TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Detroit at Boston (7 p.m. ET)

The Red Wings get their first look at the B’s as Eastern Conference foes. Though we wonder if fatigue may be a factor for Mike Babcock’s troops — Detroit played Wednesday at home and is in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes Friday night before traveling to Boston. Wasn’t the schedule supposed to be easier in the new conference? As for the Bruins, they should be feeling pretty good after Thursday’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay to open their season.

Saturday: Buffalo at Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET)

Despite no shortage of power-play opportunities, the Sabres could only muster 20 shots versus Detroit in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday. Like the Wings, Buffalo plays Friday (at home versus Ottawa) before traveling for a tough game Saturday. Meanwhile, the Pens couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, beating New Jersey 3-0 Thursday as much-maligned Marc-Andre Fleury got the shutout. By the way, Pittsburgh plays seven of its first 10 games at home and doesn’t travel outside its time zone until Nov. 9 (St. Louis).

Saturday: Philadelphia at Montreal (7 p.m. ET)

Danny Briere faces off against his old Flyers mates. That’s one angle. Another involves the chatter that Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette is very much on the hot seat. Last night on TSN’s Insider Trading (video), Darren Dreger cited a sense of “impending doom” around the organization and suggested the Flyers need to have a winning record by the 10-15 game mark of the season, or we may see a new man — potentially Craig Berube — in charge behind the bench.

Saturday: Edmonton at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Both teams opened their seasons with losses. Whoever loses this one (on national TV in Canada, no less) is going to hear about it. The Oilers really should’ve won their first game, but they blew a 4-2 lead to the Jets on Tuesday. As for the Canucks, they looked good for the first 10 minutes of last night’s contest in San Jose, but turnovers ultimately cost them in a 4-1 loss to a Sharks side that should be very good this season. “We have a lot to learn with tenacity and consistently being on pucks,” said new Vancouver coach John Tortorella after the game.

Sunday: Anaheim at Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET)

Teemu Selanne returns to the city in which he first starred, almost certainly for the last time as an NHLer. We suppose there’s a chance the two teams meet in the playoffs, or even that Selanne changes his mind and doesn’t retire, but there’s a reason ticket prices are through the roof for this one. The Ducks don’t go back to Winnipeg again this season.

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: