Author: Jason Brough

Los Angeles Kings v Minnesota Wild

Dubnyk, Atkinson, and O’Reilly are NHL’s three stars of the week


Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson and Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


Dubnyk went 4-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average and .962 save percentage to lead the Wild (44-25-7, 95 points) to four consecutive victories, including their franchise-record 10th straight on the road.

Atkinson shared first in the NHL with four goals, ranked second with seven points and led the League with a +6 rating as the Blue Jackets (36-35-4, 76 points) won all three of their games, including their franchise-record eighth consecutive on the road.

O’Reilly led the NHL with seven assists and eight points to power the Avalanche (35 28 12, 82 points) to two victories in four starts.

Dubnyk now has a .930 save percentage, second to only Carey Price (.937) among regular starters. With all due respect to Braden Holtby, Cory Schneider and a handful of other goalies enjoying excellent seasons, what Dubnyk has done for the Wild should really make him a Vezina Trophy finalist, along with Price and Pekka Rinne.

Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do

David Pastrnak, Chris Kelly, Torey Krug

Using Sports Club Stats, here are the records each bubble team needs down the stretch to earn a better-than-50-percent shot of making the playoffs…

Eastern Conference (five bubble teams, three spots available)

Detroit Red Wings — 1-6-0
Washington Capitals — 1-5-0
Boston Bruins — 2-3-1
Ottawa Senators — 5-2-0
Florida Panthers — 5-0-1

We’ve added the Wings to the list — just a little wake-up call, even if it’s very unlikely they or the Caps miss. This is still a two-team race for one spot between the B’s and Sens, except with the hunted and hunter roles reversed compared to Friday. Ottawa, losers of two this weekend, plays three playoff teams this week: at Detroit Tuesday, then home to Tampa Bay and Washington on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Boston, which won twice this weekend, has it a touch easier, hosting Florida Tuesday, then traveling to Detroit Thursday before hosting Toronto Saturday.

Western Conference (four bubble teams, three spots available)

Vancouver Canucks — 2-5-0
Calgary Flames — 3-3-0
Los Angeles Kings — 4-3-0
Winnipeg Jets — 3-3-0

No more Wild on the list; they’re pretty much in. No more Stars either; that loss Friday in Edmonton all but officially doomed them. Of the four remaining teams, none is particularly safe. Not even Vancouver, which starts a tough four-game trip against Central Division opponents today in St. Louis. The Flames, meanwhile, got a huge win Sunday in Nashville to displace the Kings from third spot in the Pacific. The way Calgary keeps hanging around, you have to wonder if a playoff spot could be on the line when the Jets host the Flames on the final day of the regular season. Speaking of the Jets, who lost a heart-breaker yesterday to Chicago, here’s what their remaining schedule looks like:


Not an easy finish.

Video: Berube defends how he’s deployed Lecavalier

Craig Berube

Craig Berube doesn’t think “it’s an effort thing” with Vincent Lecavalier; the Flyers’ head coach just doesn’t believe the 34-year-old is well-suited to playing center in Philadelphia’s system.

Because playing that role requires a lot of effort, you see.

“In the middle of the ice in our system, it’s a lot of work,” Berube said. “You have to skate and get back and play both ends of the ice.”

Possible translation: Lecavalier’s trying. He just can’t do it like he used to. 

Saturday versus San Jose, Lecavalier will play the right side of a line centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, with Chris VandeVelde on the left side.

And after being a healthy scratch for three straight games, all it took for him to get back into the lineup was for Wayne Simmonds to break a leg.


Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly?

Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center


Five big games to watch this weekend

Derek Stepan, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask

Only three weekends to go before the NHL playoffs start. Here are five games to watch this weekend, each with at least one desperate team involved:

Tonight — Calgary at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)

Now one point back of the surging Kings, and with just eight games to go (six on the road), Calgary could really use a win here. The Wild, meanwhile, could open a six-point playoff cushion with a regulation victory. And while it’s unlikely, there’s still an outside shot Minnesota could catch Chicago for third spot in the Central.

Saturday — NY Rangers at Boston (1 p.m. ET)

Spend the afternoon watching the Bruins fight for their playoff lives, versus the only team that’s officially clinched. The B’s, winless in their last six, know there will be “consequences” if they don’t get the job done. And lately, well, they just haven’t been getting the job done. Oh, and this could also be Henrik Lundqvist’s first game back. In case that interests anyone.

Saturday — Los Angeles at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)

Even after three impressive road wins, the Kings could still become the first defending champs since the 2006-07 Hurricanes to miss the playoffs. Regulation losses Saturday to the Wild and Monday in Chicago are certainly plausible, no? That could leave the Kings in need of four wins in their final six games to qualify. Best for them they get a point or two against the Wild and ‘Hawks.

Sunday — Florida at Ottawa (5 p.m. ET)

A Panthers loss here would basically be it for them, even if they manage to upset the Habs Saturday in Montreal. Florida also plays Tuesday in Boston. Win all three and maybe we’ll find some optimism, but the end seems near for a Panthers side that’s gamely hung around all season. (Obviously, a big game for Sens too. They play in Toronto Saturday against the sideshow Leafs.)

Sunday — Boston at Carolina (5 p.m. ET)

Do not look at the standings and expect the Bruins to roll over the Hurricanes. Carolina soundly outplayed the B’s the last time they met, Jan. 4 in Raleigh, where Boston didn’t get its first shot until 17 minutes into the first period. It was that loss, in fact, that preceded the infamous warning from Charlie Jacobs.

Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice

Kessel, Booth

That was Toronto teammates Phil Kessel and David Booth, getting into a bit of a skirmish this morning at practice.

It wasn’t much of a fight, really. And predictably, after practice was over, the altercation was spun into a positive.

“It happens,” Booth said, per “Guys get frustrated all year. I think that was just a drill that promoted competition. It’s actually good to see that. Hopefully we can take some of that competitive nature into the game tomorrow.”

The Maple Leafs have lost seven straight by a combined score of 29-11. So we suppose they’ll take a positive wherever they can find one.

They host the Senators tomorrow.

Related: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’