Eastern Conference Playoff Spoilers


So you’re a fan of the Bruins, Rangers, Thrashers, Canadiens or Flyers in the Eastern Conference and you’ve chewed off your fingernails in preparation for the final two weeks of the season. First off, that’s gross so knock it off.  Secondly, your team has given you heart palpitations all season long and now it’s flat-line time.  Five teams, three playoff spots and not enough beer to help you get through it all.

Fear not because now you get to figure out which teams are going to try and make your off-season start sooner rather than later, worse yet, some of them are already out of the playoffs.  It’s time to know your spoilers.  Here’s the remaining schedules for those teetering on the edge of oblivion. Games remaining in parenthesis, home games in bold.

Atlanta Thrashers (5): WSH, PIT, NJ, WSH, PIT

Boston Bruins (6):  FLA, TOR, WSH, BUF, CAR, WSH

Montreal Canadiens (5): PHI, BUF, NYI, CAR, TOR

New York Rangers (6):  TB, FLA,  BUF, TOR, PHI, PHI

Philadelphia Flyers (6):  NYI, MON, DET, TOR, NYR, NYR

If you’re a Thrashers fan, perhaps the best thing to do is just pass along our condolences and wish you the best of luck at the draft.  The Bruins also get a handful of the Capitals to wind down the season which can’t bode well for fans in Boston.  The Flyers also have their work cut out for themselves but they’ve got a big hand in their own fate with one game remaining against the Habs and two to close out the season with the Rangers.  The Rangers schedule sets up well to tease the Blueshirts faithful in the worst kind of way with seemingly easy games left with Tampa, Florida and Toronto.

If you’re looking for teams to ruin a lot of postseason plans, take a look at both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes.  The Hurricanes can help decide the race between Montreal and Boston and took a step towards that by beating the Canadiens 2-1 tonight.

Meanwhile the Maple Leafs can help throw a wrench into the works of Bruins, Rangers, Flyers and Canadiens.  How stressful would the final game of the regular season be for Montreal if they have to beat the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre?  Do numbers go higher than infinity?

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.

McDavid will center Hall and Slepyshev

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid said he didn’t have any trouble falling asleep on the eve of his professional debut.

But when he woke up on Thursday he said it finally hit him.

“In the days leading up I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,” McDavid said. “Kind of when I woke up this morning, I guess that’s kind of when it hit me that I’ll be playing in my first NHL game. I think that’s when I first realized.”

When the Oilers play at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the 18-year-old McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the most hyped player to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Penguins made his debut a decade ago.

Speaking in front of a crowd of reporters on Thursday following his team’s morning skate, the soft-spoken rookie admitted to having some butterflies but said he felt pretty good and was excited to get going.

“It’s just special,” McDavid said of his NHL debut. “I’m living out my dream, so there’s nothing better than that. I’m just really looking forward to tonight.”

McDavid will be centering the Oilers’ second line against the Blues with Taylor Hall on the left wing and Anton Slepyshev on the right. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, while Slepyshev will also be making his NHL debut on Thursday night.

“We all see what he can do in practice and the games,” Hall said of McDavid. “It’s important to remember he’s 18. I’m 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There’s going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he’s in a position to succeed and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan, hired in May after spending seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks, has already gotten accustomed to receiving questions about McDavid.

The first few questions McLellan was asked on Thursday were about the NHL’s most popular newcomer.

“What I’ve found with him is he’s working really hard to just be himself and fit in,” the coach said. “He doesn’t want to be special, he doesn’t want to be treated any differently but he obviously is. He’s trying to adapt to that and he’s doing a very good job of it personally and collectively I think our team has done a good job around him.”

McLellan said there are three levels of pressure surrounding him.

The first is McDavid’s individual expectations, which he is sure are extremely high. The second comes from the rookie’s teammates, coaching staff, organization and city of Edmonton.

“But where it really changes is the national, international and world-wide eyes being on him,” McLellan said. “How does that compare to some of the other players I’ve been around? I haven’t been around an 18-year-old who has had to deal with that. It’s new to all of us.

“I did spend some time talking to Sid (Sidney Crosby) about his experience and even since then the world’s really changed as far as media and social media and that type of stuff. This is a new adventure for everybody involved. I know Connor has the tools to handle the pressure and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”