Toronto got beat last night by Tampa Bay, 4-1. The Lightning or New York Islanders could pass Toronto for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference if the Maple Leafs lose their last two games and either the Lightning or Islanders win their last two. (Other scenarios and the accompanying tiebreakers are too numerous to list.)
Toronto plays the Penguins and Columbus, and people wonder: Will the Penguins and Blue Jackets rest key players?
They should. Pittsburgh and Columbus have clinched second and third place, respectively, in the Metro Division and will meet in the first round with the Penguins enjoying home-ice advantage.
“Integrity of the game?” Don’t make me laugh. The situation is tough tuchus for the Lightning and Islanders. When you put yourself on the ledge, it’s nobody else’s responsibility to help you keep your balance.
Coach Mike Sullivan should rest Sidney Crosby when the Penguins visit the New York Rangers Sunday. (Crosby will decide otherwise.) Evgeni Malkin should play one game (not two), if he’s ready. Defensemen Ian Cole and Justin Schultz should each sit a game. Cole has played all 80 games, Schultz 77. Cole and Schultz could face a daunting playoff workload with Kris Letang out.
Phil Kessel is a logical candidate to be scratched, except he’s on a consecutive games streak of 608, which ranks 11th all-time. That must be respected.