LIGHT EM UP: Both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are officially expected to return for the playoffs — the entire Tampa Bay area just breathed a collective sigh of relief.
McHUNDRED ACTIVATED: Connor McDavid notched his 100th point in Saturday’s win over the Canucks, using a four-point effort to reach the century club in only 53 games. He’s certainly in good company — the last time anyone reached 100 that quickly was in 1995-96, when both Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did it.
SHOT IN THE ARM: The NHL announced Saturday it would potentially ease coronavirus protocols for US-based playoff teams, provided they meet the required vaccination thresholds.
WE’RE NOT GONNA TOCCHET: Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong announced Sunday that the team and coach Rick Tocchet will part ways.
JACKETS DIDN’T HACK IT: The Columbus Blue Jackets and coach John Tortorella mutually parted ways on Sunday after six seasons with Torts at the helm. Can’t wait to see what’s next in store for the all-time US-born wins leader.
Time to Update the Ol’ LinkedIn Profile
The NHL’s off-season coaching carousel got a little busier over the weekend with the announcements that John Tortorella and Rick Tocchet would not be returning to their respective benches next season (see Sunday’s Celly). With the potential for six job openings this summer, let’s look at the most coveted — and possible — landing spots for an impressive group of free agent coaches.
The NHL’s newest team is still without a head coach and will look to fill the role prior to the expansion draft. Gerard Gallant is the clear frontrunner, with the hopes that he can bring his golden touch to the Pacific Northwest.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones and Zach Werenski can make the worst of coaches look pretty darn smart and the sweep over Tampa really wasn’t that long ago. Will Columbus go out and hire a new coach or are they ready to promote from within?
Confused leadership and a collapse down the stretch to miss the playoffs. I mean… you still get to live in the desert through the winter months, so there’s that to attract candidates.
New York Rangers
David Quinn could be the next to go amidst a Broadway shakeup, and the chance to coach a young roster loaded with franchise-caliber talent in the Big Apple would be quite appealing. Maybe this Tortorella guy could be a fit…
Detroit Red Wings
With top prospects Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider on their way soon and Dylan Larkin somehow only 24 — even though it feels like he’s been around forever — is now the time that Steve Yzerman and the Wings move on from Blashill?
Alright candidates, repeat after me: “we thank Jack for all he’s done for our organization, but we’re excited about the new direction we’re headed in.”
Bold Playoff Predictions
The best part of the hockey season is finally upon us! Throw on your favorite jersey and get that rally towel ready because the playoffs are here. If the past few years have taught fans anything, it’s that the playoffs are unpredictable. So what’s more fun then sharing some bold — and maybe unrealistic — postseason predictions? Enjoy!
Florida Will Beat Tampa in Five Games
Yup, you read that correctly. I’m putting all my money and faith in head coach Joel Quenneville. I believe the Panthers will advance to the second round for the first time since 1996.
Islanders Will Reach the Stanley Cup Final
The Islanders down the center are as follows: Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Casey Cizikas/Travis Zajac. Simply put, a team can’t win a game if they don’t have the puck and this team is stacked to control the faceoff circle. With Barry Trotz at the helm, this team will go far.
Bruins Will Get Swept in Second Round
The Bruins will make it past the first round. They have the best first line in the league — depending on who you talk to — and they now have former MVP, Taylor Hall. Their luck, however, will run out in the second round when they face the New York Islanders. The good news? Hall will finally make it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Wild Will Knock Out a Stanley Cup Frontrunner
If you didn’t follow the Wild this season, it may be a surprise they performed so well. Kirill Kaprizov has notched more than 50 points and is all but guaranteed to win the Calder Trophy. This Minnesota team is more dangerous than they get credit for and will bring fans one of the biggest upsets of the postseason.
Maple Leafs Will Win the Stanley Cup
They have to… right? To be honest, it would be something to see Joe Thornton win his first Stanley Cup. He is the oldest active player yet to win a Stanley Cup ring. Plus, who isn’t a sucker for a good storyline in the playoffs?
What to Watch This Week
Monday – Islanders at Bruins (7:00pm ET); Golden Knights at Avalanche (10:00pm ET)
The Islanders can jump the Bruins for third place in the MassMutual East Division with a win on Monday night. Boston still has a game in hand, as both teams look to avoid the red-hot Penguins in the first round. Vegas can secure first place in the Honda West Division with a regulation win over Colorado.
Wednesday – Oilers at Canadiens (5:00pm ET)
IF the Oilers beat the Canadiens on Monday night, Wednesday’s matinee game could be the difference between Montreal making the playoffs and Calgary having a chance to sneak in the backdoor.