Montreal’s Alexander Radulov and Toronto’s Nikita Zaitsev will not play for Russia at the upcoming World Championship, even though the Canadiens and Maple Leafs have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Both Radulov and Zaitsev are pending free agents, and it would be a risk to play ahead of contract negotiations.
Zaitsev just recovered from an upper-body injury, possibly a concussion. It may, in fact, have been the Leafs who refused to let him go.
Radulov, 30, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Zaitsev, 25, will be of the restricted variety, assuming he doesn’t sign an extension first.
Read more: Radulov denies he wants eight-year extension
They aren’t the only players skipping the Worlds due to their contract situations. Chicago’s Richard Panik and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat will not be taking the risk either.
The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t grab the torch from the Washington Capitals in this series, but they put up a tremendous struggle.
Auston Matthews continued to make an impression with a goal in his fourth consecutive game, yet it wasn’t enough to send this scintillating series to a Game 7. Instead, Marcus Johansson collected tying and game-winning goals, leading Washington to a 2-1 OT win to take the series 4-2.
Here is video of the tally that ended Toronto’s season:
While the Capitals taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins is “expected,” the path to get there wasn’t as many drew it up. Toronto gave Washington all it can handle in a series that tied a record with five trips beyond regulation.
The Maple Leafs can take heart in pushing the play for large spans of the series, although there have also been spans where it felt like the Caps found that extra gear.
Toronto fans who’ve been longing for a return to playoff glory must be experiencing mixed feelings. This young bunch achieved more than just about anyone expected, particularly in this series against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. That might be why it burns, though; Buds fans deal with the bitter feeling of so close.
Then again, the Capitals know all about that. They hope to avoid repeating such history in this huge opportunity. Perhaps facing a far tougher-than-expected challenge to start things off might be a blessing in disguise?
Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately leaving such efforts unsuccessful.
So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.
Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”
It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.
These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.
Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.
It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.
Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.
It is a win or go home situation for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, as both teams enter their respective Game 6s facing elimination in their first-round playoff series’.
The Bruins need to beat the Ottawa Senators to force a Game 7 on Tuesday night, while the Toronto Maple Leafs need a win to extend their series against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals to a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.
Both games will be shown on the NBC Networks and streamed online.
Here is all of the information you need for Sunday’s games.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)