Stephane Yelle, Ryan Miller

Race for the playoffs: Rangers-Flyers, Sabres-Canes provide two big contests

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.”

Eastern Conference

x-1. Washington – 103 pts (3 GR)
x-2. Philadelphia – 102 pts (4 GR)
y-3. Boston – 99 pts (4 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 100 pts (3 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 97 pts (4 GR)
6. Montreal – 91 pts (3 GR)
7. Buffalo – 88 pts (4 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 87 pts (4 GR)
9. Carolina – 86 pts (4 GR)
10. Toronto – 84 pts (3 GR)

x – clinched playoff spot
y – clinched division title
GR – games remaining

NY Rangers @ Philadelphia –  12:30 pm ET

We have you covered for the NBC Game of the Week. Highlighted articles include:

Ultimately, this game could go a long way in accomplishing those tasks for the Flyers and Rangers, respectively.

Buffalo @ Carolina – 5:00 pm ET

This game could have enormous implications on the outlook of the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. If the Hurricanes manage to win this game in regulation, they would tie the Sabres in points and non-shootout wins with the same games remaining. Conversely, Buffalo could open up a nice cushion between themselves and the Canes if they won this game, even if it wouldn’t guarantee that Carolina would disappear from their rear view mirrors.

Of course, both teams might be keeping an eye on the NBC Game of the Week, because the Rangers will provide both sides with added incentive whether they win or lose.

Tampa Bay @ Chicago – 7:00 pm ET

This game is bigger for the Blackhawks than it is the Lightning, but that doesn’t mean that Tampa Bay lacks a reason to suit up. The Bolts can draw to within one point of the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. This marks their one game in hand over Pittsburgh, so they would get three games to make up a one-point difference if they managed to beat Chicago.

Memorial Cup champion goalie Appleby signs with Devils

Ken Appleby
The Canadian Press via AP
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Ken Appleby never got drafted, but his efforts during the New Jersey Devils’ training camp have earned him an entry-level contract, per the Bergen Record.

Although no team saw it fit to take him before the preseason, the 20-year-old is coming off of a very strong season. He had a 2.08 GAA and .924 save percentage in 50 games with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He went on to lead them to a Memorial Cup championship and earned the the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s top goalie.

Appleby is the fifth goaltender the Devils have under contract after Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, and Yann Danis. He’ll likely begin the season in the ECHL.

Alexandre Goulet and Jacob Sweeney also participated in the Devils’ training camp on an amateur tryout basis, but both of them have been released.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL stars weigh in on McDavid

Connor McDavid
The Canadian Press via AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)

While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)

Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (