In off-ice matters, former Hurricane Sean Hill has been suspended by the NHL 20 games for substance abuse. The 37 year old defenseman is the first player to be suspended under the League's new substance abuse policy. Although few details are available, the "substance" is alleged to be a performance-enhancing agent. Hill and the Islanders learned of the suspension just hours before game 5 of their series with the Sabres. He did not travel with the team. The suspension will begin next season, assuming Hill is in the NHL next season. He is scheduled to be an UFA in July.
Although we don't know the details, Isles GM Garth Snow was quick to throw Hill under the bus. He spoke to the media for 30 seconds on the matter, and the meat of it was:
''The New York Islanders do not support the use of performance-enhancing agents in any form,''
Funny. Sean Hill gets busted using a yet-to-be-announced "performance enhancing" drug. It could very well turn out to be Propecia. Anyway, he gets busted, the League hits him with a big suspension, and the Isles say, essentially "He got what he deserved" and made no effort to come to the defense of its player. After the Chris Simon incident, the club was quick to say that it supported its player and made a mountain of excuses for his appallingly violent act. I don't understand this.
In on-ice matters, five teams have advanced.
The Rangers made quick work of the Thrashers. I predicted the Rags in 6. They only needed 4.
The Sabres finished off the Hill-less Islanders on Friday night. I predicted the Sabres in 7, but they did it in 5.
On Thursday, the Senators got through by completing their dominance of the Penguins. I picked the Penguins in 7, and was way off the mark. Sens won in 5.
Also on Thursday, the Ducks eliminated the Wild. Again, I was way off the mark with that one. I predicted the Wild in 6. In actuality, it was the Ducks in 5.
On Friday, the Sharks advanced by beating the Preds. I thought it would take 6 games, but it only took 5.
Vancouver could advance with a road win tonight against Dallas.
So far, I am 3-2 in my predictions. Maggie the Monkey is a dreadful 1-4.
Unless the Lightning make a startling comeback in their series with New Jersey, the Sabres will play the Rangers in round two.