No one wants to face Detroit in the first round

holmstromscreen.jpgLast year, an eighth-place Ducks team loaded with talent from Pronger to Getzlaf to Hiller knocked the San Jose Sharks out of the first round 4-2. This year, the Detroit Red Wings could play a similar spoiler role as a team with way too much talent to be in the conference’s final playoff spot.

Now, there’s still plenty of time for a variety of things to happen. It is possible that even though the Red Wings widened their lead over Calgary last night, the Flames could still conceivably overtake Detroit for the last spot. On the other hand, the Red Wings are only one point behind Nashville, four points behind Colorado and five points behind the Los Angeles Kings. The team could absolutely be in a different spot after they get through the last 13 games of their season.

But if things hold true and the Red Wings stay in the eighth spot, the Sharks or Blackhawks may in fact be wise to let the Conference’s top spot “slip away.”

Sure, the Red Wings have struggled at times this season and may indeed have lost a few miles per hour on their fastball that they’ll never get back. That being said, this team still has Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Both Jimmy Howard and “Mr. Playoff Light Switch” Chris Osgood could give the team some good goaltending in the playoffs. In other words, there are still plenty of the elements that made them the elite team in this league.

You have to think that the Red Wings would relish the role of being the “underdog” after many seasons of being a top-3 seed. Could it be that for the second year in a row, winning the Western Conference’s top spot could really be like stumbling on a dangerous booby trap?

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    Video: Flyers’ Read (upper-body injury) will not return versus Predators

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    Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read is done for the night with an upper-body injury, the team announced.

    Read, who only played three shifts today, was hit into the net by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the first period. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced the veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury.

    There was no call on the play.

    In 26 games this season, Read has six goals and 10 points.

    Video: Radulov goes top shelf in the shootout and it’s pretty sweet

    MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 08:  Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the warmup prior to the NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 8, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    Alexander Radulov has been a pretty good acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, and he continued to prove that Sunday against the L.A. Kings.

    Radulov scored in the shootout against the Kings, helping the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory. He also scored in the second period and had two assists for a three-point night. Not bad.

    But his shootout goal was sweet. Just made it look easy, as he went to the backhand, top shelf on Peter Budaj.

    With reported tension between coach Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain scored twice and had an assist. Another three-point night.

    So, the Habs got offensive contributions from their best players.

    That said, one of their best players, Alex Galchenyuk left the game late in the third period after a collision with Anze Kopitar away from the puck.

    Galchenyuk didn’t return for the overtime. In 25 games, he has nine goals and 23 points, emerging as the No. 1 center in Montreal when the season began.

    The Toews injury isn’t getting better, so Chicago’s captain will sit versus Jets

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 28:  Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 28, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, and they’ll do so without captain Jonathan Toews.

    Toews will miss a fifth straight game because of a reported back injury.

    On Sunday, per CSN Chicago, coach Joel Quenneville provided an update, saying the Blackhawks forward will now be kept off the ice for the next few days because the injury essentially isn’t getting any better.

    The Blackhawks are coming off a 3-1 road loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, and they’re going through a difficult time with injuries to key players. Not only is Toews out, but goalie Corey Crawford has been sidelined for two to three weeks after undergoing an appendectomy.

    Scott Darling will start in net tonight for Chicago, which has a three-point lead in the Central Division.

    The Jets will be without their top point producer Mark Scheifele for a second straight game with a lower-body injury, per NHL.com.

    Buffalo’s depth on defense is dwindling

    BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 18:  Josh Gorges #4 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on October 18, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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    The Buffalo Sabres aren’t known for their depth on defense, so when they have to deal with injuries at that position, things can get complicated.

    Well…I guess things are about to get complicated.

    On Sunday, the Sabres announced that Josh Gorges (pictured) will miss “weeks” because of a non-displaced fracture in his foot. The injury occurred after he blocked a shot in Thursday’s game against the Rangers.

    Besides Gorges, Buffalo is also without Zach Bogosian and Dmitry Kulikov.

    Bogosian has been out since Nov. 3 with sprained ligaments in his knee, and he’s still 10-to-14 days away from getting back into the lineup.

    The news is a little better for Kulikov, who returned to practice on Sunday. He’s missed 11 games because of a back injury he suffered in the preseason. He tried playing through it, but obviously he was still in some discomfort.

    “Kulikov has now skated two days with some physicality and now been skating for seven days,” coach Dan Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “Hopefully, that means we’ll see him in practice soon – in the next week hopefully.”

    Now, some of the replacements for these guys are starting to get hurt.

    Taylor Fedun missed Sunday’s practice and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play against the Capitals on Monday night. If he can’t go, Buffalo will need to call someone up from the minors.

    Things got so wacky last week that the Sabres called up Brendan Guhle from junior on an emergency basis. By rule, he can stay on the roster as long as he keeps playing. Once he stops playing, the emergency tag is removed and he has to go back to his junior team.

    Guhle, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Cody Franson and Justin Falk are the healthy defensemen on the roster right now.