Captain Obvious says: A good team’s going to miss the playoffs in the West



Just thought we’d post the Western Conference standings for the sake of discussion. As you can see, if the playoffs started today, the Los Angeles Kings — the 2012 Stanley Cup champions — would be on the outside looking in. And you know what? We’re thinking they’d be pretty upset they only got to play 17 games while Vancouver got to play 20. Might launch a formal complaint even.

Of course, the playoffs don’t start today. They don’t start for quite a while actually. The point is, at least one of those nine teams with 22 or more points is going to miss them. And that’s…something. Especially when you consider 22 points gets you a tie for third in the East today.

Of the current top nine in the West, the Canucks have the worst record based on percentage of points gained (.600); however, they’ve also played just seven home games compared to 13 on the road. Certainly, though, Vancouver is on the bubble, and this is a team that hasn’t missed the postseason since 2008. If John Tortorella’s first season behind the bench results in zero playoff games, well, there won’t be any shortage of Mike Gillis critics. (As if there’s a shortage now.)

We’re not willing to call any of the other eight “locks” to make the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, or San Jose not getting the job done. Colorado and Anaheim could fall off a bit, but they’ve built such a big cushion with their great starts. Phoenix and Minnesota are candidates to miss, but mostly because someone will have to.

Let’s also not count out Nashville, Dallas, or Winnipeg, though we can probably count out Edmonton and Calgary.

Anyway, plenty of games left. Lots of things can happen. Injuries. Trades. Slumps. (Lest we forget the 2011-12 Wild, who started 20-7-3 and finished 34-36-11.) Streaks. (E.g. the 2008-09 Blues, who started 16-23-2 and finished 41-31-10.) Guess we’ll keep watching.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
Leave a comment

When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
1 Comment

The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?