Detroit Red Wings v Los Angeles Kings

Around the Rink – Wednesday, March 9th

As tough as it might be to do so, it’s time to at least attempt to move on from the craziness involving Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty and focus on today’s seven games. Start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

Atlanta @ Carolina

With a few more losses, the Thrashers can focus solely on their ownership situation and the pursuit of tanking in order to acquire another building block in the draft. Then again, beating their bubble brothers in Carolina would be a nice way of keeping their flimsy playoff dreams alive. Technically, they’re still ahead of the Devils, so they’re not totally done. Right? Maybe? Meanwhile, the Hurricanes trail the eighth place Sabres by one point and one win, so they could jump back into the top eight (at least briefly) by beating the Thrashers.

St. Louis @ Columbus

While the Blues are playing the spoiler role in this home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets, Columbus needs to play like a desperate team in this game. You know, because they are desperate. With five losses in a row, the Blue Jackets are fading out of the Western Conference playoff picture. They need a win tonight.

Edmonton @ Washington

Will this be a “trap game” for the emboldened new leaders of the Southeast Division? The Capitals must not take the Oilers lightly or they’ll lose a precious opportunity to expand their two-point lead over the Lightning for the division title. Washington might point back to this game with regret if they don’t snare a victory.

7:30 pm

Chicago @ Tampa Bay

Call this game the “What a difference a superstar draft pick makes” contest. On one side, there’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the Blackhawks. In the opposing corner, there’s Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier. Unfortunately, Martin St. Louis will ruin the gag by revealing his Hart Trophy winning, undrafted self. He’s a real scamp in that way.

Los Angeles @ Detroit

The last time these two teams played, the Red Wings ruined the Kings’ post-trade deadline buzz by dismantling them 7-4. While you cannot say that actually having Dustin Penner in a Kings uniform would have made a difference, he will suit up for Los Angeles against the Red Wings tonight. The Kings have a loose grasp on eighth place while Detroit has the added motivation of holding off the San Jose Sharks to maintain their grasp on the West’s second seed.

9:00 pm

Calgary @ Dallas

Barring a setback in warm-ups or from the snack bar, it sounds like Brad Richards will make his first post-trade deadline appearance with the Stars tonight. The team lost their first four games without him before putting up a 5-0-1 mark in their last six, but either way they’ll be glad to have him back. He’ll need to hit the ground running, though, because the two teams are currently in fourth and fifth place in the West. Could this be a preview for a first round playoff series?

10:30 pm

NY Rangers @ Anaheim

The Rangers are hoping they don’t sink out of the Eastern Conference’s top eight while the Ducks are crossing their fingers that they might be able to slip back into the West’s playoff picture. These two teams don’t meet often, but each side needs a win badly, so expect at least a decent amount of intensity in this one.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.