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NHL coaching carousel: Who's going where? (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 04 May 2016 12:30:30 PDT)
The NHL’s coaching carousel took an unexpected twist Tuesday when the Calgary Flames decided to part ways with coach Bob Hartley.  Until then, much of the offseason coaching drama was predictable. • Dave Cameron was fired by the Ottawa Senators so new general manager Pierre Dorion could put his mark on the team. Also owner Eugene Melnyk’s recent comments about Cameron’s style made it seem like the writing was on the wall at the end of the year. Ottawa didn't make the playoffs this year.  • After Bruce Boudreau lost a Game 7 at home for the fourth straight year with the Anaheim Ducks, the organization decided to look for someone else , firing the popular Boudreau. • The Minnesota Wild have continued to debate the merits of keeping interim coach John Torchetti over going after a bigger name. Torchetti slowed the Wild’s fall this season after the team fired Mike Yeo. With Torchetti as coach Minnesota took the heavily favored Dallas Stars to six games in the playoffs and during that stretch the Wild didn’t have forward Zach Parise, who missed the entire series with a back injury. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Calgary’s choice on Hartley, the 2014-15 Jack Adams Award winner , threw a wrench into offseason coaching decision. Even during Calgary’s darkest times general manager Brad Treliving never indicated Hartley was in trouble . Much of their problems this past season were blamed on their still unsettled goaltending situation, not the coach. The Flames are now arguably the most attractive destination for a coach looking to jump into a team with young, high-end talent and salary cap flexibility. They have goaltending troubles – Joni Ortio is their only NHL-level netminder on roster – but Treliving has indicated this as a position of need and will address it in the offseason. We’ll take a look at all the coaching openings in the league. Anaheim Ducks In four full seasons with the Ducks, Boudreau won four Pacific Division titles. It’ll be hard for the Ducks to find a coach that gets more out of his players, at least in the regular season, than Boudreau. He was well liked by his roster, and a lot of them credit him for taking their games to another level . During the news conference that announced Boudreau’s firing, Ducks general manager Bob Murray spoke glowingly of a coach in the mold of Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Jon Cooper, and said he didn’t believe in going back to an old-school disciplinarian. This would probably nix the possibility of Randy Carlyle, who took the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup. “You cannot do what the old guys did in the old days. I don’t think you can, and I even think some of those guys that are older that are still coaching in this league, that are good, have changed their ways somewhat to deal with the new modern athlete,” Murray said. “There’s a bunch of guys out there. This is a huge choice for us. We’re going to take our time; do all our homework.”  Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are still elite players, even though their reputations have taken a hit the last couple of years due to postseason flameouts . The Ducks also have up-and-coming stars like defenseman Hampus Lindholm and forward Rickard Rakell. If Anaheim trades the rights to restricted free agent goaltender Frederik Andersen, they could make a nice addition at a position of need.  Ducks assistant coaches Paul MacLean and Trent Yawney have been mentioned, as well as the team’s AHL coach Dallas Eakins, a former bench boss of the Edmonton Oilers. Former Duck Travis Green, currently coach of the Utica Comets of the AHL, was rumored by the LA Daily News. Who gets the job?: Yawney’s name was rumored to take over earlier in the season if Boudreau was fired in October or November. Green fits the mold of ‘up-and-coming’ coach in the Cooper mold. Murray has always been solid at doing his background checks and coming up with the right person. Don’t expect an established name for this, but someone who still makes sense.   

No Boyle hearing; winning without Letang; Parayko the student (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 04 May 2016 11:34:46 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 .

Carleton Place Canadians continue to bring championship hockey to small Ontario community (Buzzing The Net)
(Wed, 04 May 2016 08:06:12 PDT)
Jason Clarke didn’t have to think too hard about putting in an application when the then-Central Junior Hockey League wanted a 12 th team in time for the 2009-10 season. Clarke saw first-hand how his Junior B Carleton Place Legion Kings were supported by fans at home and road games and by sponsors. Founding the Carleton Place Canadians just made too much sense. “We made the jump to (Tier II) Junior A and haven’t looked back since,” said Clarke, the team’s owner, coach and general manager. In just seven short years, the Canadians are firmly entrenched in the town of roughly 10,000 people, 50 kilometres west of Ottawa . They’re also firmly established as the best team in the now-Central Canada Hockey League. The Canadians, national finalists in each of the last two seasons, won their third straight CCHL title last month when they defeated the Ottawa Junior Senators in seven games. They are now in Woodstock, N.B., for the Fred Page Cup – a four-team eastern Canadian championship. The tourney runs from Wednesday to Sunday with the winner moving on to the national event, the RBC Cup. “It’s been a real community effort in order for this franchise to have some success,” Clarke said. “It’s even more special being from Carleton Place and winning championships in your home rink.” The Canadians entered the Junior A loop in the midst of a four-peat by the Pembroke Lumber Kings, who were owned, managed and coached by Sheldon Keefe – the current bench boss of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Clarke is quick to credit Keefe for sharing information on how to operate a junior team in a small community. It wasn’t long after Keefe left Pembroke in December 2012 to coach the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds that the Canadians assumed the throne. Clarke said the secret to building a successful franchise is creating a structured environment and finding players with strong character who are willing to go beyond the call of duty on and off the ice. Hard work and dedication are regularly preached. When it comes to recruiting players, Clarke invites them to a playoff game to show how the community embraces the team. The recent track record hasn’t hurt. “When you win a couple championships, you may get the odd player you may not have gotten before,” he said.

Bob Hartley fired by Flames; is Bruce Boudreau next Calgary coach? (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 03 May 2016 08:02:32 PDT)
The Calgary Flames fired coach Bob Hartley on Tuesday morning, along with associate coach Jacques Cloutier.  Why was he fired? Who might replace him? It might be the same answer for both questions. According to Eric Francis, Flames GM Brad Treliving didn’t leave with Team Canada for the IIHF world championships this week, opting to remain behind for an “emergency meeting” on Monday. Why the sudden decision? Well, something happened on Friday that might scuttle a few plans: Bruce Boudreau was fired by the Anaheim Ducks. Boudreau told the OC Register that his phone has been blowing up even since. “I’ve had a couple conversations,” he said . “I can’t delve into it right now. Let’s put it this way, this is why my voice is so bad. I couldn’t talk at all Sunday. I’ve been on the phone all day Friday and Saturday. For 15 hours a day, it was pretty crazy. Whether it was the support of people talking to me about different things, it was pretty crazy. And fairly exciting.” The Minnesota Wild have spoken to Boudreau about their opening. The Ottawa Senators have an opening and have spoken to him. And now, quite conspicuously, so do the Calgary Flames. Hartley coached the Flames for four seasons, going 134-135-25. Calgary was a surprise playoff team last year, winning a round against the Vancouver Canucks before losing to – who else? – Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks. Hartley won the 2014-15 Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, earning 37 first-place votes and beating out a field of very worthy candidates. This was despite cries from the analytics community that the Flames, near the bottom of the league in puck possession, would have the bottom fall out from them in the following season. Which, they did: Calgary was 35-40-7 with 77 points, missing the final wild card by 10 points. (Ryan Kennedy notes that three of the last five Jack Adams winners have all been turfed .) Hartley signed an extension during the 2013-14 season , and then was given a two-year extension last summer. While the underlying numbers of Hartley’s teams were troubling, he had his benefits as the coach for this group. From Eric Francis of Postmedia, who didn’t believe Hartley was going to be fired: He’s helping develop the bulk of the team’s top young players well but the most important ingredient he’s assisted in bringing to the mix is a work ethic that was the base of the team’s success one year earlier and will continue to be the rebuilding team’s lifeblood moving forward. Hartley, whose fortes are communicating and teaching youngsters, has had plenty to do with that. Yes, he should shoulder some of the blame associated with a horrific start the team couldn’t recover from this year. He owns that, admitting he needed to be better when his team’s pre-season attitude showed signs of being lax. He’s also the first to admit the three-headed goalie monster to start the season wasn’t handled properly Well, you know what they say: a coach is only as good as his goalie(s). There are other interesting candidates out there beyond Boudreau, including Brian Burke’s old friend from Vancouver, Marc Crawford. But the timing of this makes it hard to believe that a coach coming off his third straight 100-point season isn’t the inspiration. Bruce Boudreau … fired one day, the hottest free agent in hockey the next.  And possibly also a coach killer. Irony! --  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: How Lightning unlocked Jonathan Drouin’s dominance (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 02 May 2016 06:46:16 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.) That Jonathan Drouin has stepped up to become a big contributor for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this postseason should only be surprising because of how the team treated him this season. The story's been told over and over again, but Drouin had difficulty gaining the trust of coach Jon Cooper for reasons still unclear. Things got so bad that he requested a trade early in the season, and ended up being sent down to the AHL about two months later. Then there was the failure to report drama, and then the dominant performances with Syracuse — 11-2-13 and 55(!) shots on goal in 17 games — before he was recalled late in the season. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Frankly, he was pressed into service by the revelation that Steven Stamkos needed surgery thanks to a blood clot. One imagines he would have gotten the call-up for the postseason anyway, given that Syracuse failed to make the Calder Cup playoffs, but certainly we can guess that he wouldn't be playing the role he has to this point for the big club. That role has been significant. He's got 1-6-7 with 19 shots in seven games, including his 1-1-2 performance in Saturday afternoon's win. In the first round, he was deployed by Cooper far more liberally than at any point in his career, pulling a little more than 18 minutes per night. In the second round against a better Tampa team, he's back down to less than 15, but is scoring anyway. Now, we can talk at length about the reasons why Drouin's career in Tampa is off to a disappointing start. He's played 91 games for the Bolts and piled up just 8-34-42, which isn't particularly good. He has been a bit unlucky in terms of the puck going in for him, but also doesn't generate a lot of shots. Further, because he's playing so few minutes per game — just 13:31 in the regular season for his career — one can reasonably assume the quality of competition he faces should give a player of his skill level a greater opportunity to pile up points. Data shows that, in terms of 5-on-5 points per 60, the only players to have outperformed Drouin over a period of two seasons at the time of his send-down was the original Triplet line. Drouin was scoring more — despite a crap shooting percent of 3.8 at full strength — than even Stamkos. Over his 89 games, in fact, his points per 60 total was one of the highest numbers in the league. Still, Cooper used him in much the same way as he did Cedric Paquette, which is to say “sparingly.” Which is to say “perhaps unwisely.” Now, you can't really argue with the results Cooper has gotten over that time, but one wonders whether the potential misuse of Drouin might have hindered his team at points anyway. How many of those losses or overtime results might have turned into wins had Drouin been put in an actual position to succeed? It stands to reason that if Drouin can score more proficiently than Stamkos at 5-on-5, even with his ice time coming mostly against fairly soft competition (his most common defenders faced in his career are Josh Gorges, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Torey Krug, and Rasmus Ristolainen), then a player of his obvious skill level should also be able to score pretty effectively on the power play. However, that really hasn't been the case for most of his career. In the last two regular seasons, Drouin scores fewer points per 60 than Ryan Callahan. One can assume there are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most glaring is his near-constant deferrals to other players. In about 168:30 of power play ice time over 89 games (about 1:53 per night), he has just nine shots on goal, a stunningly low number. Brett Connolly, who hasn't been with the club for more than a full season at this point, has more power play shots for the Lightning. He's attempted just 22. One wonders why that would be the case but obviously it was something that needed to be corrected. Maybe this is one of those issues where a problem like “a lack of confidence” comes into play, because it was fairly clear to everyone paying attention that Drouin didn't exactly have his coach's trust despite his overwhelming talent. Full stop: He shouldn't be getting a smaller percentage of his team's power play minutes than Jonathan Marchessault. Anyway, all that's in the past, etc. Because with Stamkos out, it's handy for Tampa to have had a high-skill forward sitting around who they weren't using too much, and his usage has consequently skyrocketed. Where before he was playing mostly third- and even fourth-line competition, he's now up on the team's second line. We're talking small samples against not-great teams here, so take all this for what it's worth, but while Triplets 2.0 are all scoring more than three points per 60 at 5-on-5 in this postseason, Drouin is the only other Bolt north of two. He's also been a possession giant (nearly 55 percent). Again, pushing around Detroit's second liners and all that, but you can only ask him to be better than his competition, and he plainly has been. But what's also notable is that in Stamkos's absence, Drouin is getting his power play minutes, and making hay with them. He's getting nearly two-thirds of all Tampa's PP TOI and leads Tampa forwards in points per 60 (at 8.76!) despite not scoring a single goal. That's roughly John Tavares territory, and ninth among all forwards in the league this postseason. Look how much of a difference he's seen:

Maple Leafs, Jets and Blue Jackets earn top spots in new NHL Draft Lottery (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 17:34:32 PDT)
Worst season of THE BACHELORETTE ever #NHLDraftLottery — Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 1, 2016 None of the Canadian teams made it into the playoffs, but in the end, Canada still won. The Toronto Maple Leafs had the highest odds of winning the first overall spot, and this time the Edmonton Oilers didn't screw everything up. The Leafs will select first, and are likely take good American boy, Auston Matthews.  In the revamped version of the draft, the first three spots were drawn. The remaining two spots went to lottery winners: the Winnipeg Jets, who moved up from sixth to second, and the Columbus Blue Jackets who moved up from fourth to third. Take a look at the odds of each team landing their spot and where they ended up: Odd of Team Winning 1st Drawing   Results 1. Toronto Maple Leafs 20.0%   1 Toronto Maple Leafs 2. Edmonton Oilers 13.5%   2 Winnipeg Jets 3. Vancouver Canucks 11.5%   3 Columbus Blue Jackets 4. Columbus Blue Jackets 9.5%   4 Edmonton Oilers 5. Calgary Flames 8.5%   5 Vancouver Canucks 6. Winnipeg Jets 7.5%   6 Calgary Flames 7. Arizona Coyotes 6.5%   7 Arizona Coyotes 8. Buffalo Sabres 6.0%   8 Buffalo Sabres 9. Montreal Canadiens 5.0%   9 Montreal Canadiens 10. Colorado Avalanche 3.5%   10 Colorado Avalanche 11. New Jersey Devils 3.0%   11 New Jersey Devils 12. Ottawa Senators 2.5%   12 Ottawa Senators 13. Carolina Hurricanes 2.0%   13 Carolina Hurricanes 14. Boston Bruins 1.0%   14 Boston Bruins Not sure how this all happened? Here's the NHL's explanation of the selection process overall: The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three drafting slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – an expansion over previous years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection only. Three draws will be held: the first Lottery draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the second Lottery draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the third Lottery draw will determine the club selecting third overall. As a result of this change, the team earning the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. That club could fall as low as fourth overall. The allocation of odds for the first Lottery draw will be the same as for the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. The odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the second Lottery draw, based on which club wins the first Lottery draw, and again for the third Lottery draw, based on which club wins the second Lottery draw. The 11 clubs not selected in the Draft Lottery will be assigned NHL Draft selections 4 through 14, in inverse order of regular-season points. The draft itself will take place June 24-25 in Buffalo, New York. - - - - - - - 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 Draft Lottery Preview: Who deserves 2016 top pick the most? (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 10:37:27 PDT)

Eulogy: Remembering the 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08:51:57 PDT)
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here’s   J.R. Lind of the Nashville Scene and NashvillePost fondly recalling the 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks.) (Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.) BY J.R. LIND ( @JRLIND ) Like most hockey fans of a certain age, I loved  The Mighty Ducks  when I was a kid. I watched it ... a lot. What kid wouldn't love a movie about the uplifting Twin Cities high-jinks of a group of under-talented misfits (and a talented but surly star) and their drunk-driving coach? But enough about the Minnesota Wild. I am here to put a bow on the season of the Anaheim Ducks, once again the Pacific Division Champions, the NHL version of a beauty pageant’s Miss Congeniality Award, in that it is always awarded to someone who is not going to win the big title.  Of course, calling the Ducks congenial would be like calling vape-pen-made-flesh Corey Perry an expert in personal hygiene.  The Ducks, as anyone with a brain and also Kevin Bieksa knows, are the most disliked group of men put on ice since the Discovery mutiny of 1611 , an event Shawn Horcoff witnessed. First there is the aforementioned dollar store hair gel spokesman Perry. In the closing moments of warmups before Game 7 against the Nashville Predators, Perry fired a puck up ice towards the Nashville goal, which, like trying to send your kids to public school or the Ducks locker room without being vaccinated, should be illegal. Perry's shot was gloved away by likable backup goalie Carter Hutton. It was a not unusual situation for Perry, who like itchy dry skin is very irritating during the colder months but disappears come spring. Perry was so averse to the back of the net against Nashville you'd think Pekka Rinne was standing in front of a bar of soap. Slightly more successful was Ryan Getzlaf, who was able to tear himself away from Blacklist  reruns and endless apps at TGI Fridays, the center of Orange County culture, long enough to pot a grand total of two goals against Rinne.  

Friday's Sports in Brief (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 00:02:35 PDT)
Reigning NL batting champion Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins says he unknowingly took the performance-enhancing drug that led to his 80-game suspension.

Norris Trophy Finalists: Doughty vs. Karlsson vs. Burns (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:42:25 PDT)
The NHL announced Friday that   Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks are finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to “the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”  The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes for the award. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ]   So which one of these guys will win the Norris? Why Drew Doughty Deserves The Norris From the NHL:  Doughty appeared in all 82 games for the second consecutive season and was third in the League in average ice time (28:01), helping the Kings to a third consecutive top-five finish in team defense (third, 2.34 GA/GP). He registered his highest goals and points totals since 2009-10 (14-37--51), posted a career-best +24 rating and topped the NHL in several enhanced statistics categories, including the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential) – the Kings recorded 537 more shot attempts than they allowed with him on the ice at 5-on-5. Doughty is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second straight season and third time overall, placing third in 2009-10 and second in 2014-15. Doughty was an all-situation matchup defenseman for the Kings this season. Los Angeles Coach Darryl Sutter used him almost equally on the power play (3:03 of ice-time per-game) and the penalty kill (2:56 of ice-time per-game). Doughty also led the NHL in shifts per-game at 33.3, two more than Minnesota’s minute-cruncher Ryan Suter. Doughty was the least-impressive offensively of the finalists, but this mostly had to do with how Sutter employed him as well as the Kings’ bruising defense-first style. Los Angeles finished with the third-best defense in the NHL and Doughty was on ice for more than half of the Kings’ games. Why Erik Karlsson Deserves The Norris From the NHL: Karlsson set single-season franchise records for assists and points by a defenseman (16-66—82), leading the NHL in assists and topping all defensemen in points for the third consecutive season and fourth time in the past five campaigns. He appeared in all 82 games for the third straight season and led the NHL in total time on ice (2,375:55), even-strength time on ice (1,885:26) and average time on ice (28:58), all career-high figures. Karlsson is vying for his second consecutive and third career Norris Trophy, having won the competition in both prior years as a finalist (2012, 2015).   The Senators were a far superior team with Karlsson on the ice. According to War on Ice , his CF% Rel 5-on-5 was a plus-7.22. He was the only one of Ottawa’s blueliners in positive territory in this statistic. He became the first defenseman since Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06 to record 80-or-more points in a season. The last blueliner to hit that mark before Lidstrom was Brian Leetch in 1995-96. Karlsson’s Senators did not make the playoffs, which was a mark against Doughty last season when he finished second in Norris voting, but had the most first-place votes.   The knock on Karlsson is that he’s not as defensively strong as Doughty, but he's always proved the best offense is a good defense by keeping the puck away from the opposition. Why Brent Burns Deserves The Norris The NHL says: Burns set several Sharks records for defensemen this season, including those for most goals (27), assists (48) and points (75). He also set an overall team mark for most shots on goal (353). The first-time Norris Trophy finalist ranked near the top of the League in several categories, including shots (second), goals by a defenseman (first), points by a defenseman (second) and assists by a defenseman (T-third). Burns appeared in all 82 games for a second consecutive season and logged a team-leading and career-high 25:51 in ice time per game (fourth in NHL), helping the Sharks jump from 24th in team defense last season to 11th in 2015-16.   Burns was almost as dynamic as Karlsson offensively with 75 points and 27 goals. His 25:51 of ice-time was less than the two Norris front-runners, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer didn’t need to use Burns as much since his team had more defense depth than the Kings and the Senators. Burns averaged 4:05 of power play ice-time, and 2:08 of ice-time per-game shorthanded and excelled in both spots. His 30 power play points were the most amongst defenseman, and he was one of 18 defensemen with at least one shorthanded goal.   Who Wins The Norris?  Karlsson. His offensive numbers were overwhelming to voters. With both Burns and Doughty probably splitting some of the Western Conference vote (voters out West also saw a lot of Roman Josi, Suter and Shea Weber) it seems like Karlsson had the easiest path to winning the award. Plus, he’s won it twice before beating Weber in 2012 when Karlsson was considered an underdog, and last year when Doughty had more first-place votes. Karlsson seems to find a way to get the most votes in his Norris worthy campaigns. Who Should Win The Norris? Really, it’s a two-horse race between Doughty and Karlsson. Coaches and other old school hockey insider types lean towards Doughty. Advanced stats champions love Karlsson . Burns plays a similar style to Karlsson but has more size. Still, he’s considered a distant third despite his big goal total this year. Who you think should win the award just depends on how you view the game. Karlsson vs. Doughty is the new Paul Coffey vs. Ray Bourque. 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    

Doughty, Karlsson, Burns finalists for Norris Trophy (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:26:10 PDT)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Los Angeles' Drew Doughty, Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and San Jose's Brent Burns are the finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman.

Thornton's greatness; Ruff vs. Hitchcock (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:58:03 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 .    @NHLstoreNYC made hockey's new fan @soIoucity a personalized jersey! Also a warm hat for the 'room full of ice' — NHL Store NYC (@NHLstoreNYC) April 28, 2016 • The NHL Store in Manhattan is going all-in on St. Louis Blues superfan Tony X . ( NHL Store ) • Why San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton is still the NHL’s most underappreciated star player. The 36-year-old Thornton had a renaissance year with 82 points in 82 games. [ USA Today ] • Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi was the team’s secret weapon. After a strong first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, the secret is out. [ Sports Illustrated ] • The Sharks should provide a tougher test for the Nashville Predators in the second-round than the Anaheim Ducks did in the first-round. [ The Predatorial ] [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] • The St. Louis Blues knocked out the Chicago Blackhawks with a particular style of play. Will this brand of hockey work against the Dallas Stars in the second-round of the playoffs? [ St. Louis Gametime ] • Stars coach Lindy Ruff and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock go back a long way. The two met during the 1999 Stanley Cup Final when Ruff’s Buffalo Sabres went against Hitchcock’s Stars. They then formed a friendship. [ Dallas Morning News ] • New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano has made a lot of stellar moves this postseason. Examining what he’s done right in the playoffs. [ Islanders Insight ] • Tampa Bay Lightning forward Erik Condra feels better after taking a nasty fall following a Casey Cizikas hit in Game 1 of his series against the Islanders. Lightning coach Jon Cooper seemed encouraged with how Condra is felt Thursday. [ Tampa Bay Times ] • A closer look at Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick and the Caps beat the Penguins 4-3 in overtime. [ Japers’ Rink ] • Auston Matthews' non-traditional road to the NHL could end up in a traditional market. Matthews is the top prospect for this year's NHL Draft, and it's highly probable that he'll end up in a Canadian market. Matthews is from Scottsdale, Arizona [ Toronto Sun ] • One name that is glaringly absent from that list of Vezina Trophy finalists is Chicago Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford, who was arguably the best all-around goaltender in the league throughout the 2015-16 season. This exposes issues with the goaltending evaluation system. [ Second City Hockey ] • Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden will bring a 1970-71 playing card of Pat Quinn in a Canucks uniform to the NHL Draft Lottery. The Canucks have an 11.5 percent chance of winning the top overall pick. [ The Province ] • Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar explains why he had a disappointing 2015-16. Tatar had 21 goals – eight fewer than his team-leading total of 2014-15. His point total dipped from 56 to 45. [ MLive ] • Enforcer Colton Orr retired from the NHL. Said Orr, “I look forward now to the next chapter of my life which I could not be happier to share with the two loves of my life - my wife Sabrina and daughter, Charlotte.” [ NHLPA ] • Orr still sees a place for fighting in hockey as the enforcer role plummets. [ CP via Yahoo ] • Taking a look at the New York Riveters’ offseason, centering around Janine Weber and Nana Fujimoto. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • This NWHL salary cap tracker breaks down the salary cap for each team. The first page has all of the players and their former team, country, and position, and also tracks their 2016 – 2017 contract, the difference from their 2015 – 2016 contract and the impact on their team’s cap. [ Along the Boards ] • OHL finalists Niagara IceDogs and London Knights have engaged in a Twitter battle in advance of their series. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Breaking down the Vezina Trophy finalists and taking a look at where Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson slots next season, along with other fantasy topics. [ Dobber Hockey ] • University of North Dakota defenseman Paul LaDue signed a contract with the Los Angeles Kings, giving up his final year of college eligibility. LaDue was a sixth-round draft pick of the Kings in 2012 and they have been pursuing him for two years. [ Grand Forks Herald ] • The Ottawa Senators are one step closer to procuring a new downtown arena. In a long and drawn out meeting of the NCC Board of Directors, the RendezVous LeBreton proposal for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats was selected as the preferred bid. This is the bid by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk. [ The 6th Sens ] •   The St. Louis Blues will face off against the Washington Capitals at the Spring Center on Oct. 5. [St. Louis Blues] • Defending The Blue Line and the Minnesota Wild today announced Wild defenseman Matt Dumba donated $8,900 to the organization as a result of “Dumba’s Hit’s for Heroes” – an initiative announced in October to raise money for the charity throughout the 2015-16 season. Dumba donated $100 for every hit he had during the season. He finished the year with 89. [ Minnesota Wild ] • Arizona State's men's hockey program is completing a deal with the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to join the group as early as 2017-18, or perhaps for 2018-19. [ College Hockey News ] • Finally, looking into the life of Hillary Knight. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY    

Predators try to ease past postseason struggles in Game 7 (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:33:00 PDT)
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Tragically Hip blared from the loudspeakers of the Nashville Predators dressing room at Honda Center in Anaheim. Players talked loosely about Wednesday’s Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks, strangely not really putting too much stock into the importance of the contest. That’s the tone that comes from captain Shea Weber who prides himself on perfecting the art of staying level during the highs and lows of all major hockey games he’s played in his career. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] “You don’t want to paralyze yourself by overthinking too much in situations and whatever,” 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.” This is only how Weber acts off the ice. On the ice, he transforms into a player using brute force with his hits and his powerful slapshots. Predators are following Weber’s lead approaching this Game 7 – their first in franchise history. “Honestly it’s another game. It’s a big game. Both teams really want to win,” Weber said. “The team that wins is going to go into the second-round. There’s no point in making too much of it. You put too much pressure on yourself in these situations then you don’t perform.” While much of the narrative going into the game is about the Anaheim Ducks’ recent Game 7 failures – losing three straight at home – the Predators have several players looking to shift their own postseason storylines Wednesday. Weber has been a part of all Nashville’s postseason struggles from 2005-06 until now, never making it past the second-round in any series. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne joined the core in the postseason in 2010. Forward Mike Fisher was added for the Predators’ 2011 playoff run and defenseman Roman Josi in 2012.  The only player on the Preds to make a Stanley Cup Final was Fisher with the Ottawa Senators in 2007. Just Mike Ribeiro, James Neal and Paul Gaustad have made it to a conference final. “All Game 7s are defining moments for both teams in the playoffs,” Fisher said. “We expect to have their best and I’m sure they’re the same. It’s been a great series and it’s coming down to this game. That’s what makes Game 7 so much fun.” It wouldn’t erase past playoff issues for Nashville and would only put them into a spot they’ve already made – the second round – but it would be another step as their squad tries to make their own personal history. “This would be a great feat for us to get our first Game 7 and onto the next round,” Predators radio analyst and former assistant coach Brent Peterson said. “We’ve been to the second-round twice and haven’t been very successful after that. To win tonight would be a huge thing because all the eyes of hockey are looking upon you.” With Nashville it goes further than just the players. David Poile has been the team’s general manager since the organization started play and tried his best to keep the Predators competitive in the face of ownership issues and other off-ice problems. He’s never made it past a conference final and also probably feels as much desire as any of the players or members of either organization. Said Peterson, "He's very emotional. He just wants the guys to do so well and there's nothing he can do about it. He'd love to be down on the ice doing it with them." 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

Wild honor Prince; Hitchcock loves Tarasenko (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 25 Apr 2016 11:28:57 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 .    Let's Go Crazy, #StateOfHockey . @Prince — Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) April 23, 2016 • A salute for Prince at the Xcel Energey Center. ( Minnesota Wild ) • St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott looked unstoppable in Games 1-4 of their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Then the Hawks figured out how to beat him. [ Chicago Sun-Times ] • Blues coach Ken Hitchcock refuted any sort of rift with star sniper Vladimir Tarasenko saying he "loves" the player. During Game 6,  it appeared Tarasenko was upset  with Hitchcock because of power play ice-time. [ Belleville News-Democrat ] • The Blackhawks have found balance with four lines, which has helped their comeback against the Blues. [ CSN Chicago ] [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   • Hitchcock on a Game 7 situation: “We’ve got Game 7 at home. It’s the best case scenario we could’ve hoped for.” [ Frozen Notes ] • In recent years, the Anaheim Ducks haven’t had much Game 7 success on home ice. But they also haven’t done well in Game 6 situations on the road. [ Orange County Register ] • John Chayka appears to be the front-runner for the vacant Arizona Coyotes GM job. The team hired the 26-year-old Chayka last summer because of his understanding of hockey analytics. [ Arizona Republic ] • New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will have to change his approach for next season if he wants to coax more success out of his group. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Rangers in five games in the first-round of the playoffs. [ New York Post ] • The Los Angeles Kings need to figure out their salary cap issues so they can return to prosperity next year. [ Mayor’s Manor ] • The Kings had a chance at a potential dynasty. Instead they’ve found themselves in some on-ice and off-ice disarray the last two years. [ Sporting News ] • Why the Nashville Predators will force a Game 7 with the Anaheim Ducks, and why they won't. [ Tennessean ] • This was a lost season for the Rangers thanks to the team’s management: “The makeup and colossal failure of this team is not on the players. It’s on the decision makers.” [ Blue Seats Blog ] • What should the Rangers do this offseason? Should they reload, retool or rebuild? [ Blueshirt Banter ] • The Detroit Red Wings need to make some big changes this offseason. Even though they made the playoffs for the 25th straight year there were some troubling signs with their current group. [ Detroit Free Press ] • Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was beat by some fluky goals in his team’s first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Stars.  [ Minneapolis Star Tribune ] •  Meghan Duggan will step down as assistant coach of the Clarkson women’s hockey team in order to pursue a pro career along the 2018 Olympic Games for Team USA. Duggan also played last season with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • A close and detailed look at how AHL hockey players have tried to recover from recent concussions. Their approach appears to have changed in recent years.  [ Austin American Statesman ] • Thomas Chabot checked the head of fellow Ottawa Senators prospect Gabriel Gagne in the QMJHL semifinals between Saint John and Shawinigan. Chabot received a major penalty for checking to the head, and a game misconduct for the hit. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Ten things you should know about owning a fantasy hockey team. For example, why you should be careful about posting trades on social media. [ Dobber Hockey ]  • Finland beats Sweden to win the IIHF U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. [ IIHF ] • Every hockey card set from 1990-91 ranked. [ Puck Junk ] • Finally, The Minnesota Wild hold a moment of silence for Prince.  MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY      

Are the Dallas Stars a championship team? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 25 Apr 2016 08:48:20 PDT)
Did we just witness the moment when the Dallas Stars go from regular-season overachievers to a championship team? The vibe left behind in their six-game series win over the Minnesota Wild was that it was their hockey bar mitzvah: ‘Before today, you were but playoff boys; now, you are playoff men! Baruuuuuch atah adonai … ” They needed this scare from a Minnesota Wild team that was overmatched, even without Tyler Seguin wearing the Dallas green. They needed to see their defense and goaltending being good enough to win a playoff round, albeit one against a Minnesota team that was 18th in the League in goals-per-game and was missing Zach Parise. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] But more than anything, they needed to feel that crashing wave of momentum as a team they pushed to the brink of the abyss conjured everything they could muster in their last period of the season. You can’t gameplan that, or watch it in practice. You have to experience it. Jason Spezza had experienced it a few times in Ottawa. He was 22 when the Senators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Round 1 of the 2006 playoffs. He was 23 when the Senators eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres – all by a 4-1 count – en route to their Stanley Cup Final loss to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi spring to mind when you talk about playoff experience, because they all have rings. Spezza is seeking his first, but he’s seen it all before, too. "I think it's good for a young team to see that and go through it," Spezza said last night, via Mike Heika . "I know we'll use that going forward. This will show how hard it is to put teams away, how much they don't want their season to end. This is a lesson we will definitely remember." Spezza finished with a goal and three assists. "We have to learn to be better in the third, but I know we have never been pressured like that by another team,” he said. “They were fighting for their lives, and we felt it. It was real. They were throwing five guys at us, everything but the kitchen sink, and we found a way to survive." And they’re obviously better for it. There’s a lot to like with this Dallas Stars team right now . Jamie Benn has elevated his game, if that was possible, and is leading the playoffs in points. And while the Dallas defense isn’t going to win them games, it managed to not lose them the series. For example, their EV Corsi rating with a one-goal third-period lead in the regular season was 45.6 percent, and a minus-37 count; through four games in the playoffs in that situation, it’s 51.5 with a plus-2. And yet there’s a lot we don’t know about this Dallas Stars team. Like the health of Seguin. Like what happens when it’s the Chicago Blackhawks or St. Louis Blues on the other side of the ice instead of a flailing Wild team, and Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg decide to put down a “WELCOME” mat and call it “defense.” And, of course, what the hell to think about that goaltending. Niemi and his putrid .857 EV save percentage were kicked to the bench in favor of Kari Lehtonen for Game 6, who hung in their and won both his first road playoff game and his first playoff series. He game up four goals on 29 shots, the second straight game he surrendered a four-spot; but he has only given up five even-strength goals on 86 shots for a .942 save percentage. "I guess it's 12 years in the league now and this is the first time I'm on a serious winning team," Lehtonen said. "So I enjoyed it a lot, and it makes me want to get more." As Tim Cowlishaw writes, the goaltending situation has been a cause for concern for pretty much the entire season , and yet the team finished with 109 points in the regular season, despite a 2.78 team GAA, the highest for any playoff team. The goaltending wasn’t good, frequently, but it was good enough. Many wondered if all of this was ever going to be a recipe for playoff success. And yet here are the Dallas Stars, now eight wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. -- 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: 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 Three Stars: Neuvirth saves Flyers; Koivu powers Wild (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 22 Apr 2016 22:45:35 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Michael Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers Neuvirth was outstanding in helping the Flyers force a Game 6 with a 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals. As the team in front of him mustered only 11 shots, Neuvirth stood on his head stopping all 44 Capitals shots. Neuvirth has now stopped 75 of 76 shots since replacing Steve Mason beginning with Game 4.  No. 2 Stars: Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild Koivu tied the game late in the third period and was the overtime hero as the Wild kept their season alive with a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 5. Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks The young Sharks forward opened the scoring against the Los Angeles Kings and later snapped a 3-3 tie en route to a 6-3 win, eliminating their Pacific Division rivals in five games. Brent Burns and Logan Couture recorded three assists as the Sharks ended the Kings’ seven-game winning streak when facing elimination. No. 3 Star: Thomas Greiss, New York Islander s Alan Quine netted the winning goal in double overtime and Greiss stopped 47 shots as the Islanders took a 3-2 series lead over the Florida Panthers with a 2-1 victory.  Honorable Mention : Quine became the third player in Islanders history to score their first career playoff goal in overtime. Thomas Hickey achieved that feat in Game 3. Quine is also the first Islanders rookie to score an overtime playoff goal since Ken Morrow in 1980 … According to the NHL, Friday marked the second time in Stanley Cup playoff history that two penalty shots occurred on same day. Did You Know? “It's the first time a team won a Stanley Cup playoff game with 11 shots since the Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators in 1998, and that total is the fewest shots in Flyers history counting the regular season and playoffs.” (AP) Dishonorable Mention: Washington outshot Philadelphia 35-6 at even strength and failed to beat Neuvirth … Aleksander Barkov missed an overtime penalty shot , the third one in Stanley Cup Playoff history. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

Neuvirth magnificent against Capitals as Flyers force Game 6 (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 22 Apr 2016 21:12:29 PDT)
Standing in the same crease that Steve Mason allowed a goal from 101 feet out, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth saw shots from every angle and didn't crack. Neuvirth stopped all 44 shots the Washington Capitals threw his way Friday night, carrying the Flyers to a 2-0 victory and sending the first-round playoff series back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday. ''They came at us pretty hard and if it's not for Neuvy, we're not winning this game,'' Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.

Thomas Chabot checks head of fellow Ottawa Senators prospect Gabriel Gagne in QMJHL semifinals (Buzzing The Net)
(Fri, 22 Apr 2016 18:31:09 PDT)
Hockey players will tell you there are no friends on the ice. Such was the case on Friday night in Game 1 of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semi-final between Saint John and Shawinigan. Ottawa Senators draft pick, and Sea Dogs’ defenceman, Thomas Chabot was tossed with 6:04 remaining in the first period for a check to the head of fellow Sens’ prospect Gabriel Gagne. Gagne was receiving a pass from a teammate and cutting through the middle of the ice when Chabot stepped into him. Here is the Thomas Chabot hit. — Jamie Tozer (@station_nation) April 23, 2016 Chabot received a major penalty for checking to the head, and a game misconduct for the hit. Adding to their problems, the Sea Dogs didn’t have a man in the box serving Chabot’s penalty, but were fortunate for a quick whistle soon after the penalty expired. The 19-year-old, who was selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft (18th overall), was named the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the week on Tuesday after registering 10 assists in four games against Cape Breton last week. Gagne, the Sens’ second-round selection (36th overall) at last June’s draft, has six goals and six assists through the first 11 games of the playoffs. The 19-year-old forward was shaken up on the hit, but remained in the game.

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.

Hockey sticks no longer one size fits all (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 23:13:17 PDT)
Hockey sticks used to come one size fits all. Now players get their sticks already custom fit, with precise specifications on everything from the curve of the blade to the shape of the shaft, ready to go right out of the box. ''They really don't have to do a whole lot when their sticks arrive,'' said Jason Rudee, an assistant equipment manager for the Arizona Coyotes for 15 years.

Rats, Octopi and sharks! NHL needs pest control for playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:49:31 PDT)
Real or rubber, NHL arenas in the postseason have a way of turning into an overflowing Animal House on the ice once fans get their arms warmed up. No worries, maybe some of the playoff stars will brighten the mood with the glow-in-the dark wristbands that disgruntled Philadelphia Flyers fans hurled on the ice during a game this week. According to the Red Wings, the octopus first made its appearance on April 15, 1952.

