Playoff updates on the eve of the opening round plus some notable news on several non-playoff clubs in today’s collection of NHL headlines.
NHL Playoff Updates.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Long-time Red Wings Pavel Datysuk and Henrik Zetterberg could be reunited on the top line for tonight’s opening-round game against the Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPAYBAY.COM: Lightning center Tyler Johnson (upper-body injury, day-to-day) is a game-day decision if he’ll skate in tonight’s game against the Red Wings.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Sidelined Kings Alec Martinez (undisclosed injury) and Marian Gaborik (knee injury) skated with their teammates in practice yesterday. It remains uncertain, however, when they’ll return to action.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Martin Jones gets the call in goal for the San Jose Sharks in Game One of their series against the Kings.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Injured Anaheim Ducks Rickard Rackell, David Perron and Kevin Bieksa hope to return to the lineup at some point in their upcoming series with the Nashville Predators. Brandon Pirri, Clayton Stoner and Korbinian Holzer remain probable.
SUNSENTINEL.COM: Don’t assume the Florida Panthers success this season was a fluke. This is a well-balanced team that cannot be taken lightly this postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For all the focus upon veterans Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo this season and the “Spacey in Space” hype, it’s their young talent (such as Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith) making the difference this season. After years of waiting, the future has finally arrived for the Panthers.
CBS SPORTS: As expected, New York Islanders starting goalie Jaroslav Halak (groin injury) will miss the club’s upcoming opening-round tilt against the Panthers. The good news, however, is defenseman Travis Hamonic (knee injury) could rejoin the lineup for Game One.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) was symptom-free for the second straight day of practice. He hopes to receive clearance for Game One tonight of their opening-round series versus the New York Rangers.
STLTODAY.COM: The return from injury of captain David Backes means the St. Louis Blues will be 100 percent healthy when the curtain rises on their first-round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Other Notable NHL Headlines.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday announced the firing of head coach Dave Cameron and his staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given how horrible the Senators’ defensive game and special teams were this season, it’s no surprise the entire coaching staff was sacked. Some Ottawa pundits are openly stumping for the Sens to hire Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien if he becomes available in the offseason. Whoever the Senators hire, they must ensure it’s someone who can not only improve the team but bring some stability behind the bench. Since 2005-06, the Senators have gone through seven coaching changes. Now, I realize coaches are “hired to be fired”, but that revolving-door policy isn’t beneficial for the players.
SPORTSNET/ARIZONA SPORTS: There’s speculation the Arizona Coyotes are interested in hiring Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas. The Coyotes announced Monday they fired general manager Don Maloney. Meanwhile, the Coyotes reminded everyone head coach Dave Tippett has two years remaining on his contract and he remains “fully committed” to the club.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: No Canadian NHL teams in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs means Rogers Sportsnet (who owns the national NHL rights in Canada) will feel the sting.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet was already feeling the ratings burn from unhappy Canadian sports fans over their coverage of the NHL. The lack of Canadian clubs means a significant number won’t be tuning in this spring.