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Blackhawks Daily: Maple Leafs Fire Sheldon Keefe; Panarin Lifts Rangers

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Today’s Chicago Blackhawks Daily goes around the league looking at how one team on a drought is trying again to find the right moves while another is one win away from sweeping back-to-back opponents.  On Thursday morning, the news dropped that the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Sheldon Keefe. There was some speculation that they might run it back but he is officially gone. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers, who have changed coaches numerous times trying to find the winning formula, are a win away from the Conference Final.

The pressure to win in Toronto is as tough to deal with as any city in hockey so will it be wash-rinse-repeat as it has been? Or will they finally find their guy? Keefe still had two years left on his contract and was with the organization for nearly a decade.

Eight teams did what the Leafs failed to do and that is make it to the second round. There were two games on Thursday night. In the first game, the New York Rangers played game three against the Carolina Hurricanes.New York took a 2-1 lead into the late stages of the game. With under two minutes left, however, the Hurricanes got it tied up thanks to a goal scored by Andrei Svechnikov.

This forced overtime and both sides were looking for a hero. That hero was Artemi Panarin of the Rangers who scored an amazing through the legs redirect.Panarin hasn’t been amazing in other playoff years but this one has been completely different for him. He’s been incredible in every game that they’ve played and that includes being the overtime hero in this one.

New York still hasn’t lost a playoff game yet. They now lead the Hurricanes 3-0 in the series and have a chance to eliminate them when they meet next. Carolina would have to dig deep if they are going to get this done in seven games.Right as that game ended, the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche played game two of their series. In game one, the Colorado Avalanche won 4-3 after being down 3-0. It was an incredible comeback to start the second round 1-0.

There is a pattern developing in this series. The Dallas Stars took a 4-0 lead in game two. The Avalanche then scored three unanswered to make the game very interesting. That fourth goal proved to be the difference between the first two games as the Stars were able to bury an empty net goal and win 5-3.

Despite the win, Dallas has to figure something out because no lead is safe for them against the Avalanche right now. So while Dallas and New York win, the Leafs seek a new coach while Sheldon Keefe looks for a new job.

Blackhawks In Case You Missed It

The shelf life of a coach is short in the National Hockey League. Could that impact the future of Luke Richardson?  In short, if the Blackhawks are indeed playing the long game–it shouldn’t.

Reese Johnson‘s spot on the 2024-25 Chicago Blackhawks is in question following this 2023-24 season.

GM Kyle Davidson is excited about the number two overall pick and sees it as a win for them.

Hockey Now Playoff Focus

Florida Hockey Now: The Florida Panthers got it done in the second game against the Boston Bruins. They needed to win to avoid going to TD Garden down 2-0.

Boston Hockey Now: David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins is not afraid of Matthew Tkachuk who he fought in game two of their series.

Nashville Hockey Now: It sounds like Jason Zucker wants to stay with the Nashville Predators if they want him back.