought game ... It comes down to who wants it the most; who executes better than the other team. We haven’t done that in previous years but hopefully we can change that [on Wednesday]." ANAHEIM DUCKS     Gms 7 Result               Win Loss G A PTS +/- PIM Corey Perry F 1 4 3 1 4 -3 2 Ryan Getzlaf F 1 4 0 3 3 -3 4 Ryan Kesler F 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 Cam Fowler D 0 3 0 2 2 -4 2 Andrew Cogliano F 0 3 0 1 1 -2 4 Jakob Silfverberg F 0 3 0 1 1 0 2 Nate Thompson F 1 2 0 0 0 -1 2 Kevin Bieksa D 2 1 0 0 0 -3 0 Hampus Lindholm D 0 2 0 2 2 1 0 Clayton Stoner** D 1 1 0 0 0 -1 0 Sami Vatanen D 0 2 0 0 0 -2 2 Jamie McGinn F 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 Shawn Horcoff F 0 1 0 0 0 -2 0 Rickard Rakell F 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 Simon Despres D 0 1 0 0 0 -1 0 **Has not played in series "We’re not concerned with the past. I’ve been on both sides of Game 7s," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "Everybody talks about the ones we lost. I’ve been on the winning side of them too. It’s just about playing. We have to go out with this group, prepare the right way and get ready to play tonight." The last time Getzlaf and Corey Perry won a Game 7 they were rookies in 2005-06 with the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim who defeated the Calgary Flames in Round 1. Incidentally, that's the last time Anaheim won a Game 7. The losses on the Ducks side of the ledger are greater than the wins; however, a majority of the players have been together since the team started its epic journey of Game 7 defeats in 2012-13. Indicated by the morning skate, rookie defenseman Shea Theodore is going to draw out of the lineup in favor of veteran d-man Clayton Stoner. Stoner has not appeared in this series due to a nagging upper-body injury. He last played on April 10 in the team's final regular-season meeting against Washington. So what does this all mean? It's all going to come down to the psychology of hope. "You don’t want to paralyze yourself by overthinking too much in situations and whatever,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “You have to do what you’ve done to this point in the season to be successful. You have to play aggressive, play hard and hope that’s good enough.” Funny Weber should mention 'hope.'  "[Playing] safe is going to get you nowhere," said Andrew Cogliano on Tuesday. "Being safe, being ... timid, or hoping for something is going to get you exactly where its gotten us. That’s where we’ve lost the last couple of years." Should be a fun one. - - - - - - - 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:

Penguins, Ken Holland and conspiracy theories (Puck Daddy Countdown) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 06:49:02 PDT)

Stamkos practices; Fleury speaks; history of the goal horn (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 26 Apr 2016 11:16:16 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 . • Oh Johan Franzen. Nothing says devastating playoff loss more than revealing to the public that you're a 'Belieber.' [ @JFranzen93 ] • REJOICE, Tampa Bay Lightning fans! Steven Stamkos is back on the ice with the team ... wearing a no contact red sweaters, but it's progress. [ Tampa Bay Times ] • J.T. Compher has left the University of Michigan to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. [ M Go Blog ] • Brief interview with Marc-Andrew Fleury who is skating but still experiencing post-concussion symptoms. [ Post-Gazette ] • Falling short of the ultimate goal provides the Blackhawks even more motivation to comeback stronger next year. [ Second City Hockey ] • Examining the decisions by Stan Bowman in a salary cap era league that altered the Chicago Blackhawks this season. [ Blackhawk Up ] • During the St. Louis Blues playoff run, can every day on the calendar be marked April 25? [ Bleedin' Blue ] • Shea Weber is the first name that comes to mind when one things Nashville Predators defense. That may be shifting with Roman Josi's emergence. [ Sporting News ] • How much do the Lightning miss Anton Stralman? [ Raw Charge ] • Joonas Donskoi's days as the San Jose Sharks' best kept secret are coming to an end with his emergence. [ Mercury News ] • "It’s 1995, and a 5-year-old John Tavares puts on a tape of Wayne Gretzky highlights, watching from start to finish for almost an hour. It’s over, he rewinds, and he plays it again." [ NY Post ] • Breaking down the Pittsburgh Penguins breakout versus Washington Capitals forecheck. [ Pensburg ] • A eulogy by Florida Panthers fans for the team they love. [ Litter Box Cats ] • "The visiting Florida Panthers score and Barclays Center falls quiet. Well, everyone except the guy screaming “gggggoooaaaalllll!!” as if his life depended on it." Meet the Panthers' Spanish language broadcast team. [ Sportsnet ] • Daniel Cleary, currently with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL, is using his playoff pedigree to lead the future Detroit Red Wings as they battle for the Calder Cup. [ M Live ] • Should Pavel Datsyuk in fact decide to head back to Russia, here's how the Red Wings  shouldn't handle a trade for his 'dead money' contract. [ Today's Slapshot ] • Incredibly detailed analysis of "the vicious cycle of conservative defensive structure." It's more interesting than it sounds. [ Jen LC ] • Puck possession-wise, the Toronto Maple Leafs made some improvements this season that are only expected to improve under Mike Babcock. [ Editor in Leaf ] • After the city of Calgary's less than enthusiastic re-evaluation of the CalgaryNEXT proposal, here are five more questions about the future home of the Calgary Flames. [ Flames Nation ] • Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Max Domi, and John Tavares are just some of the NHL players who have emerged from the powerhouse London (Ontario) Knights junior program. [ NY Times ] • The Seattle Thunderbirds are seeking revenge on the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL Western Conference Final after a playoff series sweep in 2014. [ Buzzing the Net ] • History of the goal horn in the NHL. [ NY Daily News ] • Revisiting preseason fantasy hockey projections to see what went right and what went wrong. [ Dobber ] • Finally, take a look behind the scenes at the making of NHL 17 : - - - - - - - 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:

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.

Hakstol's success opens NHL door to more college coaches (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 21 Apr 2016 13:55:49 PDT)
When the Philadelphia Flyers hired Dave Hakstol as coach last summer, T.J. Oshie was surprised. Not because he thought his college coach was unqualified but because Hakstol had spent 11 seasons committed to the University of North Dakota. ''I know how much he loves North Dakota, he loves the school and the team and his players and his coaches,'' Oshie said.

San Jose's power play; Caps' quiet goalie recall (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:15:20 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 .    That's one dapper dude. — #TurnUpInTeal (@SanJoseSharks) April 21, 2016 • San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns meets the media after his team's Game 4 win. ( San Jose Sharks ) • The Sharks’ ability to hold on against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 showed they may be different from past teams. [ San Jose Mercury News ] • After going 0-for-5 in Game 3, the Sharks were a power play force on Wednesday, and the Kings couldn’t adjust. [ LA Times ] [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   • Why the Sharks can’t celebrate yet against the Kings: “Wednesday’s 3-2 Sharks win was done Sharks-style –- by taking a 3-0 lead and nearly vomiting it up. At home.” [ CSN Bay Area ] • Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth gave the team a boost as they try to get back into their series with the Washington Capitals. Philly won Game 4, 2-1 and the Flyers are down 3-1 in the series. [ TSN ] • A detailed breakdown on how the Flyers were able to beat the Capitals and avoid a sweep. [ Broad Street Hockey ] • Why the Capitals “quietly” recalled goaltender Dan Ellis before Game 4 of their game with Flyers. Goaltender Braden Holtby left practice the day before after a collision with a teammate but still played in Game 4. [ Washington Post ] • The Dallas Stars’ gritty, playoff style game helped them beat the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. [ Dallas News ] • The Minnesota Wild’s penalty kill failed them in their Game 4 loss to the Stars. [ Star Tribune ] • The St. Louis Blues are capitalizing on the Chicago Blackhawks’ inability to keep their emotions in check. The Blues are up 3-1 and have a chance to finish off the Blackhawks in Game 5 at home.  [ St. Louis Post-Dispatch ] • Why the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t have waited for the NHL to suspend Andrew Shaw for his gay slur. The team should have taken the matter into their own hands. [ The Committed Indian ] • The way the Anaheim Ducks beat the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their series should cause Nashville some concern. Game 4 is Thursday night. [ Nashville Post ] • Defenseman Kevin Bieksa has helped the Anaheim Ducks keep a businesslike mindset in through their first-round playoff series against the Predators. The Ducks acquired the veteran blueliner in the offseason. This is his 14th playoff series of his career.  [ Orange County Register ] • Home ice isn’t a big advantage in the first-round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. [ AP via Yahoo ] • Basil McRae, the co-owner and general manager for the OHL’s London Knights completed the Boston Marathon this week: “McRae, a former journeyman NHL defenseman, entered his first half-marathon when he was looking for a new form of exercise upon retirement. He developed a passion for running and has completed marathons in New York, Florida, Ottawa, St. Louis, Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland. He also entered a 30-kilometre trail run in Dresden, Germany.” [ Buzzing the Net ]  • The Detroit Red Wings had their chance to keep Steve Yzerman in their organization. They didn’t, and now he’s molding the Tampa Bay Lightning in his image. Tampa holds a 3-1 series lead over the Red Wings in their first-round series. [ Raw Charge ] • The Grand Rapids Griffins are about to start their 2016 Calder Cup run. Here is a preview on what the Griffins should expect in the AHL playoffs. [ Octopus Thrower ] • The Toronto Maple Leafs have built a high-end organization in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies: “There are nice cars in the parking lot. There is free food, customized protein shakes, free massages and an open-concept gym available, too.” [ Globe and Mail ] • The Boston Bruins management is doubling down on their “rebuild on the fly” with their team. ( Bruins Daily ) • Who will start in goal for the Calgary Flames next season? Here are four netminders the team could try to add to their roster in the offseason. [ The Hockey Writers ] • Five years ago today, former Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference became a local legend for a goal (and subsequent goal celebration) against the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. [ Stanley Cup of Chowder ] • How Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray moved up the team’s organizational depth chart. Murray started Game 3 as Marc-Andre Fleury deals with his recovery from a concussion. [ Sportsnet ] • Which teams are more generous than others at giving secondary assists at home to their players. [ FiveThirtyEight ] • So you want to be a traveling sports writer who covers hockey? Some hockey beat reporters explain the travel that comes along with their jobs. [ Wall Street Journal ] • The New Jersey Devils helped start a hockey club at P.S. 25 in Jersey City. [ ] • New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is nicknamed “The King” but he’s never won a Stanley Cup. A look at his past playoff performances. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • Hockey Hall of Famer Pavel Bure discusses the legacy of Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. Bure also predicts the Red Wings will lose to the Lightning. [ NHL ] • Here are some summer UFA signings that paid off for a capped fantasy league. [ Dobber Hockey ] • Why corporate logos don’t belong on NHL team jerseys. [ Maclean’s ] • Finally, Tampa's Victor Hedman and Detroit's Jonathan Ericsson get mic'd up on the ice.  2 Swedish defensemen Hedman & Ericsson in a #StanleyCup battle. Hear what they had to say while mic'd up in Game 4. — #StanleyCup Playoffs (@NHL) April 21, 2016 MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY    

