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Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman is finally coming into his own five years after being chosen No. 2 overall in the NHL draft.
This season, he has leapt forward, and the Lighting leapt with him. Going into Game 2 of Tampa’s first-round playoff series with Montreal, he has become a critical chess piece. 
“It just took a long time for me to grow into the player I knew I could be,” Hedman says. “But my career has just started, hopefully. Still young, still learning, and I’m trying to get better every day.” (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 
Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman is finally coming into his own five years after being chosen No. 2 overall in the NHL draft.
This season, he has leapt forward, and the Lighting leapt with him. Going into Game 2 of Tampa’s first-round playoff series with Montreal, he has become a critical chess piece. 
“It just took a long time for me to grow into the player I knew I could be,” Hedman says. “But my career has just started, hopefully. Still young, still learning, and I’m trying to get better every day.” (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images) 
Hanging on: Ryan Getzlaf spent the final seconds of the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff opener in the dressing room with a large ice bag pressed to a nasty cut on his left cheek.Playoff success usually requires a little discomfort, and the Ducks got a good taste of both in their opener.Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to win his NHL playoff debut, and the Ducks held on for a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault scored in a dominant first period for the top-seeded Ducks, who began their playoff run on a dead sprint. Anaheim led 4-0 midway through the second period before Dallas got rolling in its first playoff game since 2008. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Hanging on: Ryan Getzlaf spent the final seconds of the Anaheim Ducks’ playoff opener in the dressing room with a large ice bag pressed to a nasty cut on his left cheek.

Playoff success usually requires a little discomfort, and the Ducks got a good taste of both in their opener.

Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to win his NHL playoff debut, and the Ducks held on for a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.

Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault scored in a dominant first period for the top-seeded Ducks, who began their playoff run on a dead sprint. Anaheim led 4-0 midway through the second period before Dallas got rolling in its first playoff game since 2008. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

'It just pisses me off': Canucks coach fumes at Flames counterpart after Daniel Sedin stretchered off iceA miserable season for the Vancouver Canucks ended with a scary incident on Sunday night, and more frustration from their combustible coach.Daniel Sedin scored twice before leaving the game on a stretcher following a hit from behind that saw Sedin stay down after being driven into the boards by Calgary’s Paul Byron. Sedin was taken to hospital as a precaution and later released.Byron was assessed a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Flames head coach Bob Hartley appeared agitated at the call, something that incensed his Vancouver counterpart, John Tortorella, who struggled to bite his tongue when speaking to the media afterwards.“The year that we’ve had, and I am the head coach of this team, you tuck your tail between your legs and you leave,” said Tortorella. “It’s been a rough year, but it’s embarrassing to coach against the guy across from me tonight. Some of the things that went on when Danny was hurt, it’s embarrassing.” (Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

'It just pisses me off': Canucks coach fumes at Flames counterpart after Daniel Sedin stretchered off ice
A miserable season for the Vancouver Canucks ended with a scary incident on Sunday night, and more frustration from their combustible coach.

Daniel Sedin scored twice before leaving the game on a stretcher following a hit from behind that saw Sedin stay down after being driven into the boards by Calgary’s Paul Byron. Sedin was taken to hospital as a precaution and later released.

Byron was assessed a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Flames head coach Bob Hartley appeared agitated at the call, something that incensed his Vancouver counterpart, John Tortorella, who struggled to bite his tongue when speaking to the media afterwards.

“The year that we’ve had, and I am the head coach of this team, you tuck your tail between your legs and you leave,” said Tortorella. “It’s been a rough year, but it’s embarrassing to coach against the guy across from me tonight. Some of the things that went on when Danny was hurt, it’s embarrassing.” (Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Canucks fire GM Mike Gillis: The Vancouver Canucks will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and it has cost their general manager his job.The team fired Mike Gillis on Tuesday, a day after a loss to the Anaheim Ducks eliminated Vancouver from playoff contention.“I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a release posted to the team’s website. “The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike’s leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed.” (Photo: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Canucks fire GM Mike Gillis: The Vancouver Canucks will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and it has cost their general manager his job.

The team fired Mike Gillis on Tuesday, a day after a loss to the Anaheim Ducks eliminated Vancouver from playoff contention.

“I would like to sincerely thank Mike Gillis for his hard work and the many contributions he made on and off the ice during his tenure,” Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a release posted to the team’s website. “The Vancouver Canucks had success under Mike’s leadership, and we nearly reached our ultimate goal; but I believe we have reached a point where a change in leadership and new voice is needed.” (Photo: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Alex Ovechkin called Tuesday night’s 3-2 win in Anaheim “a huge game” for the Washington Capitals, who have won three straight to pull into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.But the game’s playoff implications didn’t stop one photographer from having a little fun with it.Getty Images photographer Bruce Bennett took a few shots of the game using an infrared camera, giving the photos an eery, ghost-like feel.

Alex Ovechkin called Tuesday night’s 3-2 win in Anaheim “a huge game” for the Washington Capitals, who have won three straight to pull into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

But the game’s playoff implications didn’t stop one photographer from having a little fun with it.

Getty Images photographer Bruce Bennett took a few shots of the game using an infrared camera, giving the photos an eery, ghost-like feel.

Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley is undergoing testing to determine what caused him to collapse during a game.General manager Jim Nill said Tuesday that Peverley is in stable condition and has been communicating with teammates and friends since he was admitted into hospital Monday night. The Stars’ game against Columbus was postponed in the first period after Peverley went down on the bench, stunning the crowd and players.Once the game stopped, the Stars players stood in silence, clearly in distress, wary of what happened to one of their own. Some players from both teams dropped to one knee on the ice.“I was scared,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. (Photo by Sharon Ellman/The Associated Press)

Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley is undergoing testing to determine what caused him to collapse during a game.

General manager Jim Nill said Tuesday that Peverley is in stable condition and has been communicating with teammates and friends since he was admitted into hospital Monday night. The Stars’ game against Columbus was postponed in the first period after Peverley went down on the bench, stunning the crowd and players.

Once the game stopped, the Stars players stood in silence, clearly in distress, wary of what happened to one of their own. Some players from both teams dropped to one knee on the ice.

“I was scared,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. (Photo by Sharon Ellman/The Associated Press)

Among the several giant heads that loom over the Front Street entrance of the CBC’s Toronto Broadcast Centre is that of George Stroumboulopoulos.It was a bit odd, then, to walk past his smiling visage to get to a news conference where his new bosses at Rogers, who bought exclusive NHL broadcast rights out from under the noses of the CBC (and TSN) in November, announced that Stroumboulopoulos would be the new host of Hockey Night in Canada, the 60-year CBC staple that Rogers essentially scooped up for nothing in exchange for allowing the public broadcaster to keep some hockey on the public airwaves.Generally, when media companies poach high-profile talent from one another, the organization that the talent is leaving keeps quiet about it. But there was Strombo, as he is known at the behest of spell-checkers everywhere, alongside Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, three fellows who were as identifiable as CBC types as anyone this side of Peter Mansbridge, taking to a stage at the CBC to say that they were happy to now be working for Rogers. The village had been sacked, and the conquering army was adding a few of the vanquished to its side.“Don’t screw this up,” MacLean joked when he shook hands with Stroumboulopoulos on stage, after being introduced by Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and Rogers’ NHL Properties. While the initial impression was that Rogers had opted for youth in hiring the former MuchMusic veejay to become the first-ever hipster host of an NHL studio show, Strombo, at 41, is 15 years older than was MacLean when he took over Hockey Night from Dave Hodge, who had also been given the job while in his 20s. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/National Post)

Among the several giant heads that loom over the Front Street entrance of the CBC’s Toronto Broadcast Centre is that of George Stroumboulopoulos.

It was a bit odd, then, to walk past his smiling visage to get to a news conference where his new bosses at Rogers, who bought exclusive NHL broadcast rights out from under the noses of the CBC (and TSN) in November, announced that Stroumboulopoulos would be the new host of Hockey Night in Canada, the 60-year CBC staple that Rogers essentially scooped up for nothing in exchange for allowing the public broadcaster to keep some hockey on the public airwaves.

Generally, when media companies poach high-profile talent from one another, the organization that the talent is leaving keeps quiet about it. But there was Strombo, as he is known at the behest of spell-checkers everywhere, alongside Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, three fellows who were as identifiable as CBC types as anyone this side of Peter Mansbridge, taking to a stage at the CBC to say that they were happy to now be working for Rogers. The village had been sacked, and the conquering army was adding a few of the vanquished to its side.

“Don’t screw this up,” MacLean joked when he shook hands with Stroumboulopoulos on stage, after being introduced by Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and Rogers’ NHL Properties. While the initial impression was that Rogers had opted for youth in hiring the former MuchMusic veejay to become the first-ever hipster host of an NHL studio show, Strombo, at 41, is 15 years older than was MacLean when he took over Hockey Night from Dave Hodge, who had also been given the job while in his 20s. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/National Post)

Alexandre Bilodeau (right) takes a selfie with his brother Frederic as Canadian Olympic medallists are honoured before Toronto Maple Leafs take on Philadelphia Flyers in NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday March 8, 2014. (Photo: Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Alexandre Bilodeau (right) takes a selfie with his brother Frederic as Canadian Olympic medallists are honoured before Toronto Maple Leafs take on Philadelphia Flyers in NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday March 8, 2014. (Photo: Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Vancouver Canucks fans make the best of it after learning goalie Roberto Luongo had been traded, as they stand up with a makeshift sign during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 1-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)The biggest trade has probably already happened with the Roberto Luongo deal, but there could still be plenty of action ahead. Follow all the latest news with the National Post’s live coverage of the NHL trade deadline.

Vancouver Canucks fans make the best of it after learning goalie Roberto Luongo had been traded, as they stand up with a makeshift sign during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 1-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The biggest trade has probably already happened with the Roberto Luongo deal, but there could still be plenty of action ahead. Follow all the latest news with the National Post’s live coverage of the NHL trade deadline.

Less than 48 hours before the trade deadline, these appear to be your Toronto Maple Leafs.They are the fifth-best team in a watered-down Eastern Conference. They score a lot of goals, but still give up too many shots. They struggle to protect leads. They rely too much on their top line and goaltenders and special teams. They might be a playoff team, but they are not a Stanley Cup contender.And, barring a last-minute development, that is not about to change.The roster that turned in a lackluster effort in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night will likely be the same roster you see after the March 5 trade deadline. Yes, Dave Bolland will be activated off long-term injury at some point. But, according to vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin, the Leafs are not in the rental market. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/National Post)

Less than 48 hours before the trade deadline, these appear to be your Toronto Maple Leafs.

They are the fifth-best team in a watered-down Eastern Conference. They score a lot of goals, but still give up too many shots. They struggle to protect leads. They rely too much on their top line and goaltenders and special teams. They might be a playoff team, but they are not a Stanley Cup contender.

And, barring a last-minute development, that is not about to change.

The roster that turned in a lackluster effort in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night will likely be the same roster you see after the March 5 trade deadline. Yes, Dave Bolland will be activated off long-term injury at some point. But, according to vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin, the Leafs are not in the rental market. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/National Post)