Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets

Playoff bubble watch — Red Wings edition


The Red Wings are 2-1-1 since we checked in on them last week, in which time their playoff chances have risen from 44.8 percent to 60.1 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.

Much of that improvement in Detroit’s odds can be attributed to Toronto’s free-fall, with a slight offset courtesy the Washington Capitals, who’ve given the Wings another team to worry about in the race.

On Tuesday, Detroit lost a pivotal game in Columbus, controversially falling 4-2 to the Jackets, the other team in the hunt for the pair of wild-card spots.

Tonight, the Wings are at home to Montreal. Saturday, they’re in Toronto to play the Leafs in what should be the biggest game of the season for both teams, to that point at least.

The rest of Detroit’s schedule is a bit of a mixed bag, with tough contests against Boston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, but also a pair of games against the NHL-worst Sabres.

Everyone knows what’s on the line for the Wings — they’ve made the playoffs 22 straight times, by far the longest current streak in the NHL. But it’s more than history at stake. If Detroit can get into the playoffs, it could very conceivably do some damage as it gets healthier and healthier. Pavel Datsyuk should be back soon, and it sounds like Henrik Zetterberg could be back for the second round, if the Wings get there.

Add those two stars to a corps of forwards that already includes veterans Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen and David Legwand, plus youngsters Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, and, well, that’s a pretty formidable corps of forwards, wouldn’t you say?

At this point, the Wings would probably take the playoffs any way they can get them; however, one would think they’d stand a better chance against their old Stanley Cup Final foes, the ailing Pittsburgh Penguins, than the Boston Bruins. In which case, beating out Columbus, Toronto, and Washington to snare the first wild-card spot may behoove them.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.