Around the Rink – Saturday, December 11th

All but four of the NHL’s teams are playing tonight, so we’ll make these summaries short and sweet. As usual, the start times are based on Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Columbus

Do the Blue Jackets really hold the advantage in this one? They’re only .500 at home (7-7-1) while the Rangers are outstanding on the road (11-4-0).

Colorado @ Washington

The Avalanche have had a tough time playing a handful of games against the Southeast Division, but the Capitals pose the biggest challenge yet. Washington should come into this one angry, as they’re on a four game losing streak.

Atlanta @ NY Islanders

I wouldn’t have been shocked if these two teams were in similar spots this season, yet the Thrashers have plenty to look forward in the near and long-term future while it seems like the Islanders just face a grim reality.

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo

The Penguins go for their 12th win a row, while the Sabres seek more humble goals of going above .500 at home and winning two consecutive games.

Detroit @ New Jersey

When schedule makers drew this one up, they probably expected this match to be a “possible Stanley Cup preview.” The Red Wings are holding up their end of the bargain, but the Devils are just downright dreadful.

Philadelphia @ Boston

It just shows how consistent and impressive the Flyers have been this season that they only trail the Penguins by one point in the Atlantic despite Pittsburgh’s 11-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bruins continue to attempt to creep up on the Habs in the Northeast.

Montreal @ Toronto

Both teams are coming off of humbling losses, as the Canadiens were defeated by the Red Wings last night while the Maple Leafs were frustrated by Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday.

8:00 pm

Florida @ Nashville

Could this be a somewhat emotional reunion for Tomas Vokoun and his former team in Nashville? Stay tuned for starting goalies later today to find out.

Dallas @ Phoenix

I wouldn’t be surprised if reigning save of the night winner Andrew Raycroft played in back-to-back games with this one against their Pacific Division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Carolina @ St. Louis

This is a great opportunity for the Blues to earn their third win in a row, as the Hurricanes are coming off a long, tough game against the Stars last night.

10:30 pm

Chicago @ San Jose

The Blackhawks and Sharks are starting to get things together, but it hasn’t always been pretty this season. If nothing else, they’re both entertaining though.

Minnesota @ Los Angeles

The Wild square off against a Kings team that is stout at home (11-2-0) in this one. Could Los Angeles add Marco Sturm to the mix next week?

Tampa Bay @ Vancouver

The Lightning are starting to face a bit of a swoon while the Canucks’ lead in the Northwest is growing a bit more comfortable. It’s a rare opportunity for Vancouver fans to get a glimpse of scoring stud Steven Stamkos.

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

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After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here:

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

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It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.