Ducks defeat Blackhawks in Western Conference Final opener, updates on the Rangers and Lightning, Canada wins gold at IIHF Worlds, and much more.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks drew first blood in the 2015 Western Conference Final, rolling to a 4-1 Game One victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen made 31 saves while teammates Hampus Lindholm, Kyle Palmieri, Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg were Anaheim’s goalscorers. Brad Richards tallied the only goal for the Blackhawks, whose “paper-thin” defensive depth was highlighted by the struggles of David Rundblad in his first-ever NHL playoff game.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh is leading by example, just as predecessor and current opponent Ryan Callahan once did for the Blueshirts.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning coach Jon Cooper has reconsidered his club’s performance against the Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final. After watching the game tape, Cooper said it made him want to vomit.
SPORTSNET: A superstar-laden Team Canada thumped Russia 6-1 to win the gold medal at the IIHF World Championships. It’s the first time Canada has won this tournament since 2007. Team captain Sidney Crosby finished the tournament with 11 points, becoming the eighth Canadian to join the “Triple Gold Club”, adding a world championship to his Olympic gold medals and Stanley Cup title. Jason Spezza was named the tournament’s outstanding forward with 14 points, while Tyler Seguin led all scorers with nine goals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was truly a dominating performance for Canada in this tournament, scoring 66 goals while giving up only 14.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr announced his retirement from international competition following the World Championships. He stated his intent to play for the Panthers for at least one more season. He was named tournament MVP and become the oldest player to score a goal in the Worlds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The selection of Jagr as tournament MVP was obviously a sentimental choice, but the 43-year-old did acquit himself well and made several dazzling plays. While he didn’t win a medal, he reminded everyone that he still has some magic left.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed another under-the-radar performance this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Backstrom’s stellar NHL career, he has never been selected to appear in the All-Star game. This season alone, he became the Capitals’ all-time assists leader, tallied his 500th point in as many games and was the only Capitals player to tally a hat trick this season. He finished sixth in NHL scoring this season and led the league in assists with 60. I realize he’s overshadowed by linemate Alexander Ovechkin’s star power, but that doesn’t justify why he’s continually passed over for all-star consideration.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports the Blue Jackets have 30 days to get prospect defenseman Mike Reilly under contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Portzline indicates, this has nothing to do with money as Reilly falls under the constraints of the league’s entry-level contract rules. Seems to me he just doesn’t want to play for the Jackets.
TORONTO SUN (via Winnipeg Sun): Nearly three years after Brett MacLean’s NHL career was ended by cardiac arrest, he’s now a campaigner for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He’s also studying sports business at the University of Waterloo and coaches their varsity hockey team.