The road ahead for Flames and Avalanche

avsflames.jpgLet’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.

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    Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

    Niklas Kronwall
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    When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

    (His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

    It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

    He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

    First, the Kronwalling:

    Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

    It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

    Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

    Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

    Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

    Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

    It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

    To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

    The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

    That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

    They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

    Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


    More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

    In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

    Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

    Jack Eichel
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    The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

    You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

    That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

    Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

    Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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    Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

    While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

    The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?