Dustin Byfuglien facing four charges for intoxicated boating

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Dustin Byfuglien’s brush with the law is going to get a bit more serious. After being arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated three weeks ago, authorities in Minnesota are stepping things up and charging the Winnipeg Jets defenseman.

Hennepin County sheriffs in Minnesota have hit Byfuglien with four charges of boating while intoxicated stemming from the incident on Lake Minnetonka. The details of the arrest help paint the picture of what allegedly went down the night he was booked on charges.

According to the complaint, a water patrol officer on Lake Minnetonka stopped Byfuglien’s boat because the navigational lights weren’t on. According to the officer, Byfuglien’s speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, he was unsteady on his feet and he smelled of alcohol. There were three people in the boat with him and Byfuglien refused to take a blood or urine test.

As CBC’s story on this notes, Byfuglien did take a breathalyzer test which he passed. His case in fighting these charges should be a contentious one.

It’s an unwelcome distraction for Byfuglien as he prepares for the start of a new season in a new location with the Winnipeg Jets. As it is, Byfuglien is preparing to play in tonight’s preseason game in Winnipeg as the Jets make their first game appearance at the MTS Centre. Byfuglien being a guy playing close to home (he’s from Roseau, Minnesota) in Winnipeg and having this off-ice legal problem to get a handle of creates a lot of distractions for the Jets blue liner.

After a breakout season last year scoring 20 goals as a defenseman, Byfuglien is being counted upon heavily to try and help lead the Jets to wins this year. With the rest of the team still being questionably low on scoring talent, they’ll need him to be locked in every night. Having these kinds of distractions will make it worth watching to see how Byfuglien responds on the ice. If he slumps, the Jets are set to be in more trouble than they could be headed for as it is.

Update (4:19 p.m.): The Star Tribune reports that Byfuglien had a blood-alcohol level of 0.031%, less than half the legal limit.

Update (5:07 p.m.): Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff issued a statement about Byfuglien’s sitauation:

“After allowing the legal process to play out to this point and gathering as much information as we could, we are fully aware of the charges against Dustin. While we will continue to support him in this situation, we understand the severity of the charges involved in this case. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and until the continuing legal process is completed, we will have no further comment.”

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

Just about every relevant team in the East playoff races won tonight

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After Eastern Conference teams deserved a “C” on Monday, they generally passed Tuesday’s tests with flying colors. Sometimes they carved out three-point games when relevant teams faced off, too.

It’s almost bewildering trying to figure out where to start … so how about the top of the East?

Metro’s rich get richer

The Minnesota Wild deserve credit for fighting back from a considerable deficit, including overcoming an Alex Ovechkin hat trick (all on the power play). Ultimately, T.J. Oshie‘s overtime-winner gave Washington the 5-4 (OT) win.

Elsewhere in the Metro’s top ranks, Sergei Bobrovsky grabbed his 41st win of the season (3-1 win against the Sabres) to put Columbus three points behind the Capitals and two ahead of the idle Penguins.

Metro top three (all with 75 games played)

1. Capitals – 108 points
2. Blue Jackets – 105 points
3. Penguins – 103 points

Canadiens gain ground

The Montreal Canadiens handled the Dallas Stars 4-1 in The Epic Battle of the Benns. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the second-place Senators 3-2 via a shootout

Both the Maple Leafs and Bruins won their games, leaving Toronto one point ahead of Boston for third in the Atlantic.

Atlantic top five

1. Canadiens – 95 points in 76 games played
2. Senators – 91 points in 75 GP
3. Maple Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP
Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP

Finally, let’s look at the final spot in the East

OK, so there’s some overlap here. Why don’t we check on the most wild-card-relevant teams?

Third Atlantic spot: Leafs – 87 points in 75 GP

Final spot: Bruins – 86 points in 76 GP

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 82 points in 75 GP
Flyers – 80 points in 76 GP
Panthers – 77 points in 76 GP

Again, the Bruins won, as did the Flyers. The Lightning were idle. The Panthers fell to the Maple Leafs. Buffalo lost while Detroit and New Jersey are out of the running.

You know who deserves special mention outside of the top eight? The Carolina Hurricanes deserve such a distinction, as they are enjoying one of their hottest runs in franchise history after beating Detroit 4-1.

The overall message: just about any truly relevant team at least grabbed a standings point, with most winning games outright on Tuesday.

It doesn’t exactly thin the herd, but it keeps the door open for a fun race to the finish.