These NHL playoffs are too good. If you’re not glued to the TV in each of these games, I can’t help. The Colorado Avalanche took Ryan O’Reilly’s bulletin board quotes to heart, and Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog pummeled Brayden Schenn, too. The Boston Bruins were inches from being down two games but survived in overtime, and the Pittsburgh Penguins injury woes may have taken another turn for the worse.
I suppose the NHL must keep the Wild Card playoff format. A situation can’t be unfair, even if it makes for much better playoff watching in Round One. And a situation like the 1987-88 Penguins would occur in which the Penguins missed the playoffs with 81 points (just seven shy of the Patrick Division lead), and the Hartford Whalers made the playoffs in the Adams Division with fewer points.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Speaking of the Penguins, Evgeni Malkin was essentially a spectator at practice, and Brian Dumoulin was absent. Head coach Mike Sullivan downplayed Dumoulin’s absence.
Some questions are best asked rhetorically. Barry Trotz teams have beaten the Penguins in seven straight postseason games. Is Trotz getting in the Pittsburgh Penguins head?
PHN+: Our “Off The Record” column continues to be a forerunner to breaking hockey news. There are serious conversations underway if the Buffalo Sabres put Jack Eichel on the NHL trade market and Patrick Roy is lurking.
NYI Hockey Now: Semyon Varlamov skated for an hour with the team extras on Monday. That probably means Ilya Sorokin gets another start, but Trotz isn’t saying.
The other half of the East Division playoffs are as heated as you’d expect. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders should hope the Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins continue to go to overtime and pummel each other like this.
Boston Hockey Now: The Boston Bruins needed that big goal from a big player. Brad Marchand broke Bobby Orr’s team record for the fastest goal in a playoff OT, and the Bruins evened the series 1-1.
Our Boston boys are all over that series. Check out Boston Hockey Now to keep up to date on the other East Division series.
NHL & National Hockey Now:
Colorado: Fight! The Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1. Gabriel Landeskog had a Gordie Howe hat trick, including this pummeling of Brayden Schenn for a dirty hit.
Florida: Sam Bennet was suspended for one game for his vicious boarding penalty on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Black Coleman. Bennett will serve the suspension Tuesday in Game 2.
NHL.com: Carey Price was pretty good in his AHL rehab assignment on Monday. Price is expected to play in Game 1 for the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Sportsnet: Carolina raced past Nashville for a Game 1 win, 5-2.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs promoted Hayley Wickenheiser to Senior Director of Player Development. That’s kind of a big deal. They also named Danielle Goyette the Director of Player Development for both the Leafs and Marlies.
San Jose: The Sharks plucked Rudolfs Balcers off waivers from Ottawa in January. The RFA had a breakout year with 17 points in 41 games. Now contract negotiations have begun.
Philly: The Philadelphia Flyers had a rough go this season. COVID hit them before the outdoor game, and injuries didn’t help. Sean Couturier had a long, tough season, too.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now will have full coverage of the Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate on Tuesday. We’ll get an update on Brian Dumoulin and Evgeni Malkin then.