Paul Stastny thinks tonight is a must-win game for Colorado


After being ripped in the local paper after losing another tough game, the Colorado Avalanche have a tough road ahead of them to make the postseason and forward Paul Stastny knows it.

Stastny tells Mike Chambers of The Denver Post that the Avalanche, in spite of just being a point out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, are in a must-win situation starting tonight against Vancouver.

“You have to win them all and hope for outcomes from other teams,” Stastny said. “We have to win (tonight) and have some luck go our way. All these teams we’re playing are tough teams. They’re all in the same race. Vancouver is playing for first place, and Calgary has a little chance. But (tonight) is a guaranteed must-win.”

For Colorado, their main focus is landing in either seventh or eighth and they’re one point back of the Stars and Coyotes for those spots.

Working against the Avs is that tonight’s game is one of four they have left. Much like the Flames last season, the teams they’re battling for the postseason with have a game or two in hand on them. Winning the rest of their games might be the only shot they have of making the playoffs.

Poll: Does Jeff Carter make the Kings a playoff team?


Just about every pundit used the word “desperation” when describing the Los Angeles Kings’ side of the Jeff Carter-Jack Johnson+first-rounder blockbuster trade. Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s under a lot of pressure, no doubt, but does that necessarily make it a bad decision?

(Personally, I’d give the Kings the slight edge, although Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson deserves some kudos for making lemonade out of Carter’s lemons, but that’s just me.)

If nothing else, the addition of Carter’s scoring touch and knack for generating general fan distaste should make things awfully interesting in Los Angeles. Considering the presence of his buddy Mike Richards and another former teammate in Simon Gagne, Darryl Sutter could trot out an all-Philadelphia Flyers trio as his second/1b line. (Justin Williams could also fit the bill as a former Flyer in Gagne’s place, although that feels a bit like cheating.)

It’s an entertaining situation, but is it enough for the Kings to overcome some tough odds and hold onto a playoff spot? Tell us what you think by voting in the poll and sharing your illuminating comments.

Jonathan Toews scores OT-winner to give Chicago a crucial victory

A night after taking the penalty that allowed Montreal to beat his team, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored a bombastic overtime game-winning goal to give his team a crucial two points. Toews and the Blackhawks came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues, an eliminated team that nonetheless would have loved nothing more than to hurt their division rivals’ playoff chances.

Instead, they received an empty charity point while bolstering Toews’ Hart Trophy argument. This win doesn’t clinch a playoff spot, but it does give them some space in front of the 10th-place Dallas Stars while eliminating the Calgary Flames from the playoff picture.

Chicago 4, St. Louis 3 (OT)

The 2-0 game was turned on its head when officials allowed a controversial Marian Hossa goal to stand. Hossa kicked the puck toward the net, but it was a tough call to say whether or not he touched the puck before it (seemingly?) crossed the red line. The Stars were able to survive against the Anaheim Ducks thanks to disallowed goals, so it would be interesting if they die by the video review too.

David Backes and T.J. Oshie (who also had an assist) started the scoring off for St. Louis, but that Hossa goal ignited Chicago. Tomas Kopecky and Nick Leddy (also with an assist in the game) ended up scoring in the second period as well.

The Blues wouldn’t just roll over, though, as Chris Stewart scored a highlight reel goal by powering through the Hawks’ defense to send the game to OT. Toews wouldn’t be denied on his breakaway goal, though.

The race between the Blackhawks and Stars isn’t over yet, although Chicago is now in seventh place with 95 points and two games left. Still, this win was a big one for the defending Stanley Cup champions and it shouldn’t be surprising that Toews ended up being the hero.

Race for the playoffs: Three West teams could clinch, Blackhawks and Stars face tests

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)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (3 GR)
4. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Nashville – 95 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (3 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (4 GR)
9. Calgary – 91 pts (2 GR)
10. Dallas – 89 pts (4 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

Chicago @ Montreal – 7:30 pm ET

This is a big one for the two Original Six teams, as the Canadiens can clinch a playoff berth against a Blackhawks team hoping to cling to the eighth seed in the West. Chicago must mop up as many points as they can between this game and tomorrow’s contest against the Blues, because they face an intimidating home-and-home with the Red Wings to close out the season. The Flames are reasonably close behind but only have two games left while the Stars are short points but face a relatively easy closing schedule.

In other words, this is a big one for the ‘Hawks.

Atlanta @ Nashville – 8:00 pm ET

The Predators are almost certain to make the playoffs anyway, but they can put any doubts to bed in one of two ways.

  • They can clinch with a win plus a Stars loss.
  • Or they can clinch by earning a point against the Thrashers while the Stars lose in regulation.

Speaking of the Stars and teams clinching playoff spots …

Columbus @ Dallas – 8:30 pm ET

The Stars are fighting for their playoff lives, but still have a chance of jumping over the Flames (they have four games remaining to Calgary’s two) and Blackhawks for the West’s final spot. It won’t be easy, but all four of their games are against teams outside of their conference’s playoff picture, so going four for four is possible (if unlikely).

The Blackhawks and Predators won’t be the only teams rooting against them, though. Here are two teams who could clinch playoff berths without lifting a finger today.

Phoenix Coyotes: The fourth-ranked Coyotes could guarantee themselves a spot with a Stars loss of any kind.

Los Angeles Kings: The fifth-ranked Kings will earn another playoff berth with a Stars regulation loss.