<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

New York Rangers v Winnipeg Jets

Jets zoom by Canucks for important win

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For all the understandable comments that have been made about teams wanting to avoid the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets showed why they’re a different kind of threat if they can get it done.

Winnipeg flat-out overwhelmed the Vancouver Canucks at times (at least until they stepped off the gas a bit) on Saturday, eventually winning a 5-4 thriller. With this win, the Jets knock the Kings out of the West’s second wild card spot … although Los Angeles and Calgary could bump Winnipeg right back out depending upon how tonight’s games go.

A different kind of danger

Where the defending champions can smother opponents with their boa constrictor defense, the Jets show that they can create a track-meet atmosphere, particularly in front of boisterous home crowds.

Lee Stempniak and Mathieu Perreault were the offensive heroes for Winnipeg, at least this time around. Stempniak scored two goals, including the game-winner, while Perreault piled up three assists. There was also this goal exchange within eight seconds, to really cement the breathtaking pace of some Jets games:

Things were tense at times for the Jets – especially after Alex Burrows brought the margin to within one – but Winnipeg won its 40th game of the season on Saturday.

Challenging final week ahead

This was a big win in many ways, as this allows the Jets to salvage a four-game homestand with a 2-2-0 record. Their remaining schedule is pretty challenging, with their season-closer possibly having huge playoff implications:

Monday: at Minnesota
Tuesday: at St. Louis
Thursday: at Colorado
Next Saturday: vs. Calgary

Yep, Winnipeg really needed this one.

NHL on NBCSN: Big playoff implications for Red Wings, Bruins

Boston Bruins Vs. Detroit Red Wings At TD Garden
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Detroit Red Wings host the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

It probably still feels weird to some fans of each team, but the bottom line is that neither the Detroit Red Wings nor the Boston Bruins can take anything for granted this deep into the season.

Yes, each team is currently located in a playoff position, yet tonight’s game is significant for both teams.

Detroit holds the Atlantic Division’s third spot with 93 standings points and six games remaining, but Boston isn’t that far behind with 91 points and five games left. The Bruins can’t just look up, either, as they must hold off the Ottawa Senators (88 points, six games remaining) and maybe the Florida Panthers (85 points with five more games).

In the bigger picture, both teams have experienced a mixed bag of results. More recently, it seems like Boston is rising to the occasion, though.

The Red Wings have dropped two in a row, four of five and six of seven. You might as well call March one long struggle; since March 6, they’ve gone 4-8-2.

The Bruins can’t get too cocky considering the fact that they’re only a week removed from a six-game skid, yet things have been looking up lately. Boston is on a three-game winning streak with an especially huge win against the Panthers on Tuesday.

Naturally, Boston cannot totally relax, as the Bruins finish the season with four out of five games on the road.

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $30,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $3,000. Starts Thursday at 7:00pm ET. Enter Now!

One other factor that comes up in the Bruins’ favor is their record against the Red Wings so far this season. After losing their first meeting 2-1, the Bruins have taken the last three games against Detroit. If Boston ends up knocking the Red Wings into the wild card, the two teams’ head-to-head matches may just be the determining factor.

Of course, if we’ve learned anything from watching these two flawed-yet-talented teams, it’s that it is dangerous to assume just about anything.

Then again, here’s one fairly safe claim: there’s plenty on the line on NBCSN tonight.

Report: Sharks’ affiliate will be the San Jose Barracuda

Barracuda
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Get your Heart jokes ready: the Mercury News reports (by way of the Silicon Valley Business Journal) that the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate will be known as the San Jose Barracuda.

If this doesn’t prompt a million Nancy Wilson/Ann Wilson/Heart jokes, then, well … you are probably young or not that into classic rock.

This also continues the odd modern tradition of making team names singular, following a pattern set by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Wild and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Here’s the less amusing/toe-tapping explanation for the team name beyond “more aquatic team mascots.”

The name comes complete with a formal tie-in to Barracuda Networks, the Campbell-based internet security company that already is a corporate sponsor of the NHL team.

Anyway, let’s stop delaying the inevitable and get that song in your head already:

PHT Morning Skate: Guess which Celtic revealed that Dougie Hamilton has broken ribs?

Kelly Olynyk
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

So much for Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s injury being undisclosed. CSNNE.com notes that his apparent Boston Celtics buddy Kelly Olynyk (pictured) blurted out Hamilton’s injury while discussing his own black eye (also pictured). (CSNNE.com)

Aside: while the resemblance isn’t Tim Lincecum-spooky, does Olynyk remind anyone else a bit of the kid from “Dazed and Confused”? No, OK moving on …

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $30,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $3,000. Starts Thursday at 7:00pm ET. Enter Now!

Is Andrew Hammond for real or just a flash in the pan? (The Hockey News)

Apparently the Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to restrict playoff ticket sales to Florida residents. (Sportsnet)

Suspended Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov apparently went under the knife while his career’s in limbo. (NHL.com)

A scathing take on Dustin Byfuglien’s cross-check. (The Toronto Star)

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Avs hope to keep distant playoff hopes alive

Avalanche takes on the Sharks
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight with a doubleheader. The second game of that series will see the San Jose Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche at the SAP Center, starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Even in a best-case scenario, it’s difficult to imagine the Colorado Avalanche or San Jose Sharks storming to a playoff berth this season. Many members of each team seem to know that.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Avs boast a .1 percent chance to make the postseason while the Sharks have a 2.6 percent chance. You get the impression that mathematical elimination will just be a formality at some point.

Matt Duchene told the Denver Post that the Avalanche just want to make every game count, a sentiment that’s likely echoed by the Sharks.

“We’re both still fighting, and it’s not over until it’s over,” Duchene said. “We’re not done until we’re mathematically eliminated. If we go 6-0 in the last six games, we’re going to give ourselves a shot. We have to make these games count — all six of them.”

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $25,000 league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Enter Now!

Despite their current predicaments, the two teams boast some talent that could entertain on NBCSN tonight.

The Sharks employ a group of forwards that are talented enough that it’s tough to believe they’ll almost certainly be watching the playoffs on TV with the rest of us. For all the controversy surrounding Joe Thornton, he’s had a great season feeding Joe Pavelski while Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture also rank as big offensive threats. Don’t forget dragon-loving hybrid defenseman Brent Burns, either.

Colorado isn’t far behind.

It’s been a disappointing season for the likes of Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, yet the Avalanche are enjoying production from veterans (Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay) and guys deep in their primes (Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly).

Expect to see two desperate hockey teams on NBCSN tonight, then.