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.
For the first half of Wednesday’s game in New York, everything was going pretty great for the Boston Bruins.
They not only had a two-goal lead, but rookie goalie Zane McIntyre was playing extremely well in his first NHL start as he filled in for injured veterans Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin.
And then everything kind of fell apart for him and the Bruins defense.
The Rangers stormed back for five consecutive goals on their way to a 5-2 win, handing the Bruins their fourth loss in seven games to start the season, and their second lopsided loss in a row.
This game was always going to be a struggle for Boston given the injury situation both in goal and up front (David Backes was also sidelined for this game) and the fact it was their second game in as many days.
But even though he gave up five goals on 29 shots, including one on a Kevin Hayes bank-shot from below the goal line, it is tough to put too much of this on the rookie McIntyre.
This loss was a total team effort.
The Bruins got into penalty trouble in the second period and the defense in front of their rookie was simply not good enough, something that is going to continue to be an issue for the rest of the season until the front office addresses the personnel.
That defense turned out to be a brutal matchup against a Rangers team that has some great forward depth and the floodgates finally started to open for them in the second half of the game.
Rick Nash opened the scoring for New York with a power play goal midway through the second period, and then added an assist later in the game to help put it out of reach when he set up rookie forward Jimmy Vesey for his fourth goal of the season.
Brandon Pirri, one of the many bargain free agent additions the Rangers made to their forward group over the summer, also added a pair of goals including the game-winner in the second period to break the 2-2 tie.
The Bruins have now lost three games in a row and have been outscored by a 15-4 margin.
Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf was banged up in his team’s overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night and it is bad enough to keep him out of the lineup entirely on Wednesday when they host the Nashville Predators.
The Ducks announced the news just before puck drop on Wednesday.
Getzlaf played only 10 minutes on Tuesday night before exiting the game.
The Ducks are also playing without goaltender Jonathan Bernier who was also injured on Tuesday, resulting in the team calling up Dustin Tokarski for Wednesday’s game. Tokarski will serve as the backup for John Gibson.
Getzlaf is definitely the bigger loss here for the Ducks on Wednesday, not only because Gibson was likely to start this game anyway, but because Getzlaf is one of their absolute best players.
Still one of the NHL’s top playmakers, Getzlaf has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the Ducks’ first seven games. That includes a three assist game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has had a busy night on Wednesday.
After opening the scoring just 10 seconds into their game against the New York Rangers, he might have brought some unwanted attention upon himself when he was given a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check to the head of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in the second period.
It all happened as Girardi was attempting to knock a puck down out of mid-air when Pastrnak came in with a crushing high hit. Girardi was shaken up as a result of the hit and briefly exited the game before later returning after missing a couple of shifts.
The Bruins ended up successfully killing the two minute penalty to Pastrnak, but quickly gave up a pair of goals later in the period to allow the Rangers to take a 3-2 lead.
The next question now is whether or not the NHL’s department of player safety steps in and issues any additional discipline. Any further discipline would seem like a real long-shot at this point.
Pastrnak still had a skate on the ice at the time of contact with Girardi, and while there was contact with Girardi’s head there was also contact with his chest as well. Girardi also returned to the game, and whether or not there is an injury does play a role into the decision.
For the second year in a row the Montreal Canadiens are storming out of the gate to open the season.
Thanks to their 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night the Canadiens are off to a 6-0-1 start and have the best record in the league through their first seven games.
Even though Wednesday’s game was only decided by a single goal, it was a particularly strong effort and perhaps one of their best of the young season. The biggest reason the game remained so close for so long was because of the play of Thomas Greiss in the Islanders crease during the second and third periods where Montreal had a commanding edge on the shot chart. This game could have easily shifted heavily in Montreal’s favor, and the fact it did not is a testament to the way Griess played.
But the star of the night was — once again — Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber as he continued his incredible start with his new team.
With less than three minutes to play in regulation, Weber broke a 2-2 tie with his third goal of the season on a shot that seems like it was probably close to breaking the sound barrier.
OK … maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but just look at this thing.
How do you stop that? Why would you want to get in front of it?
Weber also assisted on Philip Danault‘s goal earlier in the period. He now has nine points in his first seven games with the Canadiens.
As we saw a year ago with the Canadiens won their first nine games (and then missed the playoffs) a fast start doesn’t guarantee anything over the course of an 82-game season. But this year’s Canadiens should have something last year’s Canadiens didn’t have over the final five months of the season — Carey Price. These guys might be pretty good.