LAS VEGAS — Despite trying to shut down the NHL trade rumor frenzy that exploded around the Toronto Maple Leafs after they threw away a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Montreal Canadiens, GM Kyle Dubas can’t quell the roar. The NHL suspended Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele for four games after he trucked Montreal’s Jake Evans on Wednesday night. And why the Pittsburgh Penguins offseason plan is headed in the right direction.
Seriously, only four games for the ugliest hit made by a player not named Tom Wilson in years?
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Mario got the GM hire right. Knocked it out of the park. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall is on the right path, writes some idiot named Dan Kingerski. After the seat-of-your-pants moves of Jim Rutherford on the NHL trade market, Hextall’s temperate approach paid big dividends this season (Jeff Carter), and his methodical plans are in the right direction.
I’m in Vegas for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Division Final, but I thought I’d take a day to enjoy my old happy place. Nope. Aria and City Center have indeed sucked the life out of the strip as a whole. But I did have an awesome motorcycle ride to Area 51 and the Little A’le’ Inn (which turned very dangerous in 115-degree heat. Never again). I also got some New York, New York pizza and won a $9 at video roulette before going to bed before 10 p.m. local time. There’s my travel blog. Glamorous, eh?
Oh, and as I crawled to the hotel baggage claim, still dehydrated, barely able to breathe and looking like a man who was very nearly beaten by the desert, a “lovely” women (barely) dressed to the nines strode past and proclaimed “You need to take your nasty ass home.” That’s a compliment, right?
NHL and National Hockey Now:
Sportsnet: Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele received a four-game suspension Thursday night after he absolutely plastered Montreal’s Jake Evans in Game 1. It was the scariest hit I’ve seen at it was a 35mph collision. Evans was stretchered off but was able to join his team at the hotel later Wednesday night. Here’s the full story and analysis.
Boston: The Bruins delivered some of the New York Islanders’ medicine in a Game 3 OT win. Our network has this series fully covered. The Boston turning point, heroes and black eyes.
NYI: The Islanders need a save. A lonely, easy save. And they didn’t get it. But at least Mathew Barzal cracked the scoring sheet (FINALLY)
Toronto Sun: NHL trade rumors alert–Sure, GM Kyle Dubas said NO trade for Marner, but that won’t stop GMs from calling, and Michael Traikos asserts that shouldn’t stop Dubas from listening–or making a move.
Colorado: The Avalanche has a 2-0 series lead. Game 2–they were badly outplayed, but Philipp Grubauer found a way.
Having covered Game 2 live, Graubauer’s rebound control was…umm, not good. If Vegas can establish more net-front presence before the shot (instead of after), they’re going to put up a few in Game 3.
Detroit: Are you watching these pros Kevin Allen and Bob Duff absolutely raise the game of Detroit Red Wings coverage? Detroit is a fun team to follow because their offseason isn’t drama. It’s desperation. They have a lot of loose ends, and Kevin Allen examines how they can find conclusions.
Philly: More NHL trade talk. Ryan Gilbert writes–Chuck Fletcher, trade the first pick for an impact player. Say, Seth Jones?
Florida: GM Bill Zito pushed back on Florida’s organizational reputation. He said players “are proud to be Florida Panthers.”
That’s it for today. Though one point for the myriad of broadcasters who keep calling the Montreal-Winnipeg series “surprising” because Edmonton and Toronto lost… Stop it! Montreal and Winnipeg were clearly the two teams with goaltending and defense. Until the NHL adopts an NBA model (please don’t) to coddle stars or at least starts calling obstruction penalties in the playoffs (please do), Toronto and Edmonton are ill-equipped to win.
In the words of Ron Hextall, the standard is different in the playoffs, “you can’t ignore that.”
Or perhaps the league’s biggest stars, who also play in Canada, being sent home will cause some discussion about obstruction.