Later today we’ll begin our Vancouver Canucks free agent roll calls; information and speculation on players who fans may or may not want to see back. We’ll skip goaltender Jaroslav Halak because the unrestricted free agent (UFA) will be moving on and it appears Spencer Martin will be getting a crack at the Vancouver Canucks full-time back-up goalie position. At the NHL level, not including Halak, there are seven Canucks free agents to consider.
In the meantime, there’s plenty happening around the National Hockey Now circuit, including a Sunshine State beat down and some literal violence out west.
Or was it simply the will to win? The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely have more of one and appeared to have a lot more of the other in their second round sweep of their cross-state rival, the Florida Panthers.
The Bolts held on and added an empty-netter for a 2-0 victory on Monday to close out the Cats. Bye bye to the Presidents Trophy winning Panthers who finished the regular season with an NHL high 122 points. Part of their demise, particularly in the last two games, was the outstanding play of Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s appears to be back to the form that has helped earn the Lightning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.
That could spell trouble for whoever comes out of the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes series, one that the latter team leads 2-1 with Game-4 this evening at Madison Square Garden in New York.
One could interpret that mini-headline two ways, given what unfolded Monday night in St. Louis. Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche attacked the St. Louis Blues offensively, while being attacked physically by a Blues team that still appeared miffed by Kadri’s hit on goalie Jordan Binnington in Game-3 that knocked the St. Louis netminder out of the series.
External death threats, racist in nature with Kadri being only the 4th NHLer of Lebanese descent and Muslim, preceded Game-4. Not necessarily surprising given the racism inherent in that part of the United States in particular and the hate-mongering and anti-Arab spew that comes from nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts in the US, but that’s a different story. Or is it?
It was after his first goal of the evening and his very mild taunt of the crowd afterward that drew the ire of the Blues. At 5:30 of the second period, less than 90-seconds after that Kadri goal, Blues forwards Pavel Buchnevich and David Perron attacked Kadri from behind and went to the penalty box for roughing and cross checking respectively.
Justice was served and Kadri had his next-to-last laugh when he scored his second goal of the night just as the two-minute five-on-three Avalanche power play ended.
Colorado leads the series 3-games-to-1 and head home to Denver to try and wrap it up in Game-5 on Wednesday.
Battle of Alberta
Probably because of so many ex-Vancouver Canucks on the roster, the Calgary Flames seem to garner more support than the Edmonton Oilers from BC fans in the local Battle of Alberta sentiment. Game-4 is tonight with the Oilers at home and leading the series 2-1.
Enjoy the Hockey Action!!