Are we headed to a Conference finals letdown?

Sharks1.jpgThere’s no doubt that this has been one of the most amazing hockey
playoff seasons we’ve had in a very long time. Forget the multiple Game 7
dramas, or the absolute upsets of the Penguins and the Capitals. You
could even overlook the history that was made last night in Pittsburgh,
and you would still come away thinking this has been one heck of a
postseason.

The television ratings are up.

Dan Boyle’s own
goal.

Roberto Luongo’s delusion.

Joe Thornton’s redemption.

The
Phoenix Coyotes took the Red Wings to the brink out in the desert.

Sami
Salo’s…..well, Salo’s issue.

Ian Laperriere taking a puck to
the face for the good of his team.

The multiple players that have
returned early from injury, making a big impact (both good and bad).

All
of this in just the first two rounds of the playoffs, and we still have
two left to go. There’s really only one way to go from here, and that’s
to some disappointing series in the conference finals. It almost feels
inevitable. We’ve exhausted nearly every storyline imaginable thus far
in the playoffs, from improbable comebacks to Cinderella teams, to the
teams out West that we’ve all seemingly forgotten about.

Now we
have four teams remaining, who have up to this point burned an
incredible amount of energy and fought through so many injuries that a
letdown is coming. Some of these teams will likely have nothing left in
the tank and will get steamrolled by their opponent, lost in the dust on
the way to the Stanley Cup.

Whether it’s Philadelphia, who
seemingly reached into the depths of their hockey souls for one last
gasp against the Bruins, overcoming a 0-3 deficit both in the series and
in the game, or it’s the San Jose, who finally made it to this point
only to find themselves facing an angry, rabid and hungry Blackhawks
team.

Hopefully I’m wrong, and the chances are that I’m off base.
Yet after so much greatness this season, there will come a point where
it all crashes down and we’re left with a 4-1 series win the Conference
finals before an easy sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.

Maybe it
doesn’t matter. Those West Coast teams we’ve all forgotten about?
They’ll destroy whatever team they face in the finals anyhow.

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    Video: Devils honor Martin Brodeur, retire his No. 30

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    As the all-time leader in an array of categories, numbers mean a lot when you talk about Martin Brodeur.

    Still, Tuesday represented another important chapter … one that provides some sense of closure, as the New Jersey Devils retired his No. 30.

    You can see some of the most important moments in the video above.

    There are some other great sensory details captured by the Devils’ Twitter (not to mention the NHL’s) feed, so here are some additional highlights:

    Still not enough Marty for you? Check this out:

    WATCH LIVE: Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild

    Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) and Minnesota Wild right wing Justin Fontaine (14) chase the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.

    On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.

    Whether the Wild flounder or rebound, you can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    After 8-1 loss to Isles, Oilers send Reinhart to AHL, make Schultz healthy scratch

    Edmonton Oilers' Justin Schultz (19) and New York Rangers' Dominic Moore (28) fight for control of the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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    Not surprisingly, Edmonton’s 8-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday didn’t pass without consequences.

    The Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Griffin Reinhart had been sent down to the AHL. Additionally, defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.

    Reinhart was a team-worst minus-4 versus the Isles.

    Schultz, whose name has been coming up in trade rumors…

    …was a minus-2.

    “He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is offensively and defensively,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters of the decision to sit Schultz against the Devils.

    Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening, scratches in Brooklyn, will replace Reinhart and Schultz in the lineup.

    Turris understands Drouin’s situation, says requesting trade out of Phoenix ‘saved’ him

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    Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.

    Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

    It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    “It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”

    Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.

    As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.

    Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.