The Colorado Avalanche have been the surprise of the NHL for most of this season. With a young roster, a first-year head coach and a goaltender getting his first crack at being a full-time starter there weren’t a lot of reasons to be hopeful for the Avs this season.
Of course this is why they play the games and the Avalanche have taken full advantage of coach Joe Sacco’s tutelage and connection with the young players and run wild for the better part of this season, even leading the Northwest Division for a spell.
Now with the season winding down, the Avs are possibly wearing out and find themselves in eighth place in the Western Conference just two points ahead of the Calgary Flames and headed for a showdown in Denver on Friday night. The month of March has not been kind to the Avs as they’ve lost six of their last seven and gave up a point to the Kings (who are currently seventh) in their one win during that stretch.
Via twitter, Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater reported the team went in for a closed-door meeting following their 5-2 loss to Anaheim. For a team in that kind of slide and finding themselves in the position they are now, it’s probably for the best.
The upside for Colorado is that Calgary will come into their game on Friday playing roller coaster hockey themselves. The Flames have won two straight (against Washington and Phoenix), but lost two straight before that (against the Islanders and Bruins). If you can make heads or tails of that, I’ll give you $50 in Monopoly money. I don’t want to blow Friday’s game out of proportion with hyperbole, but as WWE’s Jim Ross would say. it should be a real slobber-knocker.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.