Tonight on NBCSN: No. 10 Dartmouth hosts scrappy Vermont

It’s a mid-week, inter-conference battle deep in the heart of the northeast that sees an ECAC team favored over a Hockey East team.

University of Vermont (3-7-3) @ No. 10 Dartmouth College (6-2-2) — 7:00 p.m. ET

Dartmouth started off the year unbeaten in their first six but in their next four games have won just just once and drawing twice. They’ve gotten outstanding goaltending from junior Cab Morris (1.97 GAA, .917 SV%) and steady scoring from sophomore Tyler Sikura (6 goals, 9 assists) but the real story is how good they’ve been killing penalties.

The Big Green PK has given up just one power play goal all season, killing off 35 of 36 penalties through 10 games. While those kinds of numbers are seemingly unsustainable, they’re doing something right to keep opponents off the board. Coach Bob Gaudet has his team beating the odds so far having the team ranked in the NCAA top ten.

As for Vermont, things haven’t gone quite so smoothly. They’re off to a tough start but, unlike last season, they’re playing with a lot of heart. After a three-point weekend against Maine this past weekend and valiant efforts being swept by No. 5 Minnesota, the Catamounts are scrappy.

Senior forward Chris McCarthy is doing his part to lead the offence with four goals and six assists while it’s freshman goalie Brody Hoffman who has shouldered the load in net playing all but 35 minutes worth of ice time in goal this season. Some of that scrappy play tonight might come in handy against a Dartmouth team that’s slipped of late.

The ECAC is off to a strong start, but piling up non-conference wins is key to keeping up appearances for the league.

NHL prospects to watch

If you’re eyeing guys who have been drafted, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled on Vermont. Sophomore defenseman Michael Paliotta is a Blackhawks prospect and he does most of his work setting others up (four assists) and mixing things up (24 PIM). Fellow sophomore blue liner Nick Luukko is a Flyers draftee (his father Peter is a heavy hitter with Comcast and the Flyers organization) and junior forward Connor Brickley (Florida) is the nephew of Bruins broadcaster Andy Brickley. Nice roots there.

As for Dartmouth, they’ve got but one draftee in senior forward Dustin Walsh, a Montreal prospect. With two goals and four assists so far this season, he’s worth keeping an eye on. The undrafted Sikura as well as forwards Eric Robinson, Matt Lindblad, and Brandon McNally should help spice up the DC attack.

(Photo: Dartmouth Sports)

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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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.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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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.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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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.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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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: