game previews

Cam Ward

Today’s Starting Goalies – April 6 (early edition)

Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

7:00 pm ET games

Florida @ Washington

Likely Florida starter: Scott Clemmensen (Source.)

Likely Washington starter: Semyon Varlamov (Source.)

Toronto @ New Jersey

Likely Toronto starter: James Reimer (Source.)

Likely New Jersey starter: Martin Brodeur (Source.)

NY Islanders @ Boston

Likely NY Islanders starter: Rick DiPietro (Source.)

Likely Boston starter: Tim Thomas (Source.)

Detroit @ Carolina

Likely Detroit starter: Jimmy Howard (Source.)

Likely Carolina starter: Cam Ward (Source.)

8:00 pm ET game

St. Louis @ Chicago

Likely St. Louis starter: Jaroslav Halak – My best guess.

Likely Chicago starter: Corey Crawford – Again, my best guess.

Race for the Playoffs: Kings or Coyotes can clinch, Ducks-Sharks battle in Anaheim

Rostislav Klesla, Dustin Brown

With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”

Western Conference playoff race

p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (3 GR)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (3 GR)
4. Nashville – 97 pts (2 GR)
5. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Los Angeles – 96 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (3 GR)
8. Chicago – 93 pts (3 GR)
9. Dallas – 91 pts (3 GR)
10. Calgary – 91 pts (2 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

St. Louis @ Chicago – 8 p.m. ET

Chicago was able to get a point last night, but in their quest to make the playoffs, getting two points each night is the goal and right now they’re teetering on the edge of trouble. With a pair of games against Central Division champion Detroit awaiting them this weekend, beating St. Louis is a must for the Hawks. With the Stars streaking in the right direction and with a pair of games coming up against Colorado and their final game in Minnesota, they can’t expect Dallas to go away easily. If the Blackhawks want to get back to the playoffs to defend their Stanley Cup, it starts tonight against the Blues.

St. Louis being a longtime rival of Chicago, they’re eager to put a hurting on Chicago’s hopes and with St. Louis playing better of late (winners of three of their last four, and five of their last seven) it’s not going to be easy. It never is this time of year. If Chicago wants to avoid having their hated rivals from Detroit helping decide their fate completely, they’ll get the job done tonight.

San Jose @ Anaheim – 10 p.m. ET

The Sharks have everything tied up in the division as they won the Pacific Division after disposing of the Kings on Monday night.  Anaheim is still in a perilous position however. After dropping their last two games, they’re still in danger of being passed by Chicago or caught by Dallas and Calgary. While the Ducks own the tiebreaker over all of those teams, getting far enough ahead of them to make it not matter would be ideal. Having to do it against the Sharks tonight and wrapping the year up with a home-and-home battle against Los Angeles doesn’t sound pleasant.

Anaheim hasn’t gotten the stellar goaltending that’s been sustaining them this season in their last two losses allowing four goals in both games. While Jonas Hiller still tries to shake off vertigo, it’s on Ray Emery and Dan Ellis to hold things down. Doing that against a Sharks team that’s been lighting everyone up in the second half of the year is daunting. The Sharks aren’t without something to play for as they’re hoping to lock down the two seed in the West and get an edge on Detroit there. These teams greatly dislike each other so if you’re in need of a real primer for the playoffs, waiting out til the end of the night for this one would be a good idea.

Phoenix @ Los Angeles – 10:30 p.m. ET

It doesn’t get any more cut and dried than this. The winner of tonight’s game punches their ticket to the playoffs while the loser continues to hang in an elevated state of limbo. Tonight’s winner also gets to jump into the fourth seed in the West for the night and continue their battle with Nashville and others to see who can take down the middle two seeds to face each other in the playoffs and hopefully avoid San Jose or Detroit.

L.A. has had their ups and downs since Anze Kopitar went out of the lineup for the remainder of the season and playoffs. They’ve been able to stand tall against the weaker teams, but against the likes of San Jose and Vancouver they’ve struggled. How they do against Phoenix provides a good measuring stick to see where they’re at and where Phoenix is at as well. After Phoenix rattled off a five game win streak a couple weeks ago, they’ve been flip-flopping between wins and losses. Getting consistent would do them a world of good heading into the playoffs and beating a shorthanded Kings team would be a good way to do it.

Race for the playoffs: In the East, Canes can stay alive while Caps can continue surge

Cam Ward

With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”

Eastern Conference playoff race

y-1. Washington – 105 pts (2 GR)
x-2. Philadelphia 103 pts (2 GR)
y-3. Boston – 99 pts (3 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 102 pts (2 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 99 pts (2 GR)
x-6. Montreal – 93 pts (2 GR)
7. Buffalo – 92 pts (2 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 91 pts (2 GR)
9. Carolina – 87 pts (3 GR)

y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

Detroit @ Carolina – 7 p.m. ET

Carolina’s mission to make the playoffs is simple on paper and highly difficult to pull off. They must win out the rest of the way and hope that the Rangers slip up in one of their final games. Starting off that mission facing the Central Division champions from Detroit makes the immediate hill to climb look like a mountain.

A loss by Carolina by any means puts the Buffalo Sabres into the playoffs.  Carolina loss would also put their tragic number at one as the Rangers would only need to earn one point in their final two games to make the playoffs.

Florida @ Washington – 7 p.m. ET

The Caps have taken hold of the top seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to their own great play of late and the Flyers’ disturbing swoon. The Caps can really put the pressure on the Flyers to win out to stay in the hunt for the East’s top spot by beating Florida. Of course, the Caps winning the East could mean they end up being rewarded with facing the Rangers in the first round and that might not be the match up they’d be hoping for. Even without Ryan Callahan, the Rangers have given the Caps fits all season long and a playoff series between the two would surely be more of the same.

NY Islanders @ Boston – 7 p.m. ET

The Bruins have an extreme outside shot at the top spot in the East (all it takes is one point from the Caps to shut the Bruins out of that), but they’ve got a sincere chance at moving up to the two seed. With a game in hand on the Flyers, a win over the Isles tonight would inch them to within two points of Philly. Getting that higher seed and a potential home ice advantage over them in a potential second or third round match-up would be huge for the Bruins. While home ice didn’t help them last year against Philly, we’d like to think the same mistakes won’t be made two years in a row should they meet yet again.

Today’s Starting Goalies – April 5

Thrashers Oilers Hockey

Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

7:00 pm ET games

Tampa Bay @ Buffalo

Likely Tampa Bay starter: Dwayne Roloson (Source.)

Likely Buffalo starter: Jhonas Enroth (Source.)

Washington @ Toronto

Likely Washington starter: Michal Neuvirth (Source.)

Likely Toronto starter: James Reimer (Source.)

7:30 pm ET game

Philadelphia @ Ottawa

Likely Philadelphia starter: Sergei Bobrovsky (Source.)

Likely Ottawa starter: Craig Anderson (Source.)

New Jersey @ Pittsburgh

Likely New Jersey starter: Johan Hedberg (Source.)

Likely Pittsburgh starter: Marc-Andre Fleury (Source.)

Chicago @ Montreal

Likely Chicago starter: Corey Crawford (Source.)

Likely Montreal starter: Carey Price (Source.)

8:00 pm ET games

Colorado @ St. Louis

Likely Colorado starter: Peter Budaj (Source.)

Likely St. Louis starter: Jaroslav Halak (Source.)

Atlanta @ Nashville

Likely Atlanta starter: Chris Mason (Source.)

Likely Nashville starter: Pekka Rinne (Source.)

8:30 pm ET game

Columbus @ Dallas

Likely Columbus starter: Mathieu Garon – As we discussed before, it seems like Steve Mason might be injured, so Garon might receive the rest of the CBJ starts.

Likely Dallas starter: Kari Lehtonen (Source.)

9:00 pm ET game

Vancouver @ Edmonton

Likely Vancouver starter: Roberto Luongo (Source.)

Likely Edmonton starter: Devan Dubnyk (Source.)

Race for the playoffs: Three West teams could clinch, Blackhawks and Stars face tests

Michael Cammalleri, Troy Brouwer

With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”

Western Conference

p-1. Vancouver – 113 pts (3 GR)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (3 GR)
4. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Nashville – 95 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (3 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (4 GR)
9. Calgary – 91 pts (2 GR)
10. Dallas – 89 pts (4 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

Chicago @ Montreal – 7:30 pm ET

This is a big one for the two Original Six teams, as the Canadiens can clinch a playoff berth against a Blackhawks team hoping to cling to the eighth seed in the West. Chicago must mop up as many points as they can between this game and tomorrow’s contest against the Blues, because they face an intimidating home-and-home with the Red Wings to close out the season. The Flames are reasonably close behind but only have two games left while the Stars are short points but face a relatively easy closing schedule.

In other words, this is a big one for the ‘Hawks.

Atlanta @ Nashville – 8:00 pm ET

The Predators are almost certain to make the playoffs anyway, but they can put any doubts to bed in one of two ways.

  • They can clinch with a win plus a Stars loss.
  • Or they can clinch by earning a point against the Thrashers while the Stars lose in regulation.

Speaking of the Stars and teams clinching playoff spots …

Columbus @ Dallas – 8:30 pm ET

The Stars are fighting for their playoff lives, but still have a chance of jumping over the Flames (they have four games remaining to Calgary’s two) and Blackhawks for the West’s final spot. It won’t be easy, but all four of their games are against teams outside of their conference’s playoff picture, so going four for four is possible (if unlikely).

The Blackhawks and Predators won’t be the only teams rooting against them, though. Here are two teams who could clinch playoff berths without lifting a finger today.

Phoenix Coyotes: The fourth-ranked Coyotes could guarantee themselves a spot with a Stars loss of any kind.

Los Angeles Kings: The fifth-ranked Kings will earn another playoff berth with a Stars regulation loss.