“These are the hardest games to lose,” said Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello after his team dropped a 3-2 decision Tuesday to the NHL’s worst club, the Florida Panthers.
If the Rangers had won — and to their credit, they outshot the Panthers, 38-16 — they’d have clinched a playoff spot.
Tonight in Carolina, they get another chance to clinch against a non-playoff team, the Hurricanes.
A win and the Rangers qualify.
A regulation Winnipeg loss to Montreal would also see the Blueshirts into the postseason, but the Rangers also have playoff positioning to play for. There’s still an outside chance they could finish as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference; however, No. 6, 7, or 8 is more likely.
In the unlikely event the Rangers don’t qualify for the playoffs, well, let’s re-visit that scenario if it’s still a possibility after tonight. But suffice to say the future of head coach John Tortorella would be among the first topics up for discussion.
Bottom line: the Rangers have played well down the stretch. They’re 8-3-1 in April and should make for a tough opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.
Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.
The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.
Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.
Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.
Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.
The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.
The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.