Blackhawks push the Kings to the brink of elimination, Bruins can finish off Penguins tonight, Andy McDonald retires, the Devils re-sign Andrei Loktionov, the new NHL-NHLPA CBA is released, and more.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/LOS ANGELES TIMES: Marian Hossa’s one-time 70 seconds into the third period snapped a 2-2 tie as the Chicago Blackhawks (with defenseman Duncan Keith suspended for Game Four) edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 to take a 3-1 series lead over the defending Stanley Cup champions heading back to Chicago for Game Five on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was the Kings first home loss of this year’s playoffs, and couldn’t have come at a worse time, pushing them to the brink of elimination. A popgun offense is the reason the Kings find themselves in this situation. Top forwards Anze Kopitar (scoreless in his last seven) and Dustin Brown (scoreless in his last five) have been shut down by the Blackhawks. For the Kings to stay alive, they need more from these two.
BOSTON GLOBE/TRIBLIVE.COM: The Boston Bruins defensive game is the reason they’re poised to sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose embattled coach is publicly confident his team can win Game Four tonight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this series began I doubted the Bruins defense could contain the Penguins vaunted offense, yet they’ve effectively shut down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Jarome Iginla, while limiting Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis to one point each. They’ll have to complete the job without Gregory Campbell, who suffered a broken leg in Game Three and is done for the playoffs. As for Bylsma, the media has already begun speculating over his future if the Penguins are eliminated from this series, and the trade rumors are starting up over Malkin and Letang. I’ll have more on those in my Rumors section.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: St. Louis Blues UFA forward Andy McDonald officially announced his retirement yesterday, citing concerns over his concussion history. McDonald believes he could play two or three more seasons, but believes it’s important for his health to retire now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the coming years we could see more players with concussion histories following McDonald’s lead and calling it a career rather than risk further brain damage. It might push the NHL and NHLPA to do more to protect its players from concussions. At least McDonald had a lengthy, productive NHL career before being forced out of the game.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils have agreed to what’s believed to be a one-year deal on a new contract for forward Andrei Loktionov. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a dense read (540 pages of legalese) which I’m hoping to get through in the coming weeks, especially when my insomnia flares up. Anyway, I’m curious to see if there’s anything in there which wasn’t listed among the highlights when the agreement was first announced back in January. The previous CBA proved to be an ongoing learning process for many folks, including respected hockey analysts. I daresay the new one won’t be any different.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnson explains why the players’ pension plan was so vital during the last round of collective bargaining.
PHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers have held preliminary talks about staging an outdoor game at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium against the Pittsburgh Penguins.