Why Atlanta makes the playoffs, while Boston and NY won't…

Thrash.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

Let’s face it. The Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers are
flailing. While they tread water and fail to actually grasp hold and
take charge of the situation they’ve each been given the Atlanta
Thrashers have snuck up behind them. The Thrashers are now in prime
position to overtake both the Rangers and Bruins for the 8th spot in the
East, while the two teams seem intent on throwing lame, half-hearted
efforts at the opposition at the most crucial part of the season.

The
Bruins and Rangers are both facing a loss of leadership but for two
completely different reasons.

The Bruins have had all the life
sucked out of them ever since the Marc Savard incident, and the fact
that they couldn’t even muster a single ounce of motivation, at home,
against the Pittsburgh Penguins speaks volumes about how out of it their
locker room is. This isn’t a team ready to make the playoffs; this
isn’t even a team that deserves to make the playoffs.

I understand
it’s not fair that the Bruins have to deal with such an ugly injury to
one of their top players, but use that as motivation; not as a tool that
forces the team to just spiral out of control and flush the season down
the toilet. Of course, the Bruins had the worst offense in the NHL and
no matter how well Tuukka Rask might play, he can’t score goals.

The
New York Rangers are dealing with a similar lack of leadership, but
what gets me is that it seems that John Tortorella is intent on actually
squashing any form of leadership that comes from his locker room.
Although I would guess that he’d rather the leaders on his team start
scoring goals and put the effort on the ice, not just spouting off to
the media.

The Rangers are a team with a lot of money tied up in
mediocre players, and just don’t have the skill necessary to make sudden
push into the playoffs. The Rangers have had numerous opportunities the
past week to make up ground on the Bruins as they’ve faltered and have
mustered just the same lame duck efforts as the team in front of them.

All
the while the Atlanta Thrashers have started to build momentum and
creep up on the two floundering teams. It seemed as though Atlanta was
out of the playoff picture with a devastating losing streak coming out
of the break, yet the struggles by the Bruins and Rangers have given
them a shot. So while those two teams struggle, the Thrashers are
building momentum.

If a Thashers team without Ilya Kovalchuk can
overtake the Rangers and Bruins, and it certainly looks like a
possibility at this point, then both teams from the Northeast should
hang their heads and shame and expect change to be on the way. This is
the time of year when the best teams show what they’re made of; Boston
and New York appear to be made of nothing but fluff.

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    Red Wings acquire unsigned prospect Sadowy from Sharks

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  Dylan Sadowy of the San Jose Sharks poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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    The Detroit Red Wings have acquired 20-year-old forward Dylan Sadowy from the San Jose Sharks, in return for a third-round draft pick in 2017.

    Sadowy, the 81st overall pick in 2014, scored 45 goals in the OHL this past season. He had 42 the year before.

    But Sadowy never did sign with the Sharks. The deadline for him to do so was June 1; otherwise, he could’ve re-entered the draft.

    He won’t be doing that, though. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Sadowy has already agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the Wings.

    It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

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    PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby is in no mood to get caught up in his own personal narrative, the one eager to attach whatever happens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday against Tampa Bay to the superstar’s legacy.

    Forget that Crosby has the game-winning goal in each of Pittsburgh’s victories in its entertaining back-and-forth with the resilient Lightning. Forget that he hasn’t been on the winning side of a post-series handshake line this deep into the playoffs since his glorious night in Detroit seven years ago, which ended with him hoisting the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup.

    Yes, he’s playing well. Yes, his dazzling, imminently GIF-able sprint through the Tampa Bay zone late in the second period of Game 6 added another signature moment to a career full of them. Yet lifting Pittsburgh back to the Cup final for the first time since 2009 does not rely solely on him so much as the collective effort of all 20 guys in his team’s retro black and Vegas gold uniforms.

    Depth has carried the Penguins this far. Crosby insists Game 7 will be about the team, not him.

    “You give yourself the best chance of winning by keeping it simple and not putting too much emphasis on kind of the story line around it,” Crosby said.

    Even if it’s easy to get lost in those story lines. The Lightning are on the verge of a second straight berth in the final despite playing the entire postseason without captain Steven Stamkos and losing Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop in the first period of the conference finals when he twisted his left leg awkwardly while scrambling to get into position.

