Thanks to the Devils’ win over the Buffalo Sabres, we can finally be
sure about the Eastern Conference playoff seeding. Let’s take a look at
the first round.
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
My goodness, this could be an absolute bloodbath barring a miraculous
performance by Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. The Canadiens are limping
their way into the playoffs, losing three in a row and going on a 3-4-3
streak in his last 10 games. Sometimes the simple stats tell
everything: the Canadiens are the only team in the postseason with a
negative goal differential (-6) while the Capitals sport an absurd +85.
2. New Jersey Devils vs. 7. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers will be headed into the playoffs with Brian Boucher
getting them there down the stretch, although there’s a possibility that
Philly turns to Johan Backlund. With the emotion that Boucher is
playing with now, I can’t see how they give up on too quickly. That
being said, it’s going to a drawn out, defensive battle that definitely
favors the New Jersey Devils. This is what they acquired Kovalchuk for.
3. Buffalo Sabres vs. 6. Boston Bruins
This is a very, very interesting matchup. Three months ago,
this would have been a lock for the Sabres. Yet with Tuukka Rask in net
for the Bruins, anything is possible. This is going to be the
goaltending battle of the first round, with Ryan Miller doing his best
to once again magically carry a team to glory. Neither team has much
offense, so I’m expecting a number of overtime games. Since I said that,
that means the average score in each game will be 5-3.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. Ottawa Senators
I’m not going to be picking the series just yet, but I’m
completely up in the air on this series. The Senators had a run of
horrible games right after the Olympic break and looked to be falling
apart, but have pulled it together at the end of the season. The
Penguins, on the other hand, have some questions as they enter the
postseason in search of a second straight Stanley Cup. The Pens could
win in five, or the Senators could win in six. Hmm….
The Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise has a new leader in career points.
Shane Doan set the new mark at 931 points, taking over the franchise lead from Dale Hawerchuk thanks to a three-point night in a 4-1 Coyotes win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.
He scored twice — his first goal of the night tied Hawerchuk’s record — and added an assist. At 39 years of age, Doan has 21 goals this season and is on pace for his best season in that department since he scored 31 in 2008-09.
In fact, at his age and this stage in his NHL career, he could set a new personal best for goals in a single season.
Despite all the off-ice turmoil the Coyotes have gone through, and the speculation of that franchise possibly uprooting from the desert, Doan has hung in there.
That’s not to say he hasn’t spoken out at times about the constant controversies that have come up between the organization, the city of Glendale and the NHL.
In September of 2012, prior to the lockout, he had the choice to sign elsewhere. He narrowed his options down to Vancouver and Phoenix, eventually deciding to stick with the Coyotes.
Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.
All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.
“It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.
“Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”
L.A. maintains an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.
The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.
P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.
Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.
Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.
“I looked around to see if he was going to blow [the whistle,]” said Subban, as per Sportsnet. “The puck is coming out of the zone. It hits the linesman. He’s standing there and sees the puck coming. It goes back to the player and he puts it in the open net. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
“Are we supposed to smile and be happy after that and say, ‘Thank you’ to the linesman? I don’t think so. I’m a little bit disappointed about that, because I felt there was a minute left in the game [and] we still had a chance to score.”
The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.
Shane Doan on Friday scored his 20th goal of the season, and tied a historical mark for the initial Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise in the process.
Doan scored in the first period against the Calgary Flames, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history with 929.
Now 39 years old, Doan has spent his entire career with that organization, playing one season in Winnipeg before the organization moved to Phoenix.
He also joined another impressive list, too.