Author: James O'Brien

Pekka Rinne

Preds top Kings, set stage for West showdown with Ducks


The Nashville Predators have been struggling lately, yet after beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, they’re now back on top of the Central Division and Western Conference. Sunday’s game will determine if Nashville even makes it out of the weekend with that conference lead, however.

Jeff Carter scored the game’s first goal in the first period. The Predators weren’t able to find the net until the final frame, yet they beat Jonathan Quick in rapid succession, scoring two goals in less than a minute and a half to win 2-1.

After a troubling six-game losing streak (not to mention dropping eight of 10), the Predators have now won two of the first three games on their four-game road trip, which ends tomorrow against the Ducks in Anaheim.

Pekka Rinne was sharp in the game, which happened to represent his 200th career win.

That now stands as a clear match to temporarily hold the top spot in the West.

Technically, Nashville has the No. 1 spot in the West, as both teams have identical 43-20-7 records but the Preds have two more regulation/overtime wins. It won’t really matter tomorrow, though, as the victor will at least briefly stand alone in the West.

To some, that top spot may just be a curse in disguise … at least if the Kings grab the final wild card spot.

A lot can change in that regard, especially since this loss leaves Los Angeles outside of the two wild card spots. It’s probably easiest just to take an updated look at the West race, via’s standings:


The Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames in regulation while the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets held serve with wins to keep the playoff picture more or less in place. The basic takeaway is that it could be a very competitive battle for those final spots, not to mention seeding with the heavyweight teams.

Owner to Thornton, Wilson: ‘What happens with Sharks, stays with Sharks’


Hockey fans don’t hear the name Hasso Plattner (pictured prominently on the right) very often, but then again, big-name players don’t usually tell their GMs to “shut their mouths” every day, either.

Things have gotten ugly enough – or really, ugly in public enough – for the San Jose Sharks’ owner to step in to squash Doug Wilson and Joe Thornton’s squabble, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Plattner used a famous Las Vegas tagline to try to cool each sides’ jets (or at least keep things in-house).

Via email, Hasso Plattner confirmed he talked to both Joe Thornton and Doug Wilson. Asked what he said, he replied, “What happens (with) the Sharks stays with the Sharks. All good.”

As Friedman notes, Thornton has a lot of power thanks to the no-trade clause on his contract, which just kicked in this season (after being inked before his last one expired in 2013-14).

It’s been quite the drama ever since the Los Angeles Kings pulled a “reverse sweep” on the Sharks, leading to Thornton being stripped of the captaincy and a summer full of strange, sometimes contradictory statements about rebuilding-or-maybe-not from Sharks management.

All this time, it seemed to be a situation that was handled by typical faces like Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan, but now Plattner becomes a more public owner than he’s been before (or at least has in recent memory). One would imagine he might not be very thrilled with that, and considering the message to focus on the playoffs … things could get messy if San Jose falls short of the postseason for the first time in many years.

Wild win as Dubnyk befuddles Blues

Jordan Schroeder, Devan Dubnyk

The Western Conference’s bubble teams aren’t lying down by any means, so the Minnesota Wild still need to stay hot. Not too surprisingly, that means that they’ll continue to lean on Devan Dubnyk.

He came through in a big way – again – on Saturday, making 41 out of 42 saves as the Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1.

By his lofty terms, the 28-year-old stumbled ever so slightly in losing two of his previous three games while not seeing an overwhelming amount of shots. That changed in a big way tonight, as he was up to a considerable task as the Blues lost despite generating a 42-19 shot advantage.

With this win in tow, Dubnyk’s Wild stats are pretty ridiculous.

He’s now an impressive 19-5-1 with a .937 save percentage and five shutouts since joining the Wild. (Dubnyk was solid with the Arizona Coyotes, but there’s no doubt that his game really took off with Minnesota.)

The Wild still face a small margin of error to hold onto the first wild card spot – or a playoff berth in general – yet wins like these could end up being the difference-maker (which might be just be the perfect nickname for Devan Dubnyk).