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NHL Playoff Morning Papers (Thursday Edition): Caps have nothing but praise for Varlamov, Sidney Crosby is the hero, again, Where is Pavel Datsyuk?, Patrick Kane understands Savard firing, Radulov back to Nashville, Mike Keenan on the hot seat in Calgary?,

2nd Round Playoff Matchups

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins (1) versus Carolina Hurricanes (6)

  • Bruins attempt to finish the rally tonight.  Net worth in game 7 as goalie‘s are key factors to winning the series.  Claude Julien reiterated yesterday that Marc Savard will be able to play in Game 7 tonight.  As last night’s Illegal Curve Radio show guest and Boston Herald Bruins beat writer Stephen Harris said, when Savard, during Game 6,  came onto the ice to test whatever was ailing him, he didn’t last long.  Stephen then writes about the unique perspective that Andrew Ferrance has to view the B’s erratic performance.
  • Are the Canes loaded for bear because they’ve got a big bad Bruin in their sights and if they don’t step it up they are in for a mauling.  Canes coach Paul Maurice said there could be an adjustment on defense and with the lines for Game 7 against the Bruins.  Carolina Hurricanes’ captain Rod Brind’Amour, then (2006) and now, didn’t have to say much to make his impact felt, but when he thought something had to be said, he said it.

Washington Capitals (2) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (4)

  • Tarik El-Bashir discusses how the Capitals’ Nemesis took control quickly and closed an otherwise thrilling series with an easy win.  In the end, Crosby was the better player opines Mike Wise.  After last night’s loss, the Caps have nothing but praise for Simeon Varlamov.  What some of the Caps players did to keep their minds off game 7.
  • Game 7s, like the one the Penguins and Washington played last night to determine the winner of their second-round playoff series, are always special.  Game 7, the drama, became a comedy or a tragedy depending on your rooting interest with Sidney Crosby as the hero.  The Pens never stopped believing, not after they fell behind two games to none and not after they were beaten at home in Game 6, a 5-4 Capitals victory that necessitated Wednesday night’s Game 7.  With a swipe of his glove, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury sent a message to everyone who doubted his abilities.

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings (2) versus Anaheim Ducks (8)

  • A little nastiness to end Game 6, now Game 7 to decide which team keeps its Stanley Cup dreams alive and which one’s season ends abruptly.  What more can you ask for?  The Wings’ response should be to do what they do, which is show poise and experience and skate the feathers off the Duckies.  As I’ve been saying for quite some time, after an MVP-quality regular season, Pavel Datsyuk has slumped at a bad, bad time for the Red Wings.  Detroit’s most dependable distraction, Tomas Holmstrom, is suddenly nowhere to be found.  There isn’t much to hate about Hiller, except this: he is quite capable of standing on his head (figuratively), winning this series (literally) and ripping the Wings’ hearts out.
  • To defeat the Red Wings, Ducks will need to outsmart them, and not rely on passion alone.  Could this be the Ducks’ most impressive playoff series victory. Ever.  The Ducks prepare for game 7 and all that entails.

Chicago Blackhawks (4)

  • All the Blackhawks and their fans can do is sit back and watch as the other Western Conference semifinal series plays out to determine who the team will face in the conference finals and then try and figure who they’d rather face.  What do the Blackhawks do with all those hats thrown on the United Center ice?  Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane now understands Denis Savard firing.  GM Dale Tallon talks hockey, golf, pressure.

Teams that are not in the playoffs:

  • Predators General Manager David Poile came away from a recent meeting with Alexander Radulov believing the talented Russian forward does want to return to the NHL.
  • Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke appeared on Toronto radio station AM 640 on Wednesday afternoon to dismiss rumours he was looking to move up in the NHL Entry Draft by making a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  A serious error has been committed by Sports Illustrated in judging the Maple Leafs ownership to be the worst in the NHL.
  • The Monreal Canadiens have signed defencemen P.K. Subban and Andre Benoit, GM Bob Gainey announced on Wednesday.
  • They packed their bags, shook hands, and for some Vancouver Canucks, walked out of the dressing room for the last time yesterday.
  • Of all of the coaches in Calgary Flames organization — at the National Hockey League level, at the American Hockey League level — only Mike Keenan has another year remaining on his contract.  Yet it’s his future, above all others’, that seems most uncertain.
  • While the Avalanche remains without a general manager and intrigue surrounds its head coaching position, the team did manage to sign a couple of top prospects Wednesday to pro contracts.
  • Comcast Corp. has no plans to sell its majority ownership stakes in the Sixers and Flyers because of the weak economy.
  • The Atlanta Spirit were named one of the five worst owners in the NHL in a recent ranking by Sports Illustrated’s Web site.
  • The Sharks are paying the price for their first-round playoff exit. The team, in a packet to season-ticket holders that included a letter from CEO Greg Jamison calling the loss “disappointing and embarrassing,” announced that season-ticket prices will remain the same for 2009-10.
  • As soon as Willie Desjardins told his wife, Rhonda, he’d been chosen head coach of Canada’s next junior team, her reply was: “‘Well, we’ll have to win six.”
  • India’s women’s field hockey team have cancelled their tour of Canada this month because of fears over the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

The Phoenix situation:

  • Hamilton council approves Balsillie lease option for Copps Coliseum.
  • Coyotes can’t be sold to Balsillie, Arizona city says.
  • The provincial government is doing the old spinarama when it comes to financial help for BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie’s bid to bring the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.