With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”
p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (4 GR)
x-2. San Jose – 99 pts (5 GR)
3. Detroit – 98 pts (5 GR)
4. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 94 pts (5 GR)
6. Nashville – 94 pts (4 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (5 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (5 GR)
9. Calgary – 89 pts (3 GR)
10. Dallas – 87 pts (6 GR)
p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining
Detroit @ Nashville – 3 p.m. ET
The task is simple for Detroit: Earn a point, clinch a playoff spot. Of course, there’s the matter of still winning the Central Division and a regulation win by Nashville gets them within two points of Detroit for the top spot there. Detroit is buoyed by having Jimmy Howard return to action in goal today. The downside there is that Pekka Rinne will be in goal for Nashville. In his career against Detroit, Rinne is 8-2-2 with a 1.98 goals against average and a .948 save percentage. Add that in with Nashville’s tenacious dedication to defense and you’ve got yourself a problem if you’re Detroit. Nashville’s never won the Central Division and this year they’ve got their best chance of doing it.
Dallas @ Los Angeles – 4 p.m. ET
Dallas has six games left to play and they’re lucky to have that many games in hand because they’re a hurting team on a losing streak that’s painful. They’ve dropped five games in a row and they’re currently 10th in the West. Fortunately for them, they’re just five points out and while they can make up ground on Chicago for eighth, they need to snap out of their awful funk. Going up against L.A. who’s in desperate need of wins to keep their own heads above water in the playoffs (even in spite of being in fifth out West) the Kings have plenty of motivation. A win by L.A. draws them even with Phoenix for fourth place with a game in hand on the Coyotes.
Home ice in the first round is a definite possibility for the Kings and doing that without Anze Kopitar would be a tremendous accomplishment. Getting through Dallas, however, will be tough because the Stars are in that “cornered animal” situation. They’re dangerous and unpredictable. That is, unless, the Stars recent losing streak has sapped their will from them. It won’t get any easier for the Stars tomorrow as they’ll face Anaheim at the Pond. Speaking of the Ducks…
Anaheim @ San Jose – 10:30 p.m. ET
San Jose’s locked up their spot in the playoffs but they’d like to get a division title as well. Things in the Pacific are tight and facing the Ducks won’t make it any easier. Anaheim’s in seventh for the time being but could move up as high as fifth if things go right for them during today’s games (regulation losses by L.A. and Nashville). Both of these teams are hot and both are playing great hockey. All that means to us is that there’s a game worth staying up late tonight for out east. These teams don’t like each other and getting to see Corey Perry face off with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau is about as marquee as it gets out west.
Things haven’t been going well with Minnesota’s hockey team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean changes are coming via firings or trades.
On Saturday, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated his confidence in his team and his coaching staff going forward.
The Wild have won just three of 15 games since Jan. 1 and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak.
The Wild have been through mid-season slumps before.
Last year, Yeo lost it during a team practice and that seemed to spark his team, as they were able to turn things around and make it to the postseason.
Will a similar tactic work, again? Probably not.
As PHT pointed out earlier this week, this slump might not be like the previous ones.
The Wild are just one point behind Nashville (with a game in a hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but will their top guns be able to get them out of this funk?
The numbers aren’t pretty:
—Zach Parise has no points in his last four games and just one goal in his last nine contests.
—Thomas Vanek hasn’t scored in eight games. He has just one assist during that span.
—Mikko Koivu has four assists in 15 games since the new year began.
—Mikael Granlund has two assists since Jan. 7 and he has a a minus-11 rating since then.
—Jason Zucker has one assist in 11 games. He hasn’t scored since Jan. 7.
How will Yeo get his team’s attention this time around?
Here’s your answer:
Marian Hossa isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge.
The veteran winger ripped the NHL’s new challenge system after he had a goal called back in Thursday’s game against Arizona.
–To watch the overturned goal, click here.
“I thought that was [a] joke,” Hossa said, per the Sun-Times. “I tried to battle in front of the net and I don’t have any intention to touch the goalie, just try to battle through two guys and put the puck in the net. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs, if there’s going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don’t think it’s good for the league.”
The goal was called back because as Hossa was battling in front, he got tangled up with goaltender Louis Domingue‘s stick.
It’s safe to say that Joel Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the decision:
One of the main criticisms of the challenge system is that the review is conducted on a small tablet by the referees on the ice instead of someone in a war room in Toronto or New York.
Every time a goal is disallowed, the NHL writes a blog explaining why the decision was made.
Here’s what they said about the call on Hossa:
The Referee determined that Hossa interfered with Domingue before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Chicago Blackhawks.
Do you think the referee got the call right?
It looks like the battle of Pennsylvania will head outdoors in 2017, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to host the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field next year. It’s still unclear if the game will be a Stadium Series tilt or the NHL’s annual Winter Classic game on Jan. 1.
Here’s an excerpt from Burnside’s story:
The two state rivals have been talking for months about a plan for an outdoor game or series of outdoor games. There was discussion about playing an outdoor game at Penn State, but it’s believed financial demands by the university soured the teams on the neutral site as an option, so the two franchises have been looking at a reciprocal arrangement with an outdoor game played one year in Pittsburgh and a second game in Philadelphia perhaps the next year.
Although the Steelers and Penguins have a good working relationship, there could be a scheduling conflict if the NHL wants to make this game the Winter Classic.
Jan. 1 will be the final day of the NFL’s regular season . Should the Steelers host a Wild Card game the following week, they’d likely decide that a hockey game on their field isn’t the wisest decision.
To avoid this dilemma, the league would just have to move the game to Dec. 31.
This would be the second time Heinz Field hosts an outdoor game (2011).
The New York Islanders got some good news on the injury front, as they’ve activated Johnny Boychuk off injured reserve.
The 32-year-old missed a total of 11 games because of an upper-body injury he suffered in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 31 (above).
New York went 5-5-1 without Boychuk, and they conceded four goals or more in five of those contests.
In 38 games with Boychuk, the Islanders had allowed four goals or more just six times.
The Islanders currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re three points behind the Rangers (two games in hand) and 18 points behind the first place Capitals.
In a corresponding move, they assigned defenseman Scott Mayfield to the AHL.