All spring, many in the hockey media and blogosphere whose poor lot in life is to cover all things Leafs have been dwelling on how unfair the NHL playoff system is.
And they have a point: Even if the Leafs are passed by the Metro’s Hurricanes in the standings, Toronto will still have the honor of a playoff meeting with their fellow Atlantic-residing Boston Bruins rather than a wild card spot against one of the East’s two division winners.
The injustice, it’s almost intolerable. (But of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the Leafs have to clinch a playoff spot first.)
The Leafs are back on Long Island on April Fools’ for a second spring visit tonight. Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.
- Remember how Tanner Fritz came up and gave the Isles some promising performances while filling in for the injured Valtteri Filppula? Well, now Fritz is out 6-8 weeks too, thanks to a blood clot found in his hand. Tough break for the Isles, even tougher for Fritz, who bided his time in the AHL and finally looked to get another shot. [Isles]
- Pure joy from Mike and Dan in the latest, post-clinch, Robin Is One Of Us episode of Islanders Anxiety. [LHH]
- Worth a second look, or ICYMI: The Isles, reflecting on their road to a playoff spot, overcoming all doubts and doubters. [Isles]
- Lou Lamoriello agrees, calling it a tremendous accomplishment. [Newsday]
- It’s of course much to do with the defense and the goaltending, and the coaching staff who organized both. [NHL]
- The Sound Tigers’ magic number is down to two after a shootout loss to Hershey in front of 6,000 in Bridgeport. [Sound Tigers]
- That one was a spirited affair, and Brent Thompson felt the lone Hershey goal shouldn’t have counted. [Soundin’ Off] Otto Koivula was one of the scratches. [Soundin’ Off]
- John Tavares expects another rude welcome from Isles fans tonight, as Toronto media does not let die the topic they have instructed Islanders fans to let die. [TSN | Sportsnet | NHL] (Note: As Dan and Mike discussed in Islanders Anxiety, Kyle Okposo received a completely different reception in his return to the Coliseum Saturday. Wonder if there is any information out there that could help outsiders understand why? Nah, probably not.)
- Most here, however, are focused on enjoying the final regular season game and the quest to reach first (however unlikely with Washington rolling) or secure home ice. [Newsday]
- Maven’s history: Fischler reflects on when Isles reached another level vs. the Bruins on their way to their first Cup. [Isles]
- Your Top 10 Falling NHL Prospects according to The Hockey News’ Future Watch Top 100 has Kieffer Bellows at #1 (i.e. he dropped the most, from 25th to 93rd). [THN]
- With the U.S. women’s national team preparing at the Islanders practice facility, the two organizations took the chance to hold a girls hockey clinic for 60 young players, too. “It’s awesome. It just shows the growth, and we’re going to keep growing the game.” [Isles]
Yesterday’s NHL scores include the Penguins dumping the Hurricanes in regulation to pull just two points back of the Isles, plus the Blue Jackets steamrolling the Sabres to continue their roll and solidify their wild card bid.
Damn it: brutal news for Calvin de Haan, struck by the “upper body” bug (probably shoulder again) once more:
a little earlier look at the Calvin de Haan injury pic.twitter.com/9pzYUd8MVp— Kotkaniminti (@HabsCorner) March 31, 2019
- Many many questions about the CWHL announcing plans to fold May 1. [Ice Garden | Sportsnet]
- What a year for the Flames and Travis Hamonic, as they clinched the West’s top seed. [NHL]
- The wild ride for the Coyotes continues with a victory over the, er, Wild. [NBC Sports]
- One key lineup difference from the last meeting: Travis Dermott is now back in the Leafs lineup, having returned Saturday from a 14-game absence. [TSN]
- Once pegged as a savior for the Burke-era Leafs, Luke Schenn is just happy to be getting one more shot in the NHL with the Canucks. [Sportsnet]
- Yet another 50-goal season for Alex Ovechkin — the third-oldest ever to reach the mark. How many more years like this will he have? [THN]
- Matthew Tkachuk keeps improving, and he’s only 21. [Sportsnet]