Morning Skate: Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out on racist taunts

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Morning Skate: Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out on racist taunts

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Canada seems to be celebrating a number of different holidays including “Family Day” in Alberta.  


*Devante Smith-Pelly spoke out on Sunday a day after being the target of ignorant, ugly chants at the Capitals/Blackhawks game while he served out a penalty in the visiting penalty box. As I said over the weekend, I hope the Blackhawks fans that were chanting at him don’t ever come back to watch an NHL game of any kind. Hockey doesn’t want their hate and ignorance. The fact it happened during Black History month and the month where the NHL really pushes their “Hockey is For Everyone” mantra just makes it even more deplorable. 


*Interesting take here on why things were so rough between Team USA and Team Russia in their Olympic matchup last weekend. The thinking is that it’s Russia’s attempts to establish dominance and reignite a rivalry that was highest during the Cold War. It’s also partly about Team USA sending an inferior team to play the Russians this time around as well. If the USA was allowed to bring their best, this wouldn’t be happening.  


*St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong is not in the mood for pricey rental players that would be bolting as soon as free agency hits. 


*An aging Henrik Lundqvist is at the heart of a New York Rangers team that really isn’t going anywhere right now. 


*It sounds like the losing is beginning to get to Henrik Zetterberg out in Detroit, who is in the middle of a long season to nowhere with the Red Wings. 


*Fantasy hockey owners are beginning to bail out on Milan Lucic, which can’t be a good sign for the struggling Edmonton Oiler. 


*For something completely different: There are a whole lot of Easter eggs in the new Black Panther movie. 



Jake DeBrusk says he and his family got death threats from Toronto fans

Jake DeBrusk says he and his family got death threats from Toronto fans

Jake DeBrusk has been pretty quiet on social media lately, and he has an unfortunate reason why.

The Bruins winger told 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" on Thursday morning he and his family members received death threats from Toronto fans during Boston's first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Maple Leafs.

DeBrusk said the threats began around Game 3 in Toronto, after an eventful Game 2 in which DeBrusk's hit on Patrick Marleau inspired Toronto's Nazem Kadri to retaliate with a ruthless cross-check that earned Kadri a series-long suspension.

"I think the fact that happened in Game 2 and we were going into Toronto for Game 3 -- I was getting death threats consistently," DeBrusk said. "My family members were telling me that they were getting death threats, as well, so I just wanted to kind of slow it down, in a sense. So, I just didn't go on (social media)."

When asked if he reported any of the death threats, DeBrusk revealed the scope of the threats, some of which came via direct messages.

"There were too many, to be honest," DeBrusk said. "There were just too many things going on to (report) threats that were happening, whether it's comments or direct messages or other things.

"There were just too many. I couldn't really report all of them. I didn't report any of them, to be honest. There were so many."

DeBrusk isn't the first person to receive death threats from Toronto fans, as the wife of former Maple Leafs goaltender Alex Reimer said she got similar threats from cyberbullies after the team's collapse against the Bruins in 2013.

The Bruins lost two of the three games they played in Toronto but won the series in seven games to advance to the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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It's all there for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup

It's all there for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup

The Boston Bruins should be expected to win the Stanley Cup this postseason.

Let’s repeat that again for the peeps in the cheap seats: The Boston Bruins should win the Stanley Cup this spring.

It’s an odd, welcome development given how much of the season was spent resigned to running into a second round buzz-saw with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Stanley Cup playoff truth has been much stranger than anybody could have imagined. The four top seeds have all been eliminated in the first round for the first time in NHL history with the Lightning, Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames all now making tee times.

The Capitals were the one remaining team that would have posed major problems for the Bruins should they make it to the Conference fFnals, but now they’ll be facing the winner of Hurricanes-Islanders. Certainly both upstart teams deserve to be there at this point, but the Bruins should take care of business against either one of those two.

That means the Bruins will be favored in every single playoff series from here on out, they will enjoy home-ice advantage against any other team for the rest of the playoffs, and they are better than every other team still left in the Stanley Cup playoff field. By all rights the Bruins' pathway to the Stanley Cup Final has opened wide with the way things have shockingly played out, and the San Jose Sharks are the only team left in the West that passes the smell test as a legit Cup contender.

It also helps that the Bruins are relatively healthy to start the second round of the playoffs against the Blue Jackets, with Kevan Miller as the only player not expected to be ready to go. Sure it’s appeared that some key B’s players -- like Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Torey Krug for instance -- have looked like they’re playing through something, but they will have something close to their lineup intact as they ready for Columbus tonight at TD Garden.

“You’re crossing your fingers. We’ve felt that we’ve certainly tested our depth throughout the season. We’ve felt that we have players that could step up. You want your best players [to be healthy], but the war of attrition is what it is,” said Don Sweeney, when asked about the good health for his club. “It’s going to exist as you go along in the playoffs, and we missed Kevan. He’s a big part of our hockey club. Other guys have stepped up. We have some guys that have some things that are dinged up, but they’re going to play through those things. They’ve always had a next-man up approach from our coaching staff through our players.”

Certainly the Bruins aren’t going to get caught looking ahead to a playoff path that’s remarkably clear after the first round. They underestimated the Maple Leafs as a first-round opponent a couple of weeks ago and ended up getting dragged into a seven-game series when they weren’t at playoff-level to start Game 1. The Bruins won’t be making the same mistake this time around against a Blue Jackets team that hasn’t played in nine days.

As the first round developed, it also became apparent that whoever advanced from the Bruins/Leafs series was going to be in a prime postseason spot. 

The Bruins are the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup entering the second round of the playoffs. It would now be a bitter disappointment and an opportunity wasted if they can't take advantage of the way things have unfolded. 

Clearly there should be some trepidation given what’s happened to all of the rest of the top teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs field, but the Bruins' path to Cup glory is as clear and wide open as it’s ever been in their franchise history.