Eastern Conference Playoff Spoilers

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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?

PHT Morning Skate: Jagr doesn’t understand why Peyton Manning would retire after winning the Super Bowl

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Jaromir Jagr doesn’t believe Peyton Manning should retire. (ESPN)

Victor Hedman wrote about “How We Play Hockey in Sweden” for The Players’ Tribune.

–Did the Senators make a smart move by acquiring Dion Phaneuf? (Sportsnet)

–And if you have a Maple Leafs jersey with Phaneuf’s name on the back, the Sens want to dispose of it:

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Rangers and Penguins. (Top of the page)

–A Zoolander tribute to Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. (Puck Daddy)

Steven Stamkos had a run-in with the paparazzi in Montreal. (Bardown)

Sidney Crosby‘s confidence could be dangerous for the rest of the league:

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.