Hospital moves Blake Geoffrion out of intensive care unit

Montreal Canadiens prospect Blake Geoffrion was moved out of the intensive care unit at Montreal General Hospital on Sunday, according to Hockey Inside/Out’s Dave Stubbs.

Geoffrion suffered a skull fracture following a scary incident on Friday, forcing him to undergo successful surgery.

As one would expect from such a serious injury, it’s unclear how long it will take for Geoffrion to recover.

Stubbs reports that Montreal’s Bell Centre staff earned high marks for handling that situation promptly:

Canadiens head team physician and chief surgeon David Mulder, a veteran of nearly 50 years with the Canadiens family, praised the Bell Centre work of Habs head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend and of Luc LeBlanc, Rynbend’s counterpart with the Bulldogs, for their quick, efficient work on site to care for Geoffrion and get him to the Montreal General, which is world-renowned for its superb trauma care.

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    Wild exit early, Fletcher stays positive — a familiar refrain in Minnesota

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    If the NHL is a bottom line business, then the Wild’s season was a disappointment.

    They finished second in the West, yet were upended in the opening playoff round to the wild card St. Louis Blues — a team they finished 17 points ahead of in the standings. Minnesota lost all three games at home, managed just one win, scored just eight goals and, perhaps most disturbingly, had a shorter postseason run than last year, when it lost in six to Dallas.

    With that in mind, here’s what Wild GM Chuck Fletcher had to say at Tuesday’s end-of-year media availability.

    When asked about his group: “It’s still a very good core. It’s a strong team.”

    When asked about a major overhaul: “Wholesale changes? Absolutely not.”

    When asked about the loss to St. Louis: “A disappointing five-game series that could have very easily gone either way.”

    If this sounds familiar, well, it should.

    At last year’s exit interview, Fletcher was a beacon of positivity. He insisted Minnesota was a team on the rise, not decline, and remained steadfast in his belief of the group despite media skepticism and a displeased fan base.

    To his credit, Fletcher answered the critics.

    Hiring Bruce Boudreau as head coach was a terrific move, and buying out Thomas Vanek to free up money for the Eric Staal acquisition worked out beautifully. The organization was also buoyed by how well four of its prospects — Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin — performed at the World Juniors. Given those are all Fletcher draftees, it was another feather in his cap.

    Losing to St. Louis shouldn’t negate all that, and it hasn’t.

    But should it alter the Wild’s perspective?

    Remember, this season wasn’t a one-off. The core leadership group of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter has been together for five years now, and never advanced past the second round. And in the last two years, the Wild have won a grand total of three postseason tilts.

    Some have suggested the bar needs to be raised.

    Consider, for a moment, Chicago GM Stan Bowman. Like the Wild, the Blackhawks have been bounced in each of the last two opening rounds. And like the Wild, the Blackhawks were bounced really early this year — albeit in four games, rather than five.

    Here’s what Bowman had to say in his end-of-year presser:

    “Standing here April 22 is not the way we expected our season to end. And it’s a complete failure when you measure it against the expectations that we have of ourselves. We did not come even close to reaching the standard we have set over the years here. And that’s unacceptable.

    “Any successes that we did experience this year are completely overshadowed by the abrupt ending to our season. It’s not close to good enough for anybody. And I think it’s time right not to take a look in the mirror and face facts.”

    The biggest difference between the Wild and Blackhawks is that the Wild, quite justifiably, could argue they outplayed the Blues and the only thing keeping them from Round 2 was Jake Allen. Chicago was dominated by Nashville in nearly every statistical measure. So Bowman didn’t have that to fall back on.

    But it’s the second part of Bowman’s statement that’s key. “Completely overshadowed by the abrupt ending to our season.” Things were over quickly for the ‘Hawks, just like they were for the Wild. But to hear Fletcher and Boudreau speak today, you couldn’t help but feel the organization believes it just wrapped the most competitive five-game, first-round series in playoff history.

    Well, the Wild brass does anyway. For the players, the message seemed to be quite different. And quite telling.

    “Right now, we can’t take any positives,” Koivu said, per the team’s Twitter account. “Just disappointment.”

    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