Whether he likes it or not, Mike Babcock has accepted what the future has in store.
“It looks to me we’re playing Nashville in the first round,” the Red Wings coach told MLive.com. “Two really good teams, not much to pick between us, so it’s going to be a battle.”
At the time of writing, Detroit was sitting fourth in the Western Conference with 97 points, one point clear of fifth-place Nashville (96). It’s unlikely either will catch Central Division-leading St. Louis (103) or be caught by sixth-place Chicago (92) — according to Sports Club Stats, Detroit has a 65 percent chance of finishing fourth and a 30 percent chance of finishing fifth; Nashville has a 31 percent chance of finishing fourth and a 61 percent chance of finishing fifth.
What it means? With six games left in the regular season, the Preds and Wings can essentially start prepping for their first-round playoff matchup.
But before the two teams start looking ahead to the playoffs, there’s the not-so-tiny issue of home-ice advantage. Detroit, who earlier this season set an NHL record 23-game home winning streak, would obviously love to have an extra game at Joe Louis Arena (the Wings are 2-0 against the Preds at the Joe this year) — and Nashville would obviously love for Detroit to play an extra game on the road (the Wings are 16-20-3 away from the Joe this year.)
On Friday, both teams will decide their fates as the Wings host the Preds in their sixth and final meeting of the season. Detroit leads the season series 3-2, but it’s Nashville who comes in the hotter side having won six of their last 10, including a 3-2 win over Detroit on Mar. 10.
If the two teams do end up meeting in the playoffs, it’ll be for the third time — Detroit eliminated Nashville in six games in both 2003-04 (Nashville’s first-ever postseason appearance) and 2007-08 (which, oddly enough, was Alex Radulov’s swan song.)
It’s been one development after another in goal for Ottawa this season, and that narrative continued on Monday.
The Sens announced that third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who’s only appeared in six games this year, will require surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and miss the next three months of action. It’ll be a season-ending procedure.
It’s been a tumultuous season for Hammond, to say the least.
Two years removed from being the darling of Ottawa’s miraculous playoff push, Hammond was soundly beaten out for the No. 2 gig by Mike Condon, who arrived via trade from Pittsburgh early in the season. There were minutes up for grabs after No. 1 Craig Anderson took a leave while his wife went through cancer treatment, but Hammond was unable to provide consistent netminding and, as a result, Condon got a lion’s share of the playing time.
At that point, Hammond’s future with the organization seemed in doubt. There were rumblings Ottawa was trying to trade him before waiving him in November (and again in February).
Around the same time of that second waiving, it was learned the Sens had began contract extension talks with Condon.
Hammond, 29, has one year left on the three-year, $4.05 million extension signed back in ’15. He carries a $1.35M cap hit.
This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.
Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.
“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”
From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:
Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.
Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.
A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.
Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.
With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.
But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.
The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.
With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.
A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.
The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.
McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.
Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.
There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.