Toronto Maple Leafs v Atlanta Thrashers

Tonight in the East bubble: Devils win again, Thrashers beat Leafs in OT


Just about every night will be important for the New Jersey Devils, Atlanta Thrashers, Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams fighting for the East’s final playoff spot. Yet Sunday might be a particularly important evening for those general managers, as teams with uncertain futures were given one last chance to convince their front offices that they should be buyers rather than sellers during tomorrow’s trade deadline.

It’s tough to deny that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon and Devils manager Lou Lamoriello are feeling quite differently about their teams, even if Tallon’s group actually holds one more point in the overall standings.

New Jersey 2, Florida 1

Since January 26th, the Devils only lost to two teams: the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. I was going to make some convoluted joke about sun burns, but the Florida loss actually came in New Jersey.

Either way, New Jersey earned a measure of revenge by beating their bubble opponents. Better yet, they managed to do so in regulation, keeping the Rats from getting a charity point in the process. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire is making a compelling case for the Jack Adams award, as his team is an incredible 17-2-2 in their last 21 games.

While the Devils seemed to win in typical fashion (a bland, low-scoring game), there was one thing that made tonight special: Martin Brodeur earned the victory in his first start since February 6th. Brian Rolston and David Clarkson provided just enough offense for New Jersey, as they were able to limit Florida to one Marty Reasoner score to win the game.

Atlanta 3, Toronto 2 (OT)

While it was great for the Devils to win on Sunday, it hasn’t been a great weekend overall considering the fact that most of the bubble teams kept picking up points. Atlanta’s been involved in two three-point games, as the Thrashers won this game in overtime against the Maple Leafs and received a charity point against the Panthers on Friday.

The Maple Leafs built a 2-0 lead, but received what could be a crucial blow when James Reimer went down with a head injury in the second period. We’ll keep an eye out for updates regarding the team’s surprisingly effective rookie netminder, especially considering the fact that Jean-Sebastien Giguere allowed all three of those Thrashers goals.

To be fair, Atlanta threw 43 shots at Reimer and Giguere, so it’s not like the older netminder was alone in the blame. The second and third periods were especially one-sided, as the Birds out-shot the Leafs by a whopping 31-11 margin. Ron Hainsey’s overtime winner probably wasn’t Giguere’s fault, as it appeared the goalie was screened by his own defenseman.

With these results in mind, let’s take a look at the race for eighth place with some help from our NHL Standings page:

(click to enlarge)

At this moment in time, it looks like the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are the two teams with the best chance to take the final spot in the East. Obviously, there are plenty of contenders, though, so this should be awfully fun to watch. Could it come down to a final game (or even point) like last season? Stay tuned.

On a new contract, Avs don’t dress Stuart in opener

DENVER, CO - MARCH 14:  Brad Stuart #17 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on as he skates against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on March 14, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Brad Stuart wasn’t on the ice for the first game of his two-year, $7.2 million contract and it had nothing to do with his health.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy felt Stuart simply wasn’t one of the six best defensemen in training camp and consequently he wasn’t in the lineup, per the Denver Post.

“Things could change for the next game,” Roy offered. “Like I said (Wednesday), we’re going to use those eight D all year long. (Last night was) just the first game of the season.”

Perhaps, but it’s still a terrible indicator, especially given that Stuart will turn 36 on Nov. 6. Stuart is a veteran of over 1,000 games, but now the question is if he has enough left in the tank to provide Colorado with much value.

The Avalanche also scratched defenseman Brandon Gormley, who was acquired from the Coyotes in exchange for Stefan Elliott. The hope was that both players would benefit from the change in scenery. Gormley was taken with the 13th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but has only played in 32 career NHL games.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)