Rangers blank Devils in opening game of Eastern Conference Final, updates on the Kings and Coyotes, the coaching situation in Washington, and more.


Girardi the game star in Rangers series-opening victory over Devils.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/NORTHJERSEY.COM: The NY Rangers drew first blood in their Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils with a 3-0 victory. It was a tough loss for the Devils, who controlled the play until the third, when Dan Girardi’s goal in the first minute gave his tired teammates the lead and a much-needed boost of energy.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC/LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Phoenix Coyotes have their hands full in their Western Conference Final series against an LA Kings team which incorporates strong offense (like their first round opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks) with strong defense (like their second round opponent, the Nashville Predators). The Kings offense has been powered by the line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Justin Williams, which may be the best in this year’s playoffs. Kings forward Simon Gagne (concussion) was recently cleared for contact, but GM Dean Lombardi said he’s not practicing with the team and remains a long way from returning to action. He’s not expected to play in the playoffs.

WASHINGTON TIMES/WASHINGTON POST: Yesterday’s news of Dale Hunter stepping down as head coach of the Capitals is painful but not unexpected. Possible replacements could include Bob Hartley, Michel Therrien, Marc Crawford, Ron Wilson, Paul Maurice, Mike Keenan, Jacques Martin or Jon Cooper, though GM George McPhee hasn’t tipped his hand as to who he’ll hired to replace Hunter, or when this could happen.

MERCURYNEWS.COM: Mark Purdy believes the San Jose Sharks should look to the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes for a winning hockey formula.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Steve Rosenbloom believes the Blackhawks silence regarding Patrick Kane’s highly publicized drinking antics is reason enough for the forward to be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if the Blackhawks will go to that extreme, but it’s getting to the point where the organization cannot simply dismiss his drunken off-ice antics as “boys will be boys”. As I’ve noted before, Kane is a young man in his early twenties, and while I was never a millionaire athlete at that age, I certainly did my share of drunken antics at that age which were often silly and sometime downright stupid. Being as famous as he is, especially in this day and age of social media, his antics will receive considerable publicity, and can even get blown out of proportion. We don’t know if he’s an alcoholic or problem drinker, and folks must not jump to conclusions based on a few incidents. That being said, he has to be aware that his actions are starting to become an embarrassment to both himself and the organization, and he’ll have to be more mature and responsible with his drinking.