Tag: playoff clincher

Stephane Robidas, Mike Fisher

West playoff picture complete: Sharks, Kings and Coyotes are in


With the Pacific Division title still up for grabs, it’s unfair to say that the Nashville Predators’ 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars killed the drama of matches like the Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks home-and-home series. Still, the Predators’ pursuit of home ice advantage* sure made things a lot less interesting.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Update: the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to revel in their role as spoilers; they eliminated the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-2 win.

What it clinched:

Playoff spots for the Phoenix Coyotes, Kings and Sharks.

Who’s eliminated:

The Stars would max out at 91 points, so the Predators hammered the final nail in their season. The Avalanche can only get 90, so they’re done too – and against a team that’s far less dangerous (although almost as dangerous lately).

Why there’s still some drama:

Again, the good news is that Pacific – and thus, the third seed – is still up for grabs. (Also, the seventh seed serves as a solid consolation prize.)

Sure, it’s not as thrilling as just about everyone fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot, but notching the No. 3 spot can be a huge advantage – especially if the Vancouver Canucks and/or St. Louis Blues stumble in early playoff rounds. Still, it’s stunning to realize that the Stars could have been right there too if they took care of their late-season business.

* Nashville’s win and Detroit’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils means that the Predators only need a point to clinch the fourth seed and the huge (especially in negative way for the Red Wings) home ice advantage in their likely upcoming series. Of course, there’s also a chance the Chicago Blackhawks could slide into the fifth seed; check out this breakdown from On the Forecheck for all the headache-inducing details.

East update: Panthers, Capitals clinch playoffs; Sabres are done


Thursday night ended up being bittersweet for the Florida Panthers, bitter for the Buffalo Sabres and just plain sweet for the Washington Capitals.

With the Capitals’ 4-2 win against the Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2-1 regulation victory against Buffalo, this much is clear:

1. The Sabres have been eliminated from the playoffs.
2. The Panthers are officially in the postseason for the first time since 2000 – the longest playoff drought in NHL history.
3. The Capitals will capture at least the eighth seed.

Point No. 3 is the most interesting because of what hasn’t been settled. In a made-for-TV blessing, the Capitals can wrestle the Southeast Division title from the Panthers if they get any sort of win and the Panthers lose in regulation on Saturday (the last night of the season).

The Capitals might actually feel more comfortable facing a team they’ve booted from the playoffs twice in the Ovechkin era in the No. 1 seed New York Rangers, but a seventh seed – and thus a match with the defending Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins – is still plausible if Washington wins and Ottawa doesn’t register another point.

Either way, Washington shook off a disturbing Michal Neuvirth injury when they only had a 1-0 lead to build it to 3-0. The Panthers found a way to get back into the game with two goals but Alex Semin scored a late insurance backhander as a power play expired to put it out of reach at 4-2.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Meanwhile, the Sabres face a summer of “What if?” questions, beginning perhaps with giving up a slim 1-0 lead to the Flyers. Philly certainly isn’t an easy draw, but Ryan Miller & Co. must live with the fact that the orange and black ended their season two years in a row. (This time before the playoffs.)

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Oh, and if you’re into somewhat-ridiculous comparisons between Brooks Laich’s guarantee and Mark Messier’s famous one, guess who scored tonight’s game-winner? Brooks Laich.

Here’s a video update of what the East standings look like after a big night:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Rangers clinch Atlantic, East’s top seed

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers

The race to “win” the East’s eighth seed is becoming quite the comedy of errors, with the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and maybe even Florida Panthers trying to lose less than the other teams. Whoever ends up in that spot better get their act together, too, because they’re now guaranteed a match against the feisty and focused New York Rangers.

John Tortorella’s gang clinched the Atlantic Division – and with that, the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference – by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The game began very ugly for Ilya Bryzgalov and the rest of the team as the Rangers went into the first intermission with a 4-0 lead. Few leads are safe against the Flyers – even as great as New York can be at stopping opposing offenses – so things evened out, but not enough to keep Henrik Lundqvist from winning his 39th game of 2011-12.

This marks the Rangers’ first division title since they locked one up in 1994, a year that might be important to a handful of fans. (Just throwing it out there.) Speaking of which, this earlier post comparing this team to the last Stanley Cup-winning, Mark Messier-powered bunch might hold a little more water today.

Of course, New York still has a way to go before we can watch Ryan Callahan spazz out with the Cup like Messier did in those great clips.

PHT Morning Skate: Flames extinguished

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
1 Comment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Interesting fact from NHL.com’s Brian Compton: Ray Whitney’s first point came on April 15, 1992. I wonder if he expected to cross the 1,000 (and 1,001) point barrier almost 20 years later? (Brian Compton)

Brent Sutter on the mood for the Calgary Flames, who were mathematically eliminated last night: “It’s worse than being disappointed.” (The Canadian Press)

The St. Louis Blues also lost on Saturday – to the Columbus Blue Jackets, no less – but they still clinched the Central Division. Still, losing to the Blue Jackets is a sign that St. Louis isn’t the kind of team that can rest on its laurels. (The Associated Press)

In the final clinch/elimination update left from the West (read about the New Jersey Devils covering their own bases in the East here), the Chicago Blackhawks clinched a spot for the fourth season in a row. (NHL.com)

Nick Kypreos floats rumors about Ryan Suter eye-balling the Minnesota Wild and reports that if Jeff Carter is going to help the Los Angeles Kings again before next season, it will have to be in the playoffs. (Kukla’s Korner)

The San Jose Sharks earned a big 3-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday as the first half of a home-and-home set. Read up on the Sharks’ side from CSNBayArea.com and the Stars’ perspective from Defending Big D.

For more on the Devils’ clinching a playoff spot, Compton gives the six reasons why it happened. (NHL.com)

Now that the Boston Bruins are guaranteed an opportunity to defend their title and just about have the Northeast Division title wrapped up, Joe Haggerty reports that the focus shifts to NFL bye week-type stuff: managing minutes and nursing injuries. (CSNNE.com)

Eric Stephens reports that George Parros faces an “uncertain future.” Hopefully that future includes a bodacious mustache, though. (Ducks blog)

Oh yeah, the Winnipeg Jets were officially booted from the playoffs, too. Kinda forgot about them, right? (CSNPhilly.com)

Devils dominate Canes, clinch playoff berth

Ilya Kovalchuk

The Carolina Hurricanes have bedeviled the New Jersey Devils in two fairly recent playoff series, so they served as a solid team for New Jersey to clinch a berth against. The Devils beat the Hurricanes 5-0 to reach that mark – and help Martin Brodeur earn the 119th shutout of his future Hall of Fame career.

As he has done for much of this season, Ilya Kovalchuk lead the Devils. He scored his 34th goal of the season and added two assists, including a helper on David Clarkson’s game-winner.

The Devils are just about certain to fall into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, thus making them the foil for whoever wins the Southeast Division. That could be a friendly matchup for New Jersey since the “third seed” isn’t likely to be stronger than them – at least on paper.

Making the playoffs is a big step after failing to do so this season, but they might need a deep run to continue to stride in the right direction – and perhaps keep Zach Parise from leaving.