Islanders clinch playoff spot despite loss


For the first time since the 2006-07 season, the New York Islanders are playoff bound.

Excessively negative folks will crow about them clinching a spot with a shootout loss (4-3 to Carolina on Tuesday), but even that defeat parallels the Isles’ successes. They finished strong and John Tavares was prominently involved.

The potential Hart Trophy candidate scored his 27th goal of 2013 at a crucial time, tying it up 3-3 with about a minute left in regulation.

While some might say that the Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the NHL, the Islanders deserve to be in that conversation. They’ve registered a standings point in every April game (8-0-3) and have really been red-hot since March 24, going 11-1-3 in their last 15 games.

If the Islanders maintain control of the sixth seed, they might just get to prove that they’re hotter than the Caps by way of a first-round series.

Merely having that conversation with the guarantee of a playoff spot has to be a sweet sensation for Isles fans.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: