Feel free to blame Evander Kane or Nazem Kadri if hats suddenly become the next supply chain issue.
Also, if it's proven that "a good number" of Florida Panthers were partying at a Tampa strip club into the wee hours of the morning before playing a do-or-die game, how do you explain their best effort in the Battle of Florida series? Feel free to discuss.
Here are five things we need to know heading into tonight's action in the NHL playoffs:
KADRI TIPS HIS HAT TO BLUES, BOOS
Nazem Kadri scored three goals, including two during a four-goal second period barrage on Monday, as his Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 and grabbed a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference series.
Kadri’s offensive explosion came on the heels of receiving racist death threats on social media following his involvement in a Saturday collision with Blues' goalie Jordan Binnington that ended the goalie's season due to injury.
Kadri was peppered with fans' boos and aggressive Blues' each time he touched the puck in Game 4, but it didn't throw him off his game.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Monday that the league was in touch with St. Louis Police who were employing enhanced security procedures at both the arena and the Avalanche hotel.
The Avs can wrap up the series with a win at home Wednesday.
LUCIC MAKES LIGHT OF CHARGE CALL
Milan Lucic will be in the lineup for Game 4 tonight when the Calgary Flames look to even their best-of-seven series against the Oilers in Edmonton.
Lucic escaped additional penalty for colliding with Oilers' netminder Mike Smith behind his net during the third period of Sunday's Game 3, won by the home club 4-1. The Flames forward received a major for charging and 10-minute misconduct at the time, and waited to find out if that was ruled suffice by the NHL watchdogs.
"I agree with (coach) Darryl (Sutter). If I actually did charge, we both wouldn't be playing (tonight)," said Lucic, who didn't want to get into the debate that Smith might have embellished the incident.
For those keeping score at home, Smith has a series saves percentage of .916 and a goals-against average of 3.45. Jacob Markstrom of the Flames is at .853 and 5.74, respectively.
OILERS PUMPED BY MARVELLOUS McDAVID
Oilers interim head coach Jay Woodcraft could be forgiven if he asked for popcorn before watching 25-year-old captain Connor McDavid perform his nightly playoff show.
McDavid has compiled 23 points in his 10 playoff games this spring -- more than the final totals of six post-season scoring leaders dating back to 2003.
"I get a front-row seat," Woodcroft said. "What he's doing is special. He's inspiring every person in our organization to be the best that they can be, whether it's Richard in the mailroom or Shauna in HR. What he's bringing to the table each and every day, it is pushing this entire organization and our city forward."
RANGERS REAVES READY TO RUMBLE
In a series short of goals, opportunities and wins for his club, Gerard Gallant is getting short on patience, too.
The bench boss of the New York Rangers, trailing the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in their tight series, says he's ready to counter the 'Canes' "cheap shots" with extra muscle tonight at Madison Square Garden.
“We got the guy that can handle all their guys if we want to,” Gallant quipped, not mentioning Ryan Reaves by name.
“I’m gonna go do my thing, go run some people and get in their face,” Reaves said. “Try and get the same result (in Game 4) as (Sunday night): another win.”
Will the emotion and intensity from Game 3 spill over to tonight as the Rangers aim to even the best-of-seven series before heading back to Raleigh, N. C.?
“I hope so,” Reaves said.
“I don’t know what he’s waiting for,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters. “Everybody’s gonna do what they do this time of year. And I’m hoping Andrei Svechnikov scores goals.”
CAT SCRATCHES PANTHERS IN SWEEP
Tampa Bay netminder Andrei (Big Cat) Vasilevskiy made 49 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a four-game sweep in the Battle of Florida on Monday with a 2-0 victory over the Florida Panthers.
The Lightning had two disallowed goals and needed third-period markers by Pat Maroon and Ondrej Palat (empty-netter) to send the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions back to the Eastern Conference Final for the sixth time in eight years.
A radio station reported before the game that a "good number" of Panthers were partying at a Tampa strip club until 3 a.m., but if that's the case, it didn't show as the Panthers dominated most of the game but couldn't score. The high-scoring Panthers averaged an NHL-best 4.11 goals but only got three goals in four games during the series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022
Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press