Playoff update: West is booked, East thins out

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It may have taken the shootout to make it happen, but the Western 1-duchene.jpgConference playoff field is set.  The Colorado Avalanche locked down the final spot in the West by knocking down the eventual #3 seed Vancouver in the shootout 4-3 courtesy of a sweet goal from rookie Matt Duchene. The Avs were in a position to lock it down thanks to the Calgary Flames falling to the San Jose Sharks 2-1.  Rene Bourque scored the lone goal for the Flames as slumping captain Jarome Iginla was held off the scoresheet notching only three shots on goal in the loss. 

As for the distant followers in the West, Anaheim did have a 4-2 lead on the Kings going into the third but ultimately gagged that away as the Kings bullied their way, temporarily, into the #6 seed in the west thanks to third period goals from Justin Williams and Michal Handzus.  It took the shootout and another highlight reel goal, this time from Anze Kopitar, to put down the Ducks.

In the East, the New York Rangers shot themselves in the foot losing a stinker of a game to the Sabres 5-2. The Sabres win helps keep them in the running for the #2 seed in the East.  Also chasing the two seed are the Devils who snuffed out the Thrashers and their playoff hopes 3-0 behind Martin Brodeur’s 600th win and 110th career shutout.

The Flyers helped themselves out in a big way thanks to goaltender Brian Boucher’s 23-save shutout of the Maple Leafs in their 2-0 win.  Montreal didn’t do themselves any favors losing to the Islanders 4-3 in a shootout but stay in sixth in the East one point ahead of Philadelphia and two points ahead of eighth place Boston. 

The Rangers are in big trouble sitting three points back of the Bruins but control their destiny as winning out their final three games would put them in the playoffs. They’ll need to beat Toronto tomorrow night and then Philadelphia twice to get in.  Talk about your tall orders in the frenetic and mostly inept Eastern Conference.

No hearing scheduled for Burmistrov after Bergeron headshot

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Winnipeg forward Alex Burmistrov isn’t in line for a disciplinary hearing for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed to PHT.

Burmistrov was tagged with an illegal check to the head minor late in the first period. Bergeron received a minor roughing penalty for retaliating on the Russian forward, but was able to finish the contest.

Afterward, B’s head coach Claude Julien expressed frustration with the hit.

“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’€™s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said, per WEEI. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’€™t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”

Bergeron said that, while it was “definitely a hit to the head,” Burmistrov did come up to him afterward and apologized.

According to sources of CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, Burmistrov received a warning from the Department of Player Safety.


After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.