Why Atlanta makes the playoffs, while Boston and NY won't…

Thrash.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

Let’s face it. The Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers are
flailing. While they tread water and fail to actually grasp hold and
take charge of the situation they’ve each been given the Atlanta
Thrashers have snuck up behind them. The Thrashers are now in prime
position to overtake both the Rangers and Bruins for the 8th spot in the
East, while the two teams seem intent on throwing lame, half-hearted
efforts at the opposition at the most crucial part of the season.

The
Bruins and Rangers are both facing a loss of leadership but for two
completely different reasons.

The Bruins have had all the life
sucked out of them ever since the Marc Savard incident, and the fact
that they couldn’t even muster a single ounce of motivation, at home,
against the Pittsburgh Penguins speaks volumes about how out of it their
locker room is. This isn’t a team ready to make the playoffs; this
isn’t even a team that deserves to make the playoffs.

I understand
it’s not fair that the Bruins have to deal with such an ugly injury to
one of their top players, but use that as motivation; not as a tool that
forces the team to just spiral out of control and flush the season down
the toilet. Of course, the Bruins had the worst offense in the NHL and
no matter how well Tuukka Rask might play, he can’t score goals.

The
New York Rangers are dealing with a similar lack of leadership, but
what gets me is that it seems that John Tortorella is intent on actually
squashing any form of leadership that comes from his locker room.
Although I would guess that he’d rather the leaders on his team start
scoring goals and put the effort on the ice, not just spouting off to
the media.

The Rangers are a team with a lot of money tied up in
mediocre players, and just don’t have the skill necessary to make sudden
push into the playoffs. The Rangers have had numerous opportunities the
past week to make up ground on the Bruins as they’ve faltered and have
mustered just the same lame duck efforts as the team in front of them.

All
the while the Atlanta Thrashers have started to build momentum and
creep up on the two floundering teams. It seemed as though Atlanta was
out of the playoff picture with a devastating losing streak coming out
of the break, yet the struggles by the Bruins and Rangers have given
them a shot. So while those two teams struggle, the Thrashers are
building momentum.

If a Thashers team without Ilya Kovalchuk can
overtake the Rangers and Bruins, and it certainly looks like a
possibility at this point, then both teams from the Northeast should
hang their heads and shame and expect change to be on the way. This is
the time of year when the best teams show what they’re made of; Boston
and New York appear to be made of nothing but fluff.

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    This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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    For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

    Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

    Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

    Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.

    Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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    Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

    With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

    That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

    Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

    Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

    U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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    The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

    The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

    “Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

    The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

    Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience:

    Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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    As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

    Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

    Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

    “Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

    To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

    As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

    PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

    More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.