Five reasons Bruce Boudreau spectacularly fails in Game 7s (Puck Daddy)

Bruce Boudreau lost in a Game 7 on Wednesday night, which essentially means he was coaching in the playoffs. Although he probably won’t be coaching the Anaheim Ducks any longer because of it.  That Boudreau has gone 1-7 in Game 7s with two different franchises during his coaching career is just a stunning and stupefying stat. Stunning because it’s hard to conceive of a coach whose regular-season success could cancel out such postseason disappointment, but Boudreau could be a Jack Adams finalist and be looking for a job this month. Stupefying because that’s either bad coaching, bad playing, bad luck or some other supernaturally bad thing happening. Why does the same thing happen to the same guy seven times, like he’s some kind of hockey-centric John McClane? (OK, in fairness, there already was a hockey-centric John McClane, and he murdered the Penguins’ mascot .) Here are five reasons why Bruce Boudreau can’t seem to win a Game 7. We were going to go to seven but in the spirit of the subject at hand, we fell just short. 1. Guess What: His Teams Aren’t Actually That Bad In Game 7s In the seven Games 7 Boudreau teams have lost, the average margin of defeat is two goals, mainly because of those four-goal losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the LA Kings. Otherwise, he’s had four one-goal losses and another by two goals. Which is to say that his teams, by and large, aren’t getting blown out in these losses. As our buddy JP noted about Bruce’s Game 7 performances: By my math… Boudreau’s teams in G7’s: 1-8, 55.1 5v5 CF%, 5.1 5v5 Sh%, .867 5v5 Sv% Boudreau’s teams in close-outs: 5-13, 55.6, 5.6, .892 — Japers’ Rink (@JapersRink) April 28, 2016 So a 94.8 5v5 PDO for ol’ Bruce in close-out games, which drops to 91.8 in Game 7’s. But yeah, bad coach. Shoot better and save more, Bruce! — Japers’ Rink (@JapersRink) April 28, 2016 Which brings us to: 2. Unreliable Goaltending   As Japers noted, the EV save percentage for Boudreau’s Game 7 teams was .868, which is atrocious. Here are the goalies that played in those games: Cristobal Huet, Semyon Varlamov (as a rookie, and then as a sophomore), Jonas Hiller, John Gibson (as a rookie, replaced by Hiller), Frederik Anderson (twice). Outside of Varlamov, who was again just a youngin’ in those playoffs, there isn’t a clear No. 1 starter in the bunch. There certainly isn’t a Henrik Lundqvist or a Corey Crawford or a Pekka Rinne – three goalies that faced Boudreau’s teams in Game 7. Now, granted, Boudreau’s constant goalie shuffling can be blamed for some of the wonky netminding his teams experience in the postseason. But not as much as management should be blamed for not solidifying the position better. Especially in Anaheim. 3. Game 6 As you’re no doubt aware, this is the fourth straight season in which the Anaheim Ducks lost in Game 6 with a chance to eliminate their opponents, and then lost in Game 7 to be eliminated themselves.   Overall, Boudreau is 4-5 in Games 6, including series that didn’t go seven. His other Game 6 loss was to the Montreal Canadiens in that epic upset in the first round. Five Game 6 losses leading to Game 7 defeats. What if being the higher seed – as Boudreau’s teams always are – and having their backs forced against the wall by opponents playing with house money has proven too much to handle? Which brings us to …

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Stanley Cup Playoff Preview: 11 keys to victory in Capitals vs. Penguins (Puck Daddy)

(Ed. Note: Welcome to Round 2 coverage of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where we flip the format and get right to the point with 11 keys to each series. Enjoy!) The Pittsburgh Penguins ousted the New York Rangers in the first-round of the playoffs in a mostly one-sided five-game series. It took the Washington Capitals six games to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the first-round. These two teams haven’t played each other in the postseason since 2009 when Pittsburgh came back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat Washington. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup that year. Most of the players from that season have changed, but the two main protagonists remain – Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the two biggest names in hockey. Here are 11 keys to victory for the Penguins and Capitals  1.  Ovi vs. Sid Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby have been the faces of the NHL since 2005-06. Their careers are often linked as the NHL’s top talents , even though they play different position, use different styles, and often aren’t on the ice at the same time. The last time these two teams played, the Capitals blew a 2-0 series lead and lost to Pittsburgh in the second-round of the 2009 playoffs. That series everything they did was picked apart and parsed throughout the course of the seven games. Ovechkin and Crosby come into the series at the top of their games. Ovechkin scores three goals in the first-round after a 50-goal campaign in the regular season. Crosby had eight points in his first-round series, and finished third in the NHL in scoring during the regular season with 85 points in 80. No doubt this will be the major storyline for the entire series. Both teams will need big series’ from their biggest names. 

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Beyond Oilers, No. 1 overall pick historically rare for most Canadian NHL teams (The Canadian Press)

The two Canadian teams never to pick first overall will have their own special lucky charms for the upcoming NHL draft lottery. “We’re sending hopefully what will be a lucky Irishman,” Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said of team president Brian Burke. “Our lucky charm is Trevor,” Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said of team president and former captain Trevor Linden.

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NHL draft: A decade of Canadian hits and misses (CBC)

With the “Auston Matthews sweepstakes” creeping closer, all seven Canadian franchises have a chance at winning the top 2016 draft pick when the lottery takes place Saturday. The 2014 Vezina Trophy winner turned out to be a steal, but the impatient Leafs dealt him to Boston for the “established” Andrew Raycroft. Goaltending has been something the Leafs have been lacking for years and they’re probably wishing to have a player of Rask’s calibre back.

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Nashville’s lack of Game 7 experience could turn tide for Ducks (Puck Daddy)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — For the first time in three years, the Anaheim Ducks may have their best chance at winning a Game 7. They just needed the right opponent, and in the Nashville Predators, they might have it. In the 22-season existence of the Ducks, they’ve made the playoffs 12 times, playing a total of 24 series. Of those series, only seven have ever gone to Game 7.   Round 1 Round 2 WCF SCF   Win Loss Win Loss Win Loss Win Loss 1996-97 4 3 0 4 – – – – –  – – – – –   2002-03 4 0 4 2 4 0 3 4 2005-06 4 3 4 0 1 4 – – – – –   2008-09 4 2 3 4  – – – – –  – – – – –   2012-13 3 4 – – – – –   – – – – –    – – – – –  2013-14 4 2 3 4  – – – – –  – – – – –   2014-15 4 0 4 1 3 4 – – – – –   They’ve only won two series decided in Game 7; in 1997 and 2006. With the exception of losing to Detroit in 2013, Anaheim has lost to teams who either went on to play in the Western Conference Final and/or for the Stanley Cup. By most accounts, their opponents were more experienced, and well, better than the Ducks. That brings us to the Predators. In their 17-season existence, the Preds have been to the playoffs nine times. They have been in a Game 7 exactly  zero times. Wednesday night’s meeting will be a first for the majority of the Predators roster. Check out the players on both teams with  no  NHL Game 7 experience: Ducks – No Gm 7   Preds – No Gm 7 Ryan Garbutt (F)   Viktor Arvidsson (F) Brandon Pirri (F)**   Cody Bass (F) David Perron (F)   Gabriel Bourque (F)** Mike Santorelli (F)   Filip Forsberg (F) Chris Stewart (F)   Calle Jarnkrok (F) Chris Wagner (F)   Ryan Johansen (F) Josh Manson (D)   Miikka Salomaki (F) Shea Theodore (D)   Colton Sissons (F) Korbinian Holzer (D)   Craig Smith (F)     Austin Watson (F)**     Colin Wilson (F)     Anthony Bitetto (D)     Mattias Ekholm (D)     Ryan Ellis (D)     Petter Granberg (D)**     Roman Josi (D)     Shea Weber (D)       **Has not played in series Nashville’s side of the ledger is clearly more comprehensive, and has bigger names (i.e. Josi and Weber). Of the six defensemen expected to play in the game, only Barret Jackman has Game 7 experience. The Predators plan on leaning on those that have been there to get them through this game. From Predators.com : “There’s such good leadership in our room,” [Coach Peter] Laviolette said. “The leaders in the room are quality people and great character people, guys that would want to be in these situations. [Monday] night was a perfect example: Paul Gaustad, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Mike Fisher, James Neal, lots of guys. The leadership is really important in those situations, and we have some good leaders.” Can leaders lead when they don’t know what they’re going through? It’s not to say the Preds don’t have elimination game experience; just not in the vaunted Game 7. The name alone carries weight. Of the leaders mentioned, only Gaustad, Neal, and Fisher have played in a Game 7. Here’s how they and the other experienced Preds skaters fared in those games: NASHVILLE PREDATORS     Gms 7 Result             POS. Win Loss G A PTS +/- PIM Mike Fisher F 0 2 0 0 0 -3 0 Paul Gaustad F 0 2 0 0 0 -2 0 James Neal F 