Holding serve: Basically everyone wins in the West, too


In the NHL, sometimes it feels like playoff races work like side-view mirrors in reverse: objects behind you may not be as close as they appear.

Technically, the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks might not be mathematically out of this, but considering the fact that everyone who needed to win more or less did so today – not just in the West, in the NHL overall – even a few points represent a mountain with such a small amount of time left.

(See the East update here.)

Outside the bubble

The Stars won and the Sharks lost, but both teams are almost certainly out of the running.

In news higher up the food chain, the St. Louis Blues are in a great position to win the Central Division after Nashville only managed an OT point against Dallas:

Also, the Minnesota Wild lost, yet they managed to grab a point by getting to a shootout against Detroit. With 96 standings points, they’re in a pretty comfortable position for the first wild card spot.

If you’re more of a visual learner, here are the updated West standings via NHL.com:


Back to the bubble

As covered earlier, Winnipeg won a thriller against VancouverThey slipped into a playoff spot in the early evening, yet now they find themselves back out into the bubble thanks to two other outcomes.

The Los Angeles Kings smothered the Colorado Avalanche to grab a 3-1 win. The Avalanche only managed 10 shots on goal.

It was close for some time, but the Calgary Flames shook off Karri Ramo’s injury and pulled away from the Edmonton Oilers with a 4-0 victory. Dennis Wideman set a new career-high for points in one season by reaching 52.

Finally, let’s look at the closing schedules for the Flames, Kings and Jets.

Flames (currently the third team in the Pacific Division): 93 points, three games remaining, 39 regulation/OT wins

Tuesday: vs. Arizona
Thursday: vs. Los Angeles
Saturday (April 11): at Winnipeg

Kings (currently in the second wild card spot): 92 points, four GR, 37 ROW

Monday: at Vancouver
Tuesday: at Edmonton
Thursday: at Calgary
Saturday (April 11): vs. San Jose

Jets (currently in the bubble): 92 points, four GR, 33 ROW

Monday: at Minnesota
Tuesday: at St. Louis
Thursday: at Colorado
Saturday (April 11): vs. Calgary

Interesting schedules, huh? The Flames have one fewer game remaining, yet they have one left against both Los Angeles and Winnipeg. For all we know, Calgary vs. Winnipeg and Los Angeles vs. its local rival San Jose could both stand as all-or-nothing games (or any number of other possibilities).

It all points to a thrilling finish … or a stressful one if you’re pulling for the Flames, Jets or Kings.

With Giordano, Glencross gone, Flames name Hudler and Wideman alternate captains

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The leadership group in Caglary took a hit recently after captain Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon) was lost for the season and alternate Curtis Glencross was dealt to Washington.

So this week, the club installed some new leaders.

Calgary announced that veterans Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman would serve as alternate captains for the remainder of the season along with Kris Russell, who was part of the original leadership group from the beginning of the campaign..

Hudler was an obvious choice given he’s worn a letter before (when Glencross was out injured). Wideman was more of an interesting selection given he and head coach Bob Hartley didn’t get off to the greatest start this season.

All that appears to be in the past, though.

“I asked several guys (in our organization) individually,” Hartley explained, per the Calgary Herald. “It came down to a few names, but the name that kept coming the most was Wides. He’s grown a lot in this organization in three years. He’s changed a lot, both on and off the ice. He’s a great leader for us. He gives us great minutes.

“I don’t know where we would be in the standings without Dennis Wideman.”

Speaking of the standings, tonight’s game in Boston is huge for both the Flames and Bruins. Calgary heads in sitting third in the Pacific Division, but only because of the tiebreaker; the Flames are tied on 72 points with Los Angeles and San Jose, and the Kings are also in action tonight.

As for Boston, they go into tonight holding a two-point lead for the final playoff spot in the East, with Florida and Ottawa just two and four points back respectively.

Giordano hurt late in Flames win against Devils


There was good news and potentially bad news for the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

The good news: They moved back into a Western Conference Wild Card position — one point up on the Minnesota Wild and two up on the San Jose Sharks — by defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-1. It’s a precarious hold on a playoff position, but it’s back in the top eight with 21 games remaining in their season.

OK, more good news: The Flames once again got solid offensive production from the blue line. TJ Brodie scored into an empty net, giving him 10 goals on the season. Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman each had an assist, too.

The potentially bad news: Giordano, the Flames’ captain and stud defenseman, suffered an injury late in the third period after getting tangled up with Steve Bernier, according to Sportsnet. Giordano went right to the dressing room, and the injury has not been disclosed.

According to Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun, Flames head coach Bob Hartley said Giordano will be evaluated tomorrow.

That would be a huge loss for the Flames.

The veteran 31-year-old blue liner has 11 goals and 48 points in 61 games, but he also plays an average of 25:10 per game, which leads his team.

Kings descent continues as they lose key game vs. Flames


Once again the Los Angeles Kings came close, but their 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary was nevertheless a significant setback.

Going into tonight’s action, Los Angeles was just shy of a Wild Card spot. They were even with Calgary with 51 points in 45 contests, but the Flames were the ones holding onto a playoff spot thanks to the tiebreaker. The Kings squandered a golden opportunity to get back into a postseason position though, largely due to the efforts of Flames goaltender Joni Ortio.

The 23-year-old netminder was playing in his fourth game of the season as Karri Ramo is sidelined with an upper-body injury. Ortio kicked out 33 of 34 shots tonight, giving him a 1.23 GAA and .958 save percentage. At this rate it will be very tough for Calgary to send him down.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick matched Ortio for most of the contest and it was Los Angeles’ Matt Greene that was able to strike first midway through the third period:

Sean Monahan, who scored the overtime game-winner against San Jose on Saturday, came up big again with the equalizer 3:32 minutes later:

Dennis Wideman found the back of the net at 4:08 of the overtime frame.

Calgary and Los Angeles are both scheduled to play on Wednesday (against Anaheim and San Jose respectively), so it is still possible for the Kings to enter the All-Star break in the second Wild Card position, but either way the team is in trouble. Los Angeles has won just two of its last 10 contests. The fact that the Kings have gotten five consolation points over that stretch has helped, but that only slowed the bleeding. They need something more.

Jones, Monahan lead Flames to fourth straight win against the Coyotes


David Jones and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist and Joni Ortio made 27 saves as the Calgary Flames handed the Arizona Coyotes a third straight loss.

Arizona has also lost four straight to the Calgary Flames.

Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano had Calgary’s other goals while Dennis Wideman and Lance Bouma each had to assists in the win.

Mikkel Boedker had the lone Arizona goal and Mike Smith made 21 saves in the loss.

Joe Vitale had an excellent chance to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the second, but Ortio managed to reach out to make the save.

The two teams meet for a fifth and final time on April 9.