Lightning down Penguins but lose Ben Bishop in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final. Details & more in today’s collection of NHL morning headlines.
NHL Playoff Headlines
TAMPA BAY TIMES/TRIBLIVE.COM: An apparent left-knee injury suffered by Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop overshadowed the Lightning’s 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final. Bishop was injured in the first period when he fell awkwardly in his crease while twisting to follow the action around his net. He was stretchered off the ice and didn’t return, though x-rays were negative and nothing was structurally wrong. His status for Game 2 remains uncertain. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin. Patric Hornqvist tallied the lone Penguins goal.
Bishop wasn’t the only player hurt in that game. Penguins defensemen Kris Letang (first period) and Brian Dumoulin (third period) were run into the boards from behind by Lightning forwards Ryan Callahan and Palat. Both could face supplemental discipline. Lightning center Tyler Johnson was hurt following a seemingly inadvertent knee-on-knee hit by Penguins forward Chris Kunitz in the first period. Letang and Johnson would return to the game, Dumoulin did not.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop’s injury, which appears to be his left knee, was a weird one. While backup Andrei Vasilevskij did a good job filling in for Bishop, the Lightning’s Stanley Cup hopes rest with a healthy Bishop. If their starter is out for any significant period, or if he’s hampered in any way as he was in last year’s playoffs, those championship hopes could be in jeopardy.
As for Callahan and Palat, hitting a player from behind and diving him head-first into the boards was worth of suspension during the regular season. In the playoffs, however, it’s anyone’s guess how the department of player safety will rule on these recent incidents. Could be multi-game suspensions, could be fines, could be nothing. At this point, it seems like they’re spinning a wheel of chance.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning did get some good news before the start of Game 1, as captain Steven Stamkos (who’s recovering from blood-clot surgery) isn’t ruling out returning to action in the Conference Final.
THE MERCURY NEWS/STLTODAY.COM: As the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues prepare for Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference Final, neither club has a stellar home record when they faced each other during the regular season. All three games were won by the road team, with the Sharks holding a 2-1 advantage. Meanwhile, the emergence of the line of Robby Fabbri, Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer contributed to the Blues’ playoff success thus far.
Notable NHL Headlines
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn hopes to sign a contract extension with the club this summer. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Center Tyler Seguin suffered a calf injury in Game 2 of the Stars’ opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild. Head coach Lindy Ruff defended goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, who struggled against the Wild and the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff can defend Lehtonen and Niemi, but that doesn’t hide the fact the Stars had the worst goaltending of the eight teams that advanced to the second round of the 2016 playoffs. The Stars high-octane offense offset their lousy netminding in the regular season, but it was a painfully obvious flaw in the playoffs. As for Benn, the sooner the Stars get him under contract after July 1, the sooner they’ll avoid his situation becoming comparable to that of Steven Stamkos throughout this season by providing constant fodder for the rumor mill.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators will need more consistency if they hope to exceed this year’s playoff success.
PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Evgeny Medvedev “was charged last week with driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.” A preliminary hearing is set for June 15th. Medvedev signed a one-year contract last year with the Flyers and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
iDNES.CZ: Long-time New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias said his future with the club will depend upon discussions with GM Ray Shero later this summer. Currently recovering from knee surgery, Elias could be willing to report to the Devils training camp this fall on a tryout basis (Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link).
MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers fired assistant coach John Madden and director of hockey operations Mike Dixon.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed blue-chip Russian prospect Pavel Buchnevich to a three-year entry-level contract.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former NHL player Kevin Stevens was charged in federal court Thursday with conspiring to sell oxycodone. His detention hearing is slated for May 17.