Fall too far behind the pack in the NHL, even early in the season, and it can be very hard to climb back into the race.
That fear is starting to weigh on the 3-7-1 Edmonton Oilers as they look to wrap up the month with road games in Phoenix and Los Angeles, followed by a home contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“That’s for sure the concern,” forward Jordan Eberle told the Edmonton Sun. “We’ve played a lot of road games and we know we have a lot of home games coming up … but we’re four games below .500 right now. The next few games are must-wins.”
Part of the issue is how good the Pacific Division — and really the Western Conference in general — has been. The Oilers are already seven points behind in the race for a playoff spot. If they lose against the Coyotes this afternoon and the Kings on Sunday, then they’ll be nine points behind in the postseason berth race by the end of the weekend.
The Oilers have dealt with some serious injuries already, including ones to forwards Sam Gagner (jaw) and Taylor Hall (knee). At the same time, Edmonton needs to demonstrate that its young team is willing to move past the rebuilding phase and that’s a hard argument to make as long as the Oilers sit in the Western Conference basement.
The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.
After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.
On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.
“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby
As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.
“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”
Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.
#Pens Crosby on Dubinsky hit: I'm OK. I'm not surprised. If I was going to get one of those shots, it was going to be from him -SK