With the Carolina Hurricanes waiting for their next opponent after sweeping the New York Islanders in the second round of the playoffs, the team is finally getting the rest it needs after a very physical playoff stretch that has worn down the roster. After playing 11 games in 23 days, the Hurricanes took the entire weekend off and are expected to pick up activity on Monday, according to News & Observer’s Luke DeCock.
The team hopes the rest could get a few more players back to full strength, although there are few updates on the injured. There is no word on the status of forward Micheal Ferland as his status remains uncertain. However, the team hopes to get Saku Maenalanen back at some point in the Conference Finals after he underwent hand surgery last week. The rest should also help forward Jordan Martinook, who played injured in Games 3 and 4, as well as goaltender Petr Mrazek, who was forced to leave Game 2 and put 35-year-old Curtis McElhinney into a full-time role, which isn’t ideal. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour commented on the need for rest, saying “I think a break is what they need, more almost mentally. They need more of that. Will it affect us in our first game? We’re going to hear about that. Maybe. There might be a little rust there. But we need it.”
- NHL.com’s Brian Compton writes that New York Islanders’ Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner, who rewarded the Islanders with an amazing season in goal this year after the Islanders took a chance on him, was non-committal after the team was swept in the second round of the playoffs on Friday. The 27-year-old netminder will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after signing a one-year “prove it” deal for $1.5MM and there is a chance he may opt to make it his only year. “It’s a little bit too much emotions right now,” said Lehner, “I really like everyone here. This group is incredible, some of the best people I’ve been around. I’ve been in the league for a while now. We’ll see what God has in store for me.”
- Helene St. James of the Detroit Free-Press writes that Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill admitted that he was thrilled when general manager Steve Yzerman gave him a vote of confidence after taking over his new position. “It was great to hear that he has belief in me and my abilities,” said Blashill, who has been committed to developing the young players on the team, many who have thrived under the head coach’s leadership.
- With major cap implications upcoming in Toronto, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler (subscription required) writes that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, have been thrilled with the play of their young defenseman in the AHL playoffs, including Timothy Liljegren (first-round pick in 2017), Mac Hollowell (fourth-round pick in 2018) and Rasmus Sandin (first-round pick in 2018). Marlies’ coach Sheldon Keefe added, “It has been such a long period of time now where we relied on (Liljegren and Sandin), so we don’t get to the playoffs if those young guys can’t step up and play the minutes they had to play for us at different times when we were depleted.” With changes coming to the team’s defense, it’s good to know that the three prospects could be closing in on being ready for NHL action.