Tag:St. Louis Blues
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:16 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:20 am
 

Morning Skate: close to a must win for Ducks, Avs

Ducks

By: Adam Gretz


The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

DucksAvalanche9 PM, Anaheim vs. Colorado

All eyes will be on the NHL trade deadline on Monday, but it's also a huge day in the NHL playoff race.

It's hard to say a game at this point in the season is a "must win" for any team, but if the Anaheim Ducks are going to find a way to pull off this miraculous comeback (and that's really what it would be) to make the playoffs they're going to have to win games like this, against one of the many teams they're still chasing. Preferably in regulation. The Ducks enter Monday's game in Colorado four points behind the Avalanche in the standings, and still six points behind Dallas for the No. 8 (and final) playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Anaheim is coming off yet another win on Sunday night, knocking off the Blackhawks by a 3-1 margin, and have won seven of its past 10 games. Despite all of the Ducks wins over the past month-and-a-half it's been difficult for them to gain any significant ground or move up in the standings. With a win on Monday the Ducks can jump ahead of the Minnesota Wild to move into 12th place in the West.

It's still going to take a ton of work, and Monday's game is one of the big ones.

It's also a big game for the Avs, who also remain in the jumbled mess that is the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race, and a win could move them into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.

PredatorsKings8 PM, Los Angeles vs. Nashville

Another team that could move into a tie on Monday night? The Los Angeles Kings, fresh off their 4-0 win on Saturday night in what was Jeff Carter's debut with the club. He didn't make an impact on the scoreboard, but Dustin Brown stepped up after his name was mentioned in trade rumors, recording a hat trick and a four-point game.

It was only the fourth time in their past 17 games that the Kings, the lowest-scoring team in the league, scored more than three goals in a single game. So that was a bit of a rarity, and perhaps a sign that the addition of Carter, a top goal-scorer in the NHL over the past few years, can open some things up for other players on the team. If nothing else, it was a nice start.

It's going to get a bit tougher on Monday night as they head into Nashville to face Pekka Rinne and the always stout Predators defense, and a team that's still fighting for potential home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

This is also the first of three meetings for these teams over the next three weeks. So they better get familiar with one another.

BluesFlames9 PM, St. Louis at Calgary

After losing four of their past five, including a shootout loss against Philadelphia on Saturday, a game that saw them blow a 3-0 lead, the Calgary Flames could really use a win on Monday night when the St. Louis Blues come to town. And while a matchup with the Blues, one of the top teams in the West, doesn't seem like a favorable matchup to get back in the W column, the Blues have done most of their damage this season on home ice.

On the road, where they will be on Monday to continue what is a four-game road trip, they've been a losing team this season and carry a 12-13-3 record into Calgary, which is the second worst road record (behind only Chicago) among the current playoff teams in the West.

Others worth watching

7:30 ET, New York Rangers vs. New Jersey: It's always fun when the Rangers and Devils get together and they continue their rivalry on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. The Devils have won two of the first three meetings this season.

8:30 ET, Winnipeg vs. Edmonton: With a win against Edmonton the Winnipeg Jets can, once again, take over first place in the back-and-forth crazy world that is the NHL's Souteast Division.

Your promised miscellany
Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:44 pm
 

Senators acquire G Ben Bishop from Blues

Bishop has a .928 save percentage, 2.26 GAA this year for Peoria. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Days after it was announced Craig Anderson was going to be out an undetermined amount of time after slicing his finger while cooking, the Ottawa Senators went out and acquired goaltender Ben Bishop from the St. Louis Blues. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun was the first to report the trade.

The pick heading to St. Louis for Bishop is Ottawa's second-rounder in the 2013 draft.

Bob McKenzie of TSN added that just after the deal was completed, Bishop signed a one-year contract extension with the Sens. He was scheduled to become a free agent after this season so this ensures the Senators will have him through next season at the least.

“I’m very excited," Bishop told the Sun. "I couldn’t be more happy, especially to a team lwith a great history and the fan support they have.”

Bishop, a highly regarded goaltending prospect, has been stuck in the AHL for the Blues this season with the play of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. He was an All-Star in his own right, representing the Peoria Rivermen in the AHL's extravaganza.

He had hoped before the season to win the backup job in St. Louis but it went to Elliott who has run with it. It led to Elliott receiving a contract extension earlier this season, leaving Bishop's future with the team as one of being in the AHL for some time.

He's the biggest goalie of today's big goalie trend in the NHL. The University of Maine product stands 6 feet 7 has been viewed as one of the better goaltending prospects in the game, he was just blocked in St. Louis.

NHL Trade Deadline
More NHL coverage

There figured to be a lot of teams interested in Bishop, most notably the Tampa Bay Lightning and possibly the Maple Leafs with their goaltending issues. Instead it's Ottawa that gets him and if nothing else, he will give the Sens a chance to rest Anderson a little more when they're both healthy.

I like the deal from both sides. The Blues were likely going to lose Bishop any way after this season, he was going to become an unrestricted free agent despite his age because of the lack of playing time. He was not likely to re-sign with the team if it meant staying in the AHL. So in that regard the Blues got something in return. Maybe they could have gotten a little more for Bishop, but all in all not bad.

For the Sens it means they didn't give up a whole lot to get a goalie they are probably hoping can carry them down the stretch this season. Potentially a lot more.

Where it leaves Robin Lehner, the Sens' top goalie prospect, is another matter. It was expected that next season is when Lehner was going to make the move to the NHL full time and take over Alex Auld's spot as the second goalie in Ottawa. But it's tough to argue that Bishop isn't a better prospect at the position. Lehner is now left in the same spot that Bishop was in in St. Louis, the third goalie blocked by others. A one-way deal for Bishop means that he isn't going to be in the AHL next season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:21 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 9:25 am
 

Morning Skate: Caps look to solve road woes

Ovechkin

By: Adam Gretz


The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

CapitalsMaple Leafs7:00 ET, Washington at Toronto

The two teams currently sitting just outside of the playoff picture in the nine and ten spots meet at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, and both are in need of a crucial two points. The Maple Leafs have lost three games in a row and are struggling to find some consistent goaltending.

The Capitals, meanwhile, are playing in the back end of a back-to-back situation and need to find a way to solve their road woes, as they're a completely different team away from the Verizon Center.

At home, the Capitals have more wins (and a better record) than any other team in the Eastern Conference with a 20-8-2 mark. On the road? Just 10-18-3. The only teams in the East that have fewer road wins are the Lightning and Hurricanes (also Southeast Division teams).

SenatorsBruins7:00 ET, Boston at Ottawa

Who would have guessed back in October that a game between the Bruins and Senators in late February would have an impact on the race for first place in the Northeast Division? Entering Saturday's game in Ottawa the Senators trail the Bruins by just three points in the standings, though, the Bruins do have three games in hand. Still, this is the first of two meetings between the teams this week and they still have another meeting, in Ottawa, on April 5.

Perhaps the Bruins will simply take care of business and open up a more comfortable lead in the division, but Boston has been struggling recently and has only won four games in the month of February. Even worse, the Bruins haven't won consecutive games since Jan 10-12 when they knocked off the Canadiens and Jets in back-to-back games.

The Senators, on the other hand, come into Saturday's game on a roll having won four straight and five of their past six, with the only loss on that stretch coming in overtime against Edmonton. During their recent winning streak they've outscored their opponents 21-4, and defenseman Erik Karlsson has continued to pile up the points, now leading all defensemen with  60.

The issue facing the Senators, however, will be the absence of goaltender Craig Anderson, their workhorse this season, after he injured his hand at home following their most recent win on Wednesday night.

KingsBlackhawks8 ET, Chicago at Los Angeles

As always this season, the question for the Kings comes down to whether or not they can score enough to win. Actually, it's not necessarily a question of whether or not they can score enough to win, but whether or not they can actually score. At all.

In 11 games in the month of February the Kings have scored just 18 goals. Total. That's just 1.6 goals per game, which is ridiculously low, even for a team that's at the bottom of the league in goal-scoring for the season.

Not surprisingly, the Kings have won just three games this month (two of them against Columbus and Tampa Bay, teams currently out of the playoff picture) and only two of their past 10.

