3. San Jose – 95 pts
4. Phoenix – 93 pts
5. Los Angeles – 90 pts
6. Nashville – 90 pts
7. Chicago – 88 pts
8. Anaheim – 87 pts
9. Dallas – 86 pts
10. Calgary – 85 pts
Colorado @ Los Angeles – 4 p.m. ET
L.A. is three points behind fourth place Phoenix and five back of San Jose for the division. Colorado is trying to make sure they stay one of the three worst teams in the league. The Kings are also locked into a battle with Nashville for the middle part of the pack and with Chicago lurking behind by two points the pressure is on the Kings to keep winning. Ideally, facing off with the Avalanche gives them a bit of a break, but it’s also the brand of game that could be a trap. The Kings would like to avoid having to face off with Vancouver or Detroit in the first round. With no playoff spots guaranteed, however, keeping their spot in the middle of the playoff pack is optimal.
Dallas @ Nashville – 8 p.m. ET
Nashville is doing quite well to rebound from a bad stretch and vault themselves heavily into the mix to make a run at home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Just three behind Phoenix for the fourth seed, they’re even at 90 points with the Kings. Dallas, meanwhile, has fallen off inconsistently but still sit just one point out of eighth and two back of seventh place Chicago. Going through this playoff race can make fans ride the emotional roller coaster and the Stars are in a dip right now. Taking out Nashville would get them right back into the mix and give them some momentum starting off a five game road trip.
Anaheim @ Chicago – 8:30 p.m. ET
The Western Conference shuffle is pretty well surmised in this game in Chicago. The Blackhawks with 88 points in seventh, the Ducks with 87 points in eighth and everyone is still in danger of somehow finding a way to get booted down in the standings if they’re not careful. Chicago’s won three of their last four games and the Ducks are working Jonas Hiller back into action after missing the last few weeks with vertigo. Having him deal with the Chicago attack of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane might be asking a lot of him especially after the Ducks got spanked by Nashville on Thursday. What are fans of other Western playoff teams hoping for here? A decision in regulation regardless of who wins.
San Jose @ Phoenix – 9 p.m. ET
While Phoenix is sitting rather nicely in front of L.A. and Nashville, they can change their fortunes in a big way by beating the Sharks. The Sharks hold just a two point lead on the hot Coyotes who have won eight of their last ten and earned points in nine of those games. It doesn’t end here for either of these two teams as they’ll play each other on back-to-back nights to close out the season. For now, this sets up as a great warmup for the rest of the season and a big test to see just how real the Coyotes can be.
Calgary @ Edmonton – 10 p.m. ET
The Flames are dangerously close to being irrelevant in the West playoff race and they’ll need to win every game the rest of the way to just get a shot at doing it. With just six games left to play, Calgary’s room for error is slim as other teams ahead of them have eight or nine games left in their schedule. Having to deal with their provincial rivals from Edmonton won’t make life an easier on them.
The Buzzer: Celebrating genius of McDavid, Bergeron, Karlsson
There were great choices for player of the night, but ultimately, Bergeron’s return to the Bruins lineup stands tallest. He scored a goal and three assists, soothing injury-bummed Bruins fans as part of Boston’s victory against Vancouver.
Bergeron didn’t ease right in. He won half of his draws, fired six shots on goal, and almost logged 21 minutes of ice time. Maybe he can hold things together for Boston?
Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)
McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.
Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.
If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.
Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.
To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.
You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.
If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:
The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.
With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.
Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.
Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:
Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.
Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:
The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.
So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.
Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.
Update: David Krejci will not return with an upper-body injury.