Tag: standings

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings

Kings take Pacific Division lead on busy night in West


If you want an illustration of the significant parity and “What have you done for me lately?” atmosphere in the NHL, take a look at the Dallas Stars’ Thursday night. With one regulation loss (2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks) and plenty of activity throughout the West, the Stars didn’t just lose their Pacific Division lead and the third seed that goes with it – they tumbled all the way to eighth place.

To keep things tidy, here’s an update of the West’s bubble and Pacific Division races, in order of where the teams are in the standings right now:

Kings edge Blues 1-0 in shootout, take Pacific lead

Point to the Jeff Carter trade, hiring Darryl Sutter or any number of other developments if you’d like, but the bottom line is that the Los Angeles Kings are red-hot. They won their sixth game in a row in the exact way you’d sardonically expect against the St. Louis Blues. The two punch-less/defensively savvy teams (depending upon how you look at it) enjoyed dual shutouts – Jonathan Quick made 35 saves while Brian Elliott stopped all 37 shots – before the Kings won it in the skills competition.

GM Dean Lombardi might smile, as Carter and Mike Richards scored the SO goals, overwhelming T.J. Oshie’s single triumph for St. Louis.

(4. Detroit – idle; 5. Nashvillelost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1; 6. Chicago idle)

Coyotes curb Colorado

By no means can the Kings relax on the Pacific throne because the Coyotes have the same amount of standings points (86) thanks to a 3-2 regulation win against the Colorado Avalanche – who are now in 10th place. (Chalk that up as about the only bit of comforting news for Dallas.)

The Kings hold a game in hand advantage but that’s it – for now – as both Los Angeles and Phoenix have the same amount of wins (37) and regulation/OT wins (31).

Phoenix took a 3-0 lead and nearly coughed it up as the Avalanche scored two third period goals but Mike Smith earned the 100th win of his career. (Something tells me the next 100 won’t take nearly as long if he stays under Dave Tippett’s watch.)

Falling Stars, melting Avs

This leads me to Dallas, who gave the Canucks a solid fight but still lost 2-1. Henrik Sedin was a big difference even with his brother Daniel on the mend, assisting on both Vancouver goals while Corey Schneider stopped 25 out of 26 shots.

The good news for the Stars is that while they slipped to eighth place, the Avalanche are actually less of a threat than it seems. Both teams have 85 points but Dallas has two more games in hand. Unfortunately, the 10th place team is more of a threat …

Sharks slip by Bruins

Obviously, things have been bad for the San Jose Sharks lately. And, yes, the Boston Bruins aren’t the powerhouse they were a couple months ago.

Still, collecting a 2-1 win against the defending champions in regulation is heartening. Joe Pavelski scored a goal assisted by Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau while Daniel Winnik scored his first San Jose goal.

11. Calgary Flames gain a charity point while Brent Sutter puts a trash can on the IR.

OK, with that all out of the way, here’s how the standings look:

(3) Los Angeles – 86 points, 31 regulation/OT wins, eight games left

7. Phoenix – 86 points, 31 regulation/OT wins, seven games left
8. Dallas – 85 points, 33 regulation/OT wins, eight games left

9. Colorado – 85 points, 31 regulation/OT wins, six games left
10. San Jose – 84 points, 30 regulation/OT wins, eight games left
11. Calgary – 83 points, 31 regulation/OT wins, seven games left

Overall, it looks like the Pacific will produce three playoff teams – the division winner and perhaps the seventh and eighth seeds. What do you think, though?

Radim Vrbata expected to return for Coyotes tonight


For whatever reason, Radim Vrbata just works in Phoenix. He currently leads the Coyotes with 30 goals this season and even drew some dark horse All-Star chatter, so the scrappy team must be delighted to have him back, which Dave Vest reports is quite likely.

Vrbata is one of the Coyotes who’ve been fighting off flu-like symptoms, but with captain Shane Doan out three games because of a suspension, they’ll welcome him back that much more.

The ninth-ranked Coyotes are about an hour away from hosting the seventh place Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, so getting Vrbata back is a huge deal for a team that showed serious resilience in a comeback-heavy road trip.

