Rangers eliminated Capitals, updates on the Lightning, Ducks and Blackhawks, Conference Finals schedule released and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/THE WASHINGTON POST: Derek Stepan scored in overtime as the New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 to win Game Seven and clinch their best of seven second-round series. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves and Kevin Hayes also scored for the Rangers, who lost defenseman Dan Boyle in the third period following a questionable hit from Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik. Alexander Ovechkin tallied for the Capitals, while Braden Holtby made 37 saves in a losing cause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers also become the first team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the Conference Finals in consecutive years. No word yet on Boyle’s status, but there’s concern he may have suffered a concussion as he was definitely wobbly after that hit.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: As the Lightning prepared to face the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, the influence of GM Steve Yzerman can be found throughout their roster. Only two players – captain Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman – remain from the Lightning club which reached the 2011 Conference Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an incredible roster turnaround in only four years. Even more impressive is how quickly they’ve improved in a short period of time. It can be argued Yzerman inherited that 2011 roster, but the current one is definitely of his own making.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Cam Fowler is maturing into a defensive leader for the Anaheim Ducks.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are working hard to ensure a nine-day layoff between series won’t affect their play. Their Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks opens on Sunday.
NHL.COM: The 2015 NHL Conference Finals schedule has been released.
Other Notable Headlines.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen examines which NHL coaching vacancies are the most attractive. Edmonton, Buffalo and Philadelphia top his list.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators free agent forward Matt Cullen (38) still hopes to continue his playing career, preferably close to his Minnesota home.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The agent for Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverly said his client could consider an NHL comeback. Peverly hasn’t played since suffering a cardiac event in March 2014. He will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
NBC SPORTS: Members of KHL team HC Sochi are preparing to take legal action after going unpaid since January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Food for thought for NHL free agents planning to continue their playing careers in the KHL. Several teams in that league are on shaky financial ground following the collapse of oil prices and its effect on Russia’s economy.