Randy Carlyle

Realignment leaves Leafs coach Carlyle scratching his head


Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is no big fan of realignment.

Or, at the very least, he’s confused by it.

“It makes it more difficult for us to qualify for the playoffs,” Carlyle said today, per the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle. “It makes you scratch your head – why is that?”

Starting this season, the Leafs will be in the Atlantic Division with seven other teams — the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

There will be one other eight-team division (the Metropolitan Division) in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Western Conference will be comprised of two seven-team divisions, the Central and the Pacific.

Eight teams from each conference will make the playoffs.

So Carlyle does have a point — if the Leafs are to qualify for the postseason, they’ll have to beat out more teams than their Western Conference counterparts.

If it were up to Carlyle, he’d probably have kept Detroit in the West; however, Wings ownership had for years been pushing the league for a move to the East (for good reason).

Columbus is the other team that moved from the West to the East as part of realignment, with Winnipeg going the opposite way.

If it makes Carlyle feel any better, we hear the Pacific Division might have a new team soon.


Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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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.