Ryan Miller & Mike Babcock on NHL Hour tonight

Canada coach Mike Babcock and USA goaltender Ryan Miller will be on NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman tonight on NHL Home Ice from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The show encourages fans to call in with questions for the commissioner, and tonight he’ll have two key pieces of the momentous gold medal game as his guests.

Of course, we’d have liked an audio showdown between Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller since we missed out on a rematch on Tuesday night. But that would be pretty tough since Sid is playing tonight in New York; although a call-in interview from the visitor’s locker room would be pretty neat.

NHL press release is after the jump.

TEAM CANADA HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK AND USA GOALTENDER RYAN
MILLER
ARE TODAY’S GUESTS ON “NHL HOUR WITH COMMISSIONER GARY
BETTMAN”

NEW YORK (March 4, 2010) – Mike Babcock, head coach of
the Detroit Red Wings and Team Canada, and Ryan Miller goaltender for
the Buffalo Sabres and Team USA, are today’s guests on NHL Hour With
Commissioner Gary Bettman on NHL.com and SIRIUS XM Radio at 6 p.m. ET.

Mike
Babcock’s international coaching career has been golden. On Sunday, as
head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic hockey team, Babcock completed
hockey’s grand slam by adding yet another accomplishment to his already
impressive resume. With Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory against Team USA
in Vancouver, Babcock became the only coach in hockey history to guide
teams to supremacy in four of the most prestigious tournaments in the
game: the World Junior Championship, the World Championship, the Olympic
Games and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Babcock coached Team Canada
to gold medal performances at the 1997 World Junior Championship in
Geneva, 2004 World Championship in Prague and 2010 Olympic Winter Games
in Vancouver. In 2008, the same year he was named as a finalist for the
Jack Adams Trophy as NHL Coach of the Year, Babcock guided the Detroit
Red Wings to a Stanley Cup championship by defeating Sidney Crosby’s
Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

On Sunday, moments after
receiving his silver medal, Team USA’s goaltender Ryan Miller was also
named tournament MVP, voted to the All-Star team and named one of three
recipients of the Directorate Awards at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in
Vancouver. Miller came into the gold medal game with the weight of the
team on his shoulders, after finishing the semi-final round with a
perfect 4-0 record.

Miller’s Sabres are currently sitting one
point off the NHL’s Northeast Division lead with 75 points. The Club’s
next game is Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers. He set new career
highs in saves (48) and shots faced (50) against Toronto on January 8
and played in his 300th career NHL game on January 6, 2010.

The
match-up for the March 21 “Game of the Week” on NBC Sports also will be
announced during NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman.

NHL
Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman broadcasts live on Thursdays from 6
p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and on SIRIUS Channel
208 as part of the “Best of XM” programming package) and NHL.com. The
show will re-air on SIRIUS XM Radio, with archived shows available for
download via podcast on NHL.com.

The show encourages fans to call
in with questions for the Commissioner. To submit questions to NHL Hour
call 1-877-645-6696. NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman is a
production of NHL

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    Lightning, Islanders make East playoff races even more confusing

    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the third period save as Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders looks for a rebound at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Whenever you groan at what seems like a quiet trade market, take a step back and ask yourself this: “Who is really out of it?”

    For a while there, it felt reasonable to dismiss the chances of teams like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Now? There’s probably only a handful of teams that can really be comfortable, at this very point, with calling themselves sellers.

    The Islanders took care of their business with a 3-1 win against the fading (probably selling?) Detroit Red Wings, even with Petr Mrazek making a save like this.

    Meanwhile, Ben Bishop might just be putting his game together (while Nikita Kucherov‘s game remains very much together) as the Tampa Bay Lightning throttled the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Bishop might just end up being indispensable – or at least not worth trading – as he’s on a five-game winning streak.

    With those wins, the races for the last seemingly available Eastern Conference playoff spots just get that much muddier.*

    Third place in the Atlantic: Maple Leafs – 67 points in 59 games, 28 wins, 27 ROW

    Second wild card: Panthers – 66 points in 58 GP, 28 W, 25 ROW

    Bruins – 66 points in 59 GP, 30 W, 28 ROW
    Islanders – 66 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 27 ROW
    Flyers – 63 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 23 ROW
    Lightning – 62 points in 59 GP, 27 W, 25 ROW
    Sabres – 62 points in 60 GP, 26 W, 25 ROW

    Wow, that’s crazy-close. Naturally, teams like the Islanders and Flyers lack the luxury of having a third spot in reasonable reach – unless things get truly wild – but that’s quite the congested group of playoff hopefuls.

    And, sure, the Bolts are among those facing longer odds, but the way things keep swinging wildly this season, who knows? Especially with a team with a track record of success and high expectations like the Lightning.

    * – We’ll arbitrarily cut off the East race at the Devils, but just in case you’re wondering, they have 60 points, the Red Wings have 58 and the Hurricanes have 56. Also, the Ottawa Senators hold the second spot in the Atlantic with 70 points and the Montreal Canadiens lead the division with 72, so that group could see quite a bit of movement over the last quarter of the season.

    Forsberg’s hat trick, own-goal highlights Predators’ wild OT loss to Flames

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    If you want to summarize the kind of night the Nashville Predators experienced, you could do worse than to draw parallels to Filip Forsberg‘s experiences.

    The highs were quite high, you see. Forsberg & Co. carved away at the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 lead as his hat trick (see above) eventually gave the Predators a fleeting 5-4 edge.

    We all should have seen more drama coming … and it did. Forsberg ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time in overtime; the Flames’ 6-5 overtime winner ended up going off of his foot. Ouch.

    Mark Giordano ended up being credited with that goal. The game was just a barn-burner.

    While it was an up-and-down night for both the Flames and Predators, Pekka Rinne‘s evening was pretty much uniformly dismal.

    Rinne was pulled early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots, making way for Juuse Saros (who actually ended up gtting tagged with the loss).

    The Flames can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the game despite coughing up a big lead, improving to 64 points and strengthening their grip on the second wild card spot. That “charity point” comes in handy for Nashville, leaving the Predators with 65 points and a game in hand on the Flames.

    Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

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    If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

    It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

    Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

    Central Division title chase

    1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
    2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

    Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

    Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

    The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

    Also, tonight marked a nice milestone for Joel Quenneville:

    Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

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    Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

    Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

    Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

    This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

    MORE on that goal and the violence that ensued here.

    But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

    The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

    Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

    In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

    You might even be tempted to believe the hype.