Lightning rip Anisimov’s “point gun at Lecavalier” celebration

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Artem Anisimov’s controversial goal celebration from last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay has come under fire.

(Yes, that was a horrible pun.)

If you haven’t seen the incident yet, here’s the video:

Following the game, Tampa Bay was particularly harsh in its critiques.

Steve Stamkos: “It’s just classless. I think I’ve seen him do that once or twice before, so no surprise there. We got the win. He’ll know it’s in the back of our minds the next time we see him. But we’re not going to break focus because of that. We wanted to win the game and we did.

“I don’t know if you saw the replay, but he turned back and pointed the stick like a gun and shot it at Vinny. We don’t need that in our sport. For the most part, you don’t see that too much. But it happens once in a while and it’s dealt with.”

Vincent Lecavalier: “He points his stick like he fires at our net, I’m sure his teammates and their coach was not impressed with that. We were offended and it’s disrespectful. It’s not like he was happy to score a goal and did some type of (fist) pump; it was directly at our net and our goalie.”

Guy Boucher: “That was a gesture that I think proved the players were in it together. Vinny, the captain showing the way, in the fact that we are not going to take humiliation and he certainly set the tone for the rest of the game.”

The Rangers were also critical of Anisimov, though their critiques were much softer. The general consensus was “Artie knew what he did was wrong” and “Artie didn’t mean anything by it,” though head coach John Tortorella took a more fatherly approach.

“I guess I’m in a protective mode,” Tortorella said. “I think he deserves to be protected because I know who he is. I don’t blame Tampa at all as far as how they reacted. But I want to protect him. He’s a solid, solid guy that made a mistake that I still don’t think he really understands what he was doing there.”

Don’t expect this incident to go away anytime soon. It’s likely to land on the desk of NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan because Lightning forward Steve Downie left the bench to partake in the post-goal fracas.

PHT’s second-round playoff predictions, featuring the red-hot Random Thing Picker

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It was a tough first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for many of the so-called experts of the world.

Upsets included the Predators over the Blackhawks and the Blues over the Wild. The Rangers over the Canadiens was a quasi-upset, too.

Here at PHT, it was a mixed bag. Mike Halford and Cam Tucker each went an impressive 6-2. And so too did the Random Thing Picker, which as its name suggests, picks random things. (And picks them rather well, apparently.)

Of note, the Random Thing Picker and James O’Brien were the only ones to pick the Preds over the ‘Hawks. So congratulations to both robotic lifeforms on that bit of soothsaying.

Rounding out the rest of the first-round results, Adam Gretz and Joey Alfieri went 4-4, while at 3-5, O’Brien and yours truly couldn’t even crack .500. (Stupid Jake Allen.)

On to the second round!

Washington versus Pittsburgh (Stream Capitals-Penguins)

Brough: Capitals in 7
Halford: Penguins in 6
O’Brien: Capitals in 7
Gretz: Capitals in 7
Tucker: Capitals in 6
Alfieri: Capitals in 7
Random Thing Picker: Capitals

New York versus Ottawa (Stream Rangers-Senators)

Brough: Senators in 6
Halford: Senators in 7
O’Brien: Rangers in 7
Gretz: Rangers in 6
Tucker: Rangers in 6
Alfieri: Senators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Senators

St. Louis versus Nashville (Stream Blues-Predators)

Brough: Predators in 6
Halford: Blues in 7
O’Brien: Predators in 6
Gretz: Predators in 6
Tucker: Predators in 7
Alfieri: Predators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Blues

Anaheim versus Edmonton (Stream Ducks-Oilers)

Brough: Ducks in 7
Halford: Ducks in 6
O’Brien: Ducks in 6
Gretz: Oilers in 7
Tucker: Oilers in 6
Alfieri: Ducks in 6
Random Thing Picker: Ducks

Feel free to add your picks below…

Auston Matthews to skip Worlds

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Auston Matthews is going to take some time off.

As such, the 19-year-old star forward won’t be heading overseas to represent the United States in the upcoming World Championship.

You can hardly blame him. Matthews just finished his rookie season in the NHL, playing all 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus six more in the playoffs.

Oh, and he also played in the World Cup for Team North America.

Matthews did participate in last year’s Worlds. He had six goals and three assists in 10 games on the way to a fourth-place finish.

Related: Gaudreau, Eichel commit to USA Worlds roster

Blackhawks fire their AHL head coach

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Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired longtime assistant coach Mike Kitchen.

Today, it was longtime AHL coach Ted Dent who got the ax.

Dent has been the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs the past six seasons, and he was an assistant coach for Chicago’s AHL affiliate the previous five seasons.

“The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization,” GM Stan Bowman said. “He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best.”

The IceHogs missed the playoffs this season, finishing last in the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 25-39-12.

Related: A furious Bowman addressed the Blackhawks’ postseason failure

Report: Canucks close to naming Travis Green head coach

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The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly set to announce Travis Green as their next head coach.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the announcement will be made in the next couple of days.

Green, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL including the playoffs, has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons. Under his watch, the Comets have played mostly winning hockey in spite of some rather depleted lineups.

Ever since Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of the season, Green has been the leading candidate to take over in Vancouver. The only question, really, was whether he’d be a candidate for another NHL head-coaching vacancy, perhaps with the Florida Panthers.

Assuming no last-minute hiccups, Green will take over a transitioning Canucks team that has finished 28th and 29th overall in its last two seasons, respectively.

“We’re going to be young,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said. “Young players make mistakes. There’s going to be some growing pains. We need a coach that understands exactly where we are.”

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players