Tonight's playoff scenarios

It seems like playoff scenarios are changing on a day-to-day basis this week since there’s such little separation between certain teams. Every point seems precious. (Or, useless, if you’re the home-ice clinching Washington Capitals or a member of the growing legion of teams waiting to go on vacation.)

We’ll try to keep you up-to-date with each situation, but today Kukla’s Korner already did a superb job of summarizing what can happen with Thursday’s slate of games. Here’s how they broke down the possibilities (which I must say, kind of reminds me of the last few weeks of NFL playoff battles).

#2 New Jersey Devils would clinch the Atlantic Division…
* if they defeat the Florida Panthers AND the Pittsburgh Penguins lose in regulation to the New
York Islanders
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins would clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs…
* if they get at least one point against New York Islanders
* if the Ottawa Senators lose (in regulation or overtime/shootout) to Tampa Bay
#6 Montreal Canadiens would clinch a playoff berth…
* if they get at least one point against the Carolina Hurricanes

Now, here’s a quick rundown of each conference’s seeding situations (also broken down slightly differently in that KK post).


1. Washington (clinched)

2-3. Could go to New Jersey, Pittsburgh or Buffalo

4. NJ, Pitt or Ottawa

5. Pitt or Ottawa

6-8. Montreal, Philadelphia, Boston or Rangers


1-2. San Jose or Chicago

3. Vancouver (clinched)

4. Phoenix (clinched)

5. Nashville, Detroit or LA

6-7. Nashville, Detroit, LA or Colorado

8. LA, Detroit or Colorado

OK, so there’s your playoff race cheat sheet.

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    ‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

    John Collins
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    One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

    John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

    More, from the League:

    Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

    “John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

    Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

    “The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

    Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

    During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

    Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

    Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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    Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

    Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

    It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

    The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

    That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.

    Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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    The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

    Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

    Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

    The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

    Here are the full rosters:


    NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

    The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

    Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

    Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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    With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

    Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

    Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

    Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

    The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

    After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

    Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


    Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.