It’s another doubleheader night on NBCSN and you could view tonight as a spoiler special as there are two teams that will be stuck on the outside of the playoff picture looking to mess things up for a pair of teams.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET)
These two just met on Monday in Detroit and things… Didn’t go very well for the Jackets as Detroit spanked them 7-2 putting four goals up in the first period. Jackets goalie Steve Mason, who thought it he figured out his bad play was thanks to not wearing the right pads, has shown lately that it’s not the pads’ fault he’s giving up oodles of goals. The Jackets will hope that their cannon blasts at home will be able to throw the Wings off their game.
The big news for Detroit is that they’re getting healthy, which means they’re getting more frightening to deal with. We’ve seen Jakub Kindl and Nicklas Lidstrom return and Johan Franzen appears ready to come back tonight. With Jonathan Ericsson also potentially back tonight and Jimmy Howard returning on Friday, the Wings are officially geared up for the postseason.
While coach Mike Babcock is resigned to the fact they’re likely to open the playoffs against Nashville, continuing to win would mean they have home ice advantage for that series. Columbus wouldn’t mind helping make sure Detroit stays on the road in the postseason.
Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET)
The Sharks are today’s leader in the Pacific Division and that means they’re always either a win from seizing control of the situation or a loss away from giving someone else the lead and a lock on a playoff spot. With 88 points the Sharks are one point ahead of the Stars and Coyotes and two up on the Kings. It’s an uncomfortable place to be in, but for the Sharks to really enjoy the moment as Joe Thornton says they should, they’ll have to keep winning, something they’ve done three times in a row now.
The Ducks, meanwhile, want nothing more than to spoil things for their California rivals and if we can keep coach Bruce Boudreau from freaking out on the officials again, they might just be able to do that. The Ducks are just playing out the string at this point, but at least they’ve still got a host of superstar talent to threaten the Sharks with. Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Getzlaf are all still there and capable of putting a monster game together. That crew might just all stick around next season too if Selanne decides to play one more year. Considering they’ve lost six of their last 10 games, you’re never quite sure what you’ll get from Anaheim.
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.
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.
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.
When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.
It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.
After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:
Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.
EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:
“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.
Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: