The Pittsburgh Penguins opponent for Round One is set after the Boston Bruins beat the New York Islanders which finalized the East Division seeds. The Penguins will draw the Islanders, but the schedule hasn’t been set. Emotions are raw in Buffalo as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen burned the Buffalo Sabres, in varying degrees, and could be on their way out. And Vegas Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer stormed out of his postgame presser like the Sabres probably wanted to do.
We’ll start with the Penguins and we have a LOT of stories (check out the home page for everything), but there’s a lot of fun stories today. You gotta love this time of year.
Look out NHL, the Penguins may be healthy for the first time since…Jan. 14?
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins playoff opponent is set. Now, we project the Penguins’ healthy lines for Game One vs. the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins may have struck gold (or silver) with Jared McCann beside Jeff Carter. Mike Sullivan, Jared McCann, and Carter talked about the chemistry.
PHN+: Brian Dumoulin was asked why this team may be different. In his answer, he indirectly acknowledged why past teams failed.
Mike Matheson joined the practice on Monday. Casey DeSmith is the Masterton nominee. Get all of the stories, every day, on PHN.
NHL News and National Hockey Now
ESPN: Jack Eichel and his doctors wanted him to have surgery on his injured neck. The Buffalo Sabres said no. That led to a schism and Eichel openly questioning his future in Buffalo.
Die by the Blade: For those interested, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen weren’t waving Sabres pom-poms either. Here are the exit interview videos if you’re so inclined.
Eichel will be a New York Ranger next year. That’s our bet.
Boston Hockey Now: Taylor Hall, who spent most of the season in Buffalo, took a little poke at Buffalo. He publicly supported Eichel after “Dark Days” in Buffalo.
To the rest of the world…
Vegas: Vegas failed to clinch first place and lost to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. Head coach Pete DeBoer was upset with the “negative” questions and stormed out of the postgame presser.
–The video cannot be played in the U.S., but Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins was sad to see coach John Tortorella leave. That was a sentiment expressed by several CBJ players. Merzlikins, who was a rookie goalie that claimed ice time, said he’ll never forget Torts’ first words to him, “Elvis, don’t F— this up!”
Remember all of the crap Pittsburgh hockey fans gave me for telling you Torts was a great coach and most players loved him? (I sure do!) Cmon, you have to enjoy this guy. He remade the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise into a winner. He going to make his next team a winner…unless that team has a soft first-line center.
I can only imagine the intensity in the coaches’ room when Mike Sullivan was an assistant under Torts.
Colorado: The Avs got lucky in Vegas.
Boston: The playoffs are set. The 2021 NHL playoffs will begin Saturday night as Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals will battle at TD Garden. Strap in for that one.
Philly: Five Flyers who may NOT be Flyers next year.
The Flyers org screwed up when they bounced Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor. Chuck Fletcher hasn’t yet distinguished himself in the GM role. Could be interesting in Philadelphia.
Florida: Is Bill Zito the GM of the year?
San Jose: Ozzie Weisblatt has one goal next year. Make the San Jose Sharks.