The New York Rangers play twice this weekend — on the road against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, and at home against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Earlier this week, it was reported Henrik Lundqvist expected to return to the Rangers lineup this weekend. But, could Lundqvist, who backed up Cam Talbot against Ottawa on Thursday, get the start in goal against the Bruins?
From Andrew Gross of The Record:
Henrik Lundqvist also was on the ice as the signs point to him making his first start after 25 games on Saturday. Lundqvist was due to have a discussion with coach Alain Vigneault and, no doubt, goalie coach Benoit Allaire to decide whether he would start against the Bruins or Sunday afternoon against the Capitals at Madison Square Garden. But, make no mistake, Lundqvist is antsy to play so we all know what his input will be. Prior to Thursday’s 5-1 win at Ottawa, Lundqvist flatly declared, “I’m ready.”
The Rangers clinched a playoff spot on Thursday, and it was Talbot who stepped up and played so well when Lundqvist went down to to injury, helping get New York back to the post-season.
“I’m more impressed than surprised,” said Lundqvist of Talbot to Newsday.
“He’s been working hard since Day 1. He’s a confident guy and a lot of times, it starts with confidence. There’s a lot of goalies who can work hard and have good technique, but a lot of times, it’s the mind-set and the confidence that decides if you’re going to be successful or not. I think he believes in his game, and having Benny [Benoit Allaire] as his coach helps him pay attention to the details.”
On Feb. 1, the San Jose Sharks had a winning streak of three games. They were second in the Pacific Division. They were only 10 points back of the Anaheim Ducks for first.
Less than two months later, and with eight games remaining on their schedule in what has turned into a tumultuous season with the feuding of general manager Doug Wilson and veteran center Joe Thornton, the Sharks are facing the harsh reality that the playoffs appear very much out of reach.
They’re not mathematically eliminated. Not yet. But time is running out. And the teams ahead of them in the division — Vancouver, L.A., and Calgary — have, for the most part, continued to earn points and wins.
They sit eight points back of the L.A. Kings, current holders of third in the division.
For the Sharks, who fell to the Kings in a historical collapse in the opening round of last year’s playoffs, their season went off the rails last month, when they won only three times in 13 games.
“Teams that you’re competing with to solidify that 6-7-8 spot did a better job of elevating their play and beating our hockey club, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves for that,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told The Canadian Press.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been without Patrick Kane for more than a month, but the hope is for the skilled forward to possibly make an early return to the lineup.
On Feb. 24, Kane suffered a fractured clavicle after being shoved awkwardly from behind into the boards. The timetable for his return was 12 weeks following surgery.
NHL.com reported that Kane is skating on his own, but if he was unavailable for the 12 weeks, he’d be out until the middle of May and the Western Conference Final.
“I’ve always hoped that [he could return sooner],” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, as per ESPN Chicago. “We’ll see.
“I think it’s still the same timetable, but how well he’s skating and how well he’s doing, I think he feels real good about where he’s at.
“It’s just a matter of when he gets that green light is probably going to be the hurdle. But we like his approach, and he’s doing a lot of things out there that he wants to do or is able to do. That’s a good sign.”
The Blackhawks are third in the Central Division with 94 points, but were only three points up on the Minnesota Wild prior to puck drop on Friday’s NHL schedule, which features the Wild hosting the Calgary Flames.
At the time of his injury, Kane had 27 goals and 64 points in 61 games.
Not even the two goals from Deryk Engelland were enough to give the Calgary Flames a win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
The veteran blue liner, not known for his offensive numbers, scored twice — his first two goals as a member of the Flames in his 68th game with the club — but Calgary lost 4-3 in the shootout on home. The Flames still get the single point, staying one ahead of the L.A. Kings in the Pacific Division playoff race.
Meanwhile, the Stars, on Tyler Seguin’s shootout winner, have won four straight to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. It might be too late. They’re six points back of the Winnipeg Jets, holders of the final Wild Card spot with eight games remaining on their schedule.
It could’ve been worse for them on this night.
After all, the Stars did get out to a two-goal lead on the Flames, who have made a habit of erasing opposing team’s leads as this season has gone on. What, exactly, was Dallas thinking?
The Flames, in their trademark fashion, suddenly erased the Stars’ cushion. Johnny Gaudreau got Calgary on the board. Then Engelland netted his first of the night. Those two goals came one minute and five seconds apart.
Dallas once again gained a lead late in the second period, and again, the Flames, on Engelland’s second goal was enough to send it to overtime.
The Chicago Blackhawks fell behind, made things a tad interesting early in the third period, but ultimately couldn’t get much of anything going against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The result was a loss for the Blackhawks to end a four-game road trip. They still hold down third in the Central Division, five points behind the leaders from St. Louis, but only three points ahead of the hard-charging Minnesota Wild.
And what transpired in Philadelphia led Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith to lend a critical assessment of his team’s effort.
“We play better lately when we have a lead lately,” said Keith, as per ESPN Chicago. “We obviously have to do better than we did tonight. First and foremost, we have to be operating on all cylinders.
“Tonight wasn’t the effort we expect. We know we have to tighten things. We can still make a run at the division. In our last game, we were able to get out early. Tonight, we couldn’t get going.”