Around the rink – Tuesday, November 9th

Now with the Hockey Hall of Fame hoopla over and done with, the NHL gets back into more regular working order with a scintillating slate of seven games. Is that enough alliteration for you? All times listed are Eastern because that’s the way we lean.

7:00 pm

Edmonton @ Carolina

It’s crazy to think that it was just five seasons ago that these two teams met in the Stanley Cup finals, isn’t it? Youth will dominate the headlines here with Edmonton’s trio of talent in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi going up against leading rookie scorer Jeff Skinner in Carolina. The Oilers could use another win here to build off their win over Chicago on Sunday.

7:30 pm

Washington @ NY Rangers

The Rangers might be in a bad way right now, but playing the Caps is something that seems to bring the best out of them win or lose. The Caps are coming in hot though, living high off beating the Flyers on Sunday and a lot of that success coming thanks to Alexander Semin. Semin’s got nine goals so far this year and leads the team in goals. Yes, even ahead of Alex Ovechkin. The Rangers, meanwhile, might be counting down the days until Thursday when Marian Gaborik may be rejoining the team.

Vancouver @ Montreal

Vancouver hits the road with a six game win streak and gets to deal with the unfriendly confines of Montreal to kick things off. Vancouver is doing well and have player of the week Raffi Torres to thank for it. Torres’ hot start is helping keep a balanced attack going so teams can’t solely focus on the Sedin twins. Montreal looks to bounce back after a rough game against Ottawa in which they saw Alex Kovalev almost single-handedly beat them. The Habs could stand to get the offense going as they rank 20th in the league in goals scored.

Atlanta @ Ottawa

The Senators roll into this game seemingly having figured things out. The Sens lost five of their first six games to start the season, but now they’re winners of five out of their last six games and they’ve got goalie Brian Elliott to thank for it. Elliott’s played strong of late and the offense hasn’t been too bad either. Atlanta, meanwhile, can’t keep opponents off the board as they come into the game with the second-most goals allowed in the league. The Thrashers are getting plenty of their own goals but Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec have had issues in goal of late.

Toronto @ Tampa Bay

Fans in Toronto are grumbling about head coach Ron Wilson and the natives are getting restless after seeing the Leafs lose their last five games, their last two coming in shootouts. They’ve lost eight of their last nine games and the offense has been nowhere to be seen. As for Tampa Bay, they’ll be happy to no longer be on the road after getting rough treatment on their west coast swing going 1-2-1 on the trip. A game with the Leafs might be all the Lightning need to get back on a roll.

9:30 pm

Calgary @ Colorado

All right so which Flames team will we see tonight? Which Avalanche team will show up? The Avalanche have been inconsistent while the Flames have been downright streaky. Calgary enters the game losers of their last four games, a streak that came on the heels of a three-game win streak. Go figure. Colorado, meanwhile, is living well so far without Craig Anderson as Peter Budaj has played more than solid while Anderson’s out with an injury including earning a shutout against Dallas his last time out.

10:30 pm

Anaheim @ San Jose

Will it be fight night for these two teams again? These two clearly don’t care for each other and now they’re both playing relatively well all things considered. The Sharks got a big win in their first game without Joe Thornton thanks to Patrick Marleau’s two goal night. Anaheim, meanwhile, is getting it done thanks to both goalie Jonas Hiller and ageless wonder Teemu Selanne. Go ahead and tell us you predicted that before the season started and we’ll happily call you a liar.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Joel Armia scored an amazing shorthanded goal you’ll have to see to believe

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    Joel Armia has developed into a very useful player for the Winnipeg Jets, and on Tuesday night, he scored an incredible end-to-end goal that you won’t want to miss. He fought off one New Jersey Devil then got around two others before scoring this beautiful shorthanded goal. (Top)

    –The Score breaks down the best “bang for your buck” contracts on each Canadian team. It’s not shocking to see Senators goalie Mike Condon on this list. The second-year netminder has been with three teams this season, but he’s come through in a big way for the Senators, and he only makes $575,000. (The Score)

    –The ESPN Hockey writers put together a list of what they think the Vegas Golden Knights roster is going to look like after the expansion draft. Some well-known names like Andrew Cogliano, Jonas Brodin, Mikkel Boedker, Tomas Plekanec, Jonathan Marchessault, Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg all made the list. (ESPN)

    –Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” blog touched on some advice David Poile had for the Golden Knights now that the Oakland Raiders will be moving to Vegas. “You have to do your own thing. We created our ‘Predator Way.’ The Smashville idea and name. In-game entertainment fitting the market. Those things worked.” Friedman also wrote about Ken Hitchcock possibly returning to Dallas, and much more. (Sportsnet)

    –Brampton Thunder forward Laura Stacey is the great-granddaughter of hall-of-fame defenseman King Clancy. Recently, Stacey decided she wanted to do a little digging into her great-grandfather’s career, and it really allowed her to get an appreciation for everything he accomplished. “Now I understand how hard he worked, how passionate and determined he was to be the best. Yes, it was a different era, but I can only imagine how hard he had to work to get where he was. As I get older, it makes it more special in that I know more the kind of guy he was.” (Canadian Press)

    –The Montreal Canadiens have had some incredible defensemen come through their organization, but last night, Andrei Markov was able to reach an impressive milestone. By picking up an assist in a 4-1 win over Dallas, he tied Guy Lapointe for second in points by a defenseman in franchise history. Larry Robinson’s mark is pretty safe.

    Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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    The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

    For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

    The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

    New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

    This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

    The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

    Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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    There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

    On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

    The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

    In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

    The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

    Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

    The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

    Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

    Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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    Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

    It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

    Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

    Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

    You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.