Brad Watson

Your New York-Ottawa Game 7 officials are…

The referees for tonight’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal Game 7 between the Rangers and Senators are Brad Watson (#23) and Dan O’Halloran (#13)

Working the lines will be “Mean” Jean Morin (#97) and Brad “B-Rad” Kovachik (#71).


— Judging by his assignments, Watson has been this posteason’s “cooler”.

He was assigned Game 2 of the Detroit-Nashville series (after Game 1 had 17 minor penalties and the infamous Shea Weber-Henrik Zetterberg head smash) and Game 3 of New York-Ottawa (after Game 2 had the Matt Carkner-Brian Boyle attack and Carl Hagelin’s high hit on Daniel Alfredsson.)

— In Sens-Rangers Game 3, Watson and fellow referee Mike Leggo sent an early message by calling two penalties in the first five minutes.

“They were trying to get control of it, and with what’s going on, I don’t really blame them,” Rangers forward Brian Boyle said of the officiating. “You don’t want to go in the box, especially with what’s at stake.”

— O’Halloran’s postseason has been quiet. His most contentious ruling (if you can call it contentious) came in Game 4 of the LA-Vancouver series, when he waved off a goal from Kings forward Brad Richardson.

— That said, this is not O’Halloran’s first rodeo. He came into this year with 74 playoff games worked and was front-and-center during last year’s Stanley Cup finals (most notably in watching the Brad Marchand-Daniel Sedin speedbagging.)

— Not much to say about the linesmen, other than they’re somewhat unfamiliar with this series. Kovachik worked Game 5; Game 7 will be Morin’s first.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: