Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild

Playoff bubble watch — Wild edition


The Wild would need to collapse in a fairly calamitous way to miss out on the postseason. Heading into tonight’s home game with the Rangers, Minnesota held down the first wild-card spot in the West, three points up on the other current wild-card team (Dallas), and four points clear of the first team on the outside looking in (Phoenix), and with a game in hand on the Coyotes.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Wild have an 83.2 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Comfortable, right?

But here’s what’s worrying — Minnesota’s remaining schedule is a beast, with road games in places like Boston, New Jersey, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And that’s not to mention home games versus the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston, and St. Louis. All of them with a likely goaltending tandem of rookie Darcy Kuemper, who’s looked a bit shaky lately, and wild-card veteran Ilya Bryzgalov.

On Tuesday, the Wild blew a 3-0 lead in Edmonton, losing 4-3 to the woeful Oilers in a shootout. After a five-game winning streak, it was the third straight contest Minnesota had failed to win.

“Those things happen from time to time,” said coach Mike Yeo, per the StarTribune. “We have to have the mentality this time of year that we can’t let it happen anymore.

“It doesn’t matter whether we won, we lost, shootout or overtime, whatever, we have to come to the rink every day trying to get better. When we’re doing that, when we’re on top of our game, that’s when we’ll start to see things start to come together and start to see consistency in our game.”

After hosting the Rangers tonight, the Wild have another home game Saturday versus Columbus, before heading out on the road to play the Bruins, Islanders, and Devils.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: