NHL Playoff Update: West statements, Eastern whimpers

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Many hockey fans will barely bat an eye at the general rule of last night’s games: the West teams with big games came through while the East teams suffered some disappointing defeats. The Philadelphia Flyers, in particular, must feel some serious April Fools Day shame after losing to the New York Islanders in a game that was a lot worse than the 6-4 final score would indicate.

First, let’s look at the Eastern Conference standings.

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So it seems like the Washington Capitals are the only team in the East that gets it done. They beat the Atlanta Thrashers 2-1 in a tight game in DC last night. Perhaps I should stop writing “interesting trend” type articles because a day after saying that the Sabres are quietly becoming the hottest Eastern Conference team they lost to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins weren’t able to gain more ground on the Thrashers because they were shutout by the Florida Panthers 1-0 last night. Then again, the Thrashers and Bruins can at least take solace in the fact that the Flyers failed to win against a weak Islanders team.

Ottawa clinched a playoff berth on the strength of of a come-from-behind shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, let’s move on to the Western Conference.

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The Red Wings continued their hot streak, taking their seventh straight win over the Columbus Blue Jackets while the Predators kept pace with Detroit by winning a challenging game against the St. Louis Blues.

In what was supposed to be the best game of the night, the Los Angeles Kings crushed the Vancouver Canucks 8-3. It’s surprising that Roberto Luongo wasn’t pulled from the game. Should Vancouver be worried about their goalie, who was supposed to be the team’s biggest strength?

There are some big games tonight, with Philadelphia-Montreal and Colorado-Calgary having the most immediate playoff impacts. More on that later today.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)