Day: April 12, 2014

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

Predators win wide-open game against Blackhawks


If this is Barry Trotz’s final home game as head coach of the Nashville Predators – as many have expected – then his team beat the Chicago Blackhawks in … basically the opposite way to how Trotz’s teams have found scrappy success.

The Predators won in a showdown of firepower by a score of 7-5 on Saturday, as you can absurd in these entertaining highlights:

Again, more than a few people wonder if this will be Trotz’s final season as head coach of the Predators. Puck Daddy ventured such an argument, which was expanded upon during the post-game by other observers:

Whether it ends up being the final game of his tenure as head coach or just the last contest of the 2013-14 season, the Predators’ final contest of 2013-14 comes against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Amid injury concerns, Avs recall Elliott

Stefan Elliott

The Colorado Avalanche are finishing the season strong, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the injury concerns affecting other contenders. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports that the team recalled defenseman Stefan Elliott in light of injuries to fellow blueliner Tyson Barrie and forward John Mitchell.

Dater couldn’t get any additional information beyond Barrie and Mitchell being considered day-to-day. He expressed some fear that the two might have suffered concussions.

What is Barrie’s status going forward? No word from the Avs just yet, but this is obviously a bad sign and the obvious worry is that he has a concussion. John Mitchell also may have one, as he missed last night’s game too.

Elliott, 23, generated four points in 18 games last season and 13 in 39 contests in 2011-12. He’s been solidly effective in AHL duty in 2013-14, producing 28 points in 61 games for the Lake Erie Monsters.

In other words, losing a player like Barrie wouldn’t be ideal, but at least Elliott brings some promise if he’s forced into a relief mode.

Reimer admits he’s ‘really sad’ if his time with Toronto is over


Depending upon how you view James Reimer’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators probably seemed fitting.

Those who defend him – like, say, his agent – would probably nod their heads wistfully at his stats on the day: 36 saves, one goal allowed and another mark in the “L” column.

As a restricted free agent, the Maple Leafs have a considerable amount of control over the 26-year-old netminder’s future. Even so, Reimer told reporters including TSN’s Jonas Siegel that he couldn’t help but shake the emotional feeling that tonight might represent his final moment in a Maple Leafs uniform.

With some new faces in the organization, there might be an extra drive to remove Reimer … or maybe a chance for the still fairly new netminder to receive a clean slate. If nothing else, Reimer admits that the thought of playing somewhere else crossed his mind on Saturday.

Update: Here is video of the full (emotional) interview:

Video: Gionta wins it for Habs via OT penalty shot

Daniel Briere, Brian Gionta, Mike Weaver,

The Montreal Canadiens needed a win on Saturday to give themselves a chance for home-ice advantage in their upcoming first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They got that win thanks to a dramatic tally that demands a lengthy explanation: Brian Gionta’s shutout-spoiling, overtime game-winning penalty-shot goal:

With that, Montreal has a one-point standings lead over Tampa Bay. That makes the situation simple:

  • If the Lightning win against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, they get home-ice advantage (and the second spot in the Atlantic).
  • If Tampa Bay loses to the Caps, those designations go to Montreal.

To add a little context to home-ice advantage, consider a few factors:

  • Tampa Bay beat the Habs in Montreal (2-1 SO) on Nov. 12; lost to Montreal in Tampa Bay (2-1 SO) on Dec. 28; beat Habs at Montreal 2-1 in OT on Feb. 1; beat Montreal at home 3-1 on April 1. Long story short, the Lightning won the season series, but all but one of those games went beyond regulation and two went to shootouts.
  • As of this writing, Montreal is 23-13-5 at home and 23-15-3 on the road.
  • Meanwhile, the Lightning are 25-10-6 at home and 20-17-3 away.

Everything about these numbers screams “impending close series” but that remains to be seen. We also get a little drama on the last day of the season (Sunday), which is nice since all three of the East’s other series are determined (including seeding).

Blue Jackets’ win sets Eastern Conference first-round matchups

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets

While home-ice advantage between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens needs to be determined (this post will be updated accordingly), we know all four first-round matchups for the Eastern Conference in the 2014 playoffs.

Here they are, with a quick note or two (home-ice listed first, if already determined).

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

The Bruins won the 2014 Presidents’ Trophy, yet the Red Wings could present serious competition, and not just because of their name recognition. Detroit took three of the two teams’ four games in the season series and overcame serious injury issues to get this far. They also tend to satisfy fans of “fancy stats” with their competitive possession numbers.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

With the Blue Jackets victorious on Saturday, they clinch this series. The NHL had to hope something like this would happen, as the Penguins present at least the potential for a solid regional rivalry with the Blue Jackets (relatively speaking). Of course, the Penguins’ three Stanley Cups tower over the Blue Jackets franchise’s zero playoff wins, but all that matters is who wins the best-of-seven series …

Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Seeding to be determined, as the Montreal Canadiens’ overtime win against the New York Rangers keeps seeding open here. The Lightning won three of the teams’ four games in the season series, for whatever that’s worth.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Will the New York Rangers’ recent dominance at Madison Square Garden tilt things in their favor? Who will prevail in a goalie match between the established (Henrik Lundqvist) and the openly questioned (Steve Mason)? Can Martin St. Louis get it together? There are almost endless storylines in this one.

Feel free to weigh in regarding the series you expect to be most exciting, the host teams most vulnerable to upsets and all sorts of other fun factors.