Playoff preview news, Sabres fire head coach Ted Nolan, an update on Patrick Kane and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Playoff Previews and News.

Patrick Kane could return for Blackhawks first-round series against the Predators.

Patrick Kane could return for the Blackhawks first-round series against the Predators.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/THE TENNESSEAN: Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane (broken clavicle) has been cleared for contact and could rejoin his teammates during their first-round series against the Nashville Predators. Both clubs enter the playoffs having struggled during their final regular-season games.

NEW YORK POST/TRIBLIVE.COM: The New York Rangers aren’t taking the struggling, injury-ravaged Penguins lightly. With salary cap constraints now lifted, the Penguins have called up defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington to bolster their injury-depleted blueline.  The Penguins played several of their final regular-season games with only five defensemen.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks are refreshed and ready for their playoff opener against the Winnipeg Jets.

NEWSDAY/CSNWASHINGTON.COM: The New York Islanders priority against the Washington Capitals is to shut down Alexander Ovechkin. The Capitals hope their playoff experience will make a difference against the Islanders.

STLTODAY.COM/STARTRIBUNE.COM: The St. Louis Blues have the firepower to stage a big playoff run. The Minnesota Wild face a daunting task in attempting to hurdle the Blues grating, grinding style.

THE TAMPA TRIBUNE/DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Tampa Bay Lightning are primed to seize their opportunity as a Stanley Cup contender, while the Detroit Red Wings must slow the Lightning’s speedy offense if they hope to win this series.

Note: Previews and news involving Canadian NHL teams can be found in “Canadian Corner.”

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Notable Headlines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have fired head coach Ted Nolan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t unexpected, but it’s also not fair.  Nolan did the best he could with a roster heavily laden with young, inexperienced players. The problem was GM Tim Murray inherited Nolan. Murray wants to bring in his own guy, which could be Binghamton Senators bench boss Luke Richardson. 

CSNPHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube could be the next NHL coach to lose his job.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed part of a recent New York Post story claiming his players recently locked head coach Darryl Sutter out of the dressing room, but disputed the elements of the story. Lombardi claims the incident happened in Feb. 7, not within the last two weeks as the story claimed. He also said he had no problem with the incident, noting tensions were running high during that particular point in the season. He denied there were issues between Sutter and the players.

FOX SPORTS ARIZONA: The futures of coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan with the Arizona Coyotes could depend upon the club’s rebuilding plans this summer. Neither man wants to be part of a lengthy rebuild or another lost season like the one just passed.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets players believe it’s time the club had a team captain. The Jackets have been without one since trading away Rick Nash in the summer of 2012.

CSNBAYAREA.COM: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson intends to address the media on Wednesday regarding the club’s future.