The New Jersey Devils aren’t officially out of the Eastern Conference playoff race just yet, but with nine games to close a nine-point gap between themselves and the eighth place Buffalo Sabres, it’s probably a mere formality.
One can only imagine how much closer they could be if their young star Zach Parise didn’t suffer a serious knee injury on November 2nd. There were murmurs of a possibility that Parise might return yesterday and now Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is going on the record that the elite winger should play this season “unless something unforeseen happens.”
Rich Chere has the story. Lamoriello told Chere that Parise still must gain his surgeon’s clearance for contact, so whatever “time frame” the team and the player has, nothing is official yet.
Plenty of people wonder whether or not he’ll be able to come back, but I have a simple question: should he?
Joe rightly brings up the point that Parise will be a restricted free agent this summer, so both the player and the team might want to see where he is at. But is taking a moderate to considerable risk regarding his knee worth it, especially since a few games could be very deceptive – good or bad?
Just look at Brandon Roy of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, who rushed back from a knee injury for a different reason (the playoffs), but aggravated the injury and is still trying to get his career back in order.
It’s highly unlikely that the Devils will still be in the playoff picture by the time Parise is ready to come back, so it would be either simply to play or to prove his worth.
Overall, that seems like short-term thinking for what could be a long-term deal. Maybe the Devils should take a long look at his health. Perhaps Parise should opt for a one-year deal if his knee really is a concern. Either way, the Devils and Parise better make sure he’s really ready to come back.
Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style