Radim Vrbata might be one of the quietest 30-goal scorer in the NHL but his impact won’t slip under the San Jose Sharks’ radars. Vrbata scored his 31st and 32nd tallies to power the Phoenix Coyotes’ 2-0 win, bumping the ‘Yotes to seventh place in the West and dumping the Sharks to ninth.
Mike Smith and Ryan Whitney also had nights to remember. Smith collected his third shutout of the season against the Sharks alone while Whitney’s two assists park him at 999 career regular season points.
Impact on Coyotes, Sharks
With all the talk of Quebec, many wonder how many games the Coyotes have left in Phoenix. Winning games like these greatly increases its chances of at least adding some playoff contests to the possible “farewell tour.”
While the Coyotes are making the most of things, the Sharks continue to make life more difficult for themselves. After dropping one of the relatively “easy” games by losing to the Anaheim Ducks last night. It also carries on a worst-case scenario trend of defeats in regulation as four straight letdowns didn’t even result in a charity point, which seems downright required in the skin-tight stretch run.
Sports Club Stats paints a grim picture for the Sharks. The three Pacific Division teams ahead of them have at least an 81.1 percent chance to make the postseason – now with the Coyotes leading the way at 83.6 percent – while San Jose’s odds dropped 19.2 percent to just 44.9 percent.
Plenty of opportunities for change
All those numbers don’t matter as much as the raw results, obviously, which is a good and a bad thing for the Sharks. They’re four remaining games are a home-and-home against the Stars and a home-and-home against the Kings. Ultimately, San Jose can turn things around by putting things together in the final four contests.
Phoenix doesn’t have its future in its hands quite the same to degree, so they’ll probably hope San Jose sticks to playing in two-point games. The Coyotes host Anaheim and Columbus before two road games who have little to play for for very different reasons (St. Louis and Minnesota).
It all looks much better for the Coyotes – and really the Stars and Kings – but the schedule and small room for error just-about guarantee a photo finish.
Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.
It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.
Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).
There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.
Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.
The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)
For more on the three finalists, click here.
It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.
Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.
Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.
People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.
Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.
The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.
Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.
Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?
Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.
Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.