Leafs’ Gardiner ‘not sure what’s going on’ with being healthy scratch

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Jake Gardiner has gone from being one of Toronto’s most important defensemen to one of its least-used ones.

And he doesn’t really know how it happened.

“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Gardiner Told the Toronto Star. “I feel like I can definitely contribute. I’m going to do whatever the team needs to win.

“I’m just going to try to contribute any way I can.”

The 22-year-old blueliner has appeared in just eight games for the Leafs this season, failing to score a goal while registering just two assists.

It appears he doesn’t have the trust of head coach Randy Carlyle, who has repeatedly made Gardiner a healthy scratch lately.

(As diagrammed in my impressive Gardiner chart):

Mar. 26, 3-2 win over Florida: 21:09 TOI, one shot, minus-1
Mar. 28, 6-3 win over Carolina: Healthy scratch
Mar. 30, 4-0 win over Ottawa: Healthy scratch
Apr. 4, 5-3 loss to Philly: Healthy scratch
Apr. 6, 2-1 win over New Jersey: 16:27 TOI, plus-1
Apr. 8, 4-3 win over New York Rangers: Healthy scratch

Do keep in mind this is the same Gardiner who, as a 21-year-old rookie last season, played 75 games, finished second among all Leafs defensemen in scoring (30 points) and averaged 21:35 a night.

This season, he was derailed by a concussion suffered while playing for the AHL Marlies in December. But he says he’s at full health and ready to contribute — the latter of which Carlyle doesn’t agree with.

“He’s a young player and I’m not going to put him in situations he can’t survive,” Carlyle explained. “That to me is the most important thing with our young players.”

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.