If any Western Conference bubble team has an excuse to fade from the playoffs, it’s the Dallas Stars.
Their All-Star Jamie Benn suffered his second hard-luck injury of the season when a skate blade cut his leg. Brenden Morrow’s on the IR and really hasn’t been right all year. Mike Ribeiro, Alex Goligoski, Kari Lehtonen and even Loui Eriksson have missed some time here and there.
Combine those injuries with a shoe-string budget, undeniably sparse home crowds and even a bit of deck-clearing via trades and it’s downright stupefying that this Stars team keeps chugging along.
They’re doing that right now, though, as Dallas established sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference with a defiant 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild. Maybe you can discount triumphing in back-to-back games because Minny was doing the same, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.
Dallas is now on a three-game winning streak and stands at 3-1-1 in the five games following Benn’s latest ailment. The biggest factor has been goaltending, as Kari Lehtonen has allowed a single goal in his last two games while Richard Bachman allowed a lone tally against the dangerous Blackhawks in Chicago last night. It hasn’t just been about their netminding, either, as they’ve gotten a little of everything to thrive in unlikely circumstances.
Can they keep it up and make the playoffs, though? It looks like the race will be awfully close. Sports Club Stats currently gives them a slight edge to hold onto eighth place, as they have a 36.2 percent chance to make the playoffs compared to Calgary (32.9), Los Angeles (25.4) and Colorado (18.5).
Yup, it won’t be easy, but you’d be wise not to bet against the Stars at this point.
Alex Burrows doesn’t want a trade out of Vancouver and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reported that Burrows was potentially willing to waive his no-trade clause if a deal came up.
When asked about the report, Burrows went into denial mode.
“There’s no truth to that,” Burrows told beat reporter Ben Kuzma. “I’ve never talked to management or coaches about it.
“Last time I talked to my agent was to wish him Merry Christmas.”
Whether or not Burrows is willing to accept a deal out of Vancouver may be irrelevant.
The 34-year-old has seven goals and 16 points in 53 games this season, and he comes with a cap hit of $4.5 million dollars next season.
That’s pretty steep for a guy who’s on pace to score just 25 points this year.
If the Canucks want to find a taker for his services (assuming he’s willing to go), they’ll likely have to take a good-sized contract back or they’ll have to eat some of his remaining salary.
It makes sense that a swift bit of history happened in a game in which three goals were scored scored on three shots in about three minutes.
Brad Marchand found the net eight seconds in after an icing call, setting a new record for the Boston Bruins.
(You can see that goal in the video above.)
Watch that three-goal burst in this video:
The two teams weren’t done then. Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 while Pavel Datsyuk scored his 900th point to make it 3-2.
Maybe the best moment wasn’t a goal: Torey Krug was seemingly hurt by a Pavel Datsyuk hit, yet he returned without missing much time.
When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.
Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.
It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.
This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.
That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.
Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP
So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.
The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.
You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.
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