It was a busy Saturday for the NHL in general and the Eastern Conference bubble race in particular. With a wave of important games ending in succession, it’s probably most convenient to look at the night overall. Here’s a quick rundown of where all the teams sit, beginning with the bubble squads:
- The Detroit Red Wings erased a 3-0 third-period deficit against the Montreal Canadiens, but the Habs responded to that, scoring twice to end the Red Wings’ winning streak at four games. Detroit still seems fairly comfortable in the first wild card spot with 88 points, but another win might have allowed the Red Wings to at least approach the kind of room that would allow them to rest a player or two. They have four games left.
- Life isn’t perfect for the Columbus Blue Jackets on an idle evening, yet they remain in the final wild card spot with 85 standings points and five games left.
- By beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1, the New Jersey Devils jumped to the ninth spot in the East. That might be surprising for some, yet the Devils are finding ways to grab points (even when they can’t win a shootout), as the Devils now have a seven-game point streak going (4-0-3). They have 84 points with four games left.
- The biggest letdown of the day might go to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Evander Kane didn’t play and Dustin Byfuglien’s night was cut short, yet the Winnipeg Jets bested them 4-2. Time is running out for the Buds as they have 84 points and just three games left.
- As noted earlier, the Washington Capitals managed a shootout win, giving them 83 points with four games left.
- Moving to the higher rankings (sorry, Ottawa and Carolina), the Boston Bruins clinched the East’s top seed while the Canadiens now have a four-point lead over the Bolts for the second spot in the Atlantic. The New York Rangers lost in regulation to the Ottawa Senators, yet the Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Boston Bruins before in regulation as well, so New York’s lead for second in the Metropolitan Division remains at four points. The Blue Jackets could overtake Philly, however.
Is that too much for one sitting? Don’t worry, this standings update should help you out:
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer