Mike Halford

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More changes in Ottawa as Luke Richardson departs

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The Senators continued to shake things up on Monday, announcing that veteran AHL Binghamton bench boss Luke Richardson would be leaving the organization “to pursue a new opportunity.”

Richardson, 47, has been with Ottawa for nearly a decade. He spent the final two years (2007-09) of his playing career there, then quickly transitioned to coaching, serving as an assistant for three years, under both Cory Clouston and Paul MacLean.

In 2012, Richardson moved to AHL Binghamton, embarking on a four-year stretch in which he was widely praised for helping players transition to the big league level.

As today’s release notes, 13 players were recalled from Binghamton this season — and, prior to that, Richardson received accolades for his work with the likes of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

The most interesting this about today’s announcement is that Richardson won’t be in line for Ottawa’s vacant head coaching gig.

Part of that could be due to a general housecleaning, as the club has already changed GMs (from Bryan Murray to Pierre Dorion) and cleaned house behind the bench, turfing Dave Cameron, assistants Jason Smith and Andre Jourigny, and goalie coach Rick Wamsley.

But still, Richardson has been considered an NHL coach in the making. At one point, he was believed to be the frontrunner for the Buffalo job that eventually went to Dan Bylsma.

Related: Cameron on ‘hurtful’ Melnyk remarks — ‘it felt like I was fired for three weeks’

Hakstol: ‘Easy decision’ to start Mason tonight

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After letting in a historically bad goal in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Caps, Steve Mason has been subjected to a number of questions — including ones asking whether he’d start tonight’s pivotal Game 3 at Wells Fargo.

The answer, according to head coach Dave Hakstol, was a no-brainer. From the Inquirer:

Hakstol said it was an “easy decision” to go back to goalie Steve Mason on Monday. Mason allowed a 101-foot goal in Saturday’s 4-1 loss, but he carried the Flyers into the playoffs and was brilliant in Game 1.

“He’s a huge part of why we’re playing in the playoffs,’ Hakstol said.

Mason deserves a shot at redemption. As Hakstol alluded to, the 27-year-old was huge during Philly’s playoff push down the stretch — the goalie of record in 17 of the last 19 games — and, let’s be honest here, Hakstol’s other option isn’t great.

While it’s true Michal Neuvirth had a very good regular season, he’s essentially played just once over the last month, missing extensive time with a torn meniscus in his left knee. It would be asking a lot of Neuvirth to step into this series and make an impact.

That said, it’s easy to see why the suggestion of a goalie switch is out there.

Yesterday, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill made the change from Jimmy Howard to Petr Mrazek for Game 3 against the Bolts, after Howard lost the first two games of the series (though was hardly to blame).

Mrazek and Detroit responded with a 16-save shutout win over the Bolts.

After Boyle’s chicken dance, Abdelkader admits he ‘would have liked to fight him’

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Brian Boyle wanted to fight Justin Abdelkader at the end of Tampa Bay’s 2-0 loss in Detroit on Sunday.

That much was clear.

But Abdelkader wasn’t willing to go — for reasons unclear at the time — which led to Boyle busting out this chicken dance in Abdelkader’s direction:

Only afterward did the full explanation come out.

Turns out Abdelkader was not, in fact, chicken — he had his injured hand taped up and, per NHL Rule 56 (b), “any player wearing tape or any other material on his hands (below the wrist) who cuts or injures an opponent during an altercation will receive a match penalty under Rule 52 – Deliberate Injury of Opponents.”

“I would have liked to fight him,” Abdelkader said, per MLive. “I asked the ref if I cut him, is it a misconduct, and I already got one, so I got to be careful.

“Obviously, I want to stand up for myself, too, but this time of year when you got injuries and you’re banged up you got to be smart, too, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Just a few months ago, Rangers forward J.T. Miller was ejected from a game versus New Jersey for fighting Devils forward Sergei Kalinin with taped hands.

“It’s the call in the book,” Rangers head coach Alain Vingeault said afterward, per the New York Post. “If you’ve got tape above your wrist and the guy gets cut, it’s an automatic match penalty.”

Abdelkader, as mentioned, had already received a game misconduct earlier in the series, having been deemed the aggressor in a scrap with Mike Blunden at the end of Game 2.

So, he backed off.

As for his take on Boyle’s antics?

“It’s kind of funny, but if he wants to do that, that’s what he wants to show, whatever,” Abdelkader said. “It doesn’t affect me at all because I know what type of player I am.

“I stand up for myself when I’m healthy.”

Boudreau: Ducks were ‘just stupid out there’ in Game 2 loss

Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, back, looks on against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The Ducks are in a big hole, having dropped both of their opening-round playoff games — at home, no less — to the Nashville Predators.

And to hear head coach Bruce Boudreau explain it, the club has only itself to blame.

“Too many penalties, for sure,” Boudreau said following his club’s second straight 3-2 loss to the Preds. “We were just stupid out there.”

The Ducks had 12 penalty minutes to Nashville’s four on Sunday night, and received just one power-play opportunity to Nashville’s five. One of the Anaheim’s transgressions proved especially costly — not long after David Perron interfered with Ryan Ellis late in the second period, Shea Weber slammed home what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Boudreau clearly wasn’t happy after the contest and, while he wasn’t pointing fingers, it’s not hard to guess which individuals he was upset with.

Ryan Garbutt took a bad unsportsmanlike conduct penalty midway through the game, and Corey Perry got nailed for two penalties in a three-minute span in the opening frame. The Ducks also seemed to get frustrated on numerous occasions throughout the night, which could’ve played a role in their lack of discipline.

And it’s that lack of discipline that really irked Boudreau.

“The penalties we take sometimes are just so selfish,” he lamented. “And so dumb.”

Disallowed goal ‘probably the turning point’ for Isles in wild win over Panthers

New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) is congratulated by New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) after scoring the game-winning goal during overtime in Game 3 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in New York. The Islanders defeated the Panthers 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
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Usually, it’s the players that decide playoff games.

But in the new-look Stanley Cup playoffs, coaches are having a bigger influence than ever.

Another coach’s challenge resulted in a huge momentum swing on Sunday night in Brooklyn, as Isles head coach Jack Capuano successfully overturned a Florida goal, correctly judging that Jonathan Huberdeau was offside prior to Aaron Ekblad‘s second period marker.

“There’s so much talk about that offside rule, but that was an incredible boost,” Thomas Hickey said, per Yahoo. “You could feel it in the building when they called ‘no goal’ and I think it gave us extra life.”

Hickey, who scored the eventual game-winner in a wild OT affair, might have a point. Ekblad’s goal would’ve made the score 3-0, a massive hole for the Isles. Instead, the Brooklynites found themselves down just two goals — and, moments after the successful challenge, Ryan Pulock scored his first of the playoffs to cut the lead to 2-1.

Nick Bjugstad would score to restore Florida’s two-goal lead but, as Hickey mentioned, the Isles had life. Shane Prince and Frans Nielsen scored to even things at 3-3, setting the stage for Hickey’s OT heroics.

Prior to tonight, the biggest — and most controversial — coach’s challenge happened during Game 2 of the St. Louis-Chicago series, in which Joel Quenneville wiped out Vladimir Tarasenko’s go-ahead goal after correctly judging that Jori Lehtera was offside.

Nobody knew how profoundly coach’s challenges — in their first year of existence — would affect the playoffs.

But it didn’t take long for everyone to figure out the answer.

“That was probably the turning point in the game,” Hickey said. “As stupid as it sounds.”