1. A series stolen from the Vegas Golden Knights in the craziest finish you’ll see.

Vegas is up 3-0 with 10:47 remaining in the third period and cruising to a Game 7 win until the San Jose Sharks scored four power play goals on a five-minute major that should have never been assessed. The NHL embarrassed itself after Joe Pavelski had to unfortunately be helped off the SAP Center ice after hitting his head on the ice. Similar to how the league suspends players, the refs reacted to an injury not the actual play.



Things in real-time can always be difficult, but the NHL just looks awful here in that since Pavelski was injured on what was just a freak accident, the officiating crew decided to take a guess that Pavelski was ‘cross-checked’ in the face which is what the officials cited to the Vegas coaching staff. Just a devastating sequence for Vegas to have their season end on something like that.

This wasn’t just some regular season game where a player gets badly injured, ‘let’s give out a 5-minute major to avoid any scrutiny and call it a day’.

A season was ended because of this and the NHL has to do something moving forward with how the rule book leaves the “refs discretion” having such an impact in swaying a 2-minute minor becoming a five-minute major based on the result of an injury.

Rule 59.3 | ‘A Major Penalty at the discretion of the referee, based on the severity of the contract, shall be imposed on a player who cross-checks an opponent’ |

Another thing at play. Does a five-minute major get called if this game is 3-2 mid-way through the third?

Probably not based on how the NHL has been officiated for years.

2. Vegas was not at fault for imploding on the five-minute penalty kill. From Fleury, to the lack of not calling a timeout to try to kill the momentum swing to not challenging the second goal, there is a lot of second-guessing going on.

The disappointing thing, though, with Vegas not advancing is how much of a superior team they were in the series. The Sharks got ran out of the building in Games 2, 3, and 4, and were badly outplayed in Game 6 where Martin Jones stood on his head with a fluke 58 save performance and we all know what happened in Game 7 where Vegas was head and shoulders above the Sharks for the first 50 minutes of regulation. The West was going to be wide open for Vegas to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.

A Few Takeaways:

Marc Andre Fleury .911 save percentage in the regular season, .909 save percentage in the post-season. Going to be 35 years old next season. If you’re the Vegas brass you have to start wondering about him just a little bit.

–What this series did was have to give even a great appreciation for winger Mark Stone. Just a phenomenal 200 ft player he is who can dominate a game in all three zones as a winger. Few of those guys out there from the winger position. If you love watching skill with great hockey instincts, Mark Stone is your guy.

— Good luck to any team throwing a 7 year, $10-$12 million a year offer at Erik Karlsson this summer. Boy, did he get exposed this series in how his game has dropped off so much from 2-3 years ago. Karlsson made a great play on the Game Winning Goal, but he has become such a defensive liability in his own end and it also played out in the regular season. Karlsson was on the ice for 17 of the Golden Knights 25 Goals they scored in the series. He was a nightmare defensively 5-on-5 and Vegas did a great job attacking him.

As Karlsson has his sights set on playing with the Rangers, multiple league executives contend, LigTo read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

3. Four years into the job, Mike Babcock has yet to get the Maple Leafs out of the first round and were almost going on 10 years where Babcock hasn’t made it out of Round 1 as a head coach. If there was a team that needed to win a round it was the Leafs, especially with the Lightning going down to the Blue Jackets. Even prior to this series, the criticism has been mounting for Babcock and with that young core in the last year of their entry level contracts, this was supposed to be the year where having the so called ‘greatest coach in the game’ make his mark in getting this group to take the next step.

You can’t fault Babcock for Nazim Kadri being a lunatic as his absence really hurt late in the series, but where Babcock has finally lost me is with his deployment. It was a pathetic display of coaching in not going down with your big guns. I had no dog in the race and I was losing my mind watching the likes of John Tavares, Austin Matthews and Mitch Marner being taken off the power play 50 seconds in of a Game 7 and it happened all series.

Tavares, Matthews had 2:20 of power play ice time. Patrick Marleau who can’t even handle a puck anymore at his age and Tyler Ennis each had 1:40 of power play ice time. Frederick Gauthier was getting shifts mid-way through the third when the Leafs were trailing by 2 goals, while Auston Matthews went on to play just 16:28 at even strength and 6:16 in the third period. Just incredible how Babcock continues to run the usage of his lineups like he’s coaching a deep as deep as Team Canada.

The internal battle between Babcock and GM Kyle Dubas will be fun to watch. Each have four years remaining on their deals and one year into the Dubas era the two already don’t see eye-to-eye on what type of roster to put together. Babcock wants a heavier, more physical lineup. Dubas is a skilled, analytic guru.

Babcock clearly needs to change behind the bench and Dubas has a monumental summer ahead of himself.

Among them — How to create cap space while upgrading the roster —

The Leafs have $75 million committed to 18 players, while Mitch Marner who went quiet vs the Bruins wants Auston Matthews money…..Jake Gardiner is a free agent for a blueline that already needs upgraded with him on it……The William Nylander contract isn’t looking so great, $6,962,366 cap hit for next five years, but at age 22 can easily be traded so the Leafs have that going for them……Kasperi Kapanen needs a new contract……The Leafs have to find a way to rid of Patrick Marleau and his $6.25 million cap hit but that will be something that won’t sit well with the head coach……Nazim Kadri, $4.5 million cap hit for next three seasons, is also a prime candidate to be moved this summer…….

4. Capitals – Hurricanes Game 7 Tonight. Might obviously end up being dead wrong by tonight, but things just feel like they’re setting up for a Capitals repeat where every series is going to be a grind for them but beating them four out of seven times proves to be too difficult for the opposition. Feels like they’re heading on a 2017 type run the Penguins had in repeating where every series they looked vulnerable but kept finding a way to get four wins.

5. On the heels of a first-round ouster, NHL executives are already bracing To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!