Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames

Flames beat Jets, make both bubbles more interesting

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With a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames squeezed five out of a possible six points out of their five game homestand and made things more interesting in both conferences’ bottom seed races. (They also helped Miikka Kiprusoff hit the 30-win mark for the seventh season in a row, according to The Associated Press.)

West update

As you can see, the Western Conference playoff bubble got awfully congested thanks to the Los Angeles Kings’ recent failings and Calgary’s persistence. Here’s what the lower ranks look like right now:

7. Phoenix – 76 points with 14 games remaining
8. San Jose – 75 points with 16 GR

9. Calgary – 74 points with 14 GR
10. Los Angeles – 74 points with 14 GR
11. Colorado – 74 points with 13 GR

12. Anaheim – 68 points with 14 GR
13. Minnesota – 68 points with 14 GR

You could probably drop the Ducks and Wild out of the discussion, but just in case, I placed them in the “snowball’s chance” group.

Moving on, Sports Club Stats reveals that tonight’s games improved Calgary’s playoff odds by 8.7 percent (at ninth place/35.3 percent) while dropping the Kings by 11.4 percent to 10th (31.4 percent). That site’s numbers are strongly in favor of three Pacific Division teams making the playoffs at the Flames’ expense – Dallas (85.9 percent), San Jose (74.8) and Phoenix (60.5) – but the bottom line is that Calgary is in a great position to earn a berth if one or more those teams falter.

Winnipeg’s shaky road

The Jets continue to struggle on the road, bumping their away record to 11-19-4. As I’ve mentioned before, their home dependence basically matches every Southeast Division team aside from Florida as Washington and Tampa Bay have also only won 11 road games.

From their perspective, a playoff spot basically comes down to either winning the division or taking the eight seed, which very well might come down to besting another team in the Southeast:

“3.”Florida (currently third seed by default) – 75 points with 15 games remaining
8. Washington – 72 points with 15 GR

9. Winnipeg – 72 points with 13 GR
10. Buffalo – 70 points with 14 GR
11. Tampa Bay – 69 points with 15 GR
12. Toronto – 67 points with 15 GR

As you can see, losing to the Flames hurts the Jets badly. They could be in eighth place while trailing the Panthers by a mere point for the division (albeit with two fewer contests left). Instead, they’re in a tough spot, as Sports Club Stats bumped their playoff odds down a jarring 10.9 percent to 28.7 percent, well behind Washington’s 56.4.

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Tonight’s match clearly had some significant implications, but the Flames and Jets likely have plenty of big challenges left – we’ll just have to see if those obstacles extend beyond April 7.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

Malcolm Subban
AP
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Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.

 

Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.