Tag:Atlanta Thrashers
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:06 am

Morning Skate: Rangers make it interesting again

A year later, the New York Rangers will really want to avoid a shootout. 

The Blueshirts' final game a season ago was pretty strightforward: A victory -- by any means -- over the Philadelphia Flyers meant a trip to the postseason. That didn't turn out so well as the Flyers skated into the postseason with a shootout victory, but at least the Rangers controlled their own fate. 

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  • The Rangers lost that Thursday with a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, a defeat that allowed the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes determine which team gets the final seed in the East. 

    “We laid an egg,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game. “We need to move by it was quickly as possible.”

    Tortorella said next up for the Rangers is some scoreboard watching. And it’s not as simple as wins and losses in this tight of a race, especially with the new tiebreaking rules. 

    The Hurricanes will get their shot at the Thrashers tonight in Atlanta and could move into eighth place with a victory , be it in regulation, overtime or the shootout. A shootout victory by the ‘Canes would complicate things slightly since both Carolina and New York currently have 34 victories in regulation or via shootout --- the first tiebreaker. The ‘Canes, however, hold the second tiebreaker since they hold a better record in the season series against the Rangers. 

    However tonight goes, it will come down to this Saturday. The New Jersey Devils, whose playoff push petered out a few days back, have a chance to keep the rival Rangers out of the playoffs in a matinee tilt at Madison Square Garden. The Hurricanes host the Tampa Bay Lightning later in the day. 

    Instead of a shootout --- which is certainly a dubious way to determine a playoff spot --- we’re doing math. We have Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to thank for that. He backed the change to the rule last August and while not many journalists like to pull out calculators, it’s certainly appears to be fairer way to determine who makes the playoffs. 

    "We felt this coming for the past three weeks," Tortorella said. 

    Here’s an interesting scenario: Hurricanes win in a shootout Friday and the Rangers beat the Devils in regulation or overtime Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes would only be two points behind Rangers come Saturday night, but they would need to win in regulation or overtime since the Rangers would have the edge with 35 regulation/overtime victories --- that first tiebreaker. 

    Knowing that fact, could we see 'Cances gaolie Cam Ward on the bench for an extra attacker in OT since a shootout victory would prove meaningless?

    While the ‘Canes and the Dallas Stars enter the weekend as the only teams outside of the top-8 in each conference, it does make for an interesting last few days of the regulation season. 

    Atlanta 3, NY Rangers 0
    Ottawa 3, Montreal 2 (OT)
    Dallas 4, Colorado 2
    Vancouver 5, Minnesota 0

    -- A.J. Perez

    Photo: Getty Images 
    Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:14 pm
    Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:38 pm

    Playoff Watch: Thrashers still have role in East

    WHO CAN CLINCH:  Three teams can clinch tonight without even being on the ice. The Nashville Predators can secure a playoff berth if the Dallas Stars lose to the Colorado Avalanche (regulation, overtime or a shootout). The Phoenix Coyoteswill clinch a playoff berth if Stars lose or if the Stars win in a shootout. The Anaheim Ducks are in if the Stars lose in regulation.

    ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Montreal, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

    GAME OF THE NIGHT: Atlanta Thrasher (33-34-12) at New York Rangers (43-32-5), 7 p.m. ET

    The Thrasher may have been eliminated a few days back, but they still have a major say who gets the final couple playoff spots in the East. Atlanta, which is on a two-game skid, faces the Rangers tonight and the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. The Thrashers have won two of the first three meetings. 

    This will be the first game for the Rangers since Ryan Callahan went down with a broken ankle suffered in Monday’s 5-3 victory over Boston. Defenseman Matt Gilroy will be moved to the wing to fill in for Callahan, the Rangers’ second-leading scorer. The Rangers enter with wins in back-to-back games 

    ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Colorado Avalanche (29-42-8) at Dallas Stars (40-28-11), 8:30 p.m. ET

    The Stars, who have won two in a row after a six-game slide, can pull to within three points of the idle Chicago Blackhawks with a victory. While the Avs have been at or near the basement much of the season, they have won the two previous meetings between these two clubs. The Stars also face the Avs on Friday. 

    GOLF WATCH:  No new teams can clinch tonight. Calgary, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Jersey, Minnesota Columbus, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

    -- A.J. Perez
    Photo: Getty