And of course, the Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Smyth had a nice sendoff Saturday in the second game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader. All those Vancouver Canucks’ players who took the time to shake Smyth’s hands reminded me of a scene a few years back when Jarome Iginla led the Calgary Flames in a long hand shake line to make the end of Trevor Linden’s career. Nice classy touch by an organization that needs to improve its reputation around the league.
THE INJURY LIST: The Kings will get Drew Doughty back for the start of their playoff season. He’d missed the last four games, recovering from a banged up shoulder, but could have returned mid-week if necessary. But the Kings wanted him to fully heal and also recover from his Olympic experience, where he logged a ton of ice time on behalf of Team Canada … Another Olympic star, Mikael Granlund of Finland, got an unexpected two-week vacation as a result of a concussion, but he is considered possible for the start of the playoffs for the Wild … Two players who won’t be ready to go are Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit) and Nathan Horton (Columbus). Zetterberg isn’t cleared for contact yet and so the middle of the first round is the earliest that the Red Wings might get him back. Horton, meanwhile, had surgery to correct an abdominal tear and probably wouldn’t be cleared to play again unless the Blue Jackets unexpectedly get to the Stanley Cup final … The New York Rangers’ playoff lives could hinge on how well defenceman Ryan McDonough plays after missing the last five games with a shoulder injury. McDonough was voted the team MVP and likely will appear on some Norris Trophy ballots. Without him, the Rangers could have trouble handling some of Philadelphia’s size up front.
SHORT TAKES: Many of the same candidates that interviewed for the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager’s job earlier this season – the one that Tim Murray eventually landed – will also troop through Vancouver to talk to Linden about the opening for a GM. The sense though is that Jim Benning, the Bruins’ assistant general manager, will be favored to land the position. Benning’s last two NHL seasons overlapped Linden’s first two with the Canucks way back in 1989 and 1990 … George McPhee has been general manager of the Capitals since 1997, but if Washington’s inability to make the playoffs costs him his job, he will get a look in Calgary, where the Flames are still searching for a general manager. McPhee spent five seasons working in Vancouver’s front office as vice-president of hockey operations, a period that overlapped Brian Burke’s time with the Canucks.
AND FINALLY: When the Dallas Stars traded away defenceman Stephane Robidas at the deadline to the Ducks, little did they know they would be facing each other in the opening round. Dallas was the only team to cross over as part of the NHL’s new playoff alignment – and as it happens, they’ll play out the postseason in the Pacific Division, which was their home for the previous 14 seasons.
Accordingly, the Ducks know the Stars and the Stars know the Ducks. Dallas actually won the season series, 2-1, and Robidas speaking post-game Saturday, noted that after playing 10 seasons in the Stars’ organization, it would be a challenge facing his ex-teammates in a best-of-seven series.
"I have a lot of good friends, a lot of teammates, guys that stayed at my house last year and this year," acknowledged Robidas. "But it's a game and it's the playoffs. I want to win and they want to win. At one point, you put friendship aside. Once a series is over, we'll be friends again. That's the way I see it.
“I've played against good friends before and whenever I'm on the ice, you put aside friendship. I really want to win a Stanley Cup. That's my goal and they're standing in our way."