2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional

Columnist says Bruins should target Kevin Hayes

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The Chicago Blackhawks still have time to sign 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes to a deal, but more than a few signs point to him eventually finding a deal elsewhere once his rights expire on August 15.

Reports already pointed to the New York Rangers being interested in the big forward, but CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes that the Boston Bruins should keep an eye on him, too.

For Haggerty, the most obvious draw might be the potential value that the 21-year-old Boston College alum could be bring:

The most attractive part about Hayes to the Bruins, beyond being a right-winger, and size/skill: the cost. As an NCAA free agent, Hayes would still need to agree to an entry level deal, and his maximum cap hit would be a team-friendly $900,000, along with any bonus money agreed to in the contract. It would essentially be like putting one of their own homegrown rookies into the lineup with minimal cost. There’s also the chance they could have a legit NHL player, based on his first-round ability and production at Boston College.

Along with the Rangers and possibly the Bruins, Haggerty notes other potential bidders such as the Calgary Flames (exec Brian Burke is fond of NCAA talent) and Florida Panthers (employers of his brother Jimmy Hayes). Those two teams would, on paper, provide less of a challenge for Kevin Hayes to make more of an immediate NHL impact, yet the money likely being more-or-less equal could score points in favor of a potential contender like Boston.

Of course, it would be foolish to count out Chicago altogether, even if they’ve failed to sign him after drafting Hayes 24th overall in 2010. Still, as this post details, he’d likely face a tougher climb to prominent NHL minutes and opportunities in the Windy City.

It all stacks up to be an interesting situation to follow if he doesn’t sign with the Blackhawks by August 15. While we wait, we can enjoy his occasional Instagram offerings, like this adorable video in which he uses his niece … as a prop gun?

(H/T to the Score on that one.)

Awww.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.