The Wings know ‘it’s gonna be tight the rest of the way’


The Detroit Red Wings have seen the standings. They know the Philadelphia Flyers have been creeping up on them. And with 17 games remaining and a mere two-point playoff cushion, they know there’s not much margin for error.

“You don’t want to put together a stretch of too many games where you’re not getting points because it’s gonna set you back,” forward Justin Abdelkader told the Wings’ website.

“Philly is playing really good and I think they beat a really good Tampa Bay team last night, so we’ve just got to be prepared, obviously, to worry about ourselves and worry about our game. But it’s gonna be tight the rest of the way here.”

The Wings are in Columbus tonight, after which they return home to play the Jets, Rangers, and Maple Leafs. After that, it’s a four-game road trip, starting a week from today in — mark your calendars, everyone — Philadelphia.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Wings still have a 73.2 percent chance of making the playoffs for the 25th straight time. They aren’t the only vulnerable team in the East. Pittsburgh isn’t safe either.

But there are reasons to believe the Wings could be caught, led by the recent falloff in Petr Mrazek‘s play. Jimmy Howard will start tonight against the Blue Jackets.

It’s also worth noting that Detroit has only won 22 games in regulation all season. That’s two fewer than Montreal and one fewer than Buffalo, just for comparison’s sake.

What the Wings have been able to do is keep games close. Eight times they’ve triumphed in overtime, twice in a shootout. In all, they’ve finished tied after regulation on 21 occasions.

The only team that’s been to overtime more than the Wings? Oddly enough, it’s the Flyers (22), who are 9-5 in three-on-three and 2-6 in the shootout. Philly’s only won 20 times in regulation, more than just four teams: Edmonton (15), Toronto (15), Calgary (17) and Vancouver (18).

The Wing and Flyers play twice more this season. The first time, as mentioned, will be next Tuesday in Philly. The second is Apr. 6 in Detroit. Both games will be shown on NBCSN.

Related: How does your team stack up after 60 minutes?

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.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.