It was supposed to be the final day of the regular season. Instead, several teams are left in limbo as the NHL races to finish the COVID delayed games over the next 10 days. Nevertheless, the news was fast and furious on Saturday as the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the East Division for the first time in six seasons. John Tortorella is done in Columbus, Marc Bergevin is hanging by a thread in Montreal, and Connor McDavid hit the ridiculous and remarkable 100-point milestone.
PHN published way too many stories on Saturday. I hope you could keep up! The highlights:
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins WIN the East Division, seeds 3-4 are still unsettled.
PHN+: The Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, 1-0, their second 1-0 win in two weeks. Maxime Lagace stopped all 29 shots, but there is some cleanup work to be done. Get the Penguins report card and the surprising bad grades at the top but the good grades at the bottom, plus the Xs and Os, too.
Later this morning, PHN+ will have the weekly off the record column. Believe me when I tell you, it’s juicy. We actually had to remove some quotes because they were so emotionally charged that we felt our sources would regret them or accidentally out themselves. You’ll be able to read between the lines. I made sure of that.
The playoffs are coming–so, here’s a chance to get the best hockey coverage, ad-free, at a big discount. Subscribe to PHN+ for just $19.99.
NHL News and National Hockey Now:
Philly Hockey Now: The Philadelphia Flyers pushed the Washington Capitals to OT, thus giving the Penguins the division title. Thanks, Philly, who then choked away a 1-0 lead with less than a minute remaining to lose in OT, 2-1.
Penguins historian Bob Grove had the best line via Twitter: “You know it’s a good night for Pens fans when the Flyers help the Pens AND then choke.”
The Athletic: Aaron Portzline reports John Tortorella informed the Columbus Blue Jackets that he is done in Columbus after this season.
The story is free, and interestingly, former WBS Penguins head coach turned Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Mike Vellucci is on the list of possible replacements. However, Rick Tocchet should be at the top of their list if Ron Francis and Seattle Kraken don’t snatch him up on Day 1 of his eligibility.
Sportsnet: Wow, Connor McDavid. The dude was four points away from 100. In front of a national TV audience, McDavid hit 100 in just 53 games.
McDavid will have to up his leadership game, but he well could join the all-time greats as Sidney Crosby has done. I know Penguins fans hate to read that, but McDavid is that gifted. Should we start the countdown to his trade to LA? I kid, I kid.
Hockey Night in Canada: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens ownership and Marc-Bergevin are talking about the future. Will Bergevin stay? Will they extend him? Talks are underway to determine his future.
Bergevin’s achillies heel has been coaches. Too many old-school, defensive coaches for his young, talented roster. But, alas, the coach must be French. Just ask Randy Cunneyworth. But at least that cuts down on retreads, lest Michel Therrien will get his third go-round with the same team.
Boston Hockey Now: The Boston Bruins had a chance to take second place. They choked, too, in a “perplexing” 5-4 loss to NYR.
NYI: The New York Islanders–the like Penguins Round One opponent–found some offense (finally) on Saturday in a 5-1 beatdown of the New Jersey Devils.
Colorado: Nathan MacKinnon missed his second consecutive game for the Colorado Avalanche.
Florida: Florida Panthers 2017 first-round pick (10th overall) Owen Tippet is finally getting a chance. After a season on the taxi squad, he’s cracking the lineup down the stretch.
And last, but certainly not least (especially for you prospect lovers and fantasy hockey players looking for an edge):
San Jose Hockey Now: The Sharks will miss the playoffs, again, but the kids show signs of taking over sooner than later.