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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    PHT Morning Skate: On Nico Hischier getting his own (bacon-less) sandwich

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

    Nico Hischier hasn’t been in Jersey long, but he already has his own sandwich at a local deli. What’s inside? Grilled chicken, raw onion, lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese. The concerning thing is that Hischier refused the chance to add bacon to his sandwich. Who doesn’t like bacon? (Sports Illustrated)

    –Luke, who is a young Capitals fan, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is inoperable. Caps winger Alex Ovechkin recently spent time with Luke. That’s just awesome. (Russianmachineneverbreaks.com)

    John Tavares is the biggest name on the Islanders roster, but it’s the combination of Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle that have helped spark New York. (Sportsnet)

    Cam Atkinson‘s new contract can be used as a comparable for potential free agent Patric Hornqvist, according to pensburgh.com. If that’s the case, it doesn’t sound like the Pens will be able to keep him beyond July 1st. (Pensburgh.com)

    –Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore opened the year in the AHL, but his days in the minors appear to be over. The 22-year-old is a key piece of Vegas’ present and future. (Sinbin.Vegas)

    –The Dallas Stars have had plenty of problems this season. They aren’t getting goals from depth players, their goaltending has been inconsistent, and a group of struggling defensemen. Why haven’t they fixed this issues? Maybe because they just can’t. (Blackoutdallas.com)

    –Artist Tony Harris painted portraits of all of the top 100 players. It took a while, but he finally finished the project with paintings of Yvan Cournoyer and Wayne Gretzky. “All of a sudden, I went from a struggling artist to having as much work as I wanted,” Harris said. (Toronto Star)

    –Islanders GM Garth Snow takes a lot of heat for some of the moves he’s made, but getting Josh Bailey was probably the most creative acquisition he made through the draft. (nyislesblog.com)

    –The New Jersey Devils have surprised the hockey world this year. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Pavel Zacha, who’s been a colossal disappointment so far. There’s a few things they could do to try to get him out of this funk. They could send him to the AHL, move him to the wing full-time, or even force the experiment to work down the middle. (pucksandpitchforks.com)

    –Gary Bettman has been really pleased with the NHL’s revenue stream (he says it’s around $4-5 billion), so don’t be surprised if the salary cap goes up to anywhere between $80-82 million next season. (Spectorshockey.net)

    –The Capitals are barely over .500, which means that this next 10-game stretch will be huge for their them. If they don’t show significant improvement, a major change or two could be coming. (novacapsfans.com)

    Adam Henrique is doing his part to raise money during Movember. Not only is he raising money by growing a mustache, he’s also organizing the inaugural Rico’s Soiree to benefit Movember. “I’m looking forward to just meeting all of the people who will be at the soirée,” said Henrique. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but we will have some of the players joining me which will help a lot and may even have some family in for the event.” (NHLPA.com)

    –Gabe, a 14-year-old boy from Ottawa that has a prosthetic leg, has turned out to be an incredible goalie for his youth hockey team. “I just love playing the game and play whenever I can. When I’m playing, there are certain moves that are more challenging, so I have to adapt those moves to fit my mobility. I just push myself to go to the highest level possible.” (Ottawa Citizen)

    –Here’s a Q&A with Lightning rookie Mikhail Sergachev, where he talked about the difficulties of playing in the NHL, where he’s made the biggest improvements, and Tampa’s Russian mafia. (Rawcharge.com)

    –It’s been 16 months since the Predators and Canadiens swapped Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. The Montreal Gazette took a look back at one of the biggest trades of the last decade. (Montreal Gazette)

    –There’s been a lot of talk about Houston getting an NHL team. If that were to happen in the near future, what should they be called? (Chron.com)

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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    Players of the night:

    Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

    Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

    William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

    The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

    Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

    Highlights of the night: 

    The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

    Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

    Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

    Factoids of the Night:

    King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

    Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

    Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

    Suspensions of the Night: 

    Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

    The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

    Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

    Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

    The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

    I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

    Scores:

    Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

    Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

    Rangers 3, Senators 0

    Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

    Ducks 3, Panthers 2

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

    Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

    Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

    Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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    We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

    On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

    The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

    Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

    The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

    “He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

    “He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

    Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.