    Yet Tampa Bay has stuck around, ceding the ice to the Penguins for significant stretches but using their speed to counterattack brilliantly while relying on 21-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The Lightning are hardly intimidated by having to go on the road in a series decider. They did it a year ago in the Eastern final against New York, beating the Rangers 2-0 in Madison Square Garden.

    “You’ve got to go back to a tough environment, just like the Garden was last year,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “And you’ve got to have your A-game.”

    The Lightning hoped to avoid revisiting this spot. They could have closed out Pittsburgh at home but fell behind by three goals and didn’t recover, fitting for a series that appears to be a coin flip as a whole but not so much night to night. The team that’s scored first is 5-1 and there’s only been a single lead change in 18-plus periods spread out over nearly two weeks: Tyler Johnson‘s deflection in overtime that gave Tampa Bay Game 5.

    “You always want to play with the lead, and always the first goal is big,” said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-0 in Game 7s. “But, again, we were down 2-0 in Game 5 and came back from that. So it’s not cut in stone, the outcome of the game, no matter if you’re down a goal or two.”

    Maybe, but it’d be cutting it pretty close. Tampa Bay’s rally in Game 5 was Pittsburgh’s first loss when leading after two periods all year. The Penguins responded by going back to rookie goaltender Matt Murray – who turned 22 on Wednesday – and putting together perhaps their finest hockey of the postseason. Their stars played like stars while Murray performed like a guy a decade older with his name already etched on the Cup a few times.

    The Penguins will need to rely on Murray’s precocious maturity if it wants to buck a curious trend that started well before Murray was born. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a Game 7 on home ice since Mario Lemieux and company beat New Jersey in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs to escape from a 3-2 series deficit and propel the Penguins to their first championship. The Penguins have dropped five straight winner-take-all matchups since then, including a loss to Tampa Bay in the first round in 2011, a series Pittsburgh played without either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, who sat out with injuries.

    They’re healthy now and showing extended flashes of the form that seemed to have the Penguins on the brink of a dynasty when they toppled Detroit. And the Lightning, who are 5-1 in Game 7s, are hardly comfortable but hardly intimidated as they play on the road.

    “I think it’s a roller coaster,” Cooper said. “But Game 7 is Game 7. There’s no two better words than that.”

    Coyotes ‘thrilled’ to bring assistant coach Newell Brown back

    GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Dave Tippett and assitant coach Newell Brown of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers at Gila River Arena on November 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Coyotes have signed assistant coach Newell Brown to a multi-year contract extension.

    “Newell is an excellent coach and has done a great job overseeing our power play,” said GM John Chayka in a release. “He has been a valuable addition to Dave Tippett’s coaching staff and we are all thrilled to have him back.”

    Brown joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013, after three mostly successful years with the Vancouver Canucks on Alain Vigneault’s staff.

    The Coyotes also announced today that Steve Sullivan has been promoted to Director of Player Development and has signed a multi-year contract extension.

    Report: No buyout for Girardi, but Rangers willing to trade almost anyone

    FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2012, file photo, New York Rangers' Dan Girardi looks on during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia. The Rangers say they have agreed to terms with Girardi on a multiyear contract extension, taking the key defenseman off the trading block and keeping him away from unrestricted free agency. The deal was announced Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
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    From Larry Brooks at the New York Post:

    The Post has learned the Blueshirts do not intend to buy out the remainder of Dan Girardi’s contract, which has four years remaining at an annual $5.5 million cap charge.

    In addition, sources report management has not requested the alternate captain to waive his no-move clause (which will be replaced by a modified no-trade following 2016-17). Further, no such request is expected.

    So Girardi will be back with the New York Rangers next season. That’s what Brooks is reporting.

    But that doesn’t mean there won’t be significant changes to the roster. According to Brooks, the Rangers are “prepared to listen to offers for everyone,” save for Henrik Lundqvist, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich.

    That includes Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes, each player’s availability, of course, will be dependent upon the exchange rate in return. But nothing is off the table. And the Wild are believed to have serious interest in native Minnesotan Stepan.

    We told you it could be an interesting offseason in the Big Apple.

    Related: AV concedes the Rangers had a ‘puck-moving’ problem