With a little more than a month left in the 2013-14 regular season, the jostling for playoff positioning is only heating up, especially in the wide-open East. Here’s a recap of most of the conference’s work from Saturday, with only the Montreal Canadiens still in action (against the San Jose Sharks).
- The Philadelphia Flyers almost added to their total of 11 comebacks from third-period deficits on Saturday, pushing the Toronto Maple Leafs to overtime. Joffrey Lupul gave the Buds a 4-3 OT win, however, leaving Toronto out of the wild card mix (at least as of tonight). Things look a little brighter for the Maple Leafs tonight.
- Both Pekka Rinne and Sergei Bobrovsky were strong in their respective nets tonight, but Bob ended up getting a win as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Nashville Predators 1-0. Artem Anisimov was the game’s only goalscorer.
- The Washington Capitals’ hopes looked dim, yet they scored three goals in a little less than five minutes to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2. Read more about that game here.
- The New Jersey Devils held off a Carolina Hurricanes comeback to win 5-4 thanks to former Canes forward Tuomo Ruutu’s winner.
- The Ottawa Senators enjoyed a nice game from Ales Hemsky to beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3.
- Above the bubble, the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in OT. Things have been going well for the B’s lately.
- Again, the Habs are in action, but they’ll remain at least a point ahead of the Maple Leafs even if they lose in regulation tonight.
Here’s a look at the East from a conference standpoint (via NHL.com):
And probably most interestingly, here’s a look from a wild card/divisional perspective (also via NHL.com):
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.