Check out the latest collection of notable headlines entering the final day of the NHL 2015-16 regular season.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: A stunning 6-1 collapse against the Ottawa Senators ensured the Boston Bruins will miss the playoffs for the second straight year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also fueled speculation over head coach Claude Julien’s future with the Bruins. Don’t feel too badly for him if he gets fired. Julien had a great run with the Bruins (two Stanley Cup Finals, a championship in 2011) and will be quickly hired by another club (perhaps the Senators?) if he becomes available in the offseason. I have a feeling he’ll become the scapegoat for management’s bungling.
KUKLA’S KORNER: Speaking of the Senators, they’re making a major announcement at 11 am ET today. It’s expected long-time general manager Bryan Murray, who’s battling colon cancer, will step aside into an advisory role and Pierre Dorion (the current assistant GM) takes over from Murray.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers, but the Bruins loss ensured they clinched a playoff berth for the 25th consecutive season. Meanwhile, long-time Wings center Pavel Datsyuk explains to the Detroit Free Press why he’s thinking his NHL career could be over after the playoffs, citing family reasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings backed into the playoffs this season, as uncertainty reigned over their postseason hopes for the last several weeks. Still, they managed to get in, if only by the skin of their teeth, and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of last season’s opening-round series. Enjoy this upcoming playoff round, NHL fans, it may be the last one featuring Datsyuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong second-half run put the Flyers into the playoffs. They’ll meet the Washington Capitals in the first round. As for Murray, he’ll be re-evaluated today or Monday. With Marc-Andre Fleury still sidelined by a concussion, the Pens cannot afford losing their promising backup entering the playoffs.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Goaltender Braden Holtby matched the NHL’s single-season wins record (48) while Alex Ovechkin’s hat trick gave him his seventh 50-goal campaign as the Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have one more game remaining, but it appears they’ll rest Holtby for that one. The Blues, meanwhile, will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Spezza’s hat trick rallied the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators, clinching the Central Division title and the top seed in the Western Conference. It’s their first division crown since 2006 and their first No.1 Conference seed since 2003.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a dominant performance by the Stars this season, signalling their emergence as a powerhouse in the Western Conference. Their first-round opponent will be the Minnesota Wild.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. With one game remaining, the Ducks can secure the Pacific Division title with a win against the Washington Capitals.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: The Lightning lost their season finale 4-2 to the Montreal Canadiens. Worse, center Tyler Johnson suffered an upper-body injury, joining Steven Stamkos Anton Stralman, Ryan Callahan, Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov on the sidelines. Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk netted his 30th goal of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With so many key players injured, the Lightning’s chances for a lengthy playoff run doesn’t look good.
TORONTO SUN: The Toronto Maple Leafs finish with this season’s worst record, giving them the best odds of winning the April 30th NHL Draft lottery.
NBC SPORTS: Speaking of the draft lottery, James O’Brien has a nice little write-up of everything you need to know about it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My evil side would love to see the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery again, only because it would delight in watching NHL social media blow up over it.
THE DENVER POST: Had the Colorado Avalanche made the playoffs, they probably would’ve been with center Nathan MacKinnon for the opening round. MacKinnon remains sidelined by an MCL sprain in his left knee.