Tag: riding the zamboni


West playoff picture: Canucks make it official, Predators win and Sharks crush Stars

Western Conference playoff race

p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (4 GR)
x- 2. San Jose – 99 pts (5 GR)
3. Detroit – 98 pts (5 GR)
4. Phoenix – 95 pts (4 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 94 pts (5 GR)
6. Nashville – 94 pts (4 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (5 GR)
8. Chicago – 90 pts (6 GR)
9. Dallas – 87 pts (6 GR)
10. Calgary – 87 pts (4 GR)

p – clinched conference title and Presidents’ Trophy
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – Games Remaining

Nashville 3, Colorado 2

The Predators only have four games left, so some of their seeding fortunes will be out of their hands, but Nashville is taking care of business. The fact that the questions are drifting from “Will they make the playoffs?” to “Who will they face?” is a testament to their strong finish. Three of their last four games are at home and three of four against teams outside of the postseason, so they should be able to earn plenty of points (especially after their Saturday contest against the Red Wings).

Nashville built a 3-0 lead before the Avalanche showed a little pride in making in 3-2 in a decent third period finish, but the Predators were able to hold off Colorado in this one. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and Martin Erat scored a goal and an assist in another nice win, as Nashville is 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.

Vancouver 3, Los Angeles 1

Before we get to the Canucks’ Presidents’ Trophy clinching win, let’s focus on the Kings’ loss for a second. With 94 points and five games remaining, Los Angeles isn’t likely to catch the Sharks for the Pacific Division crown. That being said, their playoff spot is fairly comfortable and they can make it even cozier by beating the Stars on Saturday. Their final five games are against Pacific teams, including a home-and-home against the Anaheim Ducks to finish the 2010-11 season. It isn’t panic time for the Kings, but failing to get a point hurts.

Then again, not many teams are earning points against the Canucks, who clinched the Presidents’ Trophy tonight. Here’s some of the big numbers from the NHL’s press release on the subject.

The Canucks, celebrating their 40th anniversary season in 2010-11, have claimed the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. Tonight’s milestone victory caps a regular season in which the club already has set franchise records for most points (113), most wins (52) and most road wins (26). Their 17-1-2 run in games from Nov. 24 through Jan. 8 marked the best 20-game stretch in franchise history.

The Canucks have scored the most goals in the NHL (253), allowed the fewest (177) and have recorded the top power-play and penalty-killing percentages (24.7% and 86.6%, respectively). No club in the League’s ‘expansion era’ (since 1967-68) has finished first in each of these categories in a single season.

Yup, they’re pretty good.

San Jose 6, Dallas 0

Obviously, it’s not as fancy as clinching everything like the Canucks did, but the Sharks joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in guaranteeing a playoff bid tonight. They did so by absolutely humiliating the playoff-desperate Dallas Stars 6-0.

It’s interesting that former Blackhawks did so much damage tonight, considering how much this Sharks win helps Chicago. Antti Niemi earned a 29-save shutout while Ben Eager – yes, Ben Eager – scored what might be the Goal of the Night to help San Jose spank the Stars. Patrick Marleau scored twice while San Jose out-shot Dallas 52-29.

The Stars aren’t totally out of it, as they play four of their last six games against teams outside of the playoff picture, but this obviously hurts their chances by a great margin. They trail the Blackhawks by three points with both teams having six games left. Dallas might actually need four more points than the Blackhawks down the stretch because Chicago also has some win-related tiebreaker advantages right now.


So the ultimate trend of tonight’s games was that the rich West teams got richer. Is this is for the Stars? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s a good chance they’ll need to deal with San Jose or Vancouver if they manage to make the playoffs.

Eastern Conference playoff update: Lightning clinch a spot, Leafs keep dreaming

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
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Eastern Conference playoff race

x-1. Philadelphia – 102 pts (5 GR)
x-2. Washington – 101 pts (4 GR)
x-3. Boston – 97 pts (5 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 98 pts (4 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 95 pts (5 GR)
6. Montreal – 89 pts (4 GR)
7. Buffalo – 87 pts (5 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 87 pts (4 GR)
9. Carolina – 84 pts (5 GR)
10. Toronto – 82 pts (4 GR)
11. Atlanta – 78 pts (5 GR)

z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – Games Remaining

Toronto 4, Boston 3 (SO)

This game probably just delays the inevitable for both teams. The Maple Leafs are still a big-time long shot since they need to close a five-point gap to take a playoff spot from the currently eighth-ranked Rangers. In fact, with New York holding a wins tiebreaker, they may need to make up a six-point difference in only four games.

Meanwhile, the Bruins earned a point, so they only need one more point in their last five games to clinch the Northeast Division.

Still, for one night, Maple Leafs fans can wonder how different life would be if the season was just a week or two longer. Joffrey Lupul scored two goals and an assist and Nazem Kadri scored the only shootout goal for Toronto to a win a thriller against the Bruins in Boston.

Atlanta 1, Philadelphia 0

Speaking of long shots, the Thrashers kept their incredibly slim playoff hopes alive thanks to a 43-save shutout by Chris Mason. The fact that they beat the Flyers in regulation opens up the door for the Vancouver Canucks to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy tonight, although Philly must be a lot more concerned about the East’s top seed (more on that in a moment).

Evander Kane scored the game’s only goal, giving the Thrashers a nice thrill, even if it will ultimately be an empty one. The Rangers only need two points and the Sabres only need to earn a single point to slam the door shut on Atlanta’s playoff hopes, making their fate all but certain.

NY Islanders 6, NY Rangers 2

Some might say that the Islanders are only playing for pride, but there’s also another driving force called “spite.” This loss pushes the Rangers into eighth, shrinking their lead against the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes to only three points. The Canes hold a game in hand over the Rangers and play a huge game against the Sabres on Sunday.

This regulation loss also gives the idle Sabres the seventh seed, since Buffalo has five games remaining versus New York’s four. Time will tell if Marian Gaborik will face any discipline for his hit on Frans Nielsen, but the Isles made the Rangers pay dearly on the scoreboard tonight.

Washington 4, Columbus 3 (OT)

Jason Chimera scored the game-winning overtime goal and also provided an assist during his return from being a healthy scratch against the Carolina Hurricanes. This win maintains their six-point lead over the Lightning for the Southeast Division crown while moving them to within one point of the East-leading Flyers.

Philadelphia has one extra point, one more game in hand and one more win, so they have a slight advantage. Still, it’s not out of the question for Washington to catch up to them during the stretch run, especially with the Caps’ final two games coming against the tanking Florida Panthers.

Tampa Bay 2, Pittsburgh 1

The Lightning edged the Penguins in what almost certainly should be a preview of a first round match between the two squads. Steve Downie and Martin St. Louis scored for Tampa Bay while Michael Rupp scored Pittsburgh’s only goal. Dwayne Roloson made 36 saves to help the Bolts clinch a playoff spot tonight. St. Louis now has 30 or more goals in six different seasons.

This result could make for an interesting race for the fourth seed. The Penguins still hold a three-point lead over the Lightning, but Tampa Bay (five games remaining) has one more game in hand than Pittsburgh (four games remaining). Pittsburgh has more wins (45 to 42), but both teams have an identical 36 non-shootout wins.

Riding the Zamboni – March 27; Canucks hit 50 wins, Bruins clinch,

Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler

Vancouver 4 – Columbus 1

A milestone win for the Canucks as for the first time in team history they won 50 games. Chris Higgins had two goals and an assist to lead the way while Cory Schneider stopped 39 shots to ensure victory. Henrik Sedin and Christian Ehrhoff also added goals for Vancouver as they continue their dominance out west. R.J. Umberger had the Jackets’ only goal. The win gives Vancouver 109 points on the season and extends their lead over Detroit for the top spot to 12 points. One more Canucks win will lock up the top spot in the West and home ice throughout the playoffs.

Boston 2 – Philadelphia 1

Boston locked up a playoff spot thanks to Brad Marchand’s third period goal. Tim Thomas stopped 27 shots in a stellar effort to shutdown the Flyers.

Pittsburgh 2 – Florida 1 (F/SO)

Pittsburgh won their fourth straight game, all of which have come via the shootout – a new and unique record all of their own. Ben Lovejoy scored in regulation for the Pens while James Neal and Alex Kovalev scored in the shootout to help the Pens cut Philly’s advantage in the Atlantic Division to just four points. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 37 shots in the win, meanwhile Tomas Vokoun left the game with just seconds left in the third with a back injury. He’s expected back this week.

Atlanta 5 – Ottawa 4 (F/SO)

It’s not much of a pulse, but the Thrashers still have one for the playoffs after taking out Craig Anderson in the shootout. Andrew Ladd netted the winner in the shootout while four different Thrashers scored in regulation. Atlanta managed to blow a 4-2 lead in the third to allow the Sens back in the game. Chris Mason earned the win for Atlanta in goal. Marek Svatos scored twice for Ottawa. Atlanta is nine points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games left to play.

Riding the Zamboni – March 26; Predators, Sharks, and Flames keep winning

Logan Couture

San Jose 4 – Phoenix 1

In a battle between the top two teams in the Pacific, San Jose showed why they’re on top. Logan Couture scored two goals and added an assist while Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots to get the win. Ryan Clowe had the Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, two assists, and a fight and Joe Pavelski also added a goal. The win evens the Sharks with Detroit for points in the West while Detroit came out on top against Toronto and holds the temporary tiebreaker on San Jose. For Phoenix it’s a lost opportunity to get closer with San Jose in the Pacific. They’ll have two more games against the Sharks this year, however.

Nashville 4 – Dallas 2

Dallas continues to fail to keep up with the playoff teams in the West as the Predators continue to roll onward and upward in the conference. David Legwand and Mike Fisher each scored two goals while Pekka Rinne stopped 28 shots to get the win. Nashville was able to keep pace with L.A. in the West and draw to within one point of Phoenix for fourth place in the conference. The Western Conference is fun like this eh? Dallas is now two points behind Chicago for eighth place in the West. While each loss seems devastating it can all be turned around in a moments notice. Don’t get too emo yet Dallas fans. Meanwhile, Nashville is sitting quite well for the time being especially with L.A. being in huge trouble with Anze Kopitar out for the next six weeks with a broken ankle.

Calgary 5 – Edmonton 4 (F/SO)

It’s barely a glimmer of hope, but it’s a glimmer nonetheless. Calgary headed into the third period against Edmonton down 3-1 and were down 4-1 early in the third thanks to Ryan Jones’ goal but somehow, someway came away winners in the shootout over rival Edmonton. Jarome Iginla, Curtis Glencross, and Steve Staios each scored third period goals to tie things up while Alex Tanguay won it in the shootout for the Flames. Giving up a loser point to Edmonton doesn’t mean much, but Calgary very desperately needed two points tonight to keep hope alive of making the playoffs. They’ll now sweat things out until Wednesday while others in the west play it out as the Flames get some time off. How those teams do will determine whether or not they’ve still got something to fight for.

Anaheim 2 – Chicago 1

Tampa Bay 4 – Carolina 2

Both teams needed a win badly in this one and Tampa Bay found a way to get revenge on the Hurricanes for last night’s defeat and deal Carolina a crushing blow for their playoff hopes. Simon Gagne had a pair of goals while Mike Smith (remember him?) stopped 33 shots to earn the win. Martin St. Louis scored his 27th goal of the year for Tampa Bay while Eric Staal scored his 31st of the year for Carolina. The Hurricanes are now five points behind Buffalo for eighth in the Eastern Conference and hurting more for it as Buffalo is playing well. Tampa Bay was able to fend off Montreal, the Rangers and Buffalo from closing in on them a bit more with the season dwindling down and hold a four point lead on Montreal and New York for fifth in the East.

Buffalo 2 – New Jersey 0

Say “good night” New Jersey. Ryan Miller’s fifth shutout of the year teamed up with goals from Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek helped essentially put the Devils playoffs away for good. The win moved eighth place Buffalo ahead of New Jersey by 12 points with just seven games left to play. There’s a slight flicker of hope left for the Devils, but the ride is essentially over now. For Buffalo, the win helped strengthen their lead over Carolina for the final spot in the East while helping them stay in striking distance of both New York and Montreal. They might be in eighth for now, but they might end up higher than that before it’s all said and done.

Los Angeles 4 – Colorado 1

Washington 2 – Montreal 0

A key win for the Caps to keep pace with Philly for the top spot in the East and for Montreal, it marks the third straight game they’ve been shutout in, stretching their scoreless streak to 185:55. Not good. For Washington, it was Braden Holtby’s second shutout of the year while Marco Sturm scored his first goal as a Capital and  Alex Semin added another.

Philadelphia 4 – NY Islanders 1

James van Riemsdyk notched a hat trick and kept the Flyers rolling along in the East while dealing the Islanders yet another loss. Sergei Bobrovsky earned his 27th win of the year stopping 36 shots. The Flyers stay two points ahead of Washington for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Detroit 4 – Toronto 2

St. Louis 6 – Minnesota 2

David Backes had a goal and an assist while six different Blues player scored to put away the hapless Wild as they close out their season without any fire at all. Ty Conklin stopped all of 13 shots to earn the win while Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom was hung out to dry stopping 41 shots in the loss. Alex Pietrangelo also had a goal and an assist for St. Louis while Antti Miettinen scored twice for the Wild.

NY Rangers 1 – Boston 0

Riding the Zamboni – March 25; Devils done for good? Sabres and Canes get big wins

Brian Rolston, Marc-Andre Fleury

Pittsburgh 1 – New Jersey 0 (F/SO)

It’s not often when Martin Brodeur gets a shutout and loses, but James Neal’s goal in the shootout was the only puck to find the back of the net between Brodeur and Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury stopped 21 shots in the win while Brodeur stopped 26 in the loss. Both goalies are credited with a shutout but only Fleury would take home the win. After the loss, Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk said, “I don’t know how Buffalo played, but if they win I think we’re done.” Yeah, about that…

Buffalo 4 – Florida 2

Drew Stafford scored twice to help lead the Sabres to an important win in their quest to hang onto a spot in the East playoffs. Jason Pominville and Jordan Leopold also added goals for Buffalo as they kept their lead on the eighth spot in the East at three points over Carolina. The win also doubled as the game that officially put a bullet in the playoff hopes for the Florida Panthers as they’ll miss the postseason for a record-setting tenth straight year. Fare thee well swamp cats.

Carolina 4 – Tampa Bay 3

What started off looking like an easy Carolina win thanks to getting out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth quickly became scary when Vincent Lecavalier and then Simon Gagne added his second goal of the game late in the third to make the final period harrowing. Carolina would hang on though and keep pace in the race for the eighth spot in the East. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is slipping further back of Pittsburgh for the four seed and playing poorly as well.

Ottawa 2 – Washington 0

Vancouver 3 – Atlanta 1

The Canucks set a record mark for points in a season for themselves with the win while Roberto Luongo had 30 saves to make it all stand up proud. Mason Raymond, Alexandre Bolduc and Alex Burrows each had a goal to help put a hurting on Atlanta’s hopes for the playoffs.