Rangers and Capitals prepare for Game 7, updates on the Ducks and Blackhawks, latest on Mike Babcock and more in your NHL morning headlines.
NOTE: Playoff games involving Canadian NHL teams are recapped in “Canadian Corner”.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/THE WASHINGTON POST: The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals prepare for the seventh and final game of their second-round series tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are trying to block out their poor history in home-ice elimination games, while the Capitals hope to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks power play, which was all but powerless during the regular season, is currently the best in the 2015 NHL playoffs.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s future is split on the present and the future. Following the playoffs, Bowman is expected to shed salary to clear sufficient cap space to re-sign key players and make room for younger talent within his system. Bowman also remains fully committed to starting goaltender Corey Crawford, which rules out shedding his $6 million per season contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Blackhawks fans believe Bowman should trade Crawford and go with Scott Darling and Antti Raanta as his goalie tandem next season. Makes sense, as long as Darling proves he’s not a one-year wonder and Raanta shows consistent improvement. If not, the ‘Hawks would have a nightmare with that duo between the pipes. That’s why they’re sticking with Crawford. He’s proven himself as a reliable NHL starter, which is more than can be said for Darling and Raanta at this stage of their respective careers.
THE DETROIT NEWS: ESPN hockey analysts Barry Melrose and Pierre McGuire are among explaining why Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock is such a hot commodity among rival NHL clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As my pal Scotty Wazz observed during last night’s edition of The Face Off Hockey Show, this is the first time in many years where a head coach is a hotter free agent than anyone in the player free-agent market.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s future remains uncertain. GM Doug Armstrong isn’t expected to make a decision about his coaching staff until after he returns from the World Hockey Championships.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said the club hopes to learn more about the conditions of Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) and Kris Letang (concussion) within the next two weeks.
OTTAWA SUN: cited a report out of Minnesota claiming Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who’s been battling multiple sclerosis, is expected to retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Harding gave a valiant effort to overcome his illness and maintain his playing career, which earned him the Masterton Trophy in 2013.
ESPN.COM: The family of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador is suing the league after recent findings indicate he suffered from CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain condition linked to multiple concussions. Montador passed away in February 2015 at the age of 35.