Injury updates, potential coaching changes and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Notable NHL Playoff Headlines.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette is expected to be a healthy scratch for Game One of his team’s series against the Nashville Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired by the ‘Hawks prior to the NHL trade deadline, Vermette really struggled to adjust to his new team. He was brought in to bolster their depth for the postseason, but the decline in his play combined with Patrick Kane’s unexpected return to the lineup seems to make him the odd man out to start the postseason. It could also adversely affect his value in this summer’s UFA market.
THE TENNESSEAN: Winning on home ice will help the Predators silence the multitude of Blackhawks fans who invade Bridgestone Arena feel unwelcome.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Coach Mike Babcock could be on his final run with the Red Wings, especially if they’re bounced early from the playoffs. Babcock’s contract is up at the end of the season and there’s considerable speculation he could sign elsewhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still think Babcock’s using this as leverage to garner an expensive contract extension from the Wings, but I can acknowledge the possibility he could move on this summer.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Sidelined Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (lower-body injury) could be ready to return in time for his club’s playoff-opening tilt on Thursday against the Red Wings.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (broken bone, left forearm) is not expected to play in Game One against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
POST-GAZETTE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Christian Ehrhoff (undisclosed injury) participated in his first full-contact practice yesterday and saw time on their second power-play unit. That suggests he’s close to returning to the lineup.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov is looking forward to his first taste of NHL playoff action.
CBS SPORTS: New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (undisclosed injury) is out indefinitely.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant blow to the Isles’ defense as they gear up to face the Capitals. Hamonic is one of their top-three blueliners.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild enter the playoffs still trying to improve their woeful power play, which was 27th this season.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues will reveal their starting goalie today for their upcoming series against the Wild.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen feels better prepared for the playoffs than he did in his rookie campaign last season.
Other Notable NHL Headlines.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Sharks GM Doug Wilson will speak to the press today. It’s possible head coach Todd McLellan could be relieved of his duties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If McLellan is fired he won’t be unemployed for long. Several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, are expected to pursue him.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers GM Ron Hextall will also address the media today. It is expected he’ll reveal the status of head coach Craig Berube, who could lose his job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Berube is fired, add the Flyers to the list of clubs who could pursue Todd McLellan if he becomes available.
NEWOBSERVER.COM: Losing Jordan Staal to an early-season broken leg contributed to the Carolina Hurricanes missing the playoffs this season.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets prospect Mike Reilly is still “greatly considering” re-signing with the club, but that decision remains weeks away. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Jackets by June 9, Reilly becomes an unrestricted free agent.