Shea Weber-less Predators won’t last long in series against Hawks if injured captain can’t return soon

Predators captain Shea Weber, before Game Two of Nashville's first-round series against Chicago. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

With Shea Weber in the lineup for their first two first-round games against Chicago, the Nashville Predators have shown they can compete against and beat the mighty Hawks. But without their injured captain during a 4-2 Game 3 loss Sunday at the United Center, the Preds looked very much like a team without its most important player. And those type of teams don’t normally win playoff series.

The Blackhawks needed overtime to claw out a 4-3 win in Game 1, and had their assets handed to them in a 6-2 loss to Nashville Friday. But they lost Weber to a lower-body injury (read: a knee or ankle injury) midway through the second period of Game 2, and if you needed any proof as to the 29-year-old’s value (or the reason why some of us voted for him as our first choice for the Norris Trophy), it was right there for you to gawk at in Game 3. If he’s not back in the lineup soon – and he’s not expected back for Game 4 Tuesday – it’s very likely his teammates will be joining him on the sidelines for the summer. Read more

NHL gets exactly what it wants in Montreal-Ottawa series – a gong show

P.K. Subban and Mark Stone  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Well, the old-time hockey guys in the NHL’s head office must be doubling over patting themselves on the back right about now. They’ve instantly created a gong show in the first-round series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. And in a league that openly admits that it sells hate, it just got exactly what it wants.

No matter that its ludicrous decision not to suspend P.K. Subban for his two-handed slash to the hand of Mark Stone has suddenly hijacked this series. Between now and Friday night for Game 2, few people will be talking about how the Canadiens fourth line depth players, who had been dormant for much of the season, rescued them in Game 1. Fewer will be talking about how arguably the two best goaltenders in the NHL going into the playoffs, Carey Price and Andrew Hammond, have to be much better in Game 2 than they were in Game 1. Read more

Canadiens’ P.K. Subban ejected after slashing Sens star Mark Stone – did the referees get it right?

Carey Price and P.K. Subban (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

You know that, no matter what else happens in every Stanley Cup tournament, there will always be at least one controversy related to NHL officiating. If it’s not a personal relationship between a referee and a particular player some fans and media focus on, it’s a debatable call that earns the ire of the public (and often, the team on the wrong end of the call). And it didn’t take very long at all for that officiating controversy to take place in the 2015 post-season: in the second period of Game 1 of Montreal’s first-round series against Ottawa Wednesday night, Canadiens star defenseman P.K. Subban was assessed a five-minute major penalty for slashing and a game misconduct.

The ejection of Subban enraged Habs fans, especially after Sens phenom Mark Stone – who, after being slashed by Subban on the penalized play, writhed around in great pain and left the game – returned to action a few minutes later. But if you think Subban was wronged to be given so harsh a penalty, don’t blame the officials. Blame the league and its philosophy of basing punishments on injury and thus encouraging players to embellish.

To be certain, Subban’s slash of Stone’s arm was (a) a two-hander; (b) vicious; and (c) could easily have caused serious damage to him: Read more

NHL playoff updates: Rangers’ Klein, Wild’s Cooke questionable for Game 1 – & Vermette a healthy scratch?

Antoine Vermette (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The start of the NHL playoffs means it’s time for subterfuge and/or the vaguest of terms to describe players’ injuries – and the playing status of any roster member, for that matter – so take anything you see below with a salt grain or two. But a number of NHLers were rumored Tuesday to be questionable for the start of their team’s first-round series – and not just because of injury. Read more

How much of a difference will Patrick Kane make?

Jared Clinton
Patrick Kane featured

It’s official. Patrick Kane will be back in the Blackhawks’ lineup Wednesday night for the first game of Chicago’s first-round tilt with the Nashville Predators.

Kane, who has been out since February with a broken clavicle, is coming back seven weeks after the injury was suffered. Initially, when he went down, the thought was Kane wouldn’t see action until the Western Conference final, were the Blackhawks to make it. The news that he’ll play in the first game of Chicago’s playoff run comes as somewhat of a shock and it begs the question: how effective will Kane really be? Read more