Detroit Red Wings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five

Playoffs tonight: Wings-Ducks Game 7 highlights a monster day of action

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It’s a full day of action with two Game 6s and a Game 7 to end the evening. We could see three series come to a close tonight or just one.

Remember, all games can be checked out online or you can do it the old-fashioned way and watch it on TV with the networks listed below.

Game 6: New York Rangers host Washington Capitals (4:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Washington leads series 3-2

It’s not a series between the Rangers and Caps unless there’s some kind of high drama at Madison Square Garden. That’s just what we’ve got today as the Rangers hope to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 in D.C.

Unsurprisingly, it’s been a very tight series. Overtimes, one-goal games, and lots of tension have dictated the playoffs between these two teams. A pair of superstar players could stand to use big performances to help their teams.

Alex Ovechkin hasn’t had a point in three straight games, but he played very strong in their victory in Game 5. Rick Nash, meanwhile, has just one assist in the series and hasn’t been much of a factor. He could help build his legend in New York with a big performance today. Look for the Caps to try and take it to the Rangers early to set the tone.

Game 6: Toronto Maple Leafs host Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Boston leads series 3-2

The Leafs have already fought off elimination once and they’re looking to do it again tonight. This time around, they’re feeling a bit more confident in their abilities and with James Reimer playing as well as he is in goal, that’s a good reason.

While things are feeling better in Toronto, Boston coach Claude Julien wants more out of his second line. Guys like Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand are struggling a bit against the Leafs and you have to think the coach’s words will get through to them eventually.

Keep in mind, if Toronto forces a Game 7 it’ll be tomorrow night in Boston. If the Bruins want a little rest, they’ll take care of business tonight.

Game 7: Anaheim Ducks host Detroit Red Wings (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Series tied 3-3

You can’t ask for more out of a series than you’ve gotten from these two teams. Four overtime games (Detroit going 3-1 in those), wild comebacks, highlight reel goals and saves from both teams. In short, it’s probably the most fun series in the first round.

Detroit is looking to pull the upset on the Ducks, something Anaheim has done to the Wings in playoffs past. Meanwhile, the Ducks would love to advance to the second-round and have a playoff showdown with the Los Angeles Kings.

While Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have showed up in a big way for Detroit, Anaheim could use a big game from Corey Perry who has no goals on 20 shots in the series. All that aside, this game is worth it for the East Coast fans to show up to work bleary-eyed tomorrow.

Video: Bergeron questionable versus Wild; could that be the result of his latest fight?

Boston Bruins v Winnipeg Jets
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The Boston Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

He’s currently listed as questionable, according to the Bruins. The details are sketchy right now, however Bergeron was involved in a fight with former teammate Blake Wheeler during Thursday’s game against the Jets, and didn’t play much in the third period — only four shifts and 3:15 of ice time.

(Granted, he did score in the third period, giving him 21 goals on the season.)

Why Bergeron was fighting is also worth debating.

Replays show Bergeron and Wheeler caught each other with a healthy slash in the neutral zone during the second period. A few minutes later, they squared up at center ice, with Wheeler landing a few heavy punches and a hard takedown.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division.

But with such a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, Boston needs Bergeron — considered one of the best two-way centers in the world — on the ice and in the lineup rather than dropping the gloves, which is something he doesn’t do often.

Bergeron has four career fights.

A potential loss for the Bruins could be a potential gain for the Wild.

Minnesota’s free fall continues. The Wild has won once in its last 10 games, and currently sits two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West.

 

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.