Let’s face it. Chances are, the Colorado Avalanche are going to make the playoffs despite having to sweat it out a bit because of a late surge by the Calgary Flames. Still, with Iginla’s slump on the brain, I thought it might be wise to take one more look at the road ahead for the two teams. Let’s take a look at the remaining games for both the Avs and Flames (sorry Ducks and Blues, but who are you kidding?).
Flames’ remaining games: Home vs. San Jose, home vs. Minnesota and on the road against Vancouver.
Avs’ remaining games: On the road vs. Vancouver, on the road vs. Edmonton, home vs. Chicago and a home game against Los Angeles.
As I discussed during the weekend, Colorado already has some built-in advantages with an extra game in hand, more points and the wins tiebreaker. The Avalanche has 91 points with 4 games left while the Flames have 89 points with 3 games left. Calgary will – most likely – need to end the season at least one point ahead of the Avs. The only way that wouldn’t be the condition would be if Colorado loses out and Calgary wins all three of their games (that would give the Flames 43 wins while the Avs would only have their current total of 42). If I were the Avalanche I would simply look at it this way: go 2-2 or better in your last 4 and you’re in the playoffs. The task might not even be that demanding for Colorado, but that’s the easiest way to look at it.
If the Flames won all three of their games, they’d hit 95 points for the season. In that ideal scenario, the Avs could win one game, lose one game in OT or a shootout and then lose their other two games in regulation and the Flames would make the playoffs. That means Colorado could beat the Oilers, lose to Los Angeles in OT and then lose to the Blackhawks and Canucks before OT and the Flames could put away their golf clubs.
In other words, it’s not likely.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.