NHL on NBCSN: Blues, Flyers gear up for fierce rematch

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Philadelphia Flyers at Scottrade Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Before the Flyers last met the Blues on March 22, St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock suggested that the top contenders in the Eastern Conference should be nervous as he felt the Flyers looked like they would be “a bear in the playoffs.”

Philadelphia went on to earn a 4-1 victory over St. Louis to extend its winning streak to five games.

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The Flyers have gone 1-2-1 since that game, with their only victory being against the imploding Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Blues have won three of their last four contests.

Based on those records alone, you would assume that these squads’ momentum was shifting in different directions and Hitchcock’s warning to teams like the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins — both of which recently beat Philadelphia — was becoming outdated. That’s not the case.

Philadelphia hasn’t been winning, but the team’s morale remains high.

“At this time of year sometimes it doesn’t matter — the result. It’s just how you feel as a team, how you played as a team. And I think we’re pretty happy with how we played,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux told CSN Philly after his team’s 4-3 shootout loss to Boston.

By contrast, Hitchcock isn’t comfortable with how his team has done lately.

“I think what I’m troubled by and I’d like to see changed is that we’re in the 40-50 minute range for hockey, not the 60-minute,” Hitchcock said on Monday, per the team’s website. “We were great against Toronto, went to sleep for 10 minutes, game on. we were asleep for 10 minutes against Minnesota, then game on. You all know what the playoffs are like, you can’t go asleep for 10 minutes. It’s game over, not game on.”

St. Louis has secured its postseason berth and Philadelphia is also a safe bet to advance, so to a large extent, this game is about msetting the tone these teams are striving for going into the playoffs. At the same time, the two points at stake have plenty of meaning as the Flyers fight for the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and home ice advantage in the first round while the Blues compete for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: