Claude Giroux, Sidney Crosby

TGIF: In which we salivate over potential playoff matchups

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Saturday: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET)

These two fierce in-state rivals also meet Sunday on NBC, and could very well meet in the first round of the playoffs. For that to happen, the Flyers would need to finish in a wild-card spot, just not the one that matches up with Boston. Other potential first-round matchups we wouldn’t mind seeing? How ’bout Leafs-Habs. Or Bruins-Habs. Or Bruins-Leafs. Or Bruins-Flyers. Or Pens-Wings. Or Jackets-Rangers. And that’s just in the East. In the West, we could see Kings-Ducks in the battle of Los Angeles. And it seems all but certain we’ll see Avs-Hawks. After Colorado took four of five from the defending champs in the regular season? Yeah, I’d probably watch that.

Saturday: Columbus at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)

Big game for both teams. If I’m the Wild, I want to win this one badly, because I know what’s ahead. Consider: after Saturday, Minnesota will have 15 games left, including two versus Boston, two against St. Louis, one against Pittsburgh, one against Los Angeles, and one against Chicago. On top of that, most of the rest are against desperate teams like Detroit (twice), New Jersey, Vancouver, Phoenix, and Winnipeg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have a relatively easier schedule, but they don’t have a six-point cushion like the Wild. Theirs is only three, and could easily be just one by Saturday.

Saturday: Anaheim at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET)

I mentioned this yesterday in PHT Extra, but I’ll say it again here. If I’m a potential wild-card team in the West, I’m hoping Anaheim holds on to first in the Pacific, and then I hope I match up with the Ducks in the first round. No disrespect to Anaheim, though I guess it’s hard to take it any other way.  Yes, I think the Ducks are a good team; I just don’t think they’re in the same class as St. Louis. Or, for that matter, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Jose. In fact, if Anaheim draws Dallas in the first round, I’d probably pick the Stars to win. (Note: I reserve the right to change/chicken out of this pick.)

Sunday: Vancouver at Florida (3 p.m. ET)

Roberto Luongo versus his old Canucks. I have to say, I kind of agreed with Don Cherry’s take on Luongo’s tweeting during Vancouver’s 6-1 drubbing in Dallas. Maybe it would’ve been best if old @strombone1 sat that one out. Not that the tweets weren’t funny, because they were definitely funny. And I don’t think he meant any malice whatsoever with them; most of his tweets are of the self-deprecating kind, and that’s a big reason why Vancouver fans fell back in love with him before he was traded away. But if there’s one guy — I mean, ONE GUY — who should know that words can come back to bite, isn’t it Roberto “Easy Save For Me” Luongo?

Sunday: Detroit at Chicago (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

If the Red Wings end up making the playoffs, Mike Babcock deserves serious consideration for coach of the year. Frankly, I thought he deserved a lot more consideration last year, when he only finished 10th in the voting, but there’s no sense complaining about that now. It just can’t be understated how badly the Wings have been banged up this year. Only two players — Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey — have appeared in all 65 Detroit games. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen — all three stars have missed big chunks of the season. According to Sports Club Stats, the Wings have a 39.6 percent chance of making the playoffs for a 23rd straight time. “We talked about it after the Olympic break that we have to win two of every three,” said Babcock after Tuesday’s costly loss in Columbus. “We got off to a good start with that and then we’ve lost two in a row. We have to bounce back.”

Sens announce Hammond will undergo season-ending hip surgery

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 5: Andrew Hammond #30 of the Ottawa Senators looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Canadian Tire Centre on April 5, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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It’s been one development after another in goal for Ottawa this season, and that narrative continued on Monday.

The Sens announced that third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who’s only appeared in six games this year, will require surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip and miss the next three months of action. It’ll be a season-ending procedure.

It’s been a tumultuous season for Hammond, to say the least.

Two years removed from being the darling of Ottawa’s miraculous playoff push, Hammond was soundly beaten out for the No. 2 gig by Mike Condon, who arrived via trade from Pittsburgh early in the season. There were minutes up for grabs after No. 1 Craig Anderson took a leave while his wife went through cancer treatment, but Hammond was unable to provide consistent netminding and, as a result, Condon got a lion’s share of the playing time.

At that point, Hammond’s future with the organization seemed in doubt. There were rumblings Ottawa was trying to trade him before waiving him in November (and again in February).

Around the same time of that second waiving, it was learned the Sens had began contract extension talks with Condon.

Hammond, 29, has one year left on the three-year, $4.05 million extension signed back in ’15. He carries a $1.35M cap hit.

 

 

 

In wake of youth hockey brawl, Peters admits he did ‘not do a good job this weekend’

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This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.

Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.

“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”

From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:

Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.

Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.

A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.

Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.

Back-to-back hat tricks earns Forsberg first star of the week

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 17:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 17, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.

Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.

But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.

The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.

With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.

Waiver claims: Bolts get McKegg, Jackets snag Dalpe

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Shane Harper #38 celebrates his third period goal with Gregg McKegg #41 of the Florida Panthers against the Colorado Avalanche at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.

The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.

McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.

There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.