Dallas Stars

Goalie nods: Pickard replaces injured Varlamov; Roy says start would be ‘unfair’ to Berra

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Pickard starts, Berra backs up

Having gone 8-3-0 in their last 11, the Avs are on the fringe of playoff contention and —  with a win against Los Angeles and a Jets regulation loss in St. Louis tonight — would be just five points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

As such, Patrick Roy is replacing injured No. 1 netminder with AHL recall Calvin Pickard, rather than backup Reto Berra.

“It’s very simple. Reto’s been practicing really well and the three games he came in for relief he did a good job for us, but he hasn’t started a game since Nov. 25,” Roy explained, per the Denver Post. “It’d be unfair to put him in a situation like this, such an important game for us.

“All the games Calvin played for us, he played really well. He’s one of the reasons why we’re in the position today of still having a chance to make the playoffs.”

Pickard, 22, is 6-6-3 this year for Colorado, posting  a .936 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. Berra, who has spent most of the season in Roy’s doghouse, had a couple of decent relief outings in February — stopping 22 of 23 shots against the Coyotes and Predators — but didn’t look great in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Minnesota, allowing one goal on four shots after Varlamov left with a lower-body injury.

No word yet on who’ll start for the Kings tonight.

Elsewhere…

Rangers at Isles: Cam Talbot vs. Jaroslav Halak

Stars at Flyers: Kari Lehtonen (probable) vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at ‘Canes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cam Ward

Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Sens: Tuukka Rask vs. Craig Anderson

Jets at Blues: Michael Hutchinson vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Wild: Cory Schneider vs. Devan Dubnyk

‘Sloppy’ Red Wings struggling after deadline upgrades

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The Detroit Red Wings added some key pieces to their upcoming postseason battle in forward Erik Cole and defenseman Marek Zidlicky, but the initial results since then haven’t been pleasant. They were crushed by Calgary on Friday and, as captain Henrik Zetterberg put it, were “sloppy from the beginning” in yesterday’s 5-3 loss to Boston.

“It’s interesting to me; we added depth to our lineup and we play worse,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, per MLive.com. “So we obviously got to get that fixed because we haven’t been anything close to what we were prior to (the trades).

“(Sunday) we didn’t compete hard enough. You got to give them credit. They were light years better than us.”

Special teams were a major factor in Sunday’s loss as Detroit surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals while the Bruins added an additional two markers with the man advantage.

Despite Detroit’s recent woes, Zidlicky and Cole have gotten off to strong starts in Detroit with the blueliner scoring two goals and Cole recording two assists in the span of three games. Both have a plus-two rating with the Red Wings.

Babcock also doesn’t think the additions have created chemistry problems. Instead, he laid the blame at his feet.

“It all has to do with we’re not doing our jobs,” Babcock said. “Lack of preparation, obviously from a coaching end. Anytime you look like you don’t play hard enough and you’re not organized enough, the players got to look after how hard they play and how they prepare, so that’s on them. But us not having them ready to go is on us.”

At this point the Red Wings are most likely to finish either second or third in the Atlantic Division. It would take a collapse over their last 18 games for them to fall into a Wild Card spot, let alone miss the playoffs entirely, and it would be a remarkable accomplishment if they could up to the division-leading Montreal Canadiens at this point.

So they don’t have a ton left to fight for from a playoff positioning perspective, but they certainly have plenty of work to do to in preparation for the postseason.

Seguin scores twice in return, but Stars fall to Lightning

The Dallas Stars got Tyler Seguin back from a knee injury on Saturday, but his efforts weren’t enough in a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Seguin attempted to make up for lost time by netting his 30th and 31st goals of the season, tying the game at 1-1 and 2-2 respectively. This is the second straight season that Seguin has surpassed the 30-goal mark.

Vernon Fiddler scored midway through the second period to give Dallas its only lead of the game. Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman found the net less than two minutes apart early in the third frame to turn the tide. Tyler Johnson assisted on Hedman’s marker to extend his point streak to six contests and give him his 40th helper of 2014-15.

Dallas’ chances of making the playoffs looked bleak going into this contest, but the return of Seguin preceded by two narrow victories gave the Stars a glimmer of hope. Still, with a 29-27-10 record, the Stars would need to go 13-2-1 in their final 16 games just to get to 95 points.

Seguin (knee) back as Stars cling onto playoff hopes

At this point, the odds are heavily stacked against the Dallas Stars in their fight to advance to the postseason, but at least they’re getting a key player back for the final stretch. Tyler Seguin returned from a knee injury Saturday night that was the result of a hit from Panthers’ defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on Feb. 13.

Seguin was originally projected to miss three to six weeks so the fact that he’s already good to play is a stroke of luck in favor of Dallas. Prior to being injured, Seguin had been one of the league’s top players this season with 29 goals and 59 points in 55 games.

Dallas was just three points shy of a Wild Card spot when he went down, but the team has gone 3-5-2 in his absence. Dallas consequently is eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets and the second Wild Card spot as a result.

The Stars are playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start

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Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville

Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis

Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby

Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney

Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith

Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).

Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi