Updates on the playoff race, internal league e-mail discussions about concussions & more in today’s roundup of notable NHL headlines 

The Playoff Chase.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith about to swing his stick into the face of Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (lying on the ice) about to swing his stick into the face of Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild downed the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1, completing a season sweep of the defending Stanley Cup champions whilst strengthening their hold on the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could face a suspension after swinging his stick into the face of Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

STLTODAY.COM:  The St. Louis Blues three-game shutout streak is over but they still rolled to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, putting perhaps the final stake into the heart of the latter’s playoff hopes.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS:  The Stars maintained their hold on first overall in the Western Conference with a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

THE DETROIT NEWS:  A 4-3 loss to the lowly Montreal Canadiens could damage the Detroit Red Wings playoff hopes. Once again, Wings goalie Petr Mrazek made an early exit, giving up two goals on seven shots in the first period.

THE BOSTON GLOBE:  The Bruins playoff hopes are on shaky ground following a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Logan Couture’s hat trick carried the San Jose Sharks to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, handing the latter their ninth consecutive defeat.

TRIBLIVE.COM:  Shootout goals by Kris Letang and Phil Kessel lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

NEWSDAY:  Kyle Okposo’s shootout goal gave the New York Islanders a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

SUNSENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers came up with a flat effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs, dropping a 5-2 decision courtesy of a hat trick by Nazem Kadri.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings’ hopes of making the playoffs for a 25th straight season are in jeopardy. Though the Wings remain tied with the Philadelphia Flyers with 87 points, the latter holds the final wild-card spot with two games in hand. The Flyers now have a chance to pull away from the Wings. However, Detroit is only one point behind the struggling Bruins, who hold third place (and a guaranteed playoff berth) in the Atlantic Division. Both clubs have five games remaining, with the Bruins holding a potential tie break in wins (40 to 38).  Provided the Wings can string together some wins and the Bruins lose most of their remaining games, they still have a shot.

 

The Islanders, meanwhile, opened a four-point lead over the Flyers for the first wild-card berth and the Penguins moved to within a point of the New York Rangers for second in the Metropolitan Division. In the Western Conference, the Wild widened their lead over the Avalanche for the final playoff spot to five points. Both clubs have five games remaining. Barring a collapse by the Wild, they appear poised to clinch that spot. 

Notable NHL Headlines.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Unsealed NHL e-mails shed light on internal discussions among high-ranking league officials regarding the effects of concussions upon player health and safety.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports the NHL’s concussion study ended in 2007 without making any conclusions following concerns from league leadership and the NHLPA “putting up roadblocks” on the analysis of the data.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Globe and Mail piece posted all of the unsealed e-mails (297), all of which are searchable. Yahoo Sports’ Josh Cooper has compiled some of the more interesting ones. Despite the public stance of the league’s top officials claiming there’s no connection between fighting and head trauma like CTE, the correspondence indicates that they’re concerned enough about the issue to maintain a private ongoing discussion on the subject. These e-mails could affect the outcome of a concussion lawsuit filed against league by over 100 former players.

ARIZONA SPORTS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Arizona Coyotes CEO Anthony LeBlanc met with potential stakeholders about a new arena in the greater Phoenix area. It’s expected some sort of arena announcement could be made within the next six weeks.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: A source claims Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is dealing with a head injury that’s kept him sidelined since March 4. Though still listed as day-to-day, there’s no timetable for Crawford’s return.  Meanwhile, revenge porn charges against Blackhawks prospect Garrett Ross were dropped and he’s been re-instated by the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Crawford’s condition persists into the playoffs, it could seriously hamper the Blackhawks efforts to defend their Stanley Cup title. 

PHILLY.COM:  The Flyers are bringing back goaltender Ray Emery on a tryout basis.