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Fantucchio’s Focus: ECF Game 1, Ruff remaining in New Jersey

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Good Morning. It’s Thursday, May 18. My name is Andrew Fantucchio, and here’s what I’m focussing on around the NHL today:

Eastern Conference Finals Game 1:

The Eastern Conference Finals get underway this evening, featuring two teams who took different paths to get here but share a similar identity.

The Carolina Hurricanes won the Metro Division for the third year in a row this season and have long been considered a favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers are the unofficial Cinderella of this year’s playoffs. Qualifying as a wildcard team, the Panthers knocked off the President Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in seven games in the first round before ousting the Toronto Maple Leafs with a gentleman’s sweep, placing them on the precipice of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final begins at 8 p.m. and can be seen on TNT.

Follow George Richard’s coverage of the Eastern Conference Final over at Florida Hockey Now.

Ruff Remaining in New Jersey: 

According to Amanda Stein of NHL.com, New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald confirmed during his end-of-year media availability that Lindy Ruff will return as the team’s head coach next season.

Ruff led the Devils to their first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance in four years this season with a record of 52-22-8. The veteran head coach will enter his 16th season behind the bench in 2023-24, his fourth in New Jersey.

Coyotes Committed to Arizona: 

After the city of Tempe rejected three different proposals for a new arena to host the Arizona Coyotes, the franchise announced they will return to Mullet Arena on the campus of Arizona State University for the 2023-2024 season. The Coyotes intend to re-engage in conversations with city officials to find a permanent home in Arizona.

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Oilers Management Addresses Media: 

Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager Ken Holland spoke on Wednesday and didn’t shy away from sharing his disappointment after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the second round.

“We’re devastated,” Holland said. “I have guys in there tell me they’re going to the gym next week, they’re not going on vacation, they’re going to work. That’s what these NHL players do, they take a week off after the season and they get back to work. There are no gifts or guarantees or entitlements because it’s earned, it’s sacrifice and sticking to what you believe. You believe you’re good, and that’s how you become the last team standing.”

More from National Hockey Now: 

Boston: Hampus Lindholm played with a fractured foot during the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Buffalo: Sabres have to bolster blueline this offseason

Nashville: Predators are well set with loaded draft stock

Photo courtesy of Sam Navarro/USA TODAY-Sports