NHL Playoffs Update: No one wants 8th spot

Bruins.jpgHow about this. We just skip the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs altogether, and let the top four teams in the conference just move on without worry or fear of anyone getting hurt in a four-game sweep.

Because right now, I’m convinced that no one wants to make be in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. No team wants to actually step up and play when it matters.

That may not exactly be fair for the Montreal Canadiens (who are 6-2-2 in their last ten games), but for Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta — I’m just waiting for one of these teams to win a big game.

Let’s just move on to the games that mattered. That no one won.


The games that mattered:

Atlanta Thrashers 1, Carolina Hurricanes 4 – The Hurricanes are turning into serious spoilers going down the stretch. They’re playing some fairly decent hockey right now, and it was great to see Cam Ward back in net. As far as the Thrashers go; every time I’m prepared to write about them earning a playoff spot, they go and drop one at home. It could have been nice, though, since…

Boston Bruins 2, Buffalo Sabres  3 – The Bruins started off the game well enough, but two quick goals within 1:38 of each other put the home crowd right back in their seats and seemed to unsettle the Bruins a bit. Of course, going up against Ryan Miller is always a tough task. But hey, Atlanta lost so I guess it’s all good.


The games that mattered:

Minnesota Wild 3, Los Angeles 2 – The Calgary Flames are breathing down the necks of the Kings and the Avalanche (of course, they’d need to win as well). The Kings are going through a near-disastrous late season collapse. It’s going to be a shame if they miss the playoffs, after such a great and unexpected season.

Florida Panthers 2, Nashville Predators 3 – The Predators just keep winning. In fact, they’re threatening the Red Wings as the hottest team in the NHL.

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    Julien says Lundqvist’s acting ‘doesn’t need to be on the ice’


    The goalie interference penalty called on Brad Marchand late in Friday’s Thanksgiving Showdown didn’t sit well with the Bruins.

    Marchand, whistled after making contact with New York’s Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third, said he thought “it was a bit of a weak call,” adding “[Lundvqist’s] out of the crease, and he lightly gets touched.”

    While Marchand took issue with the call, his head coach took issue with King Henrik.

    (In Julien’s defense, Lundqvist does have a pretty lengthy IMDB page.)

    The interference penalty was nearly disastrous for the Bruins, as J.T. Miller scored on the ensuing power play to given the Blueshirts a 3-2 edge.

    However, Boston replied with a power-play goal of its own — Ryan Spooner, at the 16:14 mark — which set the stage for David Krejci‘s dramatic game-winner with just under two minutes to go.

    So, to recap: Today’s game had the Beleskey hit on Stepan, the Marchand-Lundqvist theatrics and a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Boston.

    And so, to answer your next question:

    These two teams next meet on Monday, Jan. 11, at MSG.

    Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Video: Peluso, Gabriel throw down in spirited heavyweight tilt

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    The big boys got after it early in Minnesota today.

    Wild forward Kurtis Gabriel — all 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds of him — picked one of the toughest opponents in hockey on Friday, throwing down with Jets enforcer Anthony Peluso early in the first period.

    And it was a pretty good tilt.

    Peluso, one of the league’s most feared fighters, was coming off two pretty heavy scraps — one against Columbus tough guy Jared Boll, and another in which he landed some serious shots on overmatched Canucks d-man Luca Sbisa:

    Of course, Gabriel’s no slouch.

    He had one previous fight in the NHL this year (against Peluso’s teammate, Chris Thorburn) and five in the American League, where he’s spent the majority of this season.

    Given the fisticuffs that occurred earlier in the Bruins-Rangers game, it seem the NHL has really gotten into the spirit of Black Friday.

    (All videos courtesy HockeyFights.com)

    Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Matt Beleskey, Derek Stepan

    Alain Vigneault remembers a late hit that happened in Boston one time.

    The Rangers’ head coach referenced it today after one of his top centers, Derek Stepan, was injured on a check that the NHL may need to review with a stopwatch.

    “I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” Vigneault said, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

    For those that need their memories refreshed (nobody in Vancouver does, that’s for sure), here’s Rome’s late hit that knocked Nathan Horton out of the 2011 final with a concussion:

    Now here’s the hit that Matt Beleskey put on Stepan:

    According to Vigneault, Stepan has some broken ribs and is out indefinitely.

    Over to you, Department of Player Safety.


    A league source has confirmed that the hit is being reviewed.

    High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win


    Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

    This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.

    David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

    The win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

    …Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

    The running and gunning Boston Bruins.

    When was the last time you could call them that?