NEW YORK, NY – Earlier this week the NHL held their draft lottery to see who gets the first pick in this year’s draft. Last year’s two stage lottery gave the Rangers the #1 overall pick. This year the lottery went back to a single stage and the Blueshirts went in with a 1% chance of winning the #1 pick. Slim odds that did not pay out. The Rangers will select 15th.
The Buffalo Sabres were the worst team in the league and had the best odds at winning the lottery at 16.6%. They won and will select first in the entry draft. The expansion Seattle
Kracken Kraken– yes, that is the actual name of the team – will select second in the entry draft. The Kracken will also get to essentially cherry pick every team’s third best player in the expansion draft.
The last expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season after a very productive expansion draft. The Kraken will look to have similar success next season when they open up the Climate Pledge Arena – yes, that’s the actual name of the arena. Amazon bought the naming rights last year and instead of naming the arena after the company, they decided to bring some attention to climate change. It will be the first zero-carbon arena in the world and will get all of its energy from renewable sources.
In the meantime the Stanley Cup Playoffs rage on. The Boston Bruins beat the Islanders in overtime last night to take a 2-1 series lead in their second round matchup…. In the Central Division, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime to cut Tampa’s lead in the series to 2-1… Out west, the Colorado Avalanche won their first two games at home against the Golden Knights. Game 3 is tonight on the Strip as the Knights will look to get back into the series.
With the COVID travel restrictions in Canada, the divisions were realigned for 2021 and all of the Canadian teams played in a single division. This has guaranteed that two Canadian teams would face each other in the second round and that one Canadian team would be guaranteed a place in the Cup Semifinals. Where that team will play their home games is still up in the air. The COVID travel restrictions in Canada are still in place. The league is working with the Canadian Public Health Agency to try to get a national-interest exemption which would allow either the Habs or Jets to play their Semifinal round home games in Canada. If the exemption falls through then they will have to play their home games at a neutral American hockey arena.
The Canadiens lead the series 1-0 after Wednesday night’s fiery Game 1. Late in the third period with the Habs leading by a goal, Montreal’s Jake Evans collected the puck and rounded the Jets’ empty net to score. Mark Scheifele laid a massive hit on Evans that knocked him out cold. The hit was directly to Evans’ head and Scheifele left his feet. It was an ugly hit that saw Evans stretchered off the ice and Scheifele handed a four-game suspension.
The hit has been the talk of the hockey world with some saying the hit was dirty and some saying it was a clean hit. The timing was marginal and I don’t think anything would have come of the hit had Scheifele not targeted the head. You want your players to keep playing, especially down a goal in the playoffs. In the end I think the punishment is fair given the nature of the hit and the context of the series. The two teams meet again tonight in Game 2.
Speaking of shots to the head, come back tomorrow for a man that once played goalie without a mask for beer money that he had to use for stitches, Short Matt. But first feel free to comment below.