Race for the Playoffs: Ducks could clinch for three teams, Stars and Flames must win

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)
x-2. San Jose – 101 pts (4 GR)
x-3. Detroit – 100 pts (4 GR)
4. Los Angeles – 96 pts (4 GR)
5. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Nashville – 95 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (4 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (5 GR)
9. Calgary – 89 pts (3 GR)
10. Dallas – 87 pts (5 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy and conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

Minnesota @ Detroit – 5:00 pm ET

There are a few different scenarios that could clinch the Central Division for the Red Wings, but the simplest way would simply be to win against the Wild today. They could also leap by the San Jose Sharks for the second spot in the West, at least for a brief period of time. Minnesota has nothing but pride to play for, though, as they were officially eliminated from the playoff picture last night.

Tampa Bay @ Chicago – 7:00 pm ET

The Blackhawks wouldn’t clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight, but they could certainly put themselves in a great position to stay ahead of the Flames and Stars. Chicago still also has a decent chance of improving their seeding situation with a game or two in hand over teams in front of them, but making the playoffs remains their top concern.

Calgary @ Colorado – 8:00 pm ET

Calgary will absolutely need the Blackhawks and/or Ducks to stumble, since their maximum amount of points would be 95 with three games left. Maybe they wouldn’t be mathematically eliminated if they don’t win tonight, but let’s be serious, they probably need to win out and hope for some help to make the playoffs. Losing to the free-falling Avalanche would be a huge letdown for the Flames.

Dallas @ Anaheim – 8:00 pm ET

The Ducks are in an interesting spot from a playoff-clinching standpoint tonight. They would clinch their own playoff spot with a regulation win and do the same for their hated rivals the Los Angeles Kings to boot. A Ducks victory of any kind would also clinch a postseason berth for another one of their division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Dallas is fading out of the picture with a six-game losing streak, but would improve their chances of swiping the final spot from the Blackhawks with a win tonight. They are five points behind Chicago with five games left, so the Stars will obviously need some help, making them Lightning fans for a night.

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    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.