• The National Hockey League continues to endorse the nullification of skill. Witness a qualifying-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus won Sunday’s opener, 2-0, while extracting the life from a much-anticipated game. The Maple Leafs, whose roster includes stars such as Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly, are the vastly superior team in terms of talent. But it doesn’t matter on those occasions when the NHL playoffs are reduced to a somniferous game of checkers.
• Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele suffered a leg injury Saturday while being hit by the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk, who was finishing a check. Lost in all the discussion about whether Tkachuk’s hit was ill-intentioned is the utter pointlessness of finishing a check. Time after time, players absorb needless hits. Nobody in power seems to think this is a problem. Legendary NHL goaltender Ken Dryden, who should be the conscience of the game, has called for finished checks — which are essentially late hits — to be penalized. Scheifele had already relinquished the puck, yet Tkachuk’s hit was deemed permissible. Nobody blinks. Nothing is done. So much for player safety.