Let’s take a look at how Sunday’s game changed the playoff picture, starting with the East because the West didn’t really see any significant impacts.
- The two top teams won games on Sunday. The Boston Bruins edged the Philadelphia Flyers in an exciting game that ended in a shootout while the Pittsburgh Penguins made life miserable for the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The New York Rangers tied a franchise record with their 24th road win by pummeling the Edmonton Oilers 5-0. About the only dim news is that Martin St. Louis’ surprising goal drought continued.
- The Detroit Red Wings managed a big win against the Tampa Bay Lightning (who may be primed to be the lower seed against the Montreal Canadiens in a first-round series).
- Much like the aforementioned Flyers, the Washington Capitals only managed a “charity point” in their shootout loss to the Nashville Predators.
- The Ottawa Senators crushed the Calgary Flames, although it’s almost certainly too late to matter.
Here’s a look at the standings via NBC Sports:
West stays the same, more or less
- Really, the most relevant West teams (as far as the spots/positions that are still in play) were idle on Sunday.
- The Blackhawks lost to the Penguins, as mentioned, which really just increases their chances of losing home-ice advantage against the Colorado Avalanche.
- You can basically replace the Ottawa Senators with the Nashville Predators to capture their situation (although the Preds are probably an even bigger long shot).
- The bad/lowly ranked teams lost fairly convincingly on Sunday.
Take a look for yourself:
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.