Breathe easy Caps fans, division title in hand

Well, it was a fight all the way down to the wire but the Washington Capitals have pulled off what many thought would be far from an easy accomplishment: winning the Southeast Division title. The division win also gives the Capitals an automatic playoff spot, so that’s another hurdle overcome.

Now we can all just move on; it was a tough battle but the Capitals found a way to pull it off.

I don’t know how big of a win the division crown really is; there’s a good chance that the Capitals are the only team from the Southeast Division to make the playoffs. The East in general has not been a very good conference top to bottom, but the disparity between Washington and the other teams in the conference is a bit jarring.

The Capitals were able to clinch the playoff spot due to the Atlanta Thrashers’ loss to Columbus tonight. The Thrashers are actually fighting for a playoff spot, and the addition of Chris Chelios did little to stop the bleeding from a tough losing streak. Atlanta is having major scoring issues, especially with Evander Kane out, and a loss to Columbus is not exactly a good sign for their chances.

As for Chelios? Well, he was just a guy out there on the ice. He had a bit over nine minutes of ice time, and didn’t really stand out all that much. Chelios hasn’t been much of an offensive threat since Seinfeld was still on the air, so his addition to the roster wasn’t going to spark any more scoring for the Thrashers.

He didn’t appear to have any issues, however, and you would never have been able to tell that he was a 74-year old hockey player making his return to the NHL.

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    Sharks finally solve Gibson in OT to defeat rival Ducks

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    Talk about perfect timing.

    Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday, doing so in overtime to lift the San Jose Sharks past the goaltending of John Gibson in a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

    Facing off against their California rivals for the first time this season, the Sharks dominated puck possession and on the shot clock. Had it not been for the play of Gibson, this one could’ve been a lopsided win for San Jose.

    Gibson replaced Jonathan Bernier to begin the second period. Bernier left the game with an upper-body injury.

    In relief, Gibson made 24 saves on 25 shots. Vlasic was the only San Jose player to get the puck past him, but not before the Ducks managed to steal a single point.

    The Ducks recorded the single point, but did so faced with a short-handed lineup as the game continued. Not only did Bernier leave the game, but so, too, did Ryan Getzlaf, who didn’t play a shift in the third period.

    He left with an upper-body injury, as per the Ducks, who at the time listed his return as questionable.

    Elliott backstops Flames to victory in his return to St. Louis

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    So, it seems Jake Allen was onto something.

    The St. Louis Blues goalie noted a few days ago that Calgary Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Brian Elliott despite his early-season struggles.

    Well, Elliott has since put together strong performances in back-to-back games against Central Division opponents from Chicago and then St. Louis.

    After earning a shootout win over the Blackhawks on Monday, Elliott was put back in the Calgary net to finish off the back-to-back road set.

    Facing his former team, Elliott made 23 saves on 24 shots and the Flames recorded a 4-1 victory. It was a special return to St. Louis for Elliott, who spent five seasons with the Blues.

    “I saw that on the schedule from a while ago in the summer,” Elliott told “You want to come back here. I had so much fun playing in front of these fans in this building and wanted to do it again even though it was another team. The guys did a heck of a job in front of me to get that win for me.”

    Not a bad trip for the Flames, with a maximum four points against two teams considered to be contenders in the Western Conference.

    “I thought we were good in front of him, too,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan told the Calgary Herald. “I thought we kept a lot of the stuff to the outside, but he made some big saves, especially at the end, when we knew their push was coming.

    “I thought that was when he was his best. And that’s what you need — we put ourselves in position to win and then he carried us through.”

    Bernier (upper-body injury) gives way to Gibson in Ducks net

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Goaltender Jonathan Bernier #1 of the Anaheim Ducks during the preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson began Tuesday’s game on the bench, but was forced into action to begin the second period against the San Jose Sharks.

    Jonathan Bernier, who got the start, left the game with an upper-body injury and was doubtful to return, the Ducks stated on Twitter.

    Bernier has played in only one other game for Anaheim so far, making 42 saves on 45 shots in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 15.

    ‘Dig in there with the rest of the guys,’ says Babcock after leaving Andersen in against Bolts

    OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 12: In his first game as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs Frederik Andersen #31 puts his mask on against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on October 12, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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    Frederik Andersen‘s difficult start to the season continues.

    After an interesting exchange when questioned about his goaltender prior to Tuesday’s game against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning and some guy named Steven Stamkos, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was once again forced to answer inquiries about the play of Andersen, who allowed seven goals on just 24 shots.

    Andersen stayed in the crease for the entire game, as the Leafs lost 7-3. He certainly didn’t get much help in the defensive end from his teammates in front of him.

    Stamkos started the scoring for Tampa Bay, and continued it with a rocket one-timer past Andersen, before finishing with a four-point night.

    But in Toronto, the conversation about the amazing play of rookies like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner seems to have shifted to the play of their goalie, acquired in a blockbuster deal with Anaheim, in which Toronto parted ways with a first- and second-round pick to make it happen. The Leafs then signed him to a five-year, $25 million deal.

    Playing on a new team in a hockey-crazed market has likely been an adjustment. His season also started with an injury in Olympic qualifying.

    Following the loss Tuesday, Babcock explained his reasoning for leaving Andersen in net for all seven Tampa Bay goals, two of which came late in the third period.

    “I want him to play. He’s my guy. I want him to play,” said Babcock, as per Jonas Siegel of The Canadian Press. “So I could pull him and then say, ‘Okay I showed you!’ But what did I show him? To me, dig in there with the rest of the guys, make the next save and give us a chance to come back and win the game. You can’t do that sitting on the bench.”

    The Maple Leafs face the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Florida’s goalie Roberto Luongo knows all-too-well about the pressures that come with playing the position in a Canadian market.

    It is early in Andersen’s Toronto tenure.

    But Babcock will likely be facing a similar line of questioning until his goalie turns it around.