Blackhawks sweep the Wild, updates on the Capitals-Rangers series and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TWINCITIES.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks withstood a desperate rally by the Minnesota Wild to earn a 4-3 Game Four victory, sweeping the Wild in four straight games from their best-of-seven series. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assists, while Corey Crawford made 34 saves. The Wild cut into the ‘Hawks 4-1 lead on late third-period goals by Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter but couldn’t get the tying goal despite a furious last-minute effort. It was a costly win for the Blackhawks, losing defenseman Michal Rozsival to a gruesome ankle injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight season the Wild have come up short to the Blackhawks in a playoff series. That could force Wild management to look at some changes, perhaps behind the bench or to bolster their offensive punch. If there’s any consolation for the Wild, it’s that salary-cap constraints will likely weaken the Blackhawks’ depth next season, which could improve Minnesota’s chances if the two clubs meet in the 2016 playoffs. As for Rozsival’s injury, I cringed when I saw it. He could be finished for the rest of the playoffs.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Though the Capitals are up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series to the New York Rangers, coach Barry Trotz said his club isn’t basking in the glow. They realize they face a tough challenge to defeat a desperate Rangers team in New York in order to clinch the series tonight.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: If the Rangers hope to avoid elimination in tonight’s game against the Capitals, they must find a way to improve their anemic offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals are justified in their wariness of the Rangers, who battled back from a 3-1 series deficit last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Part of the reason the Rangers are struggling offensively is Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby, as well as Washington’s physical defensive play. Still, the Rangers were third overall in goals this season, so their current scoring woes indicate there’s more at work here than just their opponent’s solid goaltending and stingy defense.
NBC SPORTS: Should the NHL be concerned about the decline in offense in recent years?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think so, but it appears the NHL powers-that-be aren’t overly concerned. Perhaps a drop in attendance and TV ratings might change their minds? Because if the NHL is mired in another “dead puck era” (and there’s sufficient statistical evidence to suggest that it is), it will eventually takes its toll on league revenue.
CSNBAYAREA.COM: The San Jose Sharks are set to announce an extension to their lease at SAP Center along with improvements to the arena.
CBS SPORTS: Seattle mayor Ed Murray and developer Chris Hansen are open to an “NHL-first” arena plan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In light of the developments in Las Vegas’ efforts to land an NHL expansion team, the current news from Seattle could be a shot in the arm for efforts to bring a franchise to that city. I daresay it’s what NHL headquarters was hoping to hear. Given the current makeup of the Western Conference, adding two western franchises to bring the league up to 32 teams makes sense.