Habs' OT loss sets up big game for Flyers & Rangers

Habs1.jpgIt’s not the way the Montreal Canadiens drew it up, but the Habs are
headed to the playoffs after earning a point in tonight’s overtime loss
to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens have won just three times in
their past ten games, but were able back into the playoffs thanks to
earning nine of a possible 20 points during that span.

Montreal
earning a playoff spot sets up an incredibly big game tomorrow night in
Philadelphia. With just one spot up for grabs, it now becomes a
do-or-die game for both the Rangers and Flyers. One point means nothing
— the only way to make the playoffs now is to win.

There’s also a
matter of seeding. The Boston Bruins are now locked into the 6th seed,
but the Canadiens could slide down to the 8th spot depending on who wins
tomorrow.

A Flyers win and the Habs face the Washington Capitals
in the first round.

A Rangers win and we see a rematch of last
year’s quarterfinals matchup, when the Rangers took the Capitals to
seven games.

I imagine the Canadiens are about to become some
pretty big Rangers fans tomorrow. That being said, if the standings stay
as they are now they’d be facing the New Jersey Devils in the first
round; that won’t exactly be a cakewalk either.

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    Sharks’ Haley suspended one game for Jarnkrok sucker punch

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    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has come down on San Jose tough guy Micheal Haley.

    On Monday, Haley was suspended one game for his sucker punch of Preds forward Calle Jarnkrok, near the end of Nashville’s 7-2 over the Sharks on Saturday.

    “Haley forcefully punches a player who is off balance, not engaged in the confrontation and not even looking when the punch is thrown,” the DoPS explained, via video. “This is a forceful punch on an opponent who is not able to defend himself at the time.”

    The DoPS did acknowledge Jarnkrok’s hit on Haley that preceded the punch — Jarnkrok was given a boarding minor on the play — and also noted that Haley explained he was seeking retribution for said hit.

    In addition, the DoPS acknowledged this was Haley’s first offense.

    As a result of the suspension, Haley will now miss San Jose’s next game — tomorrow at home against the Rangers — and will be eligible to return on Thursday, when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

    Haley will also forfeit $3,472.22 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

     

    Cassidy says Bruins ‘overused’ Rask early on

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    Some interesting comments today from Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, after goalie Tuukka Rask returned to practice.

    Cassidy’s remarks came in the wake of Saturday’s big win in Brooklyn — a game that Rask missed with a lower-body injury.

    “He had a good practice today,” Cassidy said of Rask, per CSN New England“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year … and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”

    It remains to be seen which netminder will get the nod tomorrow against Nashville at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 18 of 19 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders. After a 1-5-1 start to the season, the 30-year-old backup has won his last five starts.

    But Cassidy insisted today that Rask is the Bruins’ “No. 1 goalie.”

    “He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important,” said Cassidy. “When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision.”

    Couture seeing dentist today, Sharks hoping for the best

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    Logan Couture took a puck to the face Saturday in Nashville, forcing him to leave an eventual 7-2 loss to the Predators — and leave it without all his teeth.

    Today, the San Jose forward is seeing the dentist. The hope, according to head coach Pete DeBoer, is that Couture’s injury isn’t as serious as initially feared.

    “You see him the next day, the swelling wasn’t as bad as we thought,” DeBoer said Monday, per CSN Bay Area. “He’s seeing the dentist today, and going to have some dental work done. But, I think the initial prognosis is that we feel pretty fortunate that with the amount of damage compared to what it could have been.”

    The slumping Sharks, losers of six straight, have seven games left in the regular season. They host the Rangers tomorrow.

    Report: Western Michigan leading scorers sign with Blackhawks and Canucks

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    The two top scorers on the Western Michigan Broncos have signed with NHL teams, according to ESPN’s John Buccigross.

    Forward Matheson Iacopelli, 22, has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him 83rd overall in 2014 out of the USHL. Iacopelli had 20 goals and 16 assists in 40 games this season.

    Forward Griffen Molino, meanwhile, will join the Vancouver Canucks organization. Undrafted, the 23-year-old Molino had 15 goals and 18 assists in 40 games this season.

    Iacopelli (6-3, 206) and Molino (6-0, 185) were linemates with the Broncos, along with senior Sheldon Dries.