Perhaps the reunion of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter is what the Kings need to generate some offense. Any offense.

Others worth watching

1 ET, Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh: The Lightning may not make the playoffs, but Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh will feature Evgeni Malkin going up against Steve Stamkos as the players enter tied for the league lead in scoring.

2 ET, St. Louis at Winnipeg: The Jets look to hold on to their top spot in the Southeast Division and have to do so against one of the best teams in the NHL. Fortunately for the Jets, home ice has been very kind to them this season.

10 ET, Philadelphia at Calgary: Philadelphia needs a win to make up for that ugly loss in Edmonton on Thursday, while the Flames need a win just to keep pace with the other bubble teams in the West.

Your promised miscellany
Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 11:16 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:12 am
 

Winners & Losers: Jets, Canucks, Leafs



By: Adam Gretz


There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Thanks to their 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with the Florida Panthers 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Winnipeg Jets, for the time being, are in first place in the NHL's Southeast Division and occupy the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

This is incredible, and to mark this moment we remind you once again that we could very well see the return of the Winnipeg Whiteout this season. And what a thing of beauty that would be. 

Sure, the Panthers still have games in hand, but the two teams also meet two more times this season and with the current nature of the Southeast Division (everybody stinks, apparently) it's certainly possible for now. And that makes them the big winners for the night.

Some of the others...

Winners

1. Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks managed to do what no team has done since Nov. 3 … win a game in Joe Louis Arena as a visiting team. It required a shootout, but Alex Burrows' goal in the third round clinched the win for the Canucks to pull them to within one point of the Red Wings for top spot in the Western Conference.

[Related: Canucks 4, Red Wings 3 -- Wings home win streak ends at 23]

2. St. Louis Blues: In what was a potential first-round preview in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues gained an extra point in a 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators thanks to goals from T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald. The Blues now have a four-point lead over the Predators for the No. 4 seed in the Western playoff race, which would give them the final home-ice advantage spot in the conference.

[Related: Blues 3, Predators 2]

3. Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings: Yes, the Kings picked up the goal-scoring help they needed by acquiring Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and that's a huge pickup for a team that is in desparate need of offense. With Jack Johnson going the other way that could mean young defenseman Slava Voynov gets an increased role in Los Angeles to help fill that hole on the blue line, and that makes him a winner for tonight.

[Related: Kings acquire Jeff Carter from Blue Jackets]

Losers

1. Toronto Maple Leafs: They not only lost to the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, giving up a pair of goals to Patrick Marleau, the Maple Leafs also fell out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference due to the Panthers gaining a point against the Wild, and the Jets moving back into the playoff picture for the time being.

[Related: Sharks 2, Maple Leafs 1]

2. Ottawa Senators: The Senators didn't play on Thursday night, but they suffered a big loss when it was revealed starting goaltender Craig Anderson was injured on Wednesday night after a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals, sidelining him indefinitely. There's a reason Anderson has played so many games this season, and that's probably because there is a rather large drop from him to backup Alex Auld.

[Related: Anderson sidelined with hand injury]

3. Philadelphia Flyers: Philadelphia has hit a bit of a slump here recently and it continued on Thursday with a 2-0 loss to one of the worst teams in the NHL in Edmonton. The Flyers have now won just seven of their past 18 games and currently sit just one point ahead of the suddenly surging Senators for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:40 am
 

Morning Skate: Playoff ramifications galore


By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

In this day and age with only two teams -- two! -- in the entire NHL being more than 10 points out of a playoff spot, it's hard to find a game on the schedule that isn't carrying a huge impact on the playoff picture. Save for Edmonton playing Columbus, they all have an impact.

That holds even if you have two teams hanging on by life support. Which is just what is on the schedule on Thursday night.

7 ET, Anaheim at Carolina: This is pretty much hockey's equivalent of a loser leave town match. The Hurricanes are eight points back of a playoff position, the Ducks are six back. So, you know, you can't lose this game if you want to stay in the conversation.

To be sure, both face very long odds. More specifically, the 'Canes have a 2.94 percent chance of seeing the postseason according to sportsclubstats.com while the Ducks have a 5.52 percentage.

