Jason Brough

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
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Season over: Kadri suspended four games for crosschecking Glendening

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Nazem Kadri‘s season is over. The Maple Leafs forward has been suspended four games — as many games as Toronto has left in the regular season — for crosschecking Detroit’s Luke Glendening on Saturday.

“This is not a hockey play,” explained Patrick Burke of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. “This is a player intentionally striking an opponent with his stick in retaliation for an earlier action on the same shift.”

For Kadri, it’s just the latest punishment he’s received. Last week, he was fined for diving three times in the past two months. In February, he was fined for making a throat-slash gesture. Last season, he was suspended four games for a headshot on Edmonton’s Matt Fraser.

Considered a repeat offender under the CBA, Kadri will forfeit $200,000 in salary for cross-checking Glendening.

Jagr on playoff-bound Panthers: ‘There are so many doubters when it comes to our team’

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) celebrates a goal by right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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The Florida Panthers clinched a playoff berth Sunday, and they didn’t even have to put their equipment on.

It was Boston’s 6-4 loss to Chicago that gave Florida its first postseason spot since 2012. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since 1996 — two decades ago — when they went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. This will be just their fifth postseason appearance since entering the league in 1993.

According to Jaromir Jagr, the Panthers still need to prove to many that they’re for real.

“There are so many doubters when it comes to our team, and that’s fine with us,” Jagr said Saturday, per the Miami Herald.

Jagr is correct that there are doubters, and not just because of the club’s history. The analytics suggest that the Panthers don’t dominate games, that they’re all the way down with the Edmonton Oilers in terms of puck possession.

But then, if the playoffs were to start today, the Panthers would face the Islanders in the first round. And the Islanders, who haven’t won a series since 1993, are hardly a perfect team themselves.

At the very least, Florida has achieved its main objective for 2015-16.

“It’s really all about the playoffs for our team; nothing beneath that will be acceptable,” Roberto Luongo said over the summer. “I think as a group we realize that and demand that of ourselves.”

Senators in the ‘process’ of studying potential changes

Dave Cameron
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Last week, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk suggested there could be significant organizational changes in Ottawa, going so far as to say that “nobody is safe.”

Today, general manager Bryan Murray essentially said the same thing.

“After talking to Eugene, over a month ago now, we both kind of agreed we just kind of had to take a look at everything that was going on, from player development to on-ice product,” Murray told reporters, per the Ottawa Citizen.

“That process won’t take a long time, I don’t think. Part of the reason we’ve got everybody on the road this trip, and a couple of previous trips, is we’re just sitting around doing a lot of talking and a lot of evaluation of where we are (with) what players and what else has to happen here to make it better.”

The Sens will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. And remember that they needed a miraculous late-season run just to qualify last year, before falling to Montreal in the first round.

Ottawa’s most glaring issues are defensive. They have the fourth-highest goals-against average (2.96) and the second-worst penalty kill (75.9%).

Obviously, that doesn’t reflect well on the coaching staff, led by Dave Cameron.

On the other hand, it was Cameron who took over last year and led the Sens on that miracle run. He ended up finishing sixth in the Jack Adams Award voting.

“We’ll go through the whole group: I’m part of it,” said Murray. “Did I do enough? What else can we do from a management side here to help the product on the ice?”

Related: It’s a short list of coaches on the hot seat

Bruins sign Grzelcyk (who just so happens to be pals with Jimmy Vesey)

Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk smiles as he hoists the Beanpot trophy after his game-winning goal against Northeastern during overtime of the college hockey Beanpot Tournament's championship game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Boston University defeated Northeastern 4-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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The Bruins announced today that they’d signed Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a two-year entry-level contract. The deal will start next season. In the meantime, the Charlestown native will join AHL Providence on an amateur tryout agreement.

Grzelcyk was a third-round pick of Boston’s in 2012. After spending four years at BU, if he didn’t sign with the Bruins, he could’ve become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15, a la Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of whom, Grzelcyk and Vesey are childhood pals, so this — despite the protests of some –will only add to the speculation that Vesey will choose to sign with the B’s this summer.

Toronto is the other team that’s been linked to Vesey.

Related: Vesey will reportedly sign with the B’s

Goalie nods: Desperate Red Wings turn back to Howard

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard blocks a shot from the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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Their playoff streak on the line, the Red Wings are turning to their veteran netminder tonight at home to Minnesota.

Jimmy Howard will get the start over the Wings’ struggling youngster, Petr Mrazek.

From MLive:

Petr Mrazek has been pulled in his past two starts and in three of his past four. Mrazek, since Feb. 12, is 6-6-2, with a 3.40 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

Not that Howard has been lights out himself — his numbers have been mediocre at best — but he’s been better than Mrazek.

The bottom line for the Wings is that the goaltending needs to improve, and so do the players in front of the goalie.

“In March we’ve given up too many goals,” coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. “For the most part we just got to clean up mental errors. We just got to make sure we’re sharp in our decisions every single time.”

It’s April now, so perhaps the Wings can put March’s defensive issues behind them. If they can’t, then it may be the Pittsburgh Penguins that end up owning the NHL’s longest postseason-appearance streak.

No word yet on who will start for the Wild. It’s an interesting decision for coach John Torchetti. Devan Dubnyk started last night at home to Ottawa, allowing three goals on just 22 shots in a 3-2 loss, but backup Darcy Kuemper hasn’t played in a couple of weeks so there could be a rust factor there.

The Wild still haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot.

Elsewhere…

Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins in St. Louis, where Brian Elliott will go for the Blues. (Boston is just one point ahead of Detroit for third place in the Atlantic.)

Scott Darling for the Blackhawks in Winnipeg. Ondrej Pavelec for the Jets.

Braden Holtby for the Capitals in Colorado. Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Jacob Markstrom‘s a possibility for Vancouver in Anaheim, after Ryan Miller played last night in San Jose. For the Ducks, John Gibson is expected.