NHL suspends Chicago's Andrew Shaw one game for gay slur (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 14:10:10 PDT)
The NHL has suspended Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw one game “for making use of a homophobic slur” during Game 4 of his team’s first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.  The league announced Shaw will be required the undergo sensitivity training. Shaw was also fined $5,000 for “directing an inappropriate gesture at the on-ice officials during the same game.” [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   Said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, “While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions. The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.” You Can Play , an organization that “works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports - including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans,” released a statement saying it agreed with the NHL's stance on Shaw. On Tuesday night, the organization tweeted it had reached out to the league.  Patrick Burke, who works with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is co-founder of the organization. Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke is on its advisory board as is Tommy Wingels, a forward for the San Jose Sharks.  "All of us at You Can Play were saddened and offended to see Andrew Shaw’s use of homophobic slurs during an NHL game. We wholeheartedly support the NHL’s decision to discipline Mr. Shaw. After four years of working with You Can Play, NHL players can no longer use ignorance as an excuse for not understanding the power of their words and the effect they have on their teammates, fans and the LGBT community. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the NHL, the Blackhawks and Mr. Shaw as we work to finally eradicate homophobia in hockey culture." "I’m sure he feels awfully bad about it, but we have to make sure that stuff isn’t part of our game," Wingels told the San Jose Mercury News . "We’ll let the respective channels deal with it however they want to.” After taking a late penalty, Shaw was seen on video screaming , “[expletive] [gay slur], [expletive] you!” from the penalty box. Following the game Shaw indicated  he didn’t know what he said.  Wednesday in a statement released by the Blackhawks, Shaw took responsibility for his actions. “I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box. When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances,” Shaw said. “I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake."  The Blackhawks also released a statement saying they were “extremely disappointed” in Shaw’s actions. Shaw met with reporters Wednesday as the team departed for St. Louis for Game 5 and was emotional in addressing the issue. "I get it. It’s a hurtful word," Shaw said . "It’s 2016 now. It’s time that everyone is treated equally. It’s a hurtful word, I know that. I’m sorry and I want to apologize." Added Shaw, " Emotions got the best of me and I didn’t get any sleep. It was tough on me. You know, I’m upset with myself, obviously." He also apologized to Chicago Tribune Blackhawks beat reporter Chris Hine . Hine recently informed readers he was gay in a in a  column about the NFL and homophobia in sports  and  wrote a piece on why Shaw’s words were troubling for equality in sports. You're in a locker room or on a playing field, and you hear your teammates use that word. You start thinking, "Is this how they really feel about gay people? Is that what they would call me if I came out to them? Would I still be a member of this team? Would my career be over?" That word is why gay athletes everywhere hide their sexual identity and often live lives of torment. It's why some contemplate suicide and develop emotional and psychological issues they might never rectify. In 2011, the NHL faced a similar situation when Sean Avery accused Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds of using a gay slur. Simmonds denied the accusation and Campbell said, “Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom.” Simmonds didn’t receive any supplemental discipline. As for the fine, Shaw also used an obscene gesture by flipping off on-ice officials after taking the penalty. The 24-year-old Shaw has won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and is slated to be a restricted free agent this summer. The Blackhawks are down 3-1 to the Blues and will face elimination in Thursday’s Game 5. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY          

Andrew Shaw apologizes for using gay slur (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 11:14:22 PDT)
Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw apologized for “insensitive remarks”  he made Tuesday night during his team’s Game 4 loss to the St. Louis Blues. After taking a late penalty, Shaw was seen on video screaming, “[expletive] [gay slur], [expletive] you!” from the penalty box. Following the game Shaw indicated he didn’t know what he said. Wednesday in a statement released by the Blackhawks, Shaw took responsibility for his actions. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   “I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box. When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances,” Shaw said. “I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake." The Blackhawks also released a statement, expressing their dissatisfaction in Shaw’s comments. “We are extremely disappointed in Andrew Shaw's actions last night,” the team said. “His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization.  We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association.  We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it." Shaw also met with reporters Wednesday as the team left for St. Louis and was reportedly emotional.  Chicago is down 3-1 in their series and will face elimination Thursday. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said the team could use Shaw's actions to teach the rest of the group about the impact of such language.  In early April, the Blackhawks filmed a message with You Can Play , an organization that “works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports - including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans.” Said goaltender Scott Darling in the video, "We believe athletes should be judged by their character, work ethic, and talent. Not their sexual orientation, or gender identity." The Blackhawks have also twice taken the Stanley Cup to Chicago’s gay pride parade. The NHL is investigating Shaw for possible discipline on the matter. Any decision would run through the league’s department of hockey operations. In 2011, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was accused of using a gay slur directed towards Sean Avery. Simmonds denied the action and didn’t receive any supplemental discipline at the time. Said NHL hockey operations director Colin Campbell in 2011:  “Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom. Specifically, Flyers Player Wayne Simmonds has expressly denied using the homophobic slur he is alleged to have said." “Additionally, none of the on-ice officials close to the altercation in question heard any inappropriate slurs uttered by either of the primary antagonists. In light of this, we are unable at this time to take any disciplinary action with respect to last night's events. To the extent we become aware of additional information conclusively establishing that an inappropriate slur was invoked, we are reserving the option to revisit the matter." Chris Hine, who covers the Blackhawks for the Chicago Tribune, wrote on why Shaw’s remarks are troubling . Last month Hine informed readers he was gay in a column about the NFL and homophobia in sports. Wrote Hine in his piece about Shaw’s words: I was called that growing up before I even realized I was gay. When you're closeted and thinking about coming out, you have nightmares about friends or family members using that word and making you feel like an outcast. It hurts when your friends use that word in a teasing manner. It's a whole different feeling to have people direct that word at you with contempt. I've had that feeling. Now put yourself in the shoes of a closeted gay athlete. You're in a locker room or on a playing field, and you hear your teammates use that word. You start thinking, "Is this how they really feel about gay people? Is that what they would call me if I came out to them? Would I still be a member of this team? Would my career be over?" That word is why gay athletes everywhere hide their sexual identity and often live lives of torment. It's why some contemplate suicide and develop emotional and psychological issues they might never rectify. On Wednesday, Hine tweeted that Shaw personally apologized for the remark.  Shaw wanted to talk after his media session & he's sincere in his apology and in saying that's not the kind of guy he is. I appreciated that — Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) April 20, 2016 He could've ducked the media and didn't have to talk to me afterward. It took a certain amount of guts to do that. — Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) April 20, 2016 On Tuesday, after the incident You Can Play tweeted it had reached out to the NHL to “assist in an appropriate response.” Patrick Burke, who works with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is co-founder of the organization. Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke is on its advisory board as is Tommy Wingels, a forward for the San Jose Sharks.  MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

