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Rangers lost Eric Staal Saturday, but ‘he should be fine’

The New York Rangers earned a 3-2 win over Detroit Saturday afternoon. That’s important from a seeding perspective, but that victory came at a potential cost as Eric Staal left the game due to what initially looked like it might be a head injury.

You can see below that teammate Jesper Fast appeared to accidentally hit Staal in the head:

After the game though, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault downplayed Staal’s absence as being a precautionary measure.

“He should be fine,” Vigneault said, per the Rangers’ Twitter feed.

It’s not hard to see the logic in keeping Staal out regardless of his condition following the hit. The Rangers had secured their playoff spot prior to Saturday’s contest, so there’s no reason to push Staal if there’s even the slightest chance that he might be less than 100%.

That’s especially true because while, as stated at the top, winning today did impact the Rangers from a seeding perspective, you could debate whether or not that’s a positive. The Rangers now hold the third seed in the Metropolitan Division and the Islanders would need to earn three of a possible four points this weekend to change that.

The third Metropolitan Division seed leads to a series against the Pittsburgh Penguins though, while the alternative – the first Wild Card seed – will feature a first round matchup against the Florida Panthers. Pittsburgh is by far the hotter team when compared to Florida, has more star power, and holds the better record, albeit by a slim margin.

That being said, at least the Rangers are entering the playoffs on a winning note.

Red Wings stumble into playoffs, Bruins in serious trouble

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The streak has been preserved.

For the 25th consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings have advanced to the playoffs. That streak ties the St. Louis Blues and puts Detroit four seasons shy of matching the Boston Bruins’ all-time streak.

Speaking of the Bruins, the Red Wings aren’t making the playoffs thanks to their own efforts on Saturday. Detroit suffered a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers, but in the end it didn’t matter because Ottawa crushed the Bruins 6-1.

Boston had to start backup Jonas Gustavsson because Tuukka Rask was sick and while that certainly didn’t help matters, it would be unfair to put this blowout solely on Gustavsson’s shoulders.

Regardless, Boston and Detroit have now both finished the season with 93 points in 82 games. However, because the Red Wings control the tiebreaker, they secured the third Atlantic Division seed while Boston is in the second Wild Card spot. The problem for the Bruins now is that the Philadelphia Flyers are just one point shy of them and have two games left, including their ongoing contest against Pittsburgh.

If Philadelphia gets at least two points in its last two games, Boston will miss the playoffs and the Flyers will get that second Wild Card spot. In other words, the Bruins’ fate is now entirely out of their hands.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Flyers

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The stakes couldn’t be much higher for the Philadelphia Flyers going into today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is set to start at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Going into the third period of Boston’s game versus Ottawa, the Senators had a 4-1 lead, which makes this game all the more important for Philadelphia. If Boston loses, then regardless of the outcome of the Detroit-New York Rangers game (which is also in progress), the Flyers can secure a playoff spot with a win against Pittsburgh this afternoon.

You can watch the action on NBC or view it online by clicking on the link below:


Some more information about this afternoon’s contest:

NHL on NBC: Penguins look to crush Flyers’ playoff dreams

Flyers catch a break: Penguins scratch Crosby, Letang

Goalie nods: Holtby gets another shot at wins record

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Some of Saturday’s contests are already well underway, but with every team set to play today, there will be a lot of action tonight as well.

Even with almost every team set to play in its season finale, it’s goaltender Braden Holtby that might have the night that will be remembered the longest. He’ll start for the Capitals and while Washington has already secured the Presidents’ Trophy, Holtby is fighting to tie Martin Brodeur’s single season wins record, which stands at 48.

This is Holtby’s third attempt to make history and while Washington will also play on Sunday, this could very well be his last start of the regular season. It’s appropriate then that the Capitals are in St. Louis where Brodeur now serves as an assistant general manager. St. Louis will counter with netminder Brian Elliott.


Andrei Vasilevskiy will play against Mike Condon as the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Montreal Canadiens.

— Carolina will start Eddie Lack tonight while Florida will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Garret Sparks will play between the pipes for the Maple Leafs against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

— Chicago’s Corey Crawford (upper body) will get his first start in nearly a month. Columbus’ goaltender hasn’t been confirmed, but it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky.

— The Flames will give Niklas Backstrom the opportunity to finish the season with a start against his former team, the Wild. Minnesota will use Devan Dubnyk.

— Christopher Gibson will get the nod for the Islanders. We don’t know who Buffalo will use, but after Jason Kasdorf made his NHL debut on Friday, a reasonable guess is Chad Johnson.

— Nashville will send out Carter Hutton tonight. Dallas will likely start Antti Niemi.

Cam Talbot and Jacob Markstrom will start for Edmonton and Vancouver respectively.

Jonathan Quick is expected to get the nod for Los Angeles, but we don’t know who Winnipeg will start.

— Arizona’s starting goaltender also hasn’t been revealed yet, but Martin Jones will play between the pipes for the Sharks.

Flyers catch a break: Penguins scratch Crosby, Letang

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red hot lately, but they might be more manageable for the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

Pittsburgh has announced that Sidney Crosby is out with “bumps and bruises” while Kris Letang will be a healthy scratch. That’s in addition to the players that the Penguins were already missing, including Beau Bennett, Olli Maatta, Evgeni Malkin, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

In response to the loss of Crosby on top of all those other injuries, Pittsburgh has called up forward Kael Mouillierat, per the team’s website. The 28-year-old has appeared in six career NHL games.

Pittsburgh is still riding an eight-game win streak, but the Flyers are certainly being handed a golden opportunity. Philadelphia is one-point shy of Boston and Detroit in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, but the Flyers have two games left whereas the team’s they are chasing are currently playing out their final contest of the season.

If Detroit and/or Boston lose in regulation, then Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Penguins. If Detroit and Boston both win though, then the Flyers will need a win against Pittsburgh just to stay alive in the race ahead of Sunday’s game between Philadelphia and the New York Islanders.

Related: NHL on NBC: Penguins look to crush Flyers’ playoff dreams