The NHL playoffs had quite the night on Thursday evening, with illegal checks being thrown in nearly every game. Tom Wilson and Josh Anderson have already gotten through unscathed, and Ryan Johansen will join them as players that didn’t receive disciplinary hearings. Johansen collided with Tyson Barrie, but will not receive any supplementary discipline as the league ruled it a “full body hit” according to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.
Barrie and Colorado GM Joe Sakic are both upset about the decision, with Barrie going so far as to suggest to Adrian Dater of BSN Denver more players will take “runs” at opponents knowing they can get away with it. While it looks like Nazem Kadri will be given the second suspension of the postseason (the first being Drew Doughty for his hit on Vegas forward William Carrier), things threaten to get even more out of control in the coming games.
- Phil Varone has been named AHL MVP for the 2017-18 season, after scoring 70 points in 73 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (with a few games remaining). Varone, a seven year professional, has always been an excellent offensive player in the minor leagues, but has just 50 NHL games under his belt. Drafted in the fifth round by the San Jose Sharks, his longest big league stint came with the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15, when he recorded five points in 28 games.
- Though it never did seem like a great fit, rumors persisted about the New York Rangers and Ilya Kovalchuk, with some even going so far to say a deal had already been agreed to. Kovalchuk himself denied that today when speaking to Russian media, saying he hasn’t had any connection with NHL teams so far. That would make sense, as he isn’t supposed to be talking to anyone until he becomes an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. Kovalchuk can’t sign with anyone until June 1st, and still lists team success as one of the driving forces. The Rangers, entering a period of rebuild and dedication to their young players, don’t seem like the perfect landing spot for a veteran looking to compete for the Stanley Cup in short order.