John Davidson returns to Blue Jackets, Playoff observations on Bruins/Caps, MacKinnon and latest Kadri cheap shot

Everyone knows how good a person John Davidson is. That didn’t change after he and former Rangers’ GM Jeff Gorton were fired by Garden CEO James Dolan. As expected, Davidson kept it classy in thanking the Rangers for the opportunity to return and be Team President for two seasons. Even though it ended badly, he gets it.

It goes without any surprise that Davidson landed on his feet by accepting the same role he had previously in Columbus. After two years away when he decided to return to the Blueshirts in an identical front office role, JD predictably wound up back with the Blue Jackets. The story broke last night by the Columbus Dispatch. It was confirmed today in an announcement.

Emphasizing that he enjoyed his time spent in Columbus, Davidson said that it’s a nice city to live in. Obviously, he wants to draw attention away from the narrative that players don’t want to play there. As evidenced with the recent departures of Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene and Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Blue Jackets still fielded a competitive team in a very good Central Division. However, injuries and a schedule that included facing top three Carolina, Florida and Tampa didn’t bode well. With the prospect of former coach John Tortorella leaving following an active trade deadline, it was obvious that change was needed. Rehiring Davidson is a good move to help rebuild the franchise.

Good luck to the classy Davidson. It’ll be interesting to see what he does this off-season. When asked about former Rangers coach David Quinn, he indicated that Quinn is a good man and should be considered for the Columbus coaching vacancy. We’ll see what they decide. As long as JD is there, it’ll continue to be Blueshirts Ohio. Much like the Lightning are Rangers South.

There were four games on a busy Wednesday night of the 2021 NHL Playoffs. The best one was Game Three between the evenly matched Bruins and Caps. In another nail-biting game that was decided in overtime again, Boston came back to defeat Washington 3-2 in double overtime. Trailing 2-1 following a David Pastrnak turnover that led directly to Nic Dowd tipping in a Garnet Hathaway shot, the Bruins rallied thanks to a clutch Brad Marchand power play goal in which he connected on a baseball bat swing to cash in. Despite only three shots in the third period, Boston forced sudden death. In it, they dominated the Caps for long stretches. Only Ilya Samsonov prevented the game from ending. Unfortunately, his drop pass behind the net for Justin Schultz backfired. With Schultz unable to retrieve it, Craig Smith intercepted the puck and beat a stunned Samsonov on a wraparound.

Afterwards, captain Alex Ovechkin was incensed. He screamed at both players. Figure it was in Russian. I don’t blame Ovechkin for being upset. His team had a great chance to regain home ice. Instead, a botched play between Samsonov and Schultz proved costly. The miscommunication allowed Smith to get a gimme. Something that shouldn’t happen in such a well played game. It really has been a great series so far due to the physicality, tenacity and the fact all three games have required overtime. Taylor Hall has been good for Boston scoring a pair of key goals. He’s fit in well with David Krejci and Smith. As for the Caps, they got Evgeny Kuznetsov back. However, we’re without Lars Eller. Their bottom six have played well with Hathaway and Dowd leading the way. They haven’t gotten enough out of Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin. Game Four is tomorrow.

In the second game of their first round series, the Avalanche doubled up the Blues 6-3 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead back to St. Louis. Nathan MacKinnon put on another show. After notching three points in Game One, he went for a hat trick and four points to give him seven in two games. Just astonishing stuff from the Colorado all world center. He’s been up for the Hart Trophy the last couple of seasons. One of the game’s premier players, he centers the dynamic top line that features Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They’ve been clicking on all cylinders. If they’re on, look out.

In a disappointing development, Nazem Kadri had another foolish cheap shot that will result in a suspension. The gritty second center plays physical. However, his past has seen him push the boundaries. He got two costly suspensions for the Maple Leafs in crushing first round losses to the rival Bruins. His latest bad hit saw him again come from the blindside and earn a match and game misconduct for an Illegal Check To The Head. A no no. The Blues made it interesting cutting a 3-0 deficit to one before the Avalanche erased any doubt with two empty netters including MacKinnon getting the hat trick. As for Kadri, it’s brutal. How many times can he keep doing the same thing over and over again? Given his track record, this could result in a significant suspension of around seven to eight games. If it is, he might not be available for the second round. At what point will he learn? He’s too good a player.

The only surprise last night was the Jets defeating the Oilers 5-2 behind the goaltending of Connor Hellebuyck. They shutdown Connor McDavid, who had only two shots and was in for two goals against. Leon Draisaitl was no better. Winnipeg skated without Nik Ehlers and Dubois. They lead Edmonton 1-0. Game Two is Friday. Tonight is Game One between classic Original Six rivals Montreal and Toronto. The first playoff match-up between the Canadiens and Maple Leafs since 1979. It is highly anticipated. Can Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher provide the underdog Habs a spark against the heavily favored Leafs? When will Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cole Caufield and Alexei Romanov play? Or is coach Dominique Ducharme the latest Montreal coach in over his head? Habs versus Leafs is as good as it gets.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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