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From the Branches: Day three of the first round

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The postseason rolls on without the Maple Leafs.

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game One Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

While the Toronto Maple Leafs players and staff spent yesterday conducting often excruciating postmortem interviews (did you know that the Leafs’ internal metrics say that Cody Ceci is better than you think? I bet you feel really bad about criticizing him now, because of those internal metrics, which Kyle Dubas will obviously not reveal to us, as they are internal, and also may or may not exist), the first round of the NHL playoffs continued on. I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to watch—there’s a kid-with-her-nose-pressed-to-the-candy-shop-window element to the postseason once your team’s out of it—but hell, there’s still fun stuff happening. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets spent Tuesday night locked in an endless war of attrition! Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod BrindAmour got fined $25,000 for, among other things, calling a controversial goal “a crime scene”! The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to have not made the playoffs!*

Also, Gritty took some time out of his busy schedule of pining for Claude Giroux and supporting the Flyers from afar to play with puppies.

*I am aware that this probably doesn’t count as exciting to most people, but I have earned this schadenfreude and no one will take it from me.

Roster Moves

In real Maple Leafs news, yesterday the Maple Leafs announced some roster moves—Filip Kral and Jesper Lindgren are both headed to Europe.

We already knew about (and covered here) the Lindgren news. Unlike Lindgren, Kral—a 2018 fifth round pick who signed his ELC in April—is not returning to an old team, having spent the past two years with the Spokane Chiefs. Kral is Czech, and many of the European leagues are planning to start up early in the fall, so it’s not surprising that he’s being loaned out to play in the second-level Czech league while North American hockey is in a questionable uproar.

Hardev covered Kral for the Top 25 Under 25, and I asked him for his thoughts:

“Kral will likely join the Toronto Marlies when their season starts up (most likely in December). I think this is going to be a really good opportunity for Kral to step into a pro league and get used to playing against Men. He’s a smart defenseman with good movement and a very good passer. I’ve said a lot that confidence is a big aspect of an AHL rookie season, so if he can start the season already warmed up it’ll only help him get up to the speed of the league and into the Leafs system.”

“As for Lindgren, I think he was hoping for an NHL training camp in September so he could build off his good first AHL season. I think he was missing some offensive flair we saw in the the Liiga previously, so hopefully he gets some of that back in the Fall and comes back with another step. He’ll really need it if he wants to contend for a spot in the NHL lineup. On the other side, it took a lot of coercing to get Lindgren to Canada from Finland, I wonder if he just stays there.”

Today’s Games

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 2 (Lightning lead series 1-0) 3pm ET, NBCSN, SN, TVAS, SUN, FS-O

Chicago Blackhawks @ Vegas Golden Knights, Game 2 (Golden Knights lead series 1-0) 5:30pm ET, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS, ATTSN-RM, NBCSCH

Carolina Hurricanes @ Boston Bruins, Game 2 (Bruins lead series 1-0) 8pm ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-CR

Calgary Flames @ Dallas Stars, Game 2 (Flames lead series 1-0) 10:30pm ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, FS-SW

ICYMI

Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan has ‘complete faith’ in Dubas and Keefe - Pension Plan Puppets
Everything said today by players and management telegraphs running the same team out for another year.

Why did the Maple Leafs shoot 2% against Columbus in the playoffs - Pension Plan Puppets
Calling out the number is easy. The explanation is more complicated.

2020 NHL Draft Profile: Victor Mancini - Pension Plan Puppets
Meet an American defenseman who chose to play his draft year in Sweden

Stuff Other People Wrote

Report: Lafreniere will report to his draft team’s camp, will not go to Europe - Blueshirt Banter
There will be no QMJHL or European hockey for the top pick in the 2020 Draft this fall

Penguins fire three assistants following quick playoff exit | The Star
The move came less than a week after the fifth-seeded Penguins fell to the 12th-seeded Canadiens in four mostly lifeless games.

Lightning Round: Tampa Bay takes Game One - Raw Charge
It took a little longer, but the Bolts gain momentum by outlasting the Blue Jackets in the Matinee Marathon

Lundqvist’s future unclear, Rangers won’t carry three goalies next season
The New York Rangers will not go into next season with three goalies on the roster, general manager Jeff Gorton said Tuesday.

GM Rutherford looks to retool after ‘puzzling’ Pens exit
Figuring out exactly how things got sideways, however, will be tricky. Rutherford remains adamant he has no plans to part ways with stars Malkin and Letang.

Finally, if you (like me) are a nerd about game ops, this video about the changes they’ve made from inside the bubble is interesting: