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.

Update: Evgeni Malkin is still a bad man

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Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.

Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?

Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see above.

This continues a red-hot streak for Malkin. Tonight’s goal and assist (and counting?) stretches his scoring streak to four games, each with at least one goal.

Malkin came into Tuesday with 10 points in his last six games as well, so … yeah, no. 71 is feeling it right now.

Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

NBCSN screen

You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

Sean Couturier
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When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

Joy abounded.

Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.

This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career

Dougie Hamilton
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Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.

(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)

You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …

… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.

Update: Did Hamilton picture all the negative headlines and harness that energy for a greater good? He scored the game-tying goal as Calgary upset Dallas 4-3 via a shootout.