Jason Garrison,  Jarret Stoll

West update: Wild card teams stay alive (for now)


While the East playoff picture only grows more complicated, the West seems primed to be rather straightforward. Even so, lower conference contenders avoided mathematical elimination for at least one day. Here’s a quick look at how everything shakes out after Saturday’s action:

  • Much like current second-ranked wild card team Dallas, the Minnesota Wild strengthened their lead on one of the final two wild card spots by winning. In their case, they soundly beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0.
  • The idle Phoenix Coyotes are almost certainly the only credible threat to usurp the Stars as they’re only one point behind.
  • Still, the Nashville Predators are now on a three-game winning streak, with victories against the Capitals, Ducks and Sharks. That included a 3-0 win against San Jose on Saturday. They’re also 6-1-1 in their last eight games. At minimum, they don’t seem interested in tanking, which is interesting because their next to games come against Dallas (Tuesday) and Phoenix (Thursday).
  • The Vancouver Canucks have been sagging by comparison, but they managed a tough 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings to stay alive for at least another day. The Predators own tiebreaker advantages for 10th place in the West, however.
  • Out in the Central Division, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues to give themselves a three-point advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the division. Pacific Division teams in action struggled on Saturday, as the San Jose Sharks failed to hop over the idle Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific while the Kings lost that game against Vancouver.

Here is how it all looks in the West after Saturday:


Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?