Jason Brough

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Injuries aside, the Sens are ‘still in a pretty good spot’

The Ottawa Senators may have serious injury problems, and after four straight losses, they may have fallen into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

But according to their general manager, there’s no need to lose faith now.

“Overall, we’re still in a pretty good spot,” Pierre Dorion said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “We were going to hit a bump at some point in time in the year and unfortunately this bump has come when we’ve seen injuries — we’ve lost our top three defensemen.”

Indeed, the Sens are currently dealing with injuries to Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, and now, Cody Ceci, who left Saturday’s loss in Winnipeg with a lower-body injury and is expected to be out “a while,” per Dorion.

But the Sens also have a three-point lead on Tampa Bay, with five games remaining to the Lightning’s four. According to Sports Club Stats, even if the Sens went 0-3-2, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll make the playoffs.

“We’re happy where we are,” said winger Mark Stone. “We’re happy with where we’re at in the standings and obviously we want to have a little bit more separation in the standings but we’re comfortable in these tight games, these close games and most of us have played in pressure games.”

The Sens are in Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight. Karlsson is not expected to play, but could return soon.

Pre-game reading: On Ovechkin’s sweet spot, and why he’s so hard to stop

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— Up top, watch Alex Ovechkin score his 30th goal of the season Saturday against the Coyotes. They call that spot on the ice — right around the top of the left faceoff circle — Ovechkin’s “office,” just like Wayne Gretzky’s office used to be behind the net.

— So, how is it that Ovechkin can keep scoring from the same spot without opponents being able to stop him? The Washington Post asked his old coach, Bruce Boudreau, who said: “He’s scored 250 goals like that from that spot. Every team has designed things to do, but if he gets the shot away, if it doesn’t hit you, it’s in the net. … He’s that good.” (Washington Post)

— At 40 years old, retirement is looming for Shane Doan. Maybe not this year. But soon. Just don’t expect him to stop thinking about the Coyotes when he hangs up the skates. The way he talks, it sounds like he’ll still be quite involved. “We have to get it turned around. We’ve had moments in our organization where things have looked like they’re going in the right direction, and some key steps got missed, and we had to turn it back and start over again. Looks like right now we’ve got some things in place. But the next few years are going to be very important with the steps we take to do things right.”(Sports Illustrated)

— New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung hit the ice with the Boston Bruins Friday. And you know what? He wasn’t too bad. (CSN New England)

— An appreciation of Cam Talbot‘s season, by Dave Lozo of Vice Sports: “A consistent workhorse for a team lacking a reliable backup goaltender, he is one of the biggest reasons the Edmonton Oilers are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.” Indeed, Talbot has been by far the busiest goalie in the NHL this season, logging 555 more minutes and making 71 more saves than the next busiest, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen. (Vice Sports)

— Last year, the Chicago Blackhawks’ blue line was considered their biggest weakness. But not this year. Said returnee Johnny Oduya: ‘‘This is the deepest team on the back end I think we’ve ever had. You never know what happens down the road with injuries or different things, so that’s a positive for us. It gives us more options. Certain nights, some guys might be more on fire than others, so we can lean on different guys on different nights.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Enjoy the games!

Edler and Tanev dance around trade question

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Alex Edler chuckled before he answered the question.

Not a happy chuckle.

More like annoyed.

But it was the same question a lot of veteran Canucks have been asked the past couple of years — if management approached him, would he be willing to waive his no-trade clause?

“I don’t know,” Edler told TSN 1040 radio today. “You can ask me that question if they ask me. I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

Another veteran Vancouver defenseman, Chris Tanev, was part of the same interview. And with a modified no-trade that kicks in this summer, he got asked the question, too.

Though Tanev acknowledged the Canucks were “going in a new direction,” he didn’t sound desperate to jump ship.

“Right now, obviously me and Alex are happy to be here,” said Tanev. “(But) it’s a business. Anything can happen at any point. I think things happen when you’re usually not ready for them to happen.”

Edler, 30, is signed for two more seasons at a cap hit of $5 million.

Tanev, 27, has three more years at $4.45 million.

The Canucks, of course, have been hesitant to strip down their roster and undertake an aggressive rebuild, a la Toronto or Buffalo. Instead, GM Jim Benning has chosen to try and stay competitive, while bringing along young players at the same time.

But when Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows were dealt away at this year’s deadline, it may have signaled a slight shift in strategy.

And given Benning has said he’d be willing to trade a defenseman for help up front, well, that’s why Edler and Tanev got asked the question today.

It should be another interesting offseason in Vancouver.

Related: The Canucks have a big decision to make with Erik Gudbranson

‘Highly probable’ that Guentzel and Hainsey return for Pens tonight

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The injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins — with hopes of being all “heaped up” in time for the playoffs — are expected to get two players back tonight in New York.

Rookie forward Jake Guentzel (concussion) and veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey (upper-body) are “highly probable” to return against the Rangers, according to head coach Mike Sullivan.

Still missing, though: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley, and Carl Hagelin.

All the injuries have been catching up to the defending champs. They’ve lost four straight, their last two by a combined score of 11-3.

McDonagh out with ‘nothing serious’; Vesey likely a healthy scratch

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The New York Rangers won’t have their best defenseman for tonight’s home game against Pittsburgh.

Ryan McDonagh will sit out with an undisclosed ailment.

It’s “nothing serious,” according to head coach Alain Vigneault, but the Rangers might as well be cautious given they’re all but officially locked into the first wild-card spot in the East.

McDonagh logged 25:34 of ice time during Tuesday’s 5-4 loss in San Jose. He didn’t practice yesterday, with Vigneault calling it a “maintenance” day.

In other Rangers news, Jimmy Vesey is expected to be a healthy scratch against the Penguins after having “a real off night” in San Jose, per Vigneault.

Pavel Buchnevich is likely to replace Vesey.

Related: Lundqvist to start four of five remaining games