Let’s take a gander at the NHL’s light three-game schedule for tonight. As always, the start times are Eastern (ET).
Nashville @ Toronto
The Predators and Maple Leafs are just about as different as two NHL teams could be. One team wallows in sports obscurity with an ultra-stable front office and scratches and claws its way into the playoffs year after year despite some serious financial constraints. The other club sports an unjustifiably bloated payroll, stumbles upon sellout after sellout and hasn’t made the playoffs since the lockout despite having all the resources (except maybe patience and consistent competence?) at its disposal.
If you don’t want to make quite as much out of this, though, it’s a game between the third worst team in the East (5-8-3 Toronto) and fourth lowest ranked team in the West (7-5-3 Nashville). The Maple Leafs hope to end an eight game losing streak against the scrappy Predators at home.
Philadelphia @ Montreal
Two of the hottest teams in the East square off in this game, as the conference’s second ranked Flyers (12-4-2) face the conference’s third ranked Canadiens (11-5-1). If that’s not enough motivation for these two storied franchises, here are two more nuggets: Philadelphia ended Montreal’s Cinderella run in the 2010 playoffs and both teams are currently on three game winning streaks.
The Flyers might be a little more winded after throttling the previously red-hot Ottawa Senators last night, so freshness and home ice advantage favor the Habs. Still, Philly is on a roll right now (9-0-1 in their last 10 games) so Montreal has no reason to take them lightly.
Anaheim @ Dallas
The margin of error is pretty tiny in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division right now. While the Ducks are currently second in the division (22 points), they’ve played four more games than the last place Stars. If Dallas were to go 2-0-2, they would own an identical record to Anaheim.
So each game is important. The Sharks recently ended the Ducks’ six game winning streak while the Stars have lost three in a row. Things look fairly promising for the Stars, though, as the Ducks are much weaker on the road (3-6-1) than they are at home (7-1-1) so far this season. Dallas should also be well-rested, as they haven’t played since they lost Friday in Anaheim. We’ll see if that really matters tonight, though.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Friday night. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
St. Louis at Dallas (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 1 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Nashville at San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 1 will also be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
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—Game 7 win over Ducks is ‘a huge step’ for Predators
—Sharks do what they couldn’t in 2014 and that’s close out Kings
—Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of the series
—Blues best Blackhawks in epic Game 7
The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on the framework for a potential expansion draft, according to TSN’s Gary Lawless.
Last month, we found out what each team will be able to protect if ever the NHL adds expansion franchises. Bill Daly made it clear that each existing team would only lose one player per expansion team coming into the league. More specifically, teams would be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie or eight skaters (any position).
Although this agreement between the league and PA doesn’t guarantee expansion will happen, it does ensure that one major step is out of the way if ever the league decided to add a team or two.
The agreement between the two sides also includes an expansion scenario for players with no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts.
Here’s an excerpt from Lawless’ story:
The NHL has hundreds of steps to go through before expansion can potentially become a reality and getting an agreement with the NHLPA was viewed as near top of the list. The executive committee would not have recommended expansion to the NHL’s board of governors for the purpose of a vote without an agreement in place with the NHLPA, and in particular, a resolution on how existing no-trade and no-move clauses will be handled.
Las Vegas and Quebec City have been mentioned as two potential destinations for expansion franchises in the near future. As Lawless mentions in his story, NHL general managers were told to expect a decision on expansion for 2017-18 by the NHL Entry Draft in June.
—NHL insists ‘no final decisions’ have been made on expansion.
—Daly: Teams can only lose one player per expansion team
—‘Roster chaos’: Let’s ponder some possible expansion draft scenarios
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
—John Tavares and Steven Stamkos once played on the same youth team. That team went 49-0-1. (Newsday)
–Which team deserves to win the NHL Draft lottery? (Winnipeg Sun)
–Rick DiPietro wasn’t happy about something Mike Francesca said. (BarDown)
–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Capitals and Penguins. (Top)
—Nick Foligno pretended to be a season ticket holder and pranked Cam Atkinson. Funny stuff.
–Prior to Game 1 between the Penguins and Capitals, T.J. Oshie‘s daughter was filmed kicking a Penguins poster. Maybe she should do it more often because her father scored a hat trick just a few hours later. (Instagram)
–Brett Hull says “goals don’t matter” when you play for Ken Hitchcock. (Sportsnet)
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.