There wasn’t a lot of noteworthy action in the Eastern Conference tonight, but the Columbus Blue Jackets victory over the New York Islanders had a significant ripple effect.
The Blue Jackets now have a 87.2% chance of making the playoffs, per Sports Club Stats. Consequently, the game was crippling to several teams still holding onto hope that they can make the playoffs:
- That win, plus Toronto’s 4-2 loss to Winnipeg on Saturday means that even if Toronto wins its final three games, they will still miss the playoffs as long as Philadelphia goes at least 0-3-1, Detroit 1-3-0, and Columbus 1-2-1. Keep in mind that in all three scenarios, the Maple Leafs would lose the tiebreaker (wins minus shootout victories).
- Things are nearly as bleak for the Washington Capitals, who have just a 36.2% chance of making the playoffs even if they win all of their remaining four contests.
- With that in mind, the only team that has a real chance to come from behind and earn a playoff spot is New Jersey. Even then, the Devils will have a very tough time overcoming their three-point deficit against Columbus in four games.
- Columbus’ win also put some pressure on the Philadelphia Flyers in the battle for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division, but Philadelphia responded with a win over Buffalo. Columbus might also overtake Detroit for the top Wild Card spot.
Here’s the updated Eastern Conference standings:
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