The free-falling Nashville Predators have created a possibility that many would have summarily dismissed just a few weeks ago.
Could only four teams from the Central Division make the playoffs?
It’s not just the Preds’ struggles that have us asking this question. In the Pacific Division — the same one that looked so, so terrible just a short time ago — here’s what’s been happening:
— The Arizona Coyotes are 9-2-3 since their December swoon, thanks in large part to unlikely hero Louis Domingue.
–The Anaheim Ducks are on a 7-3-2 run. They even scored a whopping four times last night.
— The San Jose Sharks have won three straight, clearly motivated after being called out on this here blog.
— The Vancouver Canucks are 6-2-2 in their last 10. They’re getting healthier, too.
— The Calgary Flames keep hanging around. They’ve won three of their last five, including last night’s 6-0 drubbing of the Panthers.
Here are the wild-card standings today:
Here they were a month ago:
Still a long ways to go before the postseason, but the landscape has definitely shifted these last few weeks.
Related: The Preds are concerned, and they should be
The owner of the NHL’s Blues — unlike the owner of the NFL’s Rams — thinks St. Louis is a great place for a pro sports franchise.
“We love St. Louis,” Tom Stillman told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. “We know that it’s a tremendous place to live, to work, to raise a family and to be a sports fan. We also think it is a great place for a home of a sports franchise, mainly because the fans and other supporters are so loyal and dedicated and classy. I guess I don’t understand wanting to be anywhere else, no matter how big the market or the untold riches that might await. This is where we want to be.”
But it’s not where Stan Kroenke wanted his Rams to be. So they’re in Los Angeles now. And to make his case for relocation, Kroenke — who also counts the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche in his sports empire — argued that St. Louis “lags, and will continue to lag, far behind in the economic drivers that are necessary for sustained success of an NFL franchise.”
Which didn’t go over too well in the Missouri city, as you might imagine.
Stillman believes that that was just Kroenke making his case as strongly as possible, in order to get what he wanted. And Kroenke has since said, “This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will.”
Regardless, Kroenke is destined to go down in St. Louis lore as Art Modell did in Cleveland lore.
Hence, the tweet by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop after he shut out the Avs on Tuesday:
As for the Blues, well, we can think of no better way to make St. Louis sports fans forget about the Rams than by going on a deep playoff run this spring.
Denis Potvin is sorry he called Daniel Sedin a “lowlife.”
“My choice of words at the conclusion of the Vancouver game on Monday should have been more appropriate,” Potvin said in a statement that was published today on the Florida Panthers’ website.
“In the passion of the moment and under the circumstances of how the game ended, they came out wrong. For that I’m going to extend my sincere apologies to Daniel Sedin, Trevor Linden and the Canucks organization.”
Click here if you need to catch up on this story.
Potvin’s remarks during the Panthers broadcast were widely criticized by fans and media alike. And not just by the local Vancouver media; by prominent national reporters like Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun as well.
The Canucks were plenty angry themselves, with GM Jim Benning telling TSN.ca that he doesn’t understand why the Sedin twins continue to be disparaged in the manner they were Monday.
“I was in Boston, part of the Bruins, and I know Boston loves its tough hockey players,” Benning said. “Well, these guys are tough as anyone — physically, mentally, emotionally. They play the game like warriors. They still always seem to be getting challenged and questioned. I don’t get that.”
Nick Bonino is no longer on the road with the Penguins. He’s been sent back to Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury.
“He’s going to get evaluated and then we’ll have more details after that,” said coach Mike Sullivan.
The Penguins play Friday in Tampa then return home themselves for a game Sunday versus Carolina.
Bonino has three goals and seven assists in 40 games. The 27-year-old has mostly centered the third line. Though his offensive production has been limited, he’s been a valuable penalty killer.
With Bonino out, expect Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr to center the third and fourth lines.
In terms of pending unrestricted free agents, the pickings are pretty slim on the Buffalo Sabres.
Jamie McGinn. David Legwand. Mike Weber. Chad Johnson. No disrespect to those four, but it wasn’t earth-shattering news when GM Tim Murray told ESPN.com that he’s looking to move some of his “veterans on expiring contracts” before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Given where the Sabres are in the standings, that’s just obvious.
But according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Sabres may also be willing to move Tyler Ennis. Or, as LeBrun put it, they “would listen” to offers.
Ennis, 26, is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $4.6 million. Which is a pretty big cap hit for a winger with just three goals in 23 games. But then, he did lead the offensively challenged Sabres with 20 goals last season and 21 goals the season before.
It’s also worth noting that his five-year contract was front-loaded. In terms of actual salary, it’s only $3.65 million annually for the next three years, per war-on-ice.com.
Ennis is currently on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. His status is week-to-week.