For Anaheim it brings an end to one hellacious road trip that has been going since what feels like the All-Star break. And they've done very well on it until their last momentum-killing game, a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Carolina? Well they are actually starting to brim with confidence. They just smacked down the Capitals 5-0 -- then again, who isn't these days? -- and are finally getting the expected production from Eric Staal.

So we have two teams near (or at, in Carolina's case in the East) the bottom of the standings playing some of the best hockey in the league. The game is make or break for both. Should be fun.

7 ET, San Jose at Toronto: The Maple Leafs are still in the thick of the futility battle that is the race for eighth in the East/the Southeast Division. It's like everybody has hit a slump together, giving hope to teams that once appeared on the outs. Toronto is no different.

The goaltending was looking good not long ago. Now Leafs fans are begging for help. They are 1-5-1 in the last seven games. In the last six games -- one OT win in there -- they have yielded 27 goals. That's 4.5 per game. They need to take advantage of the home games they have left, starting tonight.

The Sharks, meanwhile, find themselves actually in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. As of now, they are tied with the surging Coyotes. Now the Sharks do have two games in hand on Phoenix, but those do you no good if you don't win them.

On their own whirlwind road trip, the Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak, three in a row without points. Apparently they think the race for eighth looks so interesting they thought they might play their way into it. As of now, they are only three points up on that eighth spot, but again, have games in hand.

7:30 ET, Vancouver at Detroit: Here's the game of the night without a doubt. Neither team is fighting for their playoff lives, instead they are fighting each other for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Oh, and there is something about a 23-game home winning streak being on the line for the Red Wings? I suppose that might garner some interest here too.

But in reality this game is massive on many levels. In addition to the two-point discrepancy between the teams in the standings, it would do the Canucks a world of good to knock off Detroit at the Joe, prove to themselves that they can do it in case it comes up again at playoff time.

Unfortunately for the Wings -- and fans -- Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup for the Wings, sitting out a couple weeks after having his knee scoped.

9 ET, Phoenix at Calgary: This is the West battle being waged in Calgary right here. The Coyotes have been on fire, winning eight of their last nine games and shooting into not only seventh place in the West but in a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific. And they just added Antoine Vermette.

If Phoenix takes two points tonight, you start to wonder if they can prepare for some playoff games in the desert again. Of course that's no guarantee, but they'd be in one good position for it.

But don't sleep on the Flames. They enter the day in ninth place, one back of the Kings and this will be their one game in hand. Here's what makes the Flames a real threat for a playoff berth, if you can believe that. They have 22 games remaining, 14 of them come at home. That's as favorable as any playoff hopeful down the stretch run.

Also worth watching: The Panthers host the Wild with Florida still clinging to the Southeast lead and Minnesota still clinging to their playoff hopes.

The Blues and Predators renew acquaintances in their continued battle for that crucial fourth seed in the West. The Preds have just owned the Blues this season.

The Stars visit the Blackhawks where Chicago has reeled off four in a row after the nine-game losing streak. Dallas is another team that's hanging within striking distance in the West.

The Lightning visit the Jets with Winnipeg entering in a tie for both the Southeast lead and the eighth spot in the East. They need to win these games since they've played more than any team. But the Lightning are still clawing, hanging five points back of the playoffs.

Your promised miscellany

  • Capitals coach Dale Hunter was hard on goaltender Tomas Vokoun after Washington's second big loss in a row on Wednesday. Of course, without Vokoun, there's no telling how low the Caps would be this season. He's been good for them the majority of the season. (Washington Times)
  • Here's a good read from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun about the always interesting P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. (ESPN.com)
  • Now this is entertaining. Check out Maxime Talbot of the Flyers taking on a fan in a Just Dance 3 challenge at the team's recent fair. (Puck Daddy)
  • While Milan Michalek scored one very pretty goal against the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault had one ugly goal that tried to make him ugly (the puck went in off his face). Guess what? They both counted as one score.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:38 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 9:47 am
 

Morning Skate: Caps, Avs keep chasing playoffs

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

There are only three games on the schedule for Wednesday night and who'd a thunk that the Bruins visiting the Blues would be the least interesting of the three in terms of the playoff picture? These two are both fighting hard for positioning in their respective conferences and in the case of the Bruins, actually for the division lead as hard as that might be to believe. But more on that a little further down.