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 Eric Nystrom** F 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 Mike Ribeiro F 1 2 0 0 0 -6 10 Barret Jackman D 0 1 0 0 0 -1 0 **Has not played in series Ribeiro’s one win in Game 7 came 2003-04 as a part of the Montreal Canadiens. For Nashville, they may not have the players on the ice with Game 7, but they have one person that could make all the difference in the world – head coach Peter Laviolette. Again, from the Preds website : “Tonight’s contest will be Laviolette’s fifth time to be behind the bench of a Game Seven matchup. He has a 4-1 record, winning the 2006 Eastern Conference Final against Buffalo 4-2, the Stanley Cup Final versus Edmonton in 2006 (3-1), the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinal versus Boston (4-3) and the 2011 Quarterfinal against Buffalo (4-3). His only Game Seven loss came in the 2002 Quarterfinal series against Toronto (L, 4-2).” It goes without saying, Laviolette’s 4-1 record in Games 7 far outweighs Bruce Boudreau’s 1-7. Boudreau has picked up three of those losses with the Ducks in the past three seasons. Boudreau said something interesting in his off-day meeting with the media: “In the past I haven’t said anything going into Game 7. I just thought [in Tuesday’s meeting] we needed something to be said.” When asked if he cared to elaborate, Boudreau quickly responded with, “No.” The Ducks definitely have the more experienced squad on the ice when it comes to Game 7, and that could, for once, be of help to them. “I don’t have as much anxiety about it as when I was a little bit younger,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. “Anytime you go through them, it helps you prepare for the next one. It’s not always the easiest thing when you’re a young player to get yourself in the right frame of mind for a Game 7, but the more times you do it, the easier it gets. Still have to be ready and prepared for a hard fought game … It comes down to who wants it the most; who executes better than the other team. We haven’t done that in previous years but hopefully we can change that [on Wednesday].” ANAHEIM DUCKS     Gms 7 Result               Win Loss G A PTS +/- PIM Corey Perry F 1 4 3 1 4 -3 2 Ryan Getzlaf F 1 4 0 3 3 -3 4 Ryan Kesler F 1 2 1 1 2 1 2 Cam Fowler D 0 3 0 2 2 -4 2 Andrew Cogliano F 0 3 0 1 1 -2 4 Jakob Silfverberg F 0 3 0 1 1 0 2 Nate Thompson F 1 2 0 0 0 -1 2 Kevin Bieksa D 2 1 0 0 0 -3 0 Hampus Lindholm D 0 2 0 2 2 1 0 Clayton Stoner** D 1 1 0 0 0 -1 0 Sami Vatanen D 0 2 0 0 0 -2 2 Jamie McGinn F 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 Shawn Horcoff F 0 1 0 0 0 -2 0 Rickard Rakell F 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 Simon Despres D 0 1 0 0 0 -1 0 **Has not played in series “We’re not concerned with the past. I’ve been on both sides of Game 7s,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “Everybody talks about the ones we lost. I’ve been on the winning side of them too. It’s just about playing. We have to go out with this group, prepare the right way and get ready to play tonight.” The last time Getzlaf and Corey Perry won a Game 7 they were rookies in 2005-06 with the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim who defeated the Calgary Flames in Round 1. Incidentally, that’s the last time Anaheim won a Game 7. The losses on the Ducks side of the ledger are greater than the wins; however, a majority of the players have been together since the team started its epic journey of Game 7 defeats in 2012-13. Indicated by the morning skate, rookie defenseman Shea Theodore is going to draw out of the lineup in favor of veteran d-man Clayton Stoner. Stoner has not appeared in this series due to a nagging upper-body injury. He last played on April 10 in the team’s final regular-season meeting against Washington. So what does this all mean? It’s all going to come down to the psychology of hope. “You don’t want to paralyze yourself by overthinking too much in situations and whatever,” Predators captain Shea 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.” Funny Weber should mention ‘hope.’  “[Playing] safe is going to get you nowhere,” said Andrew Cogliano on Tuesday. “Being safe, being … timid, or hoping for something is going to get you exactly where its gotten us. That’s where we’ve lost the last couple of years.” Should be a fun one. – – – – – – – Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