Coyotes stay in the mix by beating Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings have lost both games with Jimmy Howard on the shelf so far, but it’s tough to beat up on Joey MacDonald on Monday. The borderline NHL goalie only allowed two goals as the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Red Wings 3-1.

(The Yotes sealed the deal with an empty-netter, in case you were wondering about my math.)

Phoenix seemingly caught Detroit sleeping in the first period as Boyd Gordon’s captivating shorthanded goal made it 1-0. Martin Hanzal scored a power-play goal to make it 2-0, so by the time the Red Wings started to control play, it might have been too late.

At least it was too late because of Mike Smith, who stopped 30 out of 31 shots. He was particularly strong in the last 40 minutes of the game as the Red Wings fired 25 shots on him but could only find the net once on a man advantage.

Big games ahead for Phoenix

source: Getty ImagesIt’s easy to focus on some of the Red Wings’ problems, but with an NHL leading 72 points, Detroit clearly had less at stake. The Coyotes are now tied with the Dallas Stars for ninth place with 56 points although their divisional rivals hold the wins advantage (27 to Phoenix’s 24) and have played two fewer games. The Coyotes could hop over them if they can top the Stars in Dallas, though, but it won’t be easy because that game takes place tomorrow.

That’s just the beginning of some challenging and important games for the bubble team, though. The Calgary Flames aren’t far behind them with 54 points in 52 games, so that Thursday matchup is almost as important as the Stars game.

Things get awfully challenging after that as they face the Vancouver Canucks and then have another game against Dallas (Feb. 18) sandwiched between two games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Life won’t get much easier with a handful of games against Western Canadian teams, but the bottom line is that the Coyotes are still in the mix and their frugal No. 1 goalie seems to be getting his act together.

(Not enough to make the Red Wings jealous yet, though.)

Check out highlights of the game below:

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Watch James Reimer shut out the Penguins

James Reimer, Joey Crabb

How do you stop arguably the hottest team (the Pittsburgh Penguins) and hottest player (Evgeni Malkin) in the NHL? Apparently you just have to call upon a guy who hasn’t played in two weeks.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer’s been waiting in the wings since Jan. 17 as Jonas Gustavsson played some of the best hockey of his shaky NHL career, but he’s likely to receive more reps after Wednesday. The Leafs should-be starter stopped all 25 shots as the Maple Leafs halted the Penguins’ eight-game winning streak with a 1-0 decision.

Clarke MacArthur scored the only goal of a rather sleepy game, which closed out a back-to-back set that featured a wild Penguins come-from-behind victory on Tuesday. Toronto is now fairly comfortably placed in seventh place in the East with 58 points in 51 games.

This was a valuable win for Toronto because February represents an early challenge with six of its next eight games coming on the road.

Thin margin of error for Penguins

To some extent, it seemed like it was a matter of time for Pittsburgh, as much of its recent wins came in dramatic fashion lately. Five of the Penguins’ last six victories came via shootout or overtime triumphs, with quite a few coming thanks to late heroics from Malkin.

The Penguins’ next game should be an interesting measuring stick of where they really are right now, as they’ll visit the Bruins in Boston on Saturday.

Mikael Samuelsson beats Michal Neuvirth from long distance

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins

Well, at least Craig Anderson won’t feel lonely on blooper reels this week.

On a night when the Penguins-Maple Leafs and Rangers-Sabres games produced one regulation goal combined,* Michal Neuvirth’s rough goal stands out that much more. Much like Dennis Seidenberg, Mikael Samuelsson gets to pad his stats with this long-distance tally:

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The Florida Panthers went on to beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in a fairly important game, as this places the banged-up Rats one point ahead of wounded Washington for the Southeast Division lead. The regulation loss hurts the Caps even more because they’ve been knocked out of the East’s top eight for the time being.

Obviously that goal doesn’t tell the whole story – Neuvirth helped Washington stay in the game by making 34 out of 37 saves – but it did stake Florida to a valuable 1-0 lead. It also might be the kind of clip that people lean on if the Panthers win the division and the Capitals find themselves out of the playoffs altogether once April rolls around …

* – More on those games later, but Toronto got revenge on Pittsburgh with a 1-0 win while Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout was better than Ryan Miller’s as New York earned a 1-0 shootout win against Buffalo.

Check out the full highlights below:

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