For at least one round, the Ottawa Senators will avoid the East’s juggernaut in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not all of Canada might be happy, though, as Sunday’s 4-2 Senators win against the Boston Bruins takes a fascinating Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs series off the table.*
Robin Lehner was the star of the show, stopping 34 out of 36 shots for his fifth win of the season (avoiding a Bruins season sweep of the Sens in the process). Little-known forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the game-winner and also collected an assist.
This regulation loss hands the Northeast Division title to the Canadiens. They probably won’t pat the Senators on the back for too long, however, as they’ll host Ottawa in the second vs. seventh seed series.
Meanwhile, the Bruins stay seated in the fourth seed, drawing the Maple Leafs in the process. It might not have the pizzazz of Habs-Leafs, yet the Bruins and Leafs have a robust rivalry in their own right.
Then again, Canada still gets a clash to delight in, as that Habs-Sens series should provide plenty of venom in its own right.
More on the playoff matchups soon. In the meantime, enjoy highlights:
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* – For now?
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Looking back at 10 years of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals, in case the above video made you want more. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
David Conte spent 10,000 days with Lou Lamoriello and lived to tell about it. (TSN)
Want to spot some contract year guys? Here are 32 pending restricted free agents. (Sportsnet)
NHL GMs are starting to sniff around with the 2015-16 season about to kick off. (Ottawa Sun)
Some backstory on Zack Kassian that was passed around on Twitter last evening. (Canucks website)
Hey, you can’t say Raffi Torres hasn’t literally paid for his ways:
This is some quality chirping between Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby:
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.