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Monday Links, News and Notes: Playoff Hockey Is Fun!

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Former Senators, the Hurricanes and their pregame rituals, Tukka Rask, and more!

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • One of the biggest stories of the last few days has been Tukka Rask’s decision to opt out of the rest of the playoffs to be with his family. Boston fans really, really haven’t been taking the news well, with a lot of people criticizing Rask for supposedly not being dedicated enough to his team. As Hemal Jhaveri points out in this piece, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation for him: if the Bruins advance, he’ll seen as an overpaid goalie they don’t need, and if they’re eliminated, he’ll be seen as the guy who abandoned his team in a time of need.

I understand that the timing of this decision isn’t ideal (he was just torn apart for his comments about the atmosphere in the bubble, and his team is right in the middle of a playoff series), but I think this situation is a really good example of the double standard still set for men and women when it comes to balancing work and family. Whereas women are often criticized for going back to work too early instead of taking care of their children, men are still expected to prioritize their careers over their families. The truth is, hockey is just a game, and however much importance people might place on it, family always, always comes first. I admire Rask for making this difficult decision. If you still think it was selfish of him to abandon his team, just imagine how you would react to a woman making the same decision.

It also reminds me a bit of the Craig Anderson situation in 2017. The Bruins have said that - thankfully - there isn’t anything else going on and Rask just wants to be with his family, but I remember that Anderson received similar criticism when he first announced that he would be leaving the team to be with his family. There was, of course, no way to know that Nicholle had cancer, but that’s kind of the point: you never know. We don’t know the full story. Athletes are not obligated to justify themselves to us. Always give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • If you can get past the title, I’d recommend reading this piece from The Star about Brock McGillis’s LGBTQ+ activism in hockey. It goes into some of the issues Brock has identified with hockey culture, and suggests ways in which hockey might be able to make itself more welcoming to LGBTQ+ players.
  • Pageau’s Islanders are officially up 3-0 against the Capitals with a chance to sweep tonight. I know as Sens fans we want the Islanders to lose so that we can improve our draft pick, but Playoff Pageau is [chef’s kiss] and watching him play has been a delight. Check out this amazing play from this most recent game:

I was watching the Caps broadcast when that play happened, and personally my favourite part was the play-by-play guys saying they had no idea Pageau had such explosive speed. Clearly, they haven’t watched a lot of Sens games in the last few years. I’m also pretty sure the Islanders pick is only affected if the Islanders make it past the second round, so we should be safe if they win the first.

  • Speaking of former Senators, Mark Stone has been excellent for the Golden Knights so far. His team had a chance to sweep the Blackhawks last night but their plans were foiled by a 46-save performance by Crawford. Our boy has been stealing pucks and making faces and I don’t really have anything else to say except that I love and miss him very much and have been enjoying watching him play hockey.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes continue to be the most fun team in the NHL. In addition to their “bunch of jerks” branding, the David Ayres game, and their impeccable Twitter game, the Canes also apparently have the best pre-game ritual I have ever seen. Just… watch this video with sound on. I promise you won’t regret it.

Of course, this video is a little bit sad in hindsight, now that we know that Svechnikov is injured and will have to sit out the remainder of the first round. Who is Martinook going to yell at now?

  • Another fun thing that’s happened these playoffs: in a scene eerily reminiscent of a certain 2013 playoff series, the Habs apparently decided to use their top powerplay unit late in a game that they were already winning 5-0, and the Flyers were not happy about it. How the turn tables.

Where is the rispek for the game?

  • This year’s King Clancy nominees: Matt Dumba, Henrik Lundquist and PK Subban. The King Clancy is awarded to the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” It’s really cool to see two Black men nominated, and I’ll admit it feels very vindicating to see Subban on that list given his reputation.
  • Your one bit of actual Sens news: there are now rumours flying around that the team might be open to trading the 3rd and 5th picks for the first overall pick. I’m hoping this is completely unfounded, because that would be incredibly dumb. I wanted Lafrenière as much as anyone, but one very good player is not worth more than two almost equally good players. It’s unclear if this rumour is actually based on conversations happening within the organization, or just baseless speculation, but let’s all hope it’s the latter.
  • The Ice Garden recently put together a beginner’s guide to the NWHL. I’ve been a casual fan of the NWHL for a few years now, and would highly recommend checking out a few games if you have the chance. It’s just really fun hockey, and I will definitely be making my way through those videos from The Ice Garden.