Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings

Can Bruins, Blackhawks and Sharks all extend their winning streaks?

Even though this is supposed to be the hardest time of the season to win, the Bruins, Blackhawks, and Sharks have combined for 22 straight wins. You read that right — 22. Boston has won 7 straight. Chicago’s streak is also sitting at lucky #7. The Sharks one-upped both of them with an 8-game winning streak of their own. Obvious guy says these teams are hot.

Here’s the question though: which of these three teams will lose first?

The Bruins face off with the Pittsburgh Penguins who lost a heartbreaker in OT against the Devils last night. Likewise, the San Jose Sharks welcome a deflated Stars team that blew a 2-goal lead in the 3rd period and eventually lost in OT to the Ducks last night. Chicago visits Toronto in a game that features two teams that are playing about 100x better than they were at the beginning of the season. All three teams should face challenges on Saturday — but realistically all three are favorites to continue their winning streaks.

Both the Sharks and Blackhawks started out slow, but if the playoffs were to start tomorrow they’d both have home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Who knows, we might get a replay of last year’s Western Conference finals. On the other hand, the Bruins have played well all season but didn’t always earn victories in the games where they may have deserved a better fate. With recent acquisitions Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly, and Rich Peverely, the Bruins look like they’ve turned a corner and are one of the strongest teams in the NHL.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see all three teams make the conference finals this spring. But I’ll go out on a limb and say one of these teams is going to lose before then. But which will be the first to drop a game?

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    North Dakota loses another d-man as Kings sign LaDue

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 09:  Paul LaDue #6 of North Dakota skates against the Boston University Terriers during the second period of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship semifinals at TD Garden on April 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    Keaton Thompson, Troy Stecher and now, Paul LaDue.

    On Friday, the Kings announced that LaDue — the junior d-man that helped North Dakota win the Frozen Four — agreed to a one-year, entry-level deal, forgoing his senior season in the process.

    LaDue, 23, was part of a talented UND blueline that also featured fellow juniors Troy Stecher — who since signed with Vancouver — and Thompson, who inked with the Ducks.

    So yeah, bit of an exodus.

    Thankfully for North Dakota, freshman scoring sensation Brock Boeser has already committed to returning for his sophomore campaign, while junior defenseman Gage Ausmus — a San Jose draftee — vowed to go back to school as well.

    As for Frozen Four MOP Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — he’s already begun his tour of interested NHL suitors.

    Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

    Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary

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    No suspension for Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Only a fine.

    That’s what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety decided after Wilson kneed Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary last night in Washington.

    The fine of $2,403.67 is the maximum allowable under the CBA, and, at the very least, it puts Wilson on official notice.

    Wilson was not penalized on the play, and Sheary was able to leave the ice under his own power and remain in the game.

    “We’re just going to play hockey, and the refs are going to call it the way they see it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters afterwards. “Our guys are going to play.”

    This morning, Capitals coach Barry Trotz reportedly said of the play, “It was OK, but it wasn’t I would say necessary.”

    Report: In expansion draft, teams must protect players with no-movement clauses

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    If a player has a no-movement clause, his club will be forced to protect him in next summer’s expected expansion draft.

    If, on the other hand, a player merely has a no-trade clause, his club will have no obligation to put him on its protected list.

    Those details were reported this morning by TSN’s Gary Lawless, shortly after he’d reported that the NHL and NHLPA had come together on a framework for a potential expansion draft.

    Per General Fanager, here’s the difference between the two clauses:

    A No-Movement Clause prohibits a team from moving a player by trade, loan or waivers, or assigning that player to the minors without the player’s consent. This keeps the player with the pro team unless permitted by the player to move the player by one of these means. A No-Movement Clause does not restrict a team from buying out or terminating a player’s contract.

    A No-Trade Clause is less restrictive, as it only places restrictions on movement by trade. A player with a No-Trade Clause cannot be traded by a team unless the player provides consent. A Partial or Modified No-Trade Clause is often less restrictive than a Full No-Trade Clause, and depends on the conditions outlined in the player’s contracts. Often these are No-Trade Clauses with conditions that give the player the right to provide a list of teams to which the team can or cannot trade the player.

    So, for example, in Pittsburgh, the Penguins would be obligated to put Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil KesselMarc-Andre Fleury, and Kris Letang on their protected list. All five have NMCs, per General FanagerPatric Hornqvist, however, would not require protection, even though he has a modified no-trade clause.

    Now, granted, the Penguins weren’t going to risk leaving their superstars exposed anyway.

    Where this rule could have consequences is if a team is forced to protect a player with a no-move, at the expense of exposing a player it would prefer to keep. 

    In Columbus, for example, David Clarkson, Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin have no-moves, as do Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno. So, assuming General Fanager’s information is correct and there aren’t any complicating factors, that’s five players they’d be obligated to protect, whether they’d want to or not.

    We’ll let Jackets fans fret over what that may cost them. There will be plenty of fretting league-wide, no doubt. 

    But just remember, if the NHL only expands to Las Vegas — and that’s the most likely scenario at this point — each team can only lose one player in the expansion draft.

    Ducks fire Boudreau

    Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, back, looks on against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    In the end, it was one playoff failure too many.

    On Friday, the Ducks reacted to their upset loss to Nashville by doing the expected — relieving head coach Bruce Boudreau of his duties.

    “I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement, tweeted out by the club. “This was a very difficult decision to make.

    “Bruce is a good coach and character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”

    Boudreau, 61, enjoyed tremendous regular-season success in Anaheim — 208-104-40 record over five years — but ultimately paid the price for the club’s playoff failures.

    Despite a wealth of talent and repeated home-ice advantage, the Ducks never qualified for a Stanley Cup final and were twice bounced in the opening round. Most damning was the club’s record in Game 7s — Wednesday’s loss to Nashville was the fourth straight Game 7 defeat Anaheim had suffered.

    What’s more, it was the fourth time they lost a series in which they led 3-2.

    What’s more, it was the fourth Game 7 they lost on home ice.

    For Boudreau, this firing will only add to the narrative that’s dogged him throughout his career, dating back to his time in Washington.

    Great regular-season coach, not so much in the playoffs.

    It’s ultimately unfair and probably too simplistic, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that a coach with an impressive win total — 409, putting him No. 32 all-time — has never competed for the Stanley Cup, and only qualified for one conference final.

    Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Boudreau can find work as quickly as the last time he was fired. After getting turfed in Washington, it took him all of two days to be hired by the Ducks, and it’s quite possible Ottawa could now be in the mix for his services.

    The Sens are looking for an experienced bench boss, per new GM Pierre Dorion, and have already interviewed ex-Wild head coach Mike Yeo.

    Related: Boudreau says this was the Ducks’ toughest loss yet