Shaw insight; Dubas staying with Leafs; Neely on Bruins (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 11:00:17 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 . Security tells out-of-control Rangers fan Nick Mangold to calm down — New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) April 20, 2016 • That angry viking yelling at the Pittsburgh Penguins bench is actually Nick Mangold of the New York Jets. Security was called to tell him to pipe down. [ Shutdown Corner ] • Toronto Maple Leafs wunderkind assistant (to the) general manager, Kyle Dubas, says he's not ready to be a GM yet, and is sticking with the Leafs to learn. [ Sportsnet ] • Insightful and personal commentary on what Andrew Shaw's homophobic comments means to a Chicago Blackhawks beat writer who identifies as a gay man. [ Chicago Tribune ] • If the NHL wants a true culture change, they should just suspend Andrew Shaw without the obligatory 'investigation.' [ Sporting News ] • And breathe, Washington Capitals fans. Braden Holtby will play in Game 4 after a collision in practice. Taylor Chorney is drawing in for the injured Brooks Orpik. [ Washington Times ]  • Lindy Ruff has 'been there before' and is lending his big win playoff knowledge to the Dallas Stars. [ Star Tribune ] • Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are working together to prove that a goaltending tandem can win in the playoffs. Niemi will get the start in Game 4. [ Dallas Morning News ] • What you need to know about the Anaheim Ducks victory in Game 3 over the Nashville Predators. [ OC Register ] • Three things to watch for in Game 4 on Thursday between the Ducks and Preds. [ The Tennessean ] • Lead by ownership, the data-driven Florida Panthers are placing high premium on “glue guys." Seems to be working. [ Canadian Press via SN ] • Frame by frame breakdown the 'Robby Fabbri - Corey Crawford incident' and the mayhem afterwards. [ St. Louis Game Time ] • The Detroit Red Wings have a 10-percent chance of coming back in the series against Tampa. Everybody all together, "So you're telling me there's a chance?!" [ M Live ] • Let the second guessing of decisions made for the Red Wings lineup begin! [ Detroit Free Press ] • Jonathan Drouin (hopefully) has the drama of this past winter behind him and is on the road to redemption with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs. [ ESPN ] • So maybe it isn't doom and gloom without Steven Stamkos in the lineup. (Should this be comforting/foreboding to Lightning fans?) [ THN ] • Cam Neely on Boston Bruins: "We should be playing right now" and more from the B's President. [ CSNNE ] • The 2015-16 Toronto Marlies tore up the AHL standings in the regular season. How do they set the bar for other AHL franchises going forward? [ Leafs Nation ] • In an annual survey, Edmonton Oilers fans vote on the players they'd like to see leave the team. Who are the top picks, and do the numbers back up the fact they need to go? [ Edmonton Journal ] • Unrestricted free agent goaltending possibilities for the Calgary Flames. [ Flames Nation ] • Dave Lozo answers burning questions, such as: Are you standing on an NHL logo? Does that make you a bad human being? Should we still review offside? How many beers at a tailgate is too many? [ The Comeback ] • Dale Weise wants to come back to the Montreal Canadiens, but that may not be in the best interest of the team. [ EOTP ] • Player grades for the Colorado Avalanche defense. [ THW ] • Mikko Rantanen has been added to the Finnish national team's roster for World Championships in May. [ Avalanche ] • Comprehensive plan for restocking the Oilers farm system. [ Lowetide ] • Previewing the OHL conference finals: London Knights vs. Erie Otters and Barrie Colts vs. Niagara Ice Dogs. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Washington Capitals play-by-play man Joe Beninati has a love for hockey and a passion for fashion. [ Washington Post ] • Finally, Sportsnet unearths the legend that is Brent Burns and his beard. - - - - - - - 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:

OHL conference previews: Otters vs. Knights in West, Colts vs. IceDogs in East (Buzzing The Net)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 08:41:13 PDT)
At least none of the teams competing in the OHL’s conference finals should complain about fatigue. Only one of the second-round matchups went longer than the requisite four games. The only series that did included the CHL’s top team, the Erie Otters, who needed just five to dispatch Sault Ste. Marie after sweeping Saginaw out of the gate. Yes, the Otters, London Knights, Barrie Colts and Niagara IceDogs have all had a chance to rest up heading into the last series before the last series. That should make things even more compelling. On the Western Conference side, the Otters and Knights are the league’s two powers. While the Otters have had their name etched atop the major junior power rankings all season, the Knights were the ones that led the OHL in goals for and against. This series, which starts Wednesday, has the intrigue of an OHL final. Moving over to the Eastern Conference, which starts on Thursday, the second-seeded Colts take on the fourth-slotted IceDogs in a matchup featuring some of the league’s top stars. The Colts have done what they were supposed to do heading into the playoffs. The IceDogs, meanwhile, have rebounded from a rocky regular season and are showing the talent a team with 10 NHL-affiliated players should. The Kingston Frontenacs were their latest victims. So, whose run is expected to come to an end and who should be playing for the big trophy? Let’s break it down.

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.)

