Wild eliminate the Blues, Capitals and Islanders prepare for Game Seven, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Game Recaps and Playoff Headlines.
TWINCITIES.COM/STLTODAY.COM: The Minnesota Wild defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-1 in Game Six of their best-of-seven series to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The victory marked the first time in franchise history the Wild clinched a playoff series at home and the first time a Minnesota-based NHL team has done so since 1991. Zach Parise scored twice while Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s upset of the Blues really doesn’t come as a surprise to me, given how well they’ve played over the second half of the season. As for the Blues, changes will be coming, possibly behind the bench and definitely to the roster, after yet another early-round exit. They’ve garnered a well-deserved reputation as a strong regular-season team that chokes in the playoffs.
NOTE: Games and series involving Canadian NHL teams are recapped in “Canadian Corner.”
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks will face the Wild in a rematch of their 2014 second-round series.
NEWSDAY/THE WASHINGTON POST: The New York Islanders will look to experience and talent in their seventh and deciding game of their series against the Washington Capitals, who could have injured forward Eric Fehr back if they advance to the next round. Curtis Glencross will return to the Caps lineup after being a healthy scratch. Awaiting the winner of this series is the New York Rangers.
NEW YORK POST: Whether the Rangers face the Islanders or Capitals in the next round, expect a very tough series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I remain surprised by how the Wings have stymied the Lightning’s vaunted offense. If the Wings win this series it will be the biggest upset thus far in the playoffs.
Other Notable Headlines.
TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman once again dismisses talk of franchise relocation while providing no timetable for possible expansion. Bettman also projects next season’s salary cap will reach $71.5 million. He also defends the league’s handling of concussion injuries and supports the Ottawa Senators proposed construction of a new downtown arena. Bettman also said the league has no plans to create a CapGeek website, insisting the league has heard very little on it from fans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent salary-cap projection is down from the previous ones of $73 million, $72 million and $71.7 million. It’ll be even lower if, as expected, the NHLPA votes against employing their five-percent salary escalator for next season. As for Bettman’s claims the league’s heard very little from fans on creating a CapGeek style site, you can contact him at this link. Methinks the commissioner is in denial, and I ain’t takin’ about the river in Egypt.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Injured Pittsburgh Penguins Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta are optimistic about returning to the lineup next season.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith intends to change his offseason training program to avoid a slow start next season.