2010 NHL playoffs: Previews for tonight's games

Both of the Eastern Conference semifinals series could end tonight, possibly at almost the same exact time. Let’s take a look at Habs-Pens Game 6 and Flyers-Bruins Game 5.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens – 7:00 PM ET (Versus, CBC, FS Pittsburgh)

Penguins lead series 3-2

There are worries that young Habs fans will riot whether they win or lose this game. Let’s hope that the only reason writers use the word “riotous” is if they decide to use a hyperbolic phrase to describe an especially exciting period of play. Jaroslav Halak has been great for almost every game of the playoffs, but he was almost unbeatable in elimination games against the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby has been awfully quiet while Hal Gill is hobbled. It should be an interesting game, especially since the Penguins have frequently won series on the road.

Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruns – 7:00 PM ET (TSN, CSN Philadelphia, NESN)

Bruins lead series 3-1

If you have any doubts about the Bruins being relevant in Boston again, check this out from Kukla’s Korner.

The Bruins averaged a 8.3 local rating on VERSUS, the Red Sox a 6.3 local rating on NESN and the Celtics a 4.1 local rating on ESPN.

The Flyers and Bruins are both pretty banged up so each team should have motivation to take this one. Boston badly needs to heal up from their variety of injuries while the Flyers are fighting for their playoff lives. This series has been surprisingly entertaining, considering the Bruins often play such a conservative style. Can they finish off the pesky Flyers?

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild

Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.