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Danault’s Assist

MONTREAL – Phillip Danault put himself in a Paralympian’s shoes on Tuesday morning.

While there are still 134 days remaining before the Paralympic Games open in Rio, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and its Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc joined some future Paralympic hopefuls to help kick off 33rd Défi sportif AlterGo on Tuesday. The annual event is an international event that assembles athletes from the elite and newcomers, with all types of disabilities.

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What We Learned: How do you fix the NY Rangers? (Puck Daddy)

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.

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The 2016 Rookie Tournament returning to Budweiser Gardens from September 16-18

PRESS RELEASE
Spectra Venue Management and Tourism London are pleased to announce that the 2016 Rookie Tournament will be held at Budweiser Gardens September 16-18, 2016. This marks the fourth year in a row that London has hosted the tournament which features the top prospects from four of the National Hockey League’s most popular franchises.

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Islanders move on with double OT win over Panthers (Reuters)

(The Sports Xchange) – It took the New York Islanders just shy of 23 years — 8,381 days, to be exact — to finally win a postseason series. Islanders captain John Tavares cemented his status in franchise lore on Sunday, scoring in the final minute of regulation to force overtime and then scoring in the second overtime to give New York a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals at Barclays Center. The Islanders’ third overtime win — and second double-overtime win in as many games — gave them a 4-2 series win.

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Blackhawks force Game 7 with 6-3 victory over Blues (The Associated Press)

Artem Anisimov, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Dale Weise scored during Chicago’s dominant second period, and the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Saturday night to send their first-round playoff series to Game 7. Andrew Shaw added a third-period goal in his return from a one-game suspension for using a gay slur during Chicago’s 4-3 loss in Game 4. Andrew Ladd had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks improved to 15-1 in their last 16 Game 6s in the playoffs.

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Neuvirth magnificent against Capitals as Flyers force Game 6 (The Associated Press)

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.

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No Canada: NHL playoff ratings plummet north of the border (The Associated Press)

With NHL playoff viewership down nearly two-thirds across Canada, the television executive who committed Toronto-based Sportsnet to a 12-year, multibillion-dollar broadcasting rights agreement joked how glad he was to have a third-floor office. If Scott Moore considered jumping, ”I would just sprain my ankle,” the Sportsnet President told The Associated Press with a laugh during a telephone interview Friday. The first-round playoff series being broadcast on Sportsnet’s cable channels and CBC drew an average of about 500,000 viewers from April 13-17.

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NHL draft lottery: Last-place Leafs come out on top in our 10-spin simulation (Yahoo Sports)

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.

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When you least expect it

MONTREAL – There is no substitute for experience. Mike Condon is certainly in agreement there.

After earning a roster spot with the Canadiens out of training camp, it’s safe to say the 25-year-old rookie netminder didn’t expect to make 55 appearances between the pipes – including 51 starts – playing behind the likes of Carey Price. But, when Price went down with an MCL sprain in his right knee in late November, the Canadiens turned to Condon to carry the bulk of the load the rest of the way. It was nothing short of a baptism by fire for the Holliston, MA native, who was literally thrust into the spotlight in Montreal for the final four-and-a-half months of the year.

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San Jose’s power play; Caps’ quiet goalie recall (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

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  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .    That’s one dapper dude. pic.twitter.com/mZSq3SRD2C — #TurnUpInTeal (@SanJoseSharks) April 21, 2016 • San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns meets the media after his team’s Game 4 win. ( San Jose Sharks ) • The Sharks’ ability to hold on against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 showed they may be different from past teams. [ San Jose Mercury News ] • After going 0-for-5 in Game 3, the Sharks were a power play force on Wednesday, and the Kings couldn’t adjust. [ LA Times ] [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now ]   • Why the Sharks can’t celebrate yet against the Kings: “Wednesday’s 3-2 Sharks win was done Sharks-style –- by taking a 3-0 lead and nearly vomiting it up. At home.” [ CSN Bay Area ] • Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth gave the team a boost as they try to get back into their series with the Washington Capitals. Philly won Game 4, 2-1 and the Flyers are down 3-1 in the series. [ TSN ] • A detailed breakdown on how the Flyers were able to beat the Capitals and avoid a sweep. [ Broad Street Hockey ] • Why the Capitals “quietly” recalled goaltender Dan Ellis before Game 4 of their game with Flyers. Goaltender Braden Holtby left practice the day before after a collision with a teammate but still played in Game 4. [ Washington Post ] • The Dallas Stars’ gritty, playoff style game helped them beat the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead. [ Dallas News ] • The Minnesota Wild’s penalty kill failed them in their Game 4 loss to the Stars. [ Star Tribune ] • The St. Louis Blues are capitalizing on the Chicago Blackhawks’ inability to keep their emotions in check. The Blues are up 3-1 and have a chance to finish off the Blackhawks in Game 5 at home.  [ St. Louis Post-Dispatch ] • Why the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t have waited for the NHL to suspend Andrew Shaw for his gay slur. The team should have taken the matter into their own hands. [ The Committed Indian ] • The way the Anaheim Ducks beat the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their series should cause Nashville some concern. Game 4 is Thursday night. [ Nashville Post ] • Defenseman Kevin Bieksa has helped the Anaheim Ducks keep a businesslike mindset in through their first-round playoff series against the Predators. The Ducks acquired the veteran blueliner in the offseason. This is his 14th playoff series of his career.  [ Orange County Register ] • Home ice isn’t a big advantage in the first-round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. [ AP via Yahoo ] • Basil McRae, the co-owner and general manager for the OHL’s London Knights completed the Boston Marathon this week: “McRae, a former journeyman NHL defenseman, entered his first half-marathon when he was looking for a new form of exercise upon retirement. He developed a passion for running and has completed marathons in New York, Florida, Ottawa, St. Louis, Vienna, Austria and Zurich, Switzerland. He also entered a 30-kilometre trail run in Dresden, Germany.” [ Buzzing the Net ]  • The Detroit Red Wings had their chance to keep Steve Yzerman in their organization. They didn’t, and now he’s molding the Tampa Bay Lightning in his image. Tampa holds a 3-1 series lead over the Red Wings in their first-round series. [ Raw Charge ] • The Grand Rapids Griffins are about to start their 2016 Calder Cup run. Here is a preview on what the Griffins should expect in the AHL playoffs. [ Octopus Thrower ] • The Toronto Maple Leafs have built a high-end organization in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies: “There are nice cars in the parking lot. There is free food, customized protein shakes, free massages and an open-concept gym available, too.” [ Globe and Mail ] • The Boston Bruins management is doubling down on their “rebuild on the fly” with their team. ( Bruins Daily ) • Who will start in goal for the Calgary Flames next season? Here are four netminders the team could try to add to their roster in the offseason. [ The Hockey Writers ] • Five years ago today, former Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference became a local legend for a goal (and subsequent goal celebration) against the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. [ Stanley Cup of Chowder ] • How Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray moved up the team’s organizational depth chart. Murray started Game 3 as Marc-Andre Fleury deals with his recovery from a concussion. [ Sportsnet ] • Which teams are more generous than others at giving secondary assists at home to their players. [ FiveThirtyEight ] • So you want to be a traveling sports writer who covers hockey? Some hockey beat reporters explain the travel that comes along with their jobs. [ Wall Street Journal ] • The New Jersey Devils helped start a hockey club at P.S. 25 in Jersey City. [ NJ.com ] • New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is nicknamed “The King” but he’s never won a Stanley Cup. A look at his past playoff performances. [ Today’s Slapshot ] • Hockey Hall of Famer Pavel Bure discusses the legacy of Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk. Bure also predicts the Red Wings will lose to the Lightning. [ NHL ] • Here are some summer UFA signings that paid off for a capped fantasy league. [ Dobber Hockey ] • Why corporate logos don’t belong on NHL team jerseys. [ Maclean’s ] • Finally, Tampa’s Victor Hedman and Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson get mic’d up on the ice.  2 Swedish defensemen Hedman & Ericsson in a #StanleyCup battle. Hear what they had to say while mic’d up in Game 4. https://t.co/hEwsxmbVIp — #StanleyCup Playoffs (@NHL) April 21, 2016 MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY    

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Hockey Wives, ep. 6: Prust bares all; Angela deals with media; Martine gets uninvited (Eh Game)

Each week on Hockey Wives, viewers are promised an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the lives of NHL players. That promise was certainly delivered this episode when we all got to see Brandon Prust pose naked. The show, however, kept it PG13; this is, after all, not an HBO show and there could be kids watching. (Disclaimer: Young children probably should not watch this opening scene. Or this show.) In any case, Prust stripped down alongside his fiancée Maripier Morin (MP) — who remained mostly clothed — for a photo shoot for the French version of Canadian magazine Chatelaine . And if you think this exposure might have been a tad embarrassing for Prust, think again. “Brandon doesn’t care about being naked. He actually enjoys it,” MP said. “He likes gracing people with his nakedness.” To be fair, Prust has likely spent a lot of time in locker rooms and is accustomed to baring it all. MP, on the other hand, might prefer we all didn’t see quite so much of her future husband. “I’m shy. I don’t want people to see him. Like this is my property — you don’t get to see this.” She was joking, mostly. Earnestly, however, MP did admit that the closeness of the shoot, which is ironically for an article on long-distance relationship, did make her pine for more time with her boyfriend. “That cover makes me wish we had that ‘normal life’ of me just being with him,” she admitted. Since the summer trade from Montreal to Vancouver, MP has repeatedly said — multiple times per episode, in fact — she’d move to British Columbia in the new year to be with Prust. Which is why when she revealed at the end that she’s choosing to stay in Montreal, I was actually surprised. Well, as surprised as a reality show shot months earlier can leave you. The reason, however, was predictable. In nearly two seasons of the show, MP has been cast as the workaholic, career-driven woman that stood in contrast with some of the other wives who decided to forgo — or delay — a career to be with their hockey player husbands. In fact, Tiffany Parros admitted this week that she “lost a ton of money in my clothing business” when husband George was traded to Florida and she had to move and “no one gives you credit for that sacrifice.” The series does a fine job of presenting both cases equally, casting neither as right or wrong, but rather an individual decision every hockey wife must make. In MP’s case, moving would have halted the momentum she had been building in the Quebec media industry for a while, so she stayed. However, it would be remiss to not wonder how much Prust’s lackluster year with the Canucks – he was injured, sent down and then shut down – played a part in the decision as well. Speaking of Quebec media, they are very curious about Carey Price and, by extension, his wife Angela Price. Back in October, the Montreal media revealed that the Prices were expecting a baby before the couple could announce it themselves. The news prompted Angela to write a blog post criticizing the reporters , but later removed it when she received an apology. The topic, though, was up for discussion when Angela visited her family this week. Here’s a bit of the conversation: Stephanie (Angela’s sister): So why do you even care? Angela : You wouldn’t care? Stephanie : I don’t know. I look at it kind of… Angela : What? Stephanie : When you’re in the eye of the public you… Angela : You just don’t deserve any human decency? Angela has clearly not let go of all the bitterness yet, which is completely fair. The media revealing news of the pregnancy was reportedly an honest mistake due to miscommunication, according to TSN reporter John Lu . It’s old news now and they made amends so I won’t dwell on the matter here. What was more interesting anyway about this episode was witnessing just how much of a celebrity Carey Price is in Montreal — and how Angela, who has fans routinely showing up at her door for example, handles that attention. For instance, at charity events, Angela constantly fields questions from curious fans and media about her husband’s injury and recovery status. At one point she says, “I am so excited for Carey not to be injured so he’s back playing a) and b) so I can freaking stop talking about his injury.” Well…this must not have been a fun season for Angela. And it’s not just the constant questions Angela faces, but it’s clear she also deals with intense pressure as the wife of the face of the Canadiens franchise goalie. During one segment, Angela clearly expresses guilt for not being able to speak French: “I don’t want to piss people off by going and speaking English,” she says ahead of her interview on a French program called En Mode Salvail. But despite the language obstacle, and the host at one point gesturing to his crotch region (it was an injury question so not totally outlandish) Angela handled the interview like a pro. “At the end of the day, everyone’s comments and questions are coming from a good place,” she said, seemingly making peace with the media attention. But Carey Price was not the only injured goalie central to this episode. Enter Jonathan Bernier. Even the most lukewarm Leafs fans know Bernier had a horrendous start to the NHL season. But what we didn’t see was the emotional turmoil Bernier and his family, namely fiancée Matine Forget, went through. When Bernier was sent down to the Marlies, the Leafs AHL affiliate, Martine said she was in shock. “I can feel he wants to cry, but he sees me crying so he’s like ‘babe, it’s going to be fine. I’m going to get through it. It’s part of the job.’ Sometimes it can be hard on them,” she admitted during her on-camera confessional. Strangely, Martine also told her pal Taylor Winnik that when her husband was sent down, the couple was barred from attending a Leafs gala. I was as surprised as Taylor was: “You guys aren’t invited to the gala?” she asked, eyes wide. That seems extreme, doesn’t it? The former starting goaltender gets sent down to the AHL for a conditioning stint and gets uninvited to the team party. If that was indeed the case, the NHL sure is an exclusive club. Clearly the Berniers learned that the hard way this season. Three Stars of the episode: Third star: Tyler Bernier Second star: The Chatelaine crew First star: Eric Salvail, the Montreal TV host Best line of the episode: Noureen DeWulf is speaking about her guest star role in the TV show Grandfathered, starring John Stamos. Noureen: “ This role requires me to be super into John Stamos — and it’s not a stretch.” Misplay of the episode: Car seats and ladies nights do not mix, apparently. Noureen DeWulf, while driving Paige Getzlaf and Tiffany Parros to dinner, admits maybe bringing the car seat along was a bad idea. Noureen: “Isn’t there something so bizarre about getting all dressed up sexy and then you get in your car and there’s a car seat in it?” Tiffany: Yeah. I actually take the car seats out…

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Shaw insight; Dubas staying with Leafs; Neely on Bruins (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