Mike Keenan on coaching again, that infamous proposed Blues jersey (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 14 Apr 2016 11:26:13 PDT)
Six months after being fired  by the KHL's Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Mike Keenan still wants to coach. “I wouldn’t mind. I don’t know if its in the cards for me,” Keenan told Puck Daddy during a Thursday phone interview. Since his October dismissal, Keenan has been working as an advisor for the KHL club that is currently tied 2-2 in the Gagarin Cup Final, the title the former long-time NHL bench boss won in his first year with Metallurg in 2013-14. As part of his duties, he travels to Russia regularly and attends games, giving feedback to the current coaching staff. Keenan’s contract expires after this season and already there’s been speculation about him returning to coaching next season. Reports out of Switzerland had him exploring the ZSC Lions gig, which opened up following Marc Crawford’s departure . But at the moment, Keenan says he has not been contacted by anyone regarding any open position. After his firing, there was talk that Keenan was pursuing Russian citizenship. He says that the KHL implemented a rule that the league’s Russian teams needed to be coached by Russians. Metallurg asked him to look into getting citizenship in hopes of circumventing the rule. That rule, Keenan believes, was one of the factors behind his dismissal. Before being hired by Metallurg, Keenan had a four-year break from coaching following his firing by the Calgary Flames in 2009. He did television work, but he still wanted to coach. After being approached by the KHL team he did some research on the league and liked what he saw. “It was a good league. It’s probably the second-best league to the NHL,” he said. “And they were interested in me and I also wanted to look at the possible cultural experience, which was very unique and very interesting.”  The challenge of coaching in a foreign land went beyond the obvious language barrier. Keenan had to get his players accustomed to a different style of coaching and different mindset of playing the game. He was still the same old “Iron Mike,” pulling goalies at will and chirping at referees , and his efforts were rewarded after he became the first coach to win the Gagarin Cup and Stanley Cup. In two full seasons in the KHL Keenan settled into life in Russia. He acted in commercials and celebrated winning the Gagarin Cup title with a little locker room karaoke . He connected with his players. “I tried to interface with the culture,” he said. “I wanted the players to feel that I was attempting to understand their culture. It wasn’t their responsibility to understand mine. Although a few of them had played in North America, I still wanted to at least establish that aspect of my working conditions with them."  *** There was something I had always wanted to ask Keenan about. The NHL’s implementation of the third jersey program in the mid-1990s had interesting results, from the Los Angeles Kings’ “ Burger King ” logo to the Anaheim Ducks’ mascot breaking through ice . For years, the tale went that during his second season in St. Louis Keenan was the one who put the stop to this proposed alternate jersey for the Blues: 

Calgary's failure, Julien's future and Maloney's firing (Puck Daddy Countdown) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:52:05 PDT)
(Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.) 8. Harbingers of doom Today, there is this: Girardi paired with Marc Staal. Probable Crosby duty. — Rangers Report (@rangersreport) April 12, 2016 Well, see ya later. 7. Failure In summing up this season, in which his team finished 26th, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving put it pretty simply: “We failed.” But here's what you have to keep in mind about the Flames in the first place: They were destined to be terrible this year. The possession numbers the last four years came about not due to lack of talent — the Flames actually have a good top-4 D corps and a solid top-6 forward group with game-breaking talent in both areas — but because Bob Hartley is one of the worst coaches in the league by a pretty considerable margin, and because they went into the season with 33-year-old Jonas Hiller and any-age-at-all Karri Ramo in net. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] If Treliving didn't see a disaster season coming a mile down the road, the biggest failure is on his part. The Flames finished the year slightly improved in terms of possession numbers in comparison with last year's fluke of a season, but that seemed to be largely talent-driven. Treliving went out and acquired two players in Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik who move the needle in that way, and also had some solid depth talent like Jakub Nakladal come on late and further improve things. Meanwhile, if you say 5-on-5 play can be talent-driven, you must also acknowledge special teams play largely cannot. Teams score on the power play and kill penalties effectively when they're well-coached, and ah jeez, the Flames were 22nd on the man advantage and dead last in penalty killing. That's on Hartley. And as for being 30th in goals allowed, well, no one in their right mind would have advised re-signing Ramo for $3.8 million. The .909 save percentage you got out of him was probably just about right. And maybe you should have sold high on Hiller, who was pretty good last season, but an abysmal .879 this year. This could have very easily not been a problem for the Flames. However, I suspect some of that goaltending incompetence is on Hartley as well. As a team they were .898 this season. Last year it was a roughly league-average .915. But the year before that, it was .902. And in 2012-13, it was .891. I don't know for sure, but it's almost like maybe not having any sort of rational defensive system in place over the last four seasons has generally led to bad goaltending. Who's to say? Let's be clear: The Flames failed because Treliving failed to recognize structural problems with the team, somewhat in net but mainly behind the bench. He's already said neither goaltender will be back in a Flames uniform next year, but if he brings Hartley back for one more pass at an unequivocally bad tenure — and wastes another year of Mark Giordano's few remaining impactful seasons in the process — he should be out the door next summer as well.  6. Dragging it out Speaking of firing coaches, the inevitability of the Bruins firing Claude Julien is crushing. I mean look, the players had their media availability already. Management did not, neither did the coach. That's because the coach is going to be fired for missing the playoffs (because he was given a defense consisting of 51-year-old Zdeno Chara, can-only-be-used-in-certain-situation Torey Krug, and a bunch of borderline AHLers). So why not just fire the guy already? Why make everyone wait days on end? Not even the Senators did that. This isn't something over which you can even feign agonizing. You want him tossed out of TD Garden like the DJ Jazzy Jeff so you can replace him with, I don't know, Randy Carlyle or something. Frankly it's rude to make the hockey world dangle this long, because the line to hire Claude Julien will be out the door and around the block. How can you expect Ottawa to make a coaching decision when they don't have the ability to speak with Julien (haha like they'd spend the money on that). This is all just dumb and pointless. Which I guess fits in with a lot of the Bruins' decisions under Cam Neely anyway. 5. Not exactly being the world's greatest liar Jim Benning held his end-of-season presser and didn't have himself that great of a day. First he said the team isn't rebuilding and the goal next year is to make the playoffs. Then he said there wasn't an opportunity for the team to trade Ryan Miller last summer. And normally that wouldn't be noteworthy or anything like that, except, there's this: He said last summer at a team town hall meeting that they had offers for Ryan Miller . Which, like, people were mad about at the time because they thought Ryan Miller was a huge waste of money this year (he was) and wouldn't be very good (he wasn't). So if you had the opportunity to offload him, then you should have taken it. But now we obviously don't know what to believe. This is simply not a well-run team and a lot of evidence is piling up that Benning is in over his head. If you can't even keep your story straight here, it's tough to believe you can work your way out of the hole being dug.  The Canucks are going to be awful next year because the Sedins will be a year older and no one on the roster is going to be appreciably better than they are now. And even if young players do improve, it's not enough to get you into the playoffs. Which is apparently the goal. Just amazing, really. 4. Firing Don Maloney Look, I get it. You're not very good, you don't seem to be getting better, so feel like you have to fire someone. And Dave Tippett is widely — and correctly — considered a top coach in the game, so you can't fire him. And maybe you even want to start pinching your pennies just a little bit harder and trying to exploit just one or two extra market inefficiencies per year. So you bring in a new GM, who's going to focus on analytics. Obviously I'm a guy who believes very much in that sort of thing and also believes that Maloney didn't exactly handle his business in a perfect manner when dealing with a shall we say tight budget down in the desert. But here's a question: If you're going to routinely be in the bottom-three in the league in cap hits, and you're carrying Chris Pronger's contract, and retaining salary on Keith Yandle, and bought out Mike Ribeiro just to get out of the absolute basement, how much better can you reasonably expect to do? Mike Smith at $5.67 million is a huge mistake, no question about it. But other than that, are there any bad contracts on this bad team that's probably only bad because there's no serious financial commitment from ownership to be had? On the other hand, if you were thinking about a change, this would have been the time to do it. The new GM will be able to shape the roster however he wants, because 17 (seventeen!) guys need new contracts next year. That includes RFA Louis Domingue, Klas Dahlbeck, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Stone, Connor Murphy, Tobias Rieder, Sergei Plotnikov, and Jiri Sekac. If you want to bring Shane Doan back, you can. Same with Alex Tanguay, Boyd Gordon, Viktor Tikhonov, and Nick Grossmann. I mean, I wouldn't want to bring back any of those guys but you could is what I'm saying. That's a lot of potential deck-clearing, and there's some serious talent coming into the club next year as well (Dylan Strome, etc.) so if you're really making things happen, maybe Maloney goes as well.  It's really fair enough, I guess. 3. Making grand pronouncements Here's something: Eugene Melnyk says no one on the #Sens , including Erik Karlsson is untouchable. He'll leave that up to the hockey people. — Dan Séguin (@SeguinSports) April 12, 2016 This from an owner who won't spend a rational amount of money to make the team actually competitive, with a roster that is simultaneously too costly for what it provides.  If you're trying to imagine what this club looks like without Erik Karlsson buoying everything about it, it's not that hard. Give your local AHL team a visit. They were that literally bad this year with Karlsson off the ice. 2. Banning gifs People know you can embed video on Twitter now, right? 1. Playoffs Ahhhhhhhhh they start today ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh yes. (Not ranked this week: Canadian whining. Gary Bettman's Dream NHL: Three California teams in playoffs. Two Florida teams in playoffs. None of 4 Alberta or Ontario teams in playoffs. — steve simmons (@simmonssteve) April 11, 2016 Delicious.) Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here . (All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.) MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Five CIS players who could make the jump to the NHL (Eh Game)
(Wed, 13 Apr 2016 09:08:29 PDT)
Canadian university hockey is recognized as place for Canadian Hockey League graduates to prolong their playing careers and pick up a degree. More and more, however, the CIS is a developmental league that’s preparing players for pro hockey. With exams just around the corner and NHL teams searching for free-agents from both the Canadian and U.S. university/college ranks, 24 CIS hockey players have been recently signed to either pro deals or tryouts. Although it’s still a far cry from the amount of NCAA players turning pro, the credibility and reputation of the CIS as a developmental league has been on the rise. Brett Gibson, the head coach of the Queen’s Gaels, recently told the Queen’s University Journal: “The CIS is becoming almost equivalent to pro hockey now. We’re getting the top players in their overage year. Instead of going pro, they’re coming to CIS to get their degree.” Since he took over as coach in 2000, University of New Brunswick head coach Gardiner MacDougall has also seen substantial growth in the league as well, especially with goaltending. “In the mid-2000’s, you were just hoping to could get a .900 percent save percentage out of your goalie,” MacDougall said. “Now you’re looking for a guy to have a .915 or a .920.” He then added: “There’s a lot of CIS hockey players, post-career, having prominence. Whether it’s making the AHL or the odd guy that gets NHL games, or even more so in Europe, a lot of times you’re a lot better player at 24, 25, or 26 than you are breaking into pro at 21.” ECHL teams have taken a great liking to the CIS as a league producing highly productive players for their roster at a relatively low cost, with Atlantic University Sport products like Mike Kirkpatrick and Eric Faille among the league leaders in scoring. But for a few select players, they grab the attention of NHL organizations. With the signing season firing on all cylinders, here’s five CIS hockey players gathering serious interest from NHL hockey teams.  5. Jordan Hickmott: University of Alberta Golden Bears The Golden Bears have had 14 players go on to the National Hockey League, with the most well-known being long-time Edmonton Oilers defenceman Randy Gregg, and the most recent being Carolina Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan. Hickmott looks to be the next in line, and his tryout deal with the Toronto Marlies serves as a promising start. Having previously been given a shot with the New York Rangers coming out of the WHL in 2011, Hickmott has been a focal point of the Golden Bears’ offence since day one. A great eye for the game, Hickmott has a pro-level passing game with a very accurate wrist shot. Hickmott should be a player who can certainly hang around in the AHL. However, being with a Leaf system loaded with prospects, it’s hard to imagine Hickmott gets a great shot with Toronto, but if anything, his time with the Marlies will be a showcase for other NHL teams expressing interest. The Edmonton Oilers historically have had a great relationship with Golden Bears products. The Dallas Stars have also shown interest as one of Hickmott’s former WHL coaches, Derek Laxdal now coaches the Stars’ AHL affiliate. 4. Brett Welychka: Carleton Ravens The 2015-16 CIS Rookie of the Year award was the cherry on top for a dominant showing from Welychka, who finished second in CIS scoring with 46 points in 27 games. Having previously spent his OHL days with the London Knights and the Belleville Bulls, Welychka has a couple of NHL rookie camps under his belt with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ailing Wild need more goals than they've been getting (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 12 Apr 2016 15:28:56 PDT)
The Dallas Stars have a high-octane offense that no team in the NHL this season could match. The Minnesota Wild must at least come close in order to compete in their first-round playoff series. Starting with the league's second-leading scorer, Jamie Benn, the Stars will be a lot for the Wild to handle.

