What's at stake: Final day of NHL season


Here’s a rundown of all the storylines for today, as prepare for what
should be an incredible day of hockey. Some of the playoff implications
are a bit confusing, especially in the middle of the Western Conference.

biggest story of the day, besides the Ranger and Flyers duking it out
for a playoff spot, is the race for the Rocket Richard with Ovechkin,
Stamkos and Crosby all playing today.

Western Conference:

San Jose or Chicago
2. San Jose or Chicago
3. Vancouver Canucks
4. Phoenix Coyotes
5. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
6. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
7. Detroit, LA Kings or Nashville
8. Colorado Avalanche

– With win against Detroit, Chicago would
lock down #1 seed.

– Detroit wins, assured 5th spot.
– Detroit loses, combined with LA win and Detroit drops to #7 and Kings
jump to #5
– Detroit loses in OT or SO, combined with LA win, Detroit drops to #6
and Kings jump to #5
– Detroit loses in regulation, combined with LA loss in OT or SO –
Nashville #5, LA #6, Detroit #7
-Detroit and LA lose in regulation – Nashville to #5, Detroit to #6


Eastern Conference after the jump:

1. Washington
2. New Jersey or Buffalo
3. New Jersey or Buffalo
4. Pittsburgh
5. Ottawa
6. Boston
7. Montreal or Philadelphia
8. Montreal or Boston

– The Sabres and the Devils are playing each
other this evening for the number two seed in the conference. Buffalo
needs to beat New Jersey in regulation; one point by NJ and they
automatically win the #2 seed due to tiebreakers.

– Either New York
or Philadelphia will make the playoffs; both can’t make it. If
Philadelphia wins, Montreal drops to #8 and takes on the Capitals in the
first round.

– Habs fans are now big NY Rangers fans.

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?

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You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
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If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.