We took a look at what will start to shake loose in the Eastern Conference playoffs with today’s games already today, but we know for sure how the West will stack up after tonight. The battle for the final two spots will be figured out between Columbus, Detroit, and Minnesota but there is still one spot left for home ice advantage to be decided.
Here’s how the Western Conference sets up going into tonight’s games:
No. 1 – Chicago: They’re the top seed Central Division champs and Presidents’ Trophy winners. They’ll face either Columbus, Detroit, or Minnesota in the first round.
No. 2 – Anaheim: The Ducks won the Pacific Division and locked down the second seed in the West. They too can face any of Columbus, Detroit, or Minnesota in the opening round.
No. 3 – Vancouver: The Canucks won the Northwest Division and have the third seed locked down. They’ll get to face either Los Angeles, St. Louis, or San Jose in the first round.
St. Louis: The Blues can lock down the No. 4 seed with a victory of any kind over Chicago tonight. The Blackhawks should be resting plenty of guys so they may have an easy go of it. If they lose and San Jose beats L.A. in overtime or a shootout, the Blues could land in sixth. If the Kings win and the Blues lose, those two will meet up in the first round starting in California.
Los Angeles and San Jose: These two face each other tonight with the winner potentially getting home ice in the first round or a date on the road against the Blues should St. Louis win. San Jose can move up to fourth with a win and Blues loss.
The only way the Sharks can host the Kings in the first round is to beat L.A. in overtime or a shootout and have the Blues lose in regulation to Chicago. No matter how things shake out with St. Louis, if the Kings win they’re getting the Blues.
We already glossed over what can happen with the seventh and eighth seeds today. You’d have to think Chicago and Anaheim are hoping to see the Dallas Stars step up and help find a way to get Detroit out of the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.
As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.
Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.
Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.
PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).
Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.
In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.
Gaborik’s first goal:
And here’s video of the OT-GWG:
Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.
With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.