2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders

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SERIES STARTS: Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, in Tampa Bay.

THE LIGHTNING WIN IF…

It’s a testament to the Lightning’s depth of roster talent that, without their best player Steven Stamkos and their second-best defenseman Anton Stralman, they still shoved aside the Detroit Red Wings in five games in Round 1. Tampa reached the Stanley Cup final a year ago for a reason. If it was a one- or two-man team, that wouldn’t have been possible.

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Flyers to start 2016-17 without Schenn, who’s suspended three games for charging

Jared Clinton
Brayden Schenn hits T.J. Oshie (via NHL)

Philadelphia Flyers winger Brayden Schenn will be the first player to sit out games in 2016-17 due to suspension, and he’ll have the whole summer to think about the hit that has him missing the first three games of the upcoming season.

Schenn, who will turn 25 this off-season, has been handed a three-game ban for charging Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie in Game 6 of the first-round series between the two clubs. Schenn’s hit came in late in the second period of the contest when Oshie was attempting to dig the puck out of the left wing corner in the Flyers’ zone.

Oshie was pulling the puck out of the feet of Alex Ovechkin after the Capitals captain threw a hit in the corner when Schenn approached Oshie from the side and, per the suspension video released by the Department of Player Safety, drove upwards through a check that caught Oshie high. Schenn’s hit is made worse by the fact there is “significant contact with the head” of Oshie on the play: Read more

Actor Will Arnett named host of the 2016 NHL Awards

Jared Clinton
Will Arnett with New york Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards in 2014 (Kevin Mazur/KCSports2014/WireImage)

Actor Will Arnett has been tagged by the NHL to host the 2016 award show that will be broadcast live from Las Vegas’ The Joint, an entertainment venue at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, on June 22. No word on whether he’ll be wearing $5,000 suit.

Arnett, 45, is best known for his work in the series Arrested Development, where he played G.O.B. Bluth, as well as the recently released series Flaked, in which he stars. Arnett takes over the duties from Rob Riggle, who hosted last year’s show. Other guests, presenters and musical acts have not yet been named, though it’d be fitting were the NHL to land 1980s pop group Europe to play ‘The Final Countdown.’

The actor already stated that the hosting duty was an honor for him, a Toronto native, to host the award show. Arnett, who’s frequently spotted at Los Angeles Kings games, has made his Toronto Maple Leafs fandom evident in the past, including a short comedy skit taped with members of the Maple Leafs in 2014, and quipped that he was upset his hosting duties would get in the way of him earning the Lady Byng Trophy, but added he’s glad this is his year to host because the Maple Leafs Stanley Cup parade would get in the way next season.

“I’m excited to host the 2016 NHL Awards because we all know in 2017 I’ll be too busy celebrating the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup,” Arnett told NHL.com. Read more

Sorry, but the Oilers might win the draft lottery. What happens if they do?

Matt Larkin
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome, everyone. Thanks for coming. Just walking through the door is a courageous first step. There’s coffee and donuts on the table in the corner. When you’re ready, sit with me in the circle.

Everyone join hands. It’s time to discuss the real possibility the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery this Saturday and pick first overall for the fifth time in seven years.

Their chances: 13.5 percent. It doesn’t make the Copper and Blue the favorite – that would be the Toronto Maple Leafs at 20 percent – but Edmonton has the second-best odds. The Oil sat third-best a year ago at 11.5 percent and still managed to win the Connor McDavid Ping-Pong Sweepstakes, so we know they have a chance, technically a better one this time around.

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Blackhawks bound for more playoff heartbreak until they can rebuild depth

Jared Clinton
Patrick Kane (Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)

Following Chicago’s Game 7 loss, Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said exiting the post-season in the first round didn’t feel right. And that’s true. As the post-season rolls on without the Blackhawks, something will feel amiss. Chicago has made the Western Conference final in each of the past three seasons, twice taking home the Stanley Cup. They’ve become a staple of playoff hockey, a regular contender seemingly one bounce away from getting back into the winner’s circle.

They didn’t get that bounce in Game 7, though, and Blackhawks fans may have to prepare themselves for earlier summers going forward. Unlike years prior building back to consistent contention is going to take some time.

Before the post-season began, parallels were drawn between this season’s Blackhawks and the team that lost in the first-round in 2011. Both entered the playoffs as defending champions, both entered with high expectations and both were missing key pieces of what made them a contender the year prior. The comparisons will run deeper — and last longer — than this post-season, though.

Following the 2011 exit, which came via a 3-2 loss in Game 7 to the then-rival Vancouver Canucks, the Blackhawks were forced to say goodbye to Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and — this one is going to hurt today — Troy Brouwer. What followed was a 2011-12 season in which Chicago stumbled again in the first round and were sent packing by the Phoenix Coyotes. And though the team recovered in time for the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, the quick turnaround isn’t going to be as easy to come by this time. Read more

So where exactly do the New York Rangers go from here?

Henrik Lundqvist  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

When the New York Rangers cleaned out their stalls Tuesday morning, defenseman Dan Boyle cursed out a couple of reporters he felt were unfairly critical of him and refused to start his breakup interview until they left the scrum. We’re going to chalk that up to a proud veteran who is going down swinging and will probably look at that incident after second sober thought with regret.

But in a way, Boyle and his rant – which will almost certainly be his last as an NHL player – provide a microcosm of the situation that is facing his soon-to-be-former team. Boyle could have gone quietly into the night or he could have come out with one last flurry. He chose the latter.

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Lightning get good news as Stamkos practices, Stralman closing in on return

Jared Clinton
Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning came two wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup last season, but they’re already through Round One as the franchise chases its second championship. And as difficult as the pursuit of Cup No. 2 is going to be, the Lightning’s chances are going to improve that much more if they can start to get healthy as the playoff wear on.

Tampa Bay got some good news in that regard ahead of Game 1 of the second-round matchup against the New York Islanders.

At Tuesday’s practice, Steven Stamkos took the ice for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot that was in his arm. The most incredible part about Stamkos’ return is that it comes three weeks after he had surgery to remove the clot, which is one week ahead of what was given as the earliest timeline for return, and well ahead of the worst-case scenario, which was a three-month absence from the lineup for Stamkos.

Stamkos took part in line rushes, but sat out contact drills. The issue moving forward will be when Stamkos will be cleared for contact, and there’s no definite timeline on when that could be. According to the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith, Stamkos said the “million dollar question” will be how long he needs to remain on blood thinners before getting back in the lineup. Read more

Penguins’ Fleury calls concussion ‘one of the toughest things’ of his career

Jared Clinton
Marc-Andre Fleury (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Penguins are preparing to head to Washington to play the rival Capitals in the second round of the post-season, and while nothing is set in stone, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury might not be able to suit up for Pittsburgh in Game 1 as he’s still battling back from a concussion.

Fleury, 31, has been sidelined since the beginning of April with a concussion, and he told media Monday that he’s still experiencing some of the symptoms of the head injury. Fleury’s concussion dates back to a March 31 game against the Nashville Predators, and it was the second time this season — and second time in four months — that Fleury sustained a head injury. The first concussion caused him to miss eight games and he’s already in double digits with the current injury.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been though,” Fleury said. “There are some good days where you think you’re back, and bad days where you think it’s never going to get fixed. Lots of ups and downs. And in the playoffs, it’s such a fun time of year to play hockey and every game is so intense and meaningful. It’s tough to just be watching.” Read more