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WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

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Boston Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciRyan Donato

Danton HeinenDavid BackesNoel Acciari

Tim Schaller — Colby Cave — Brian Gionta

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugNick Holden

Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask

[Bruins – Bolts preview]

Tampa Bay Lightning

Ondrej PalatBrayden PointNikita Kucherov

J.T. MillerTyler JohnsonCory Conacher

Yanni GourdeAnthony CirelliAlex Killorn

Chris KunitzCedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

Victor HedmanAnton Stralman

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi

Braydon CoburnMikhail Sergachev

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

2018 NHL Draft Lottery Watch: Should-lose games

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By defeating the Wild 4-1 on Saturday, the Stars kept their very thin playoff hopes alive, most likely delaying the inevitable.

Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers are in danger of falling out of the East playoff races after dropping three straight games. Losing to Carolina tonight wouldn’t mathematically eliminate Florida, but would almost guarantee that they’d start looking at the lottery rankings toward the end.

[Playoff push]

Tank watch
1 – Sabres (18.5 percent), 62 points, 78 games, 24 ROW
2 – Senators (13.5), 65 points, 78 GP, 25 ROW
3 – Coyotes (11.5), 67 points, 79 GP, 26 ROW
4 – Canadiens (9.5) 68 points, 79 GP, 26 ROW
5 – Canucks (8.5), 69 points, 79 GP, 30 ROW
6 – Red Wings (7.5) 71 points, 79 GP, 25 ROW
7 – Islanders (6.5) 74 points, 79 GP, 29 ROW
8 – Oilers (6.0) 74 points, 79 GP, 30 ROW
9 – Blackhawks (5.0) 74 points, 79 GP, 31 ROW
10 – Rangers (3.5), 77 points, 79 GP, 31 ROW
11 – Hurricanes (3.0) 81 points, 79 GP, 32 ROW
12 – Islanders (2.5) 82 points, 79 GP, 34 ROW (*Previously owned by CGY)
13 – Panthers (2.0) 86 points, 77 GP, 36 ROW
14 – Stars (1.5) 88 points, 79 GP, 36 ROW
15 – Blues (1.0) 92 points, 78 GP, 40 ROW

(The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery, to be held April 28, will consist of three drawings: the 1st Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting third overall.)

The Devils are the most likely team to fall into the bottom 15 if Florida leaps over them, although there’s a slight chance that Columbus or Philly could fall instead. Still, the Panthers need a lot to go right for any of those scenarios to happen.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Out West, the Blues have a strong chance to get out of this mix and into the playoff picture. It could very well come down to the Avalanche or Blues.

***

As far as already-eliminated teams go, bottom dwellers are generally facing higher-end teams that, in some cases, might be winding down as much as battling for positioning.

The Sabres, for example, face the Maple Leafs in Toronto. While the Maple Leafs would prefer to go into the playoffs on a high note, they’re locked into the third spot in the Atlantic, so this isn’t huge for them. Ottawa’s in a similar situation in facing the Jets, although Winnipeg has a slight chance to win the Central.

Edmonton faces a team a little more in the middle, as the Wild are fairly comfortably in third in the Central, but they do have some incentive to get that settled.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Hurricanes face a desperate Panthers team. Carolina’s unlikely to improve its lottery odds, but a strong finish could really drop the Hurricanes.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Playoff Push: Must-win games

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For a select few NHL teams, we’re truly in “must-win” territory.

In fact, certain games could determine if we’ll see much drama during the final week of the 2018-19 season. On the bright side, it sure seems like the Avalanche and Blues will finish their seasons with a do-or-die game in Colorado on Saturday.

Now, it’s true that the Stars aren’t technically out of the running yet, although their chances remain slim. It’s also tough to imagine the Kings and Ducks slipping out (the odds look good for three California teams to make it, based on multiple projections). So, yes, there’s at least some room for more plot twists.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

It’s easiest to picture one playoff spot coming down to the Avs or the Blues, though. Naturally, both teams need to hold up their ends of the bargain to make that a do-or-die scenario instead of an underwhelming formality.

West

While the competition’s been heftier for the Avalanche, they’ve also been afforded more opportunities to face other bubble teams head-to-head.

They received one of those chances on Sunday, managing to grab a point in overtime before succumbing to the Ducks. The Avs face a tough test in closing up a back-to-back set, as they’ll face a (comparatively) rested and driven Kings team in Los Angeles. No doubt, this 48-hour span is a real test for Nathan MacKinnon & Co.

The Avs might not get much help from the Blues’ opponent, as the Capitals clinched the Metro Division and don’t have anything but pride and individual pursuits to play for. St. Louis can’t totally dismiss the latter point, however, as John Carlson is hoping to drive up his free agent value while Alex Ovechkin aims for another Maurice Richard Trophy.

 

Still, the Blues probably drew the Capitals at the perfect time to grab a win, so we’ll see if they can follow through.

Other West games are more about playoff positioning than fighting for a postseason berth altogether.

The Wild would really need to collapse to not end up with the third spot in the Central Division. They might be reeling with Ryan Suter‘s injury, and the Oilers have spoiler potential with Connor McDavid on fire to close out the season, but this is the type of game Minny should win. Or so you’d think.

Winnipeg is almost certain to face Minnesota as the Central’s second seed, but if the Jets want to keep any hope of winning the division alive, they’ll need to beat Ottawa. Dustin Byfuglien‘s getting the night off, among others, so the Jets might err on the side of caution.

East

Monday stands as a bigger day out West, and it’s up to the Florida Panthers to keep any drama alive in the East.

The Cats trail the Devils by seven points for the final wild-card spot in the East, but they’re not totally hopeless with two games in hand on New Jersey (not to mention Columbus and Philly, if those two teams aren’t totally out of reach already).

The Panthers have been a lot more effective at home than on the road this season, so the table is set for a win against Carolina in Florida. That said, the Panthers are suffering from a three-game losing streak while the Hurricanes have won four of their last six contests, so there’s at least a mild threat that another upset might happen.

Losing to Carolina in regulation would almost certainly doom Florida’s playoff hopes, even if it wouldn’t mathematically eliminate the Panthers from contention.

If the playoffs started today

Biggest games

Hurricanes at Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Capitals at Blues, 8 p.m. ET
Avalanche at Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Two of a kind: Sedin twins retire from NHL

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In a heartfelt letter to Vancouver Canucks fans, Henrik and Daniel Sedin announced that they’re retiring from the NHL after this season ends.

The letter made it sound like they’re ready to hang up their skates instead of playing overseas in Sweden or the KHL, too:

Being part of the Canucks family for 18 seasons has been the best period of our lives. But it’s time to focus on our families and life after hockey. It’s time to help with homework every night. It’s time to be at every birthday party and to stand in the cold at every hockey rink, soccer game and riding lesson on weekends. It’s time to be at home for dinner every night.

The Sedin twins referencing 18 seasons with the Canucks really drives home just how long they’ve been a fixture in that organization. It probably also helps explain how hockey fans took those cycling siblings for granted; while we’ll probably never see a combination quite like them again, the Sedins have been a crucial part of the Canucks franchise since 2000-01.

It all began when Brian Burke made a complicated set of trades to land the Sedins with the second and third picks of the 1999 NHL Draft. Take a step back for a moment and observe the sheer volume of their great work:

Daniel Sedin, second pick in 1999: 2010-11 Pearson winner, 391 goals, 1,038 points in 1,303 regular-season games. Daniel also collected 71 points in 102 playoff games, including 20 in 25 games during the Canucks’ run to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Henrik Sedinthird pick in 1999: 2009-10 Hart winner, 240 goals, 1,068 points in 1,327 regular-season games. Henrik generated 78 points in 105 playoff games, with 22 points in 25 games during that 2011 run.

Daniel was “The Shooting Sedin,” while Henrik was the center who managed to snag an MVP trophy. There was never much sense debating which Sedin was better, as they were always so conjoined on the ice (although it’s still a fun argument to have). It was also amusing to imagine how either one would fare without the other, although such a novelty would probably feel wrong for more than just the twins in due time.

The Sedins announced their retirement with the Canucks holding three more games on their schedule: home games against the Golden Knights (Tuesday) and Coyotes (Thursday), along with a final contest against the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday. It’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the Swedish brothers to avoid anything but the most dignified of a “farewell tour.”

You can read the full letter here, but one other passage stands out, as they praise Travis Green for laying down a foundation for the future. They don’t mention how difficult it is to imagine the Canucks without them, though, of course:

It’s time to let the next generation of young players lead the Canucks. Travis is building a strong culture and emphasizes a style of play we know will be successful. The team is in great hands, with people who care about its success and it’s headed in the right direction. We know there is a bright future for the Canucks.

The Sedins eliminated the “will they or won’t they?” questions about retirement, so now we just need to wait for the Canucks to retire their numbers and, if voters know what they’re doing, when they’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Again, we’re not likely to see a combination quite like Henrik and Daniel again. All things considered, we should feel lucky we had the chance to watch them befuddle defenses for as long as they did.

At least we’ll always have that NHL ad:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Karlsson’s killer clincher for Vegas; Lucic fights Glass

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Clinching

  • The Vegas Golden Knights probably couldn’t have clinched the Pacific Division in a more fitting way: on a dramatic, shorthanded goal by William Karlsson. Karlsson scored his 42nd goal of 2017-18 with incredible style, confounding Martin Jones with a ridiculous between-the-legs shot. See that goal in the highlight of the night section.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins will be able to defend their repeat title (in other words, go for a “threepeat”) after clinching their 12th consecutive trip to the playoffs.
  • Nashville wasn’t able to clinch the Central Division, but the Winnipeg Jets will finish no worse than second after winning against Toronto. So, a franchise without a single playoff win will get at least one round of home-ice advantage.
  • Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The Stars kept their slim odds alive.

Injury concerns

Ryan Suter, Viktor Arvidsson, Travis Dermott, Brandon Carlo, and Victor Antipin rank among players with injury worries. Find out more here and here.

Highlights of the Night

This Karlsson goal is just ridiculous.

Let’s watch it from another angle.

There were a lot of ugly moments for Nashville in its 7-4 loss to Buffalo, with Scott Hartnell hurting Victor Antipin. This was pretty, however:

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Players of the Night

  • Jack Eichel collected a ridiculous five assists in Buffalo’s win against Nashville, crossing the 100-assist barrier for his career. Sam Reinhart generated a hat trick for the Sabres, too.

  • Antti Raanta collected a 34-save shutout as the Coyotes shocked the Blues 6-0. Solid night for spoilers.
  • The Blue Jackets lost in overtime, but don’t blame their top guys. Seth Jones scored a goal and three assists while Artemi Panarin collected four helpers as Columbus generated a key standing point.

Heavyweight bout

It hasn’t been a great season for Milan Lucic, but hey, at least he handled heavyweight bruiser Tanner Glass in this brutal fight:

Scores

Bruins 5, Panthers 1
Red Wings 2, Senators 0
Canucks 5, Blue Jackets 4 (OT)
Jets 3, Maple Leafs 1
Devils 4, Islanders 3
Penguins 5, Canadiens 2
Rangers 2, Hurricanes 1
Sabres 7, Predators 4
Stars 4, Wild 1
Coyotes 6, Blues 0
Flames 3, Oilers 2
Golden Knights 3, Sharks 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.