I apologize for not having an update based on last night’s action, so I thought we’d merge the update from last night’s games into a preview for tonight’s games, and focus on the ones that truly affect the playoff standings.
The big news from yesterday in the East was the loss by the New Jersey Devils, which dropped them down from 2nd to 4th in the conference standings. They do have one game in hand on the Pittsburgh Penguins, so there’s still time left to make another run for the division. Of course, since the Pens and Devils don’t face each other for the rest of the season (thanks NHL!!) we won’t have the privilege of head-to-head matchup with the title on the line.
In the West, the Colorado Avalanche continue their slide and have opened up the possibility (once again) for the Calgary Flames to somehow make it into the playoffs.
After the jump, we take a look at the standings and at tonight’s big games.
The games that matter:
Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins, 7:00 p.m. EDT – The Bruins have a big, big game tonight as they fight to keep in the playoff standings. Doing so against Ryan Miller and the Sabres will be tough, especially as they continue to struggle without Marc Savard (don’t let that big game on Saturday fool you). Another such win tonight, against the Sabres, would go a long ways to assuaging the fears that the Bruins are on their ways to backing out of the playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Atlanta Thrashers, 7:00 p.m. EDT – This game is why the Bruins should be feeling the heat. The Thrashers have yet another chance to win a big game at home and somehow sneak into a playoff spot — however temporarily.
The games that matter:
Los Angeles Kings @ Minnesota Wild, 9:00 p.m. EDT – Just a month ago we were talking about the Los Angeles Kings perhaps threatening for the top spot in the West. Now they’re close to falling out of the playoffs altogether. The Wild should prove an easy foe for the Kings, but one thing to keep an eye on: Jonathan Quick may get the Kings to the playoffs but he may fall apart from exhaustion once they get there.
It’s been 10 days since George McPhee was officially announced as general manager of the expansion Las Vegas franchise.
Based on a report Friday, it appears he’s looking to possibly add a familiar face from the Washington Capitals to his staff.
Building a front office beyond his position is among the top priorities on his list of things to get done, as that franchise prepares for key dates like next year’s expansion draft.
There is a long history between McPhee and Mahoney from their days with Washington.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Ross Mahoney was hired by McPhee to be the director of amateur scouting for the Caps which he did for 16 seasons before becoming assistant general manager. If you thought the team drafted well during McPhee’s tenure, Mahoney is a major reason why.
The Caps are in a tricky position here. Denying employees the chance to seek other opportunities looks bad, but then again the Capitals don’t want to see their entire office raided by Vegas.
Related: McPhee wants Las Vegas team to compete right away; history says it won’t be easy
There has always seemed to be a connection between hockey players and the game of golf. Some are better than others when it comes to the links.
Take NHL referee Garrett Rank, for example.
Rank, also an amateur golfer, has made the cut at the 2016 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club just south of Toronto. He’s currently tied for 36th at even par heading into the weekend. He also sits seven shots behind the leader, Dustin Johnson, the future son-in-law of The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.
Rank, who joined the NHL Officials Association in 2014, has split his time between officiating in the NHL and the American Hockey League. But, according to the PGA Tour website, he was hired as a full-time NHL ref the day before the opening round of this week’s Canadian Open.
“I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t take my clubs with me when I was on the road,” he told the PGA Tour website. “I think it helps me and makes it a little easier for me because I know that this isn’t the end of the world, whether I shot 65 or 75.”
Rank, 28, is also a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011, after initially feeling discomfort while officiating a game.
“When I got the news I tried to maintain a positive attitude,” he told the Toronto Sun. “And you know what, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. You never want to have cancer wished upon someone but I think it gave me a little better outlook in terms of a bad call on the ice wasn’t as bad. Or hitting a bad shot on the golf course wasn’t the end of the world.
“It has allowed me to stay patient and be grateful for the opportunities and things I have in life.”
Related: PHT Morning Skate: James Wisniewski caddies for PGA Tour golfer Jason Day
More good news when it comes to Carey Price.
After Price had said last month he was 100 per cent healthy following an MCL sprain that ultimately ended his season, Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Stephane Waite reaffirmed that earlier this week in an interview with RDS. That should provide Habs fans with at least a little bit of optimism when it comes to the goalie position after a rather tumultuous summer.
“I’m not a doctor, but all I know is that on the ice it was perfect,” Waite told RDS, as per The Hockey News. “It is 100 percent restored. We are happy and our medical staff did a great job with him to bring him to the top. It is no longer a concern, he is ready to go.”
Habs fans have had a difficult few months. With Price injured, the Canadiens quickly fell out of the playoff race. The off-season has ushered in tremendous change, with the additions of Andrew Shaw and Shea Weber, while the departure of P.K. Subban in that deal with Nashville remains probably the most contentious development in the NHL during the summer.
It is still reality right now that the Habs’ success is still dependent on their goalie Price.
The 28-year-old Price last played a game on Nov. 25, so it’s difficult to imagine there wouldn’t be some initial rust when it comes to getting acclimated once again to game action.
He is also among the three goalies named to Team Canada for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, which starts Sept. 17. Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford were also named to the squad.
Price started and starred for Canada in its gold-medal win at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, while Holtby and Crawford are established and accomplished NHL goalies.
“It’s a long-ways off,” said Price earlier in the spring, as per NHL.com. “I know I’ll be prepared for that.”
Mitch Callahan signed another one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, and will look to once again make the jump to the NHL in the fall.
As per General Fanager, the deal pays $600,000 at the NHL level and $175,000 at the AHL.
A sixth-round pick of the Red Wings in 2009, Callahan, who turns 25 years old next month, has only one appearance in the NHL and that was two seasons ago. He’s spent five seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the minors, where he’s posted decent numbers, offensively, with 19 goals and 32 points last season.
But he’s also dealt with injuries, such as a torn ACL in the 2014-15 season. Or a gory injury — 10 teeth plus a broken jaw — after taking a puck to the face in an AHL game in 2014. This past season, he took another puck to the face during practice, losing another tooth.
He’s made it clear in the past that he doesn’t want to be playing in the AHL, although competition for roster spots — Callahan would have to likely work his way into a bottom-six role — in Detroit will be stiff when the Red Wings open up training camp.
From the Detroit Free Press:
He’s almost certain to be exposed on waivers again, as the Wings have 13 active forwards signed to one-way contracts, plus Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. And Anthony Mantha is expected to make a push for a spot.