7 ET, Washington at Ottawa: The Capitals have become everybody's favorite trainwreck to watch. For some reason I have never quite understood, fans around the league just love to watch the Caps fail and this season is shaping up to be a whole heaping of fail. It's to the point where they are ready to point fingers and find the biggest offenders of them all.

But here's the miraculous thing: The Capitals have gone 0-5-1 in their last six games against teams not named the Florida Panthers. Yet they go into Ottawa to finish up a four-game roadtrip only two points behind the Panthers -- and Winnipeg Jets -- for first place in the Southeast. They are the same distance from the eighth spot in the East. So yes, by deduction, the Southeast leader is good enough to be seventh best in the conference, not third.

Point is, getting two points tonight is massively important for the Caps. Not only does it forge ties for a playoff berth but sends them back home with a 2-2-0 roadtrip which isn't so bad when you consider it included an embarrassing loss in Carolina.

From the Senators perspective, the rest of the East has mostly caught up in terms of games play and they're still comfortably inside the playoff picture, five points clear of eighth. But now they can actually turn their sights on the Northeast Division lead. They enter Wednesday night only two points behind Boston, although the Bruins are one team who hasn't caught up in games played yet as they have four games in hand.

9 ET, Los Angeles at Colorado Talk about two teams fighting for their playoff lives. Each of them can see their postseason hopes fading away, so the good news is that at least one of them is going to get points tonight and stay in the race for that final spot out West.

Despite a complete inability to score goals (Tuesday night not withstanding) the Kings are clinging to that last spot right now, one point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Dallas. At four back is the Avalanche who made it clear on Tuesday that they're still trying to make a push for the playoffs by acquiring Steve Downie from the Lightning.

Especially considering the game is in Pepsi Center, it's a crucial game for the Avs. They really can't afford to fall six points back of the eighth spot. With so many teams in the mix for it, that's a lot of ground to make up being made more difficult by the number of teams to pass. When you're playing a team struggling as much as L.A., you can't miss the opportunity.

And yes, L.A. is struggling. It is 2-5-2 in its last nine games. But at least they showed some life in Phoenix, even if they did blow a three-goal first-period lead. Much like the Caps in the West, it's pretty hard to believe the Kings are only three points out of the division lead shared by the Sharks and Coyotes.

Your promised miscellany

  Zach Parise appreciated David Clarkson sticking up for him on Tuesday night and taking on Dion Phaneuf. Chalk one up for the pro-fighting side. (Fire & Ice)

  Claude Giroux accidentally broke a commentator's watch with a slash on Tuesday night in Winnipeg. (Puck Daddy)

  Canadiens goalie Carey Price has debuted another goalie mask, this one having an Old West theme to it. (Backhand Shelf)

  Lastly, relive the greatest moment in American hockey history, the Miracle on Ice. That happened 32 years ago today in the medal round against the U.S.S.R.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:53 pm
 

Wild's Peters suspended one game for cross check

By Brian Stubits

Warren Peters of the Minnesota Wild was suspended for one game by the NHL and Brendan Shanahan on Sunday for a cross check he delivered to the head of Blues captain David Backes on Saturday.

The check came in a post-play scrum where Backes was surrounded by three Wild players including Peters. It came in apparent retaliation for a Backes hit a moment earlier.

Peters only receives one game for the cross check to the side of Backes' head because not all of Shanny's naughty checklist was met. Backes didn't suffer any apparent injuries as a result and Peters doesn't have a disciplinary history to speak of. So the punishment is just one game.

I think this ruling carries a little bit of a hidden significance, however. It serves as a reminder that the NHL is looking at every game and every play with an eye out for these things. This wasn't a well-publicized incident at all. In fact, when it the suspension came down, I didn't even know what it was about.

In that way it is a small sign that they are serious in Shanny's offices, if that was even in question in the first place.

More NHL Discipline news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com