All of a sudden, the Colorado Avalanche don’t need to settle for being a feel-good story and solid playoff team. With other teams either slipping or staying in neutral, the Avs could very well win their division and even the top spot in the Western Conference.
The door went from slightly ajar to quite a bit more open on Thursday, as Colorado jumped over St. Louis for the lead in the Central Division. Both the Avalanche and Blues finished Thursday with identical records (52-21-7, 111 points, two games left), but the Avalanche have a significant advantage in regulation/overtime wins (47-43). Here is an updated look at the standings:
Here are some highlights of the Blues’ tough loss, their fourth in a row (easily their worst streak of the season):
Take a quick look at closing schedules for Colorado and St. Louis:
Colorado: Friday – at San Jose, Sunday – at Anaheim
St. Louis: Friday – at Dallas, Sunday – vs. Detroit
Chicago is too far behind from a tiebreaker standpoint to catch the Avalanche or Blues, so the Central Division race is straightforward. Out in the Pacific, the Anaheim Ducks are clearly at the top while the San Jose Sharks will host the Los Angeles Kings.
Ultimately, the two races to watch out West are the Avalanche vs. the Blues and the Dallas Stars vs. the Phoenix Coyotes.
Tim Gleason has likely played his last NHL game. The 32-year-old defenseman has informed the Carolina Hurricanes that he no longer wishes to continue his professional tryout.
“Tim informed us today he wasn’t going to continue to pursue his tryout,” said GM Ron Francis, per the club’s website. “He looked and felt good physically, but didn’t feel up to the grind of the NHL mentally.”
“We got outcompeted in the second period, badly,” Mark Letestu told the team’s website. “Whether it was little puck battles or even just executing on systems. It played right into their game. When you get behind a team like this that’s so dominant in the circle it’s tough to generate chances to come back. We didn’t deserve to win this one at all.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, the Oilers also lost Nail Yakupovto injury after a linesman (yes, a linesman) fell on top of him.
After the game, head coach Todd McLellan didn’t hold back:
"That's a really disappointing effort from our hockey club… We weren't a very determined team." McLellan on the #Oilers defeat