Keith Yandle, Martin Hanzal, Zbynek Michalek

Playoff bubble watch — Coyotes edition


Two straight wins, including last night’s 4-3 victory in Los Angeles, have lifted the Coyotes’ playoff chances to 53.8 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.

source:  “Some people competed very hard for us and we were able to pull out a win,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett after beating the Kings.

With the win, the Coyotes claimed the second wild-card spot in the West, two points up on the Stars, who do, however, have two games in hand.

Phoenix’s remaining schedule is a bit of a mixed bag, but you may want to circle its final game, on Apr. 13 at home to Dallas.

At this point, with Vancouver all but eliminated from postseason contention, it looks like a three-team race between the Coyotes, Stars and Wild for the two wild-card spots. (Phoenix hosts Minnesota on Mar. 29, by the way.)

Making the playoffs is important for any franchise, but it may be even more important for a Coyotes club that’s still trying to repair the damage its long-running ownership saga did to the NHL brand in the Phoenix-area sports market.

“I’d say not just being in the playoffs, we want to go to the last game of the playoffs,” chairman George Gosbee told azcentral sports recently. “We want to establish a winning culture. So, fundamentally, absolutely the playoffs are important. But winning the Stanley Cup is important, too. So we really want to instil – we don’t want to instil a country club atmosphere in Phoenix. We want to instil a winning organization atmosphere, and so making the playoffs is paramount to our success as an organization.”

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
Leave a comment

You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: All that’s been announced about Silfverberg is that he’s under evaluation and will not return.