Eastern Conference playoff race
x-1. Philadelphia – 102 pts
x-2. Washington – 101 pts
x-3. Boston – 97 pts
x-4. Pittsburgh – 98 pts
5. Tampa Bay – 95 pts
6. Montreal – 89 pts
7. Buffalo – 87 pts
8. NY Rangers – 87 pts
9. Carolina – 84 pts
10. Toronto – 82 pts
11. Atlanta – 78 pts
12. New Jersey – 77 pts
x – clinched playoff spot
New Jersey 4, Philadelphia 2
All it took was the first Patrik Elias hat trick in five years for the New Jersey Devils to hang onto their ever-so-slim playoff hopes. With five games remaining, the Devils have realistically been eliminated from the playoffs, but mathematically still have a shred of hope. By beating the Flyers, they only have to win their last five games while either the Sabres or Rangers lose the rest of their games in regulation. Then again, had they lost on Friday night to the rival Flyers, all hope would have been squashed.
Despite the loss, the news is slightly better for the Flyers. Philadelphia was a point ahead of the 2nd place Washington Capitals with a game in hand before the night started. Now the Flyers are a point ahead of the Caps with no game in hand. The loss was the second in as many nights for the top-seeded Flyers and their third loss four games. As Kimmo Timonen expressed, this is not the way the team wants to be playing as they head to the playoffs.
“We keep talking about being the top team in the league but we haven’t played that way. For sure we want to be the top team in the East, but right now we have to worry about ourselves and get our game in order. These four games are huge for us. Going into the playoffs, we have to get our game back on track.”
The Flyers next game is a big Atlantic Division battle against the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. The Game of the Week will have implications for both the Flyers who were fighting for home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the Rangers who are just trying to get into the playoffs. Who knows, this time it might be closer than the 7-0 embarrassment the Flyers endured last time the two teams played.
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?