Bellemare to have hearing; Blues' new mindset; (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 19 Apr 2016 11:20:49 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 .  

Mike Yeo interviews for Ottawa Senators coaching gig (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 19 Apr 2016 08:46:07 PDT)
It’s pretty clear that the Ottawa Senators are going to go with a known commodity as their next head coach.  They fired Dave Cameron, who was an assistant coach that ascended to the big job after their miraculous run to the playoffs. Luke Richardson, their long-serving AHL coach who would have been an NHL rookie, was passed over again and left the franchise. There are some “names” available now, and could be more available depending on how the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs goes. First up for the Sens, according to Darren Dreger of TSN? Mike Yeo, former head coach of the Minnesota Wild, who met with new Senators general manager Pierre Dorion over the weekend. Yeo coached the Wild to the playoffs in three of his five seasons there, getting fired 55 games into this fifth season when his veteran players sorta, kinda quit on him. He’s not a bad coach, but he’s a very specific type of coach: The militaristic discipline, the dedication to defensive systems that could be detrimental to offense. The Wild did him no favors with their constantly changing goaltending situation through the years, and in the end the politics in the locker room – the divide between younger and older players – helped do him in. From a post-fired Q&A with Michael Russo, a glimpse at his dogma: How would you describe your system? Players now say they have more freedom, a green light to go? Did they under you, too? “Oh God, yeah. But I would say as things started to get worse, when we were giving up goals against, what were we going to say? Stop turning the puck over and bear down defensively? Year after year since I’ve been here, we’ve been one of the top defensive teams in the league in terms of shots against, quality of shots against and we give ourselves a chance to win every single night. So, it’ll take me some time to reevaluate, to figure it out. I mean, if they go out and score five goals a night for every game the rest of the year, then I was wrong. But the way that I saw it, I felt that the way we were built, we didn’t have guys who traditionally or historically have gotten 100 points a year. I didn’t feel that we were built that way. I knew that we could create offense. We had produced, but I knew that our bread and butter had to be defense, or at least that was my opinion.” With Claude Julien off the boards, Bruce Boudreau’s fate yet to be decided and some other names – Guy Boucher, Todd Richards, Marc Crawford – floating in the air, it’ll be interesting to see where the Senators go and how quickly they go there. Some of them are flashier names that stoke interest in the franchise, but might not be the best fit; someone like Yeo probably doesn’t move the needle for popularity, but he’s a good fallback if there isn’t a better option available. -- 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

Luke Richardson leaves Senators after being passed over again (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 18 Apr 2016 10:49:53 PDT)
Luke Richardson has been waiting for his chance to coach an NHL team for several years. As the head coach of the Binghamton Senators, the thought was that it would be with the Ottawa Senators, although he was briefly projected as a potential Sabres head coach when Tim Murray left Ottawa for Buffalo. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] But Murray hired Dan Bylsma, and the Senators are also apparently looking at more prominent candidates than Richardson to replace Dave Cameron. So after four seasons, Richardson has decided to leave the AHL team and move on from the organization. From the Senators: “I’ve enjoyed my four years of coaching in Binghamton and am proud of the accomplishments of the players and team,” said Richardson. “I’d like to thank the Senators organization for providing me with the opportunity to be a head coach and I am looking forward to the next challenge in my coaching career.” Richardson, 47, posted a 153-120-17-14 record in 304 games and led the B-Sens to two playoff appearances (2012-13 and 2013-14) in four seasons behind the bench. He was named head coach of the Eastern Conference all-star team in 2012-13 after compiling the conference’s best record ahead of the all-star break. “One of Luke’s greatest assets is his ability to teach players the nuances of what it takes to be a professional,” said B-Sens general manager Randy Lee. “I’m certain that when many of our young players reflect on their respective development, Luke will be among the first people they consider in realizing the significant impact he’s had on their progress.” Richardson told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, "I'm not on their list. I'm disappointed but I'm ready to move on. I appreciated the opportunity." You can’t blame Richardson for wanting to move on. He was passed over in favor of Cameron when Paul MacLean was fired, and then Cameron was the beneficiary of that insane run to the postseason that earned him a second year. Then he goes, and it’s clear the Senators are gunning for a significant name as their next coach (or waiting until one becomes available … COUGH Bruce Boudreau COUGH). Richardson did a solid job in the AHL, and was a fairly big part of the community outreach for the team. He’s been through personal hell off the ice and has kept at it. He’s the kind of guy you root for to get his crack at a big job, but clearly Ottawa has other designs.  -- 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.)

Cameron on firing; Anas goes Wild; BizNasty on Penguins, Rangers (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 15 Apr 2016 11:49:03 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 . *Burps up @NHLBlackhawks Jersey* Lets Go Blues! #WeAllBleedBlue #OurBlues @StLouisBlues @SUEtheTrex — STL Science Center (@SLSC) April 13, 2016 • Jonathan Toews' status for Game 2 is unknown as it appears he may have been eaten by a dinosaur. [ @SLSC ] • Former Ottawa Senators head coach Dave Cameron on his firing: "That was hurtful." [ Ottawa Citizen ] • The Minnesota Wild have signed Quinnipiac UFA and NCAA tournament standout, Sam Anas, to a two-year deal. [ Hockey Wilderness ] • Following suit of other Pacific Division teams, the Arizona Coyotes are likely to move their AHL franchise out west. [ Arizona Sports ] • Paul Bissonnette writing for USA Today - yes, you read that right - on the Rangers and Penguins series: "The argument over whether a team’s interest should take precedence over the perceived integrity of the sport is a fascinating debate. It’s complicated, layered and overflowing with passion." [ USA Today ] • "We're going to have to go up way bigger," [Blues head coach Ken] Hitchcock said. "We had (41) hits, we're going to have to get it into the 70s." Wow. [ Chicago Tribune ] • More from Hitch on the return of "another good player" to the Chicago lineup. We have a feeling he's not talking about Bickell. [ Chicago Sun-Times ] • Interesting analysis of "who outplayed who" from Game 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, offering both perspectives. [ St. Louis Game Time ] • As the underdogs in the series, the Nashville Predators have a lot to keep in mind ahead of facing the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1. [ Tennessean ] • Ryan Strome is using the playoffs as a refresher from his regular season sophomore slump. He had two point against Florida in Game 1. [ Newsday ] • Jaromir Jagr has a plethora of points against the New York Islanders. Not so much in Game 1. [ New York Times ] • Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning was a rude awakening for rookie Dylan Larkin in his introduction to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. [ M Live ] • From our buddy, Nick Cotsonika: Jonathan Drouin is making the most out of his second chance with the Lightning. [ NHL ] • The Pittsburgh Penguins relied on the "longpuck" to beat the surprisingly stronger, puck possession wise, New York Rangers. [ Pensblog ] • Islanders 2014 first round draft pick Michael Dal Colle will join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in their run for the playoffs. [ Buzzing the Net ] • As for the AHL affiliate of possible Las Vegas team, Reno, central California, southern Utah, and other locations have been floated by Bill Foley. [ The Sin Bin ] • Great profile on Alex Ovechkin which includes his dinner with Wayne Gretzky; where The Great 8 acted as an ultra inquisitive student to The Great One. [ SI ] • From Ken Campbell: "It might be a good idea for [Ottawa Senators owner] Eugene Melnyk to, you know, shut up a little bit." [ THN ] • According to researchers: despite all the coaching and strategy that goes into hockey, it ends up being the luckiest major sport in North America. [ Toronto Sun ]  • What do the numbers say when it comes to the race for the Vezina Trophy? [ In Goal Mag ] • Led by New York Islanders draft pick Song Andong, hockey continues to catch on in China with the national team eyeing a spot in the 2022 Olympics. [ AFP via Yahoo ] • "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." Check out the top five players who could make the jump to the NHL. [ Yahoo's Eh Game ] • Finally, the Florida Panthers and "The Year of the Rat" comes nearly full circle 20 years after it started. - - - - - - - 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:

Claude Julien safe; Cam Neely in trouble in Boston? (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 14 Apr 2016 06:37:50 PDT)
The Boston Bruins have the opportunity to do something very smart or very dumb this week, and it appears they’ve opted for “not dumb.”  Don Sweeney, Bruins general manager, said that Julien will "absolutely" be the coach for Boston next season at a press conference on Thursday. Jimmy Murphy of Dirty Water Media  first reported that Julien will likely be retained by the Bruins, rather than tossed in the trash so two division rivals can set a dumpster-diving land-speed record. But Murphy also believes that team president Cam Neely is on much less firm footing when it comes to his position with the team. From Murphy: The read here though is that won’t be the case this time around. There may be an announcement Thursday that Julien’s staff or some of them have been released but again, this scribe believes that following the Neely and Charlie Jacobs presser on April 20, Julien will still be the Bruins head coach and that Neely quite possibly be designated to a new role away from hockey operations. If this turns out to be the case, Sweeney — who sources say gets along well with Julien — likely went to bat for the winningest coach in team history and rightfully so. As has been pointed out here before the problems lie within the roster Julien was dealt and as almost the entire NHL community agrees, Julien did one heck of a job getting that roster into playoff contention on the last day of the season. Clearly Sweeney recognizes that and I am told he is already hard at work trying to rectify the roster problems and improve the team’s Achilles Heel, their defense. It wasn’t offense, that’s for sure. Julien took his marching orders from management, changed the way the Bruins play and got their goals-per-game up to 2.88 from 2.55 last season. Again, if the Bruins sacked Julien, the probability he emerges with the Ottawa Senators (ready to throw all the money at him) or the Montreal Canadiens (currently backing Michel Therrien, potentially because there’s no better option) is quite high. Perhaps Don Sweeney sensed this as well, and is willing to give it another shot with one of the best coaches in the NHL who missed the playoffs the last two seasons by a combined grand total of five points. As for Neely, he’s been team president since 2010 . There have been some good times. There have been some not-as-good times. But what he’s presiding over now is, as Stanley Cup of Chowder notes , a team that can’t seem to settle on a single direction for the franchise: This "soft rebuild" that they claim to be doing is pretty much a garbage fire. It’s a plan that seems hell-bent on maintaining mediocrity, being just good enough to still fill the Garden on a nightly basis and sneak in a playoff round or two, but nothing with any real end goal. The Bruins have been like the Jekyll and Hyde of hockey operations: trade Milan Lucic (move for the future). Extend Adam McQuaid (move for now). Trade Dougie Hamilton for just draft picks (move for the future). Keep Loui Eriksson without an extension (move for now). The organization is stuck on some sort of planning roller coaster, riding "going for it" and "let’s build for the future" peaks and valleys until all of the fans just want to get off the ride. This has been going on since 2013, and the common thread is Neely. Perhaps the organization has faith in Sweeney, who has faith in Julien, and Neely’s lost that faith?  -- 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

Kings GM pushes for Doughty to win Norris; change voting process (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 13 Apr 2016 15:07:07 PDT)
Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi strongly believes Drew Doughty should win the Norris Trophy this season. Lombardi recently spoke about the award and was asked if he thought Doughty, his star defenseman, should receive his first Norris Trophy. The award is annually given to  the defenseman “who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   Said Lombardi, “Not even close. All you’ve got to do is stay up and watch West Coast games, and you’ll know why, and I won’t even have to explain it to you. You know what the beauty of that position is? It’s the classic case where greatness is in the subtleties. That No. 1 defenseman, what makes him special? Unless you really understand the game and see some of the things he does, you have to study the game, not watch the game, and realize what he does is really special, and has nothing to do with highlights and the points and all of this stuff.” Doughty and Ottawa Senators’ blueliner Erik Karlsson are considered the two favorites for the award this season. Karlsson, a two-time winner, led defensemen with 82 points this season. He’s considered the premier offensive defenseman of his generation, but is believed by some in hockey to not be as polished defensively as Doughty, who had 51 points in 82 games this season. Doughty averaged 2:37 of shorthanded ice-time per-game this year to Karlsson’s 1:19.  Karlsson’s advanced stats, however, prove he’s a better all-around defender than his reputation would indicate. Lombardi didn’t reference Karlsson by name, but took a dig at offensive defensemen in general. Also, Karlsson’s Senators didn’t make the playoffs, and Lombardi took note of the fact that past offensive Norris winners made the postseason. “It’s not the highlight-film position. It’s not supposed to be, and then we turned it (into one) because (of) Paul Coffey,” Lombardi said “I guess, he pulled it off. But at least Paul Coffey was in the playoffs.” At points this season, Karlsson had been compared to Coffey. Voting for the Norris Trophy closes today and is conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Doughty has never won the award. Last season he received the most first-place votes, but lost to Karlsson. Doughty is a two-time finalist for the Norris.  Lombardi said he believes general managers should have the final say in voting for the Norris. “What I would say is that we should change, and we’ve actually discussed this among the general managers, I wouldn’t completely cut the media out (of the voting),” Lombardi said. “What I would say is have the media give us three candidates and let us vote on it because it’s too important a trophy. It reflects way more…way more, than what people are looking at.” 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    

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.) 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