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  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com . Security tells out-of-control Rangers fan Nick Mangold to calm down https://t.co/wUf4MSaiON pic.twitter.com/opWNyieId7 — New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) April 20, 2016 • That angry viking yelling at the Pittsburgh Penguins bench is actually Nick Mangold of the New York Jets. Security was called to tell him to pipe down. [ Shutdown Corner ] • Toronto Maple Leafs wunderkind assistant (to the) general manager, Kyle Dubas, says he’s not ready to be a GM yet, and is sticking with the Leafs to learn. [ Sportsnet ] • Insightful and personal commentary on what Andrew Shaw’s homophobic comments means to a Chicago Blackhawks beat writer who identifies as a gay man. [ Chicago Tribune ] • If the NHL wants a true culture change, they should just suspend Andrew Shaw without the obligatory ‘investigation.’ [ Sporting News ] • And breathe, Washington Capitals fans. Braden Holtby will play in Game 4 after a collision in practice. Taylor Chorney is drawing in for the injured Brooks Orpik. [ Washington Times ]  • Lindy Ruff has ‘been there before’ and is lending his big win playoff knowledge to the Dallas Stars. [ Star Tribune ] • Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are working together to prove that a goaltending tandem can win in the playoffs. Niemi will get the start in Game 4. [ Dallas Morning News ] • What you need to know about the Anaheim Ducks victory in Game 3 over the Nashville Predators. [ OC Register ] • Three things to watch for in Game 4 on Thursday between the Ducks and Preds. [ The Tennessean ] • Lead by ownership, the data-driven Florida Panthers are placing high premium on “glue guys.” Seems to be working. [ Canadian Press via SN ] • Frame by frame breakdown the ‘Robby Fabbri – Corey Crawford incident’ and the mayhem afterwards. [ St. Louis Game Time ] • The Detroit Red Wings have a 10-percent chance of coming back in the series against Tampa. Everybody all together, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!” [ M Live ] • Let the second guessing of decisions made for the Red Wings lineup begin! [ Detroit Free Press ] • Jonathan Drouin (hopefully) has the drama of this past winter behind him and is on the road to redemption with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs. [ ESPN ] • So maybe it isn’t doom and gloom without Steven Stamkos in the lineup. (Should this be comforting/foreboding to Lightning fans?) [ THN ] • Cam Neely on Boston Bruins: “We should be playing right now” and more from the B’s President. [ CSNNE ] • The 2015-16 Toronto Marlies tore up the AHL standings in the regular season. How do they set the bar for other AHL franchises going forward? [ Leafs Nation ] • In an annual survey, Edmonton Oilers fans vote on the players they’d like to see leave the team. Who are the top picks, and do the numbers back up the fact they need to go? [ Edmonton Journal ] • Unrestricted free agent goaltending possibilities for the Calgary Flames. [ Flames Nation ] • Dave Lozo answers burning questions, such as: Are you standing on an NHL logo? Does that make you a bad human being? Should we still review offside? How many beers at a tailgate is too many? [ The Comeback ] • Dale Weise wants to come back to the Montreal Canadiens, but that may not be in the best interest of the team. [ EOTP ] • Player grades for the Colorado Avalanche defense. [ THW ] • Mikko Rantanen has been added to the Finnish national team’s roster for World Championships in May. [ Avalanche ] • Comprehensive plan for restocking the Oilers farm system. [ Lowetide ] • Previewing the OHL conference finals: London Knights vs. Erie Otters and Barrie Colts vs. Niagara Ice Dogs. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Washington Capitals play-by-play man Joe Beninati has a love for hockey and a passion for fashion. [ Washington Post ] • Finally, Sportsnet unearths the legend that is Brent Burns and his beard. – – – – – – – Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

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Canadian NHL ratings ‘shockingly low’ for 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Puck Daddy)

For the first time since 1970, no Canadian teams qualified for the NHL postseason. Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that there was “uncertainty” about what the ratings would look like for the Stanley Cup Playoffs north of the border, and (infamously) noted that the playoffs were still Canada-friendly because of all the Canadians on playoff teams.  Perhaps that appeal was overstated. According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, the ratings for Stanley Cup Playoff games have plummeted 61 percent from last season. From Campbell: Through the first five nights of hockey in the playoffs – from last Wednesday (April 13) through Sunday (April 17) – an average of just 513,000 viewers tuned into the 20 NHL playoff games. Compare that to last spring when there were five Canadian teams playing in the first round and an average of 1.306 million viewers tuned into the first 21 first-round games. That’s a drop of 61 percent from last season. “Even with no Canadian teams, those are shockingly low numbers,” said one industry expert. “There were regular season games on TSN two years ago that did better than that.” Ouch. The TSN thing, we mean. So what happened here? One theory Campbell notes is that since no Canadian teams were even in the playoff hunt at the end, interest diminished rather early. “Fans of those teams have tuned out and, apparently, remained tuned out,” he writes. But the primary reason remains that if your team, or a team you hate, fails to make the postseason, you’re just not going to be that engaged. That holds true in both of our great nations. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins all being on the outside of the playoff hurts. Ditto the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, who made the cut last season. Canadian fans simply don’t have the same level of engagement with the Eastern Conference teams playing in the first round; and in the west, the most intriguing series is happening after 10:30 p.m. almost every night. All of this is devastating for Rogers – who, in full disclosure, produces our podcast Marek Vs. Wyshynski . As David Shoalts notes, they were already in cost-cutting mode before the postseason: But what those changes will be, aside from cost-cutting, has the staff guessing. The cost-cutting measures are obvious – only three Rogers play-by-play crews are covering an entire series in the first playoff round, which saves money on production costs. The fourth crew, play-by-play broadcaster Dave Randorf and analyst Greg Millen, will see spot duty on select games in the first round along with a small technical crew. A year ago, Rogers had crews at most first-round series which, of course, included five Canadian teams. With production costs running around $100,000 a game, Rogers could save about $500,000 over a seven-game series by cutting back to three full-time play-by-play crews, according to a broadcast industry source. This could add up to $2-million by the end of the playoffs, which run four series. There’s still hope that the playoff ratings could spike. As Bettman optimistically put it: “As long as the hockey is entertaining and exciting and competitive we’re hoping and expecting that fans will tune in and watch great hockey.” There are plenty of twists, turns and Game 7s left in these playoffs. There are plenty of compelling matchups that could make the casual fans take notice, especially with a few teams that have never won the Stanley Cup looking viable. And, of course, there’s the one thing for which Rogers is praying to whatever deity that will listen: Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby in the Metro Division final. One in every 69 Canadians may not care about Round 1 of the postseason, but give’em Canada’s golden boy against the Russian machine and those numbers will get sunnier for Rogers. If you’re a Canadian not watching the playoffs (but, for some reason, reading a hockey blog), why aren’t you watching? Please leave feedback in the comments. — Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  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

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IceCaps report – Apr. 19

The Montreal Canadiens have a new farm team this season, the St. John’s IceCaps. To help Canadiens fans track the team’s performance in the AHL, we have invited Charles Dart, website contributor of the IceCaps’ official website to prepare a bi-weekly summary of the action in Newfoundland.

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What We Learned: Evgeni Malkin and the risk of playing injured (Puck Daddy)

(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.)

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Former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers improving after stroke (The Associated Press)

Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is getting better every day and has begun eating after a recent stroke, his doctors said Friday. The 71-year-old Demers, now a Canadian senator, still has some weakness on the right side and difficulty with speech, but is alert, said Dr. Angela Genge of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Demers, who coached the Canadiens to their 1993 Stanley Cup victory, was rushed to hospital April 6.

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Jacques Demers getting better every day and is now eating after recent stroke (The Canadian Press)

Sen. Jacques Demers is getting better every day and has begun eating after his recent stroke, his doctors said Friday. Demers, 71, still has some weakness on the right side and difficulty with speech but is alert, said Dr. Angela Genge of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Demers, who coached the Montreal Canadiens to their 1993 Stanley Cup victory, was rushed to hospital on April 6.

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The Last Word: Emily VanCamp

Long before she earned starring roles in hit shows like Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, and Revenge or made the jump to the big screen in Marvel’s Captain America film series, Emily VanCamp spent some of the most important years of her life in Montreal. In addition to studying dance during her time in la Belle province, VanCamp also spent her formative years developing a deep-rooted passion for the Canadiens. We caught up with the 29-year-old Port Perry, ON native – who is set to reprise her role as Sharon Carter / Agent 13 in Captain America: Civil War in May – during a visit to the Bell Centre to find out more about her love for hockey’s most storied franchise.

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Cameron said he felt like he was fired 'every day' after Melnyk's public comments (The Canadian Press)

Dave Cameron fought back tears, and fought back against Eugene Melnyk’s stinging criticism. Cameron met with Ottawa reporters one final time Thursday morning after being fired as head coach of the Senators on Tuesday. Cameron’s dismissal seemed imminent following Melnyk’s critical comments March 22.

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Elite company

MONTREAL – By the time he decides to hang up his skates for good, Andrei Markov’s name will be forever etched alongside the exalted company of the likes of Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Guy Lapointe and Guy Carbonneau.

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Claude Julien safe; Cam Neely in trouble in Boston? (Puck Daddy)

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  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  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

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Fighting the bear: John Scott demonstrates a hockey fight (The Canadian Press)

Once hockey tough guy John Scott put his massive paws on me , I wished I was fighting a bear instead. If you don’t know who Scott is, he’s 6-foot-8, 270 pounds of knock-your-face-in. Scott said an NHL official asked if he thought his daughters would be proud of him for playing, yet he held his ground despite being traded to Montreal and demoted to the AHL.

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Florida Panthers Vs. New York Islanders: Puck Daddy’s NHL Playoff Preview (Puck Daddy)

( The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. The good news for NBC: There are no Canadian teams to bring down the ratings. The bad news for Sportnet: There are no Canadian teams to bring up the ratings. Such is life. Who wins the Cup? Read our insightful and informative playoff previews!) How’d They Get Here? The Florida Panthers were a team many felt would sniff the playoffs but not actually grad ahold of a berth with their jagged feline teeth, waving it back and forth as blood flies through … sorry, we watch a lot of Discovery Channel. Anyway, the Panthers managed to exceed expectations thanks to stellar goaltending, balanced scoring, the immortality of Jaromir Jagr and a 12-game winning streak that coincided with the Montreal Canadiens’ cannonballing into a pile of hot garbage. Florida won the Atlantic Division with a 47-26-9 record and 103 points. The New York Islanders finished with 100 points (45-27-10) but needed to secure a playoff seed in the last week of the season. The Islanders have played through nagging injuries and more impactful ones – like losing goalie Jaroslav Halak, perhaps for the first round as well – but cobbled together a playoff season with another great campaign from John Tavares and a lineup of tenacious forwards. Their Last Playoff Meeting While the Panthers have faced the Rangers and Devils in the postseason, they’ve never played the Islanders. Which is what happens when this is only their fifth playoff appearance since 1994. Schedule

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Jacques Demers responding well to therapy and in stable condition after stroke (The Canadian Press)

MONTREAL – Hospital officials say Sen. Jacques Demers is responding well to therapy and that his overall medical condition is stable after his stroke a week ago.

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Jacques Demers responding well to therapy and in stable condition after stroke (The Canadian Press)

MONTREAL – Hospital officials say Sen. Jacques Demers is responding well to therapy and that his overall medical condition is stable after his stroke a week ago.

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