Bruins head into uncertain offseason after missing playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:27:08 PDT)
For the second straight season, the Boston Bruins missed qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs by the slimmest of margins and face an uncertain offseason. After making the playoffs seven straight years under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins came up two points short in 2014-15. General manager Don Sweeney will need to make changes and Julien's job status is unclear.

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:  

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

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.

Sieloff gets goal in 1st NHL game, Flames beat Wild 2-1 (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 09 Apr 2016 20:15:12 PDT)
Patrick Sieloff scored the go-ahead goal in his NHL debut, making Niklas Backstrom a winner in his 413th and perhaps last NHL game. The Calgary Flames closed the season with some smiles. Backstrom made 35 saves against his former team, leading the Flames to a 2-1 victory over the Wild on Saturday night before briefly skating back out to acknowledge the applauding crowd as the first star of the game.

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:

Flames-Wild Preview (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 08 Apr 2016 13:57:02 PDT)
Looking to end a four-game losing streak that's somewhat dampened the enthusiasm surrounding their run to a playoff berth, the Wild host the high-scoring Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Minnesota's offensive struggles continued in a 3-0 home loss to San Jose on Tuesday, but it secured a berth when Colorado lost to Nashville later in the evening. "We've got a lot of work that we need to do," forward Zach Parise said.

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.

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