1. Don’t look now, but the seemingly underplayed Rangers signing of Pavel (Bucky) Buchnevich could be a huge plus next October. For the Blueshirt Brigade, this Russian Road Runner could be a latter-day Pavel Bure. Scouting reports border on ecstatic and the kid appears to be super-motivated.
2. As 21-year-old forwards go, Buchnevich’s credentials are impressive. He split this past season between Severstal Cherepovets and SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), registering 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points, along with 24 penalty minutes in 58 games. He established KHL career highs in games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (three), power play goals (four), and average ice time (16:10). Seeing will be believing.
3. From both body language and English language, I have to believe that of all the Islanders unrestricted free agents, Matt(Hit Everything In Sight) Martin is most likely to return to the Brooklynites.
4. After Martin, my guess is that Frans Nielsen is leaning something like 70-30 to remain with the Isles while Kyle Okposo is 50-50.
5. If John Tavares has any influence on his pals, they’ll all be back. But the captain realizes — as do all the UFAs — that hockey is a business. Then again, the business of America is business; isn’t it?
6. Really, it all will depend on the players’ negotiations with Garth Snow and how far each side is willing to go; or willing to bend or however way one settles these negotiations.
7. Am I the only one who believes there’s still a chance that Keith (Handles Well) Yandle will remain a Ranger or am I simply a victim of wishful, Fischler-ful thinking?
8. When it comes to having a three-goalie system, I agree that it can be cumbersome. On the other hand, it was a good thing the Islanders had the trio because when Jaroslav Halak went down with his injuries having J-F Berube as the third man was an imperative.
9. As for Thomas (Nice) Greiss, he carried the Isles into the second round. Even though Not-So-Tiny-Tom can be scary at times with the puck, he never beat himself in either series.
10. Trick now for Snow is to figure out whether Greiss’ half-season between the pipes was good enough to crown him Number One Goalie for 2016-17. During his conference call the other day, Garth sounded like he figures Thomas a No. 1.
11. Now Braden (I Can Never Stop Playing) Holtby knows why his possible Vezina Trophy win will be as hollow as a fox’s log. His greedy pursuit of Marty Brodeur’s win record tired him for the playoffs and — in the end — torpedoed his Capitals.
12. Caps Coach Barry Trotz should have ignored Holtby’s record passion. The wise move would have been giving solid backup Philip Grubauer extra late season games in goal while Holtby rested. Instead, Penguins rookie Matt Murray out-played Holtby and the Caps’ Cup hopes disappeared like the vintage trolley cars in D.C.
13. I can’t see a Western team winning the Cup. And if Evgeni Malkin and Sid Crosby don’t quickly emerge from their slumber, Pitt will never see the final round.
14. Any fan is allowed to go nuts — reasonably, of course, — over officiating. in any game. But the best way to handle bad playoff calls against your team is to embed this in your brain: It all evens out in the end. Trouble is, no passionate fan ever will believe that one. Commissioner Bettman sums up reality: “We don’t root for a team to win. It is what it is.”
15. The best analysis uttered by a postseason loser was delivered by Washington’s Justin (Triumphs) Williams: “The playoffs are about owning big moments and we didn’t own enough of them.” P.S. How come nobody’s blaming coach Barry (Hot To) Trotz for the Caps’ capitulation? He deserves some of it.
16. Studying all the goalie injuries, I still can’t believe that Hall of Famer Glenn Hall once actually played 502 straight NHL games without a mask. My Toronto Sun colleague Steve Simmons has a good Hall quote as to why his feat was so simple: “It’s easy,” Hall explained. “There’s 40 shots in a game. Fifteen go wide. Twenty hit me. I’ve got to make five saves.”
17. Senators fans should be questioning the new duo of head coach Guy Boucher and his new aide, Marc (My Words) Crawford. Boucher should not be tickled. A couple of bad moves and Crawford becomes head coach and Boucher head scapegoat.
18. Eric Staal becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. I can see him re-joining his kid brother, Jordan, in Carolina. But only at a Macy’s bargain price.
19. LETTERS: David Lee of West Hartford offers this: “The reason why Hartford Whalers winger Tom Martin was nicknamed ‘Bussy’ was because he once was traded by the Victoria Cougars for a bus. Martin was famously quoted this way: ‘It had bunks and a bathroom. It was a pretty nice bus.'”
20. Veteran Preds blueliner Barrett Jackman told me in October that his “most entertaining” NHL player was Nashville teammate Pekka Rinne. Perhaps but this May, Rinne became the Blues’ most entertaining sieve.
21. Do any of the present goalies remember the revolutionary Aeroflex synthetic pads? My younger son, Simon, wore them. “They were the first pad designed to ease a goalie into a ‘butterfly’ stance,” Simon insists. (I don’t argue with him; except I don’t see the name Aeroflex around anymore.)
22. Ray Shero will be trying to duplicate his magical Kyle Palmieri acquisition which prompts the question, who can the Devils boss get this time? New Jersey writer Mike Stromberg figures that if Ottawa gives up on forward Mike Hoffman, the latter could become the new Palmieri at The Rock.
23. The Stars might still be playing had they owned hermetically-sealed goaltending instead of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. That’s why nobody should be surprised if the likes of free agents such as Cam Ward, James Reimer or Carter Hutton wind up between the Dallas pipes next season.
24. My savvy seer David Kolb makes a good point when denigrating Advanced Stats, or other analytic nonsense. Dave recalls a recent Islanders playoff loss to Tampa Bay. “The Isles won face-offs, 59-41 percent, threw 10 more hits and still lost. Stats tell you nothing.”
25. Ben Bishop’s net-wandering that led to his Friday night injury should be a lesson to other goaltenders: Your place is in the crease. Pucks behind the net belong to defensemen or forwards.
26. No matter how you shake it, all bets are off regarding the Islanders’ 2016-17 make-up until new owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin take over the club from Charles Wang on July 1.
27. The most underrated forward now that we’re into the third round is San Jose’s captain Joe Pavelski. His Sharks are still alive because they are more balanced and deeper than they have been in the past.
28. Will somebody — anybody — do Malkin a favor and buy him a razor. Then tell him to shave off that mustache. Groucho Marx, he is not.
29. If there’s a better defenseman this side of the Rockies than Victor Hedman, please advise. On the Left Coast, of course, it would be sinful to overlook Brent Burns.
30. Once upon a time, there was a question about how good Peter DeBoer was as a coach. There never should have been this debate. He took the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final and he could very well do the same with San Jose. Not bad for an ex-lawyer.
31. Betcha didn’t know that the NHL has a rule related to items tossed on the ice. Octopi and rats — rubber or otherwise — are nixed. “There is only one tradition for throwing things on the ice,” says Commissioner Bettman, “and that is hat tricks.”
32. If the Penguins-Lightning Game 2 on Monday is anywhere near as rough as the opener, the Emergency Medical Service team at Consol Energy Center will be over-energized. Our old pal Ryan Callahan led the Friday night whomp-brigade by nearly turning Kris Letang into a human pancake. And since the NHL safety police ruled that no suspension was in order, the Pitt press pundits have lifted their “What’s Going On?” verbosity up near the high blood pressure mark.
33. My Smythe Trophy picks right now, into the third playoff round. 1. Joe Pavelski; 2. Victor Hedman; 3. Nikita Kucherov.
34. Best associate coach in the playoffs is Rick Bowness, master of the Bolts’ penalty kill. Remember Callahan’s first-period five-minute penalty? The high-powered Penguins got the Square-Root-Of-Nothing out of it; other than a first-game loss.
35. The only difference between tiny Tyler Johnson and tiny Mats Zuccarello and the way they play is that Johnson is still playing.
36. Word out there is that the Red Wings are planning a super-duper-a-la-Peter-T.-Hooper effort to sign soon-to-be-free-agent Steven Stamkos.
37. And, guess what? If Detroit does get Double S, the Lightning will do just as well without him; thanks to Jonathan Drouin, Johnson, Hedman and the rest of the indomitable lads.