The first contest in NBCSN’s doubleheader is big for the Boston Bruins and enormous for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts trail the Bruins by four points in the race for the East’s final spot, and while other Atlantic teams are in Boston’s zip code, Tampa Bay’s best way of making up ground is simply beating the Bruins in regulation.
Don’t expect the Bruins to make it easy, however, as playoff positioning could change dramatically if they can keep it together this week:
The Atlantic Division teams took care of business on Monday, so it only makes sense that the division title was locked down. The Montreal Canadiens did just that tonight after beating the Florida Panthers 4-1.
The Canadiens are now at 46-24-9 with 101 points in 79 games after this, their fifth-consecutive win.
Artturi Lehkonen was the difference-maker in that win tonight, scoring consecutive goals as Montreal scored three unanswered tallies to finish off Florida.
With the Metro title winner virtually assured of the East’s top spot, Montreal doesn’t have much to gain (beyond pride) in winning its final three games. That would, then, be a good opportunity to rest players; perhaps heavy workload-type like Carey Price and Max Pacioretty could use a breather?
Whatever the case may be, the Canadiens bounced back from last season’s letdown in a big way, even after changing coaches. Next step: topping all of these accomplishments in the playoffs.
Senators scratch and claw for significant point in shootout loss to Red Wings
Things were looking especially dicey for the Ottawa Senators more than once against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
Ottawa entered the third period down 2-1. Erik Karlsson scored his second point of the evening to tie it up early in the final frame … but then things got grim as Gustav Nyquist netted back-to-back goals.
The Senators didn’t shrink from the challenge, however, as Kyle Turris provided a goal and an assist to tie it 4-4. After a lengthy shootout, the Red Wings ultimately won 5-4 (SO) … but Ottawa grabbed a crucial point.
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t clinch anything (aside from rookie records) on Monday. This wasn’t a must-win game against the Buffalo Sabres.
You could categorize it as a really-should-win game, though, and they really took care of business. After rushing out to a 3-0 lead, the Maple Leafs ended up beating the Sabres 4-2 tonight.
With that, Toronto is now at 93 points with four games remaining. And those four games look pretty challenging on paper:
Tuesday: vs. Capitals Thursday: vs. Lightning Saturday: vs. Penguins Sunday: vs. Blue Jackets
No big deal, just three of the best teams in the NHL and a desperate squad that arguably should have been one of the best in the NHL this season. With tomorrow’s game and this coming weekend in mind, Toronto also faces two back-to-back sets.
Woof, that’s tough.
On the bright side, the Maple Leafs get all of those games at home. They also bought themselves some room to breathe with this win.
Leafs move up to 93 points … Toronto can clinch a playoff spot as early as tomorrow night (win v WSH & loss by TBL at BOS)
And, hey, they’ve now won four in a row, seven of eight and have gone 10-2-1 since March 7. Instead of hurting the Maple Leafs in the tight Atlantic seeding … perhaps they’ll gain confidence against some of the East’s best and go into the playoffs on fire?
We’ll need to wait and see, but this looks like a key win at the moment.
Players absolutely roast NHL’s decision to skip 2018 Winter Olympics
“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.
Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.
A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead, this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.
Moreover, it is doing so after financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The league’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself.
NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”
Phew. /wipes away sweat
There are already people responding to this release with fear of lockouts, which … (reaches for antacid).