Montreal Canadiens legend Elmer Lach passes away at 97

Jared Clinton
Elmer Lach (left) stands with Andrei Markov during his jersey retirement ceremony. (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

Saturday morning, the Montreal Canadiens lost one of the legendary players in the franchise’s history. Elmer Lach, who centered the Canadiens’ famed Punch Line, passed away at 97 in Montreal.

Lach, a native of Nokomis, Sask., began his NHL career in 1940-41 with the Canadiens, scoring seven goals and 21 points in 43 games. Over the next several seasons, however, Lach would become a prolific scorer. In 1944-45, Lach led the league in scoring with 26 goals and 80 points in 50 games and captured the Hart Trophy for his efforts. In 1947-48, Lach would again lead the league in scoring with 30 goals and 61 points in 60 games. Over the course of his career, Lach tallied 215 goals and 623 points in 664 games. Read more

Patrik Elias dances Dustin Tokarski for beautiful shootout goal

Jared Clinton
Patrik Elias (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

In Patrik Elias‘ first season in the NHL, the introduction of the shootout to the league was a decade from becoming reality. That doesn’t mean, however, that the 38-year-old couldn’t come up with a few tricks to put up his sleeve.

Saturday night’s game, which pitted Elias’ New Jersey Devils against the Montreal Canadiens, went to extra time and, subsequently, a shootout, which was ended by Elias in the third round on an amazing deke. As the third shooter for the Devils, and with the game on his stick, Elias serpentined over the blueline, put on three quick dekes, moved the puck from backhand to forehand and tucked it into the yawning cage: Read more

Three Stanley Cup contenders who could choke early in the playoffs

Max Pacioretty. (Getty images)

We’re close enough to the end of the season that trends matter. Hot upstarts may stay hot through the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Teams showing sneaky flaws may not have time to rectify them.

Speaking of those flaws – which supposed elite teams have scary habits or weaknesses that will lead to rude spring awakenings? Here are three teams to consider.

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Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin scores gorgeous breakaway goal on Carey Price in Drouin’s hometown

Adam Proteau
Jonathan Drouin (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning rookie left winger Jonathan Drouin has had to earn every minute of his ice time on a deep Bolts team this year, and although he hasn’t been scoring at a great clip, the 20-year-old got a late birthday present Monday when he netted a beautiful breakaway goal against the league’s top netminder – and in Drouin’s hometown of Montreal, to boot.

Drouin, who scored 41 goals for Halifax in the QMJHL two seasons ago, had only scored twice in 65 games (along with a very respectable 27 assists) heading into the tilt with the Canadiens and star goalie Carey Price. But after a brilliant pass by teammate Anton Stralman from deep in Tampa Bay’s zone, Drouin broke in all alone on Vezina and Hart Trophy frontrunner Carey Price and made no mistake: Read more

For the first time in years, are the Pittsburgh Penguins actually – gasp – playoff underdogs?

Evgeni Malkin (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Hockey News this week revealed its collective pre-playoff pick to win the 2014-15 Stanley Cup (hint: team name rhymes with Grandpa Jay Whitening), but as an individual who was part of that process, I can tell you I wasn’t leading the charge for the team we selected (hint: my pick rhymes with…uh, to hell with it – I picked the Blackhawks). That said, I think this season’s playoffs will be like those that have preceded it in the salary cap era in that you can make excellent arguments for about two handfuls of teams, assuming each benefits from good health and solid chemistry at the right time of the year.

And that said, I think this post-season is particularly fascinating, because it’s the first playoffs in a long time in which the Pittsburgh Penguins are coming in as underdogs – or at least, as much of an underdog that any team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it can be. Read more

Top five best-case-scenario first-round NHL playoff matchups

Brian Elliott, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the end of the NHL’s regular-season approximately two weeks away, attention has settled on the possible first-round playoff showdowns. Many, if not most of the specific post-season berths won’t be finalized until closer to the final games on Apr. 11, but it’s not too early to start crossing fingers in the hope that some teams will wind up facing particular opponents and provide viewers with maximum entertainment value right out of the gate. Here are the top five best-case scenario first-round matchups this year:

5. Montreal vs. Ottawa. There are a few ways the Senators can take on the Canadiens in the first round, and most of them involve the Habs fending off Tampa Bay to retain top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Sens hold on to the final wild card berth. Both results are entirely possible, and if it does happen, Canadian TV executives will be shimmying down the avenue as they celebrate the massive ratings that are sure to ensue. Read more

CHL playoffs: The most intriguing first-round matchups

Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.

Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.

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