Anaheim has a shot to clinch top spot in the Pacific Division and remain in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy with a win over in-state rival San Jose tonight.
The Ducks head into Wednesday’s action on 110 points, three up on the Sharks and four back of Boston for first overall in the NHL. With the win, Anaheim can also overtake idle St. Louis for top spot in the Western Conference.
But for tonight, the Pacific Division is the goal.
Clinching top spot would give Anaheim a number of things — home-ice advantage in at least the first two rounds, for example — and would also keep the Ducks from having to face Los Angeles in the opening round. The Kings are locked into the No. 3 seed in the Pacific and, aas far as opening-round opponents go, they don’t come much tougher as L.A. won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and made it to the Western Conference finals a year ago, dispatching of the Sharks along the way.
Speaking of the Sharks, they’ll be looking for a win to keep their Pacific Division title chances alive, and should have confidence heading into the Honda Center. San Jose has won three of its four previous games against the Ducks this year, including a 3-2 victory on Mar. 20, and will get a Ducks team playing its third game in four nights in three cities.
Should San Jose win in regulation tonight, it would set up a fairly exciting final stretch for both clubs. There’d be just one point separating the two with each team having a pair of games remaining: Anaheim closes against the Kings and Avs, while the Sharks finish against the Avs and Coyotes.
For more on the Ducks-Sharks matchup and why both teams would probably like to avoid the Kings in Round 1, check out our most recent PHT Extra:
— Up top, Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan talks about the upcoming trade deadline. The way his team has been playing, it’s no surprise to hear he doesn’t expect to be very busy.
— The Caps are in the second year of a two-year window, and the urgency to finally win a Stanley Cup couldn’t be higher. Says MacLellan: “That doesn’t mean that going forward we’re not going to be good, but something’s got to give because of the roster we have. Something’s got to fall out, and I’m not sure what it’s going to be, but it’s not going to be the same.” (NHL.com)
— The Montreal Canadiens, no longer a sure bet to make the playoffs, are one of the teams eyeing Arizona center Martin Hanzal, reports Pierre LeBrun. Hanzal is a pending unrestricted free agent. The 30-year-old has 15 goals and 10 assists in 50 games this season. (TSN)
— Hockey history buffs will enjoy this story on Billy Coutu, a.k.a “Wild Beaver,” who was banned by the NHL for life after attacking a couple of referees in 1927. Coutu tried to resurrect his career in the minors, but with little success. (Sports Illustrated)
— Blackhawks rookie Nick Schmaltz stayed hot last night with a goal and an assist against the Coyotes. “I’m making more plays off the rush, in the zone,” he says. “I’m definitely more accustomed to playing this style and hopefully we can keep it going because I know that’s how the Blackhawks have played in the past. And it only helps our team game when every line is playing well.” (CSN Chicago)
— Tomorrow’s outdoor game in Pittsburgh is a big one for the Flyers — but not because of the spectacle of the event. To stay in the playoff race, Philadelphia badly needs the two points. “Honestly, it’s business first,” says head coach Dave Hakstol. “There is something to the event and certainly something important with family and the type of event it is. But, let’s be honest. Right now, it’s business first. That’s what our focus will be.” (CSN Philly)
Enjoy the games!
The mumps are back.
Three years after a league-wide outbreak sidelined a slew of players, the Canucks have announced that d-man Troy Stecher has been diagnosed with mumps, while four other players — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — have presented symptoms.
More, from the club:
The team has worked from the outset with the Vancouver Health Authority, NHL, NHLPA and BC Centre for Disease Control to minimize transmission of the illness.
In keeping with BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, players presenting symptoms are immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.
Vaccines are also being administered to minimize further risk of contraction along with universal preventative hygiene measures as recommended by Vancouver Coastal Health including disinfecting all dressing room areas.
Vancouver’s in the midst of its bye week. Saturday’s home date against the Sharks will be its first since a 3-2 loss to Philly on Sunday.
Given that Stecher’s out and the other four are being quarantined, the Canucks project to be severely undermanned tomorrow. There was no immediate announcement for AHL recall plans, or emergency roster replacements.
Following Saturday’s game, Vancouver is back in action again on Tuesday, when it hosts Detroit.
The Anaheim Ducks have acquired winger Patrick Eaves in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The cost was a conditional second-round draft pick in 2017.
Eaves, 32, is enjoying a career year with 21 goals in 59 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, his cap hit is just $1 million. It was expected that he’d be traded prior to next week’s deadline.
Eaves join a Ducks team that could use a few more goals. Of note, Corey Perry has struggled offensively, scoring just 11 times in 62 games.
Below is the condition on the draft pick, which could turn into a first-round selection.
Based on draft position, Dallas will receive the middle pick of Ottawa, San Jose or Toronto’s second-round selections in 2017 per the conditions in which Anaheim acquired the pick from Toronto in a previous trade. Should Anaheim advance to the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50% or more of their games in the first two rounds, the selection becomes the Ducks first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Related: The Wild have options in search for forward depth
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell is expected to skate in his first hockey game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The Hurricanes assigned Bickell to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on Friday and say he’s expected to play for the Checkers on Saturday night.
The move came a day after he was placed on waivers in a procedural move that allowed the team to send him to the minors.
Bickell, 30, has been out since October, was diagnosed with MS in November and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 11.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the past month.