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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    DeBoer praises ‘courageous’ Thornton for playing with torn ACL, MCL (Updated)

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    In a fairly stunning admission on Monday, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters that Joe Thornton played in four of San Jose’s six playoff games versus Edmonton with a significant knee injury.

    Thornton, who was hurt against Vancouver late in the regular season, suffered tears to both his left MCL and ACL.

    “I’ve never seen a guy play with a torn MCL and ACL,” DeBoer said, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s a courageous effort as I’ve ever seen.”

    Thornton, 37, missed the first two games of the series to rest his knee, before suiting up for the final four. He averaged 18:50 TOI per night and finished with a pair of assists, numbers that are pretty remarkable given the severity of his ailment.

    Jumbo wasn’t the only unhealthy Shark during the first-round playoff ouster. Logan Couture‘s face/mouth injury was well-documented and, today, DeBoer also revealed that Tomas Hertl was playing with a broken foot, and Patrick Marleau with a broken thumb.

    Looking ahead, Thornton’s knee injury might cloud what’s an already murky future. He’s a pending UFA, and there have been no clear signals from the organization on how they’ll address his potential return. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported in January the Thornton camp was looking for a three-year deal.

    If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Sharks GM Doug Wilson has time on his side. It’s understood the club probably wouldn’t act on an extension for Thornton until after the June expansion draft, which could give the Sharks enough time to better gauge his health.

    Update:

    Per NBC Sports California, Wilson confirmed Thornton is undergoing surgery today to repair the ligaments.

     

     

    Online bookmaker: Caps are Stanley Cup favorites

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    The Washington Capitals got a bit of a scare in the first round, but they’ll go into the second round as the Stanley Cup favorites.

    Per online bookmaker Bovada, here is the full list of Stanley Cup odds for the eight remaining teams:

    Washington Capitals   7/2
    Pittsburgh Penguins    17/4
    Anaheim Ducks             11/2
    Edmonton Oilers          11/2
    St. Louis Blues              13/2
    Nashville Predators     7/1
    New York Rangers       8/1
    Ottawa Senators           10/1

    The Chicago Blackhawks entered the postseason as 4/1 Cup favorites at Bovada. Of course, the ‘Hawks were then swept by the Preds, who’ve gone from 25/1 long shots to 7/1 heading into their series with the Blues.

    The Caps’ odds actually dropped to 13/2 after they fell behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1. But three straight wins, two in overtime, clinched them a spot against the Penguins in the second round.

    The Ottawa Senators are the long shots of the bunch now, despite having home-ice advantage over the Rangers in the second round.

    Isles bring back Seidenberg — one year, $1.25 million

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    The Islanders saw enough from Dennis Seidenberg this season to bring him back for another.

    On Monday, the club announced it had signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year deal. Per Newsday, it’s for $1.25 million — a slight raise from the $1M he earned this season.

    Seidenberg, 35, caught on with the Isles in late September, parlaying a good showing with Team Europe at the World Cup into a contract after going the entire summer unsigned.

    For New York, it worked out very well.

    Seidenberg was a regular lineup fixture, averaging 19:26 TOI over 73 games. He also provided some good production from the back end, scoring five goals and 22 points — his highest offensive output in five years.

    Today’s deal also gives the Isles some flexibility when it comes to the upcoming expansion draft. The club now has six blueliners under contract for next season — Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey and Scott Mayfield — and a seventh, pending RFA Calvin de Haan, will (presumably) be locked in as well. The same might be said of fellow RFA Adam Pelech.

    Young d-man Ryan Pulock, who only appeared in one game this year, locked in through 2018.

    Cassidy ‘absolutely’ wants to return as Bruins’ head coach

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    To nobody’s surprise, Bruce Cassidy is on board with shedding his interim tag and becoming Boston’s full-time bench boss.

    “Absolutely,” Cassidy said of coming back, following the Bruins’ opening-round playoff loss to Ottawa (per CBS Boston). “One hundred percent.”

    One would think the 51-year-old did enough to warrant a longer look. After replacing Claude Julien in early February, Cassidy led a team on the fringes of the playoff picture to an 18-8-1 record down the stretch, and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division.

    Yes, the B’s fell short against the Sens, but were hamstrung by a depleted lineup missing the likes of Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. Top center David Krejci was also extremely limited, missing three of six games to injury.

    When further asked about his future, Cassidy tapped the brakes on predicting what will happen, or what changes the team needed for next season.

    “Well, now we’re making a lot of assumptions,” he said. “That will be determined going forward by management. It’s a tough question to answer.”

    Cassidy’s time with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence, and his history working with young players, may certainly help his cause. A few of his guys — Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, Tommy Cross, Noel Acciari — forged out roles with the big club this season, while other youngsters certainly made an impact in the playoffs.

    Prized d-man prospect Charlie McAvoy was a central figure on defense, and one of Cassidy’s more notable lineup moves — putting Sean Kuraly in for Games 5 and 6 — gave the club a boost of energy.

    That said, the B’s do have options on the coaching front.

    There are a number of experienced bench bosses available. Lindy Ruff, Darryl Sutter and Jack Capuano — a former teammate of Sweeney’s, it should be mentioned — are just a few of the higher profile free agents out there. It’s unclear if Boston is interested in going this route, however. Cassidy has been with the organization a long time, going on eight seasons, and has certainly paid his dues.