Lightning’s Alex Killorn suspended for Game 3 after boarding violation

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 9/10/20

The NHL confirmed on Thursday that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn is suspended for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final versus the New York Islanders on Friday.

Roughly six minutes into Wednesday’s Game 2, Killorn delivered what the league referred to as a defenseless hit on New York forward Brock Nelson:

Killorn was issued a major penalty and game misconduct for the hit. It was the first of two controversial moments involving Nelson, who cleared concussion protocol and was permitted to remain in the game amid protests made by fans on Twitter:

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Lightning captain Steven Stamkos to miss entire Eastern Conference Final

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors By Holger Stolzenberg | Last updated 9/6/20

There seems to be plenty of questions surrounding Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who has yet to make his playoff debut after undergoing core muscle surgery in early March and now has been listed as “unfit to play” with a lower-body injury. Now it looks like that if he will play in the playoffs it will have to be in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning and head coach Jon Cooper announced that Stamkos will miss the entire Eastern Conference Final due to his undisclosed injuries, adding that he will update that status if anything changes. There was plenty of hope that Stamkos might be ready to return to the team and supplement the offensive powerhouse Lightning against the stingy defense of the Islanders. However, that won’t happen here, and the Bolts will have to win the series without him if they have any hopes of him returning for the playoffs.

If or when he returns, however, The Athletic’s Joe Smith believes that Stamkos will likely begin on the Lightning’s second line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli as they likely won’t want to break up the impressive play of the first-round combo of Brayden PointOndrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.

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Capitals fire head coach Todd Reirden after first-round playoff exit

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 8/23/20

After just two seasons with the Washington Capitals, it appears Todd Reirden is out as head coach of the club. 

The Capitals announced Sunday that they’ve relieved Reirden of his coaching duties, with senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan saying they have “higher expectations” for the team.  

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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask opts out of NHL’s return to play

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 8/15/20

You could tell Tuukka Rask wasn’t himself from the moment exhibition games began in the NHL’s Toronto bubble.

The Boston Bruins goaltender has decided to opt out of the NHL’s return to play, the club announced ahead of Saturday’s Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

His decision to opt out comes after comments he made following Thursday’s Game 2 defeat. Rask stated that it didn’t really feel like the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that he was just trying to have fun and wasn’t focusing on the results. 

Through two games against the Hurricanes, Rask gave up many rebounds and couldn’t seem to control the puck. In four games in the NHL’s bubble, the 33-year-old went 1-3-0 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, which isn’t up to par for the Vezina-nominated netminder. 

Now Boston will turn to Jaroslav Halak, who is just as capable of stealing games for the Bruins as Rask. Halak, who went 18-6-6 during the regular season, also has some pretty solid playoff numbers. The 35-year-old has a 2.45 GAA and .922 SV% through the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his career. 

It’s likely that AHL goaltender Dan Vladar backs up Halak for the remainder of the playoffs, and the B’s appear to have been ready for this situation. 

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Boston Bruins-Carolina Hurricanes Game 1 postponed

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Zach Leach | Last updated 8/11/20

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets were locked in a duel for the ages on Tuesday night, playing into a fifth overtime in a game that began at 3 p.m. ET – the fourth-longest game of all time. As a result of this historic game and the unprecedented circumstances of the bubble postseason, Game 1 of the Boston Bruins-Carolina Hurricanes series that was supposed to begin at 8 p.m. ET has now been postponed. The league has announced that the two teams will square off at 11:00am ET on Wednesday, which should allow for the Washington Capitals-New York Islanders game to proceed as scheduled at 3 p.m. ET.

With Game 2 of Bruins-Hurricanes still scheduled for Thursday night, the teams will open their first-round series with back-to-back games. As with every series this year, there is already a back-to-back scheduled for Games 5 and 6 on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. As a result, Boston and Carolina could end up playing six games in nine days in this series. Backup goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and James Reimer could very well see a start or two in this series.

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End of an era? Canadiens eliminate Penguins from playoffs

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 8/7/20

If Friday’s result inside the Toronto NHL bubble site was the end of the era, it finished with more of a whimper than a bang.

The Montreal Canadiens, the lowest seed (No. 12) in the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Qualifying Round, defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 5) 2-0 in Game 4 to close the series out and send Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pens back to Pennsylvania. 

Montreal won the series 3-1.

Friday’s affair was largely missable for a neutral viewer, as Pittsburgh was unable to break the Canadiens down and seemed to grow frustrated and disinterested throughout 55 minutes of scoreless hockey. With 4:11 remaining in the contest, Paul Byron slid a pass out of the reach of Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry to teammate Artturi Lehkonen, who delivered the game and series winner:

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NHL reports zero positive coronavirus tests at bubble sites

Score another win for leagues placing teams and other personnel inside bubble sites for return-to-play scenarios in North America.

As noted by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the NHL has reported zero positive coronavirus tests within the temporary hubs in Toronto and Edmonton for the 24-team model to crown a Stanley Cup champion amid the pandemic. In total, the league has conducted 7,013 tests since teams entered the bubbles on July 26.

Currently, no family members are allowed to enter either bubble. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association may agree to permit some family members for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, both of which will occur in Edmonton.

The National Women’s Soccer League and Major League Soccer both successfully held tournaments inside isolated sites this summer, while the NBA has housed personnel inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex bubble for the resumption of its season halted on March 11 due to the pandemic.

Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is having teams travel around the country for in-market games. The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have experienced coronavirus outbreaks since Opening Day on July 23. 

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 8/3/20

Oskar Lindblom makes Flyers roster after completing cancer treatment

The Philadelphia Flyers announced their 31-man roster for the upcoming qualifying round with one name that stands out significantly. The Flyers kept forward Oskar Lindblom on the roster despite talk that they team might wait until the 2020-21 season before returning the young forward to the ice. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in December and completed treatment on July 2.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 23-year-old will be among the starters the Flyers when the team returns to play, but to just be on the roster is quite an accomplishment for the young forward, who recently signed a three-year extension. He could be a valuable substitute if injuries arise after tallying 11 goals in 30 games before being diagnosed with cancer.

The Flyers had a few other noteworthy players when it came to their roster. They cut Carsen TwarynskiGerman RubtsovTyler Wotherspoon and Nate Prosser from their training-camp roster. However, the Flyers did keep undrafted prospect Egor Zamula on their roster, who played in just 28 junior games in the WHL last season, but dominated on the international stage.

Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi also reported that goaltender Carter Hart participated in his first full-team practice Saturday since he left Tuesday’s scrimmage midway through the game with back spasms. The goalie claims that he expects to be 100 percent in time for their first game against Boston on Aug. 2.

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Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors By Holger Stolzenberg | Last updated 7/26/20

Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic opts out of NHL’s return

With the Collective Bargaining Agreement formally ratified, the narrow window for players to officially opt out of returning to play is now open. 

Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic has become the first player to do so as he released a statement through his agency, Titan Sports 365 (Twitter link), indicating he will not be participating due to family reasons.

Hamonic’s daughter has had a previous battle with a life-threatening respiratory virus and Hamonic has a new baby boy as well, so he is erring on the side of caution.

Following the announcement, Flames GM Brad Treliving issued the following statement: 

“Earlier this evening Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL Return to Play Program. Travis explained that due to family considerations, he has made the difficult decision not to participate in the Stanley Cup Qualifier and Playoffs. While we will miss Travis in our lineup, we understand and respect his decision. Our focus remains on preparation for training camp and our upcoming series in the NHL Qualifying Round.”

Hamonic’s absence will be a notable one as, when healthy, he is one of Calgary’s most effective blueliners. He logged more than 21 minutes per game this season, including a team-high 3:06 per night on the penalty kill on a unit that was inside the NHL’s top 10. 

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Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Brian La Rose | Last updated 7/11/20

NHL and NHLPA agree on return to play protocols

While the work to finalize a CBA extension remains ongoing, it appears at least part of the final package to be voted on by the players has been completed. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports (Twitter thread) that the NHL and NHLPA have completed a 40-page document that will constitute the Return to Play protocols for the final two stages – training camp and the play-in round/postseason. Some of the details are as follows, courtesy of McKenzie unless otherwise noted:

  • Rosters will be limited to 30 skaters for Phase 3 with unlimited goalies. Only those that are eligible to play this season can be on the roster.
  • Players can opt out without any penalty but must notify his club in writing no later than 4 PM CT on Tuesday.
  • All club personnel will be tested 48 hours before they are permitted to return to club facilities. Once done, they will be tested every other day for the duration of their team’s games.
  • Players that are determined to be at a substantial risk of developing a serious illness if exposed to the coronavirus will be ruled unfit to play. However, the player can request a second opinion if they so desire.
  • Clubs will not be permitted to make announcements regarding the positive test of a player or team member without prior approval from the league in conjunction with the NHLPA.
  • Players who leave Stage 4 (the play-in round, round robin for the top four teams in each conference, and the playoffs) without approval will be subject to consequences up to and including removal which would constitute a disqualification for the player, notes Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (Twitter link).  Clubs can also be penalized if this happens in the form of fines and/or forfeiture of draft picks.
  • Players who leave with approval will be forced to quarantine and will need to clear four tests within a four-day period to return, reports TSN’s Frank Seravalli (Twitter link).

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Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Brian La Rose | Last updated 7/5/20