To put it mildly, Monday night was a great evening for the Vancouver Canucks.
Most importantly, they clinched their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title. While more than a few Canucks fans probably feel wistful because this signifies the end of an era in which the team gets to beat up on frequently hapless foes, the bright side is that it locks them into the West’s third seed.
If that’s not invigorating enough, the Canucks clinched the division by beating perhaps their most hated rivals in the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-1.
Daniel Sedin played a big role in that victory and moved himself into second all-time in franchise point scoring in the process. A familiar face is staring down at him, too:
Canucks top scorers
Henrik Sedin: 791 points
Daniel Sedin: 758 points
Markus Naslund: 756 points
Trevor Linden: 733 points
Before you look at that list and declare Henrik the unanimously superior twin, do note that Daniel (aka “The Shooting Sedin”) has played in 33 fewer games. (Fanatics can also squabble over the notion that it’s a little tougher to pile up points when you’re the one more likely to score goals than assists, even if both are excellent passers.)
Anyway, with the West hierarchy set, Canucks fans now set their sights on whichever team will take the conference’s sixth spot. At the moment, that would be the St. Louis Blues.
Other clinching news: Anaheim takes the Pacific
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA