June 3 — Women’s Worlds, Lotto & Worst Retros

On Tap For Today — Boston at NY Islanders; 7:30 pm EDT; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS & Carolina at Tampa Bay; 8:00 pm EDT; USA, TVAS, SN

Wednesday’s Wheelhouse

LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN: The IIHF Women’s World Championship has officially been rescheduled for August 20-31 in Calgary. The tournament was postponed earlier this year due to the pandemic.

FIRST IN SOMETHING: The Sabres won the NHL draft lottery, and will pick first overall for the second time in four years. They selected Rasmus Dahlin first overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft.

HAB-ITUAL WINNERS: The Canadiens jumped out to a quick lead before keeping the Jets at arm’s length for most of the night en route to a 5-3 Game 1 victory. The win was Montreal’s fourth in a row, and featured one of the most patient goals ever scored. Filthy. Seriously — go watch that goal!

SCARY MOMENT: Montreal’s Jake Evans had to be stretchered off the ice after taking a vicious hit from Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele at the end of Game 1. Scheifele drew a game misconduct and will likely be hearing from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Get well soon, Jake.

PERFECTION REMAINS: The Avalanche remained unbeaten in the playoffs Wednesday night after beating the Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime. It didn’t take long for the extra frame to end — Mikko Rantanen scored a power play goal just 2:07 in, sending the series back to Vegas up 2-0.

Top Shelf Thursday – Top-5 Worst Reverse Retro Jerseys

Last week I ranked the best Reverse Retro jerseys in the league. It’s only fitting that this week I focus on the worst of the bunch. Some make this list because of laziness and others really make you question what the organization was thinking. Agree or disagree with our list? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter with #THWMorningSkate.

#5. New York Islanders

I don’t know if the Islanders fully understood the assignment. The Reverse Retro is supposed to be a throwback jersey with modern twists. All they did was darken the shade of blue to what they wore in the late 1990s through early 2000s. They could have at least brought back the Gorton’s fisherman.

#4. Toronto Maple Leafs

I truly hate to kick a Toronto fan while they are down, but this jersey looks rushed and cheap. The Leafs brought back their logo from 1967-70 and the only word I can come up with to describe this jersey is “meh.”

#3. Dallas Stars

This Reverse Retro gives me major Storm Trooper vibes — and once you see it, there is no going back. Dallas brought back their uniform from the 1998-99 Stanley Cup Championship season and all I have to say is some things should stay in the past. The Stars should stick to their blackout jerseys that were inspired by the Dallas Skyline.

#2. Nashville Predators

Nashville’s “Reverse Retro” brought me the most disappointment. If there is one thing Nashville does well it is they are always on brand and what they do is usually a hit but this jersey is an absolute miss. Their original jersey in a new gold shade doesn’t scream creativity and, while it’s not horrible, it is a let down.

#1. Detroit Red Wings

There is misunderstanding the project, then there is blatantly ignoring it. The Detroit Red Wings are definitely the latter. I can understand the struggle of only having one color to work with, however you can’t even award the Red Wings with an “A” for effort because there was none. Simply switching the red stripes to silver from the Centennial Classic Uniform is laziness at its finest.

What Went Wrong

In the words of Ferris Bueller — “Life comes at you pretty fast.” It feels like the NHL playoffs just started and already teams are falling by the wayside. The postseason is a time of year when much of the focus is placed on looking ahead and celebrating those teams that remain in Cup contention. However, in the spirit of our new “In Memoriam” segment, we are going to offer some final words on these first round casualties.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Well, the good news for Toronto Maple Leafs fans is that the calendar turned to June on Tuesday, the sun rose and life did, in fact, go on — even if it may not have felt that way on Monday night. Blowing a 3-1 series lead as a major favorite against your historic archrival, and extending a 16-year drought without a playoff series victory is less than ideal.

At least Leafs fans are handling it well. Oh wait — never mind.

While they were two very different collapses under different sets of circumstances, the level of heartbreak in the aftermath of Monday’s Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens brought back painful reminders of when Toronto saw a 4-1 third period lead disappear against the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs. Who would have imagined at that time that eight seasons and five playoff appearances later, the Leafs still would not have slayed their first round demons?

This was, after all, supposed to be the breakthrough year. Auston Matthews scorched the Scotia North Division with a league-high 41 goals, helping Toronto cruise to an all-Canadian division title. The combination of a skilled core entering their prime flanked by respected and established veterans, an improved blue line, and some strong play from Jack Campbell, was supposed to be the formula to playing deep into the summer.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Then, the playoffs started. Montreal — a decidedly less skilled group that finished 18 points behind the Leafs in the standings and backed by a hobbled, under-performing Carey Price — should have been easy pickings. But the Habs brought both physicality and tenacity, pestering Toronto’s best players and dictating play through much of the series. Matthews and Mitch Marner — the Leafs’ best forwards — combined for all of one goal.

Therein lies the biggest challenge moving forward: there are no easy answers to Toronto’s postseason ills. Matthews, Marner, and a ‘Big Four’ that also includes William Nylander and John Tavares, likely aren’t going anywhere — thereby limiting any potential big shakeup. Regardless of how well Matthews (23 years of age), Marner (24), Nylander (25), and Tavares (30) play next year, they won’t have proven anything until the playoffs arrive once again.

If Leafs fans are angry now, how will they feel in four months when the team looks, essentially, the same (even if it is the right move)? They will likely be capped out once again, especially if they can retain forward and pending free agent, Zach Hyman. It’s worth remembering that Montreal eked out two overtime wins to square up the series, so it isn’t as though Toronto folded entirely once they had the chance to move on.

That will be of little comfort to fans — and rightfully so. After all, with no playoff victories since 2004, and no Stanley Cups since 1967, optimism can be hard to come by right now in T.O.

Morning Skate Playoff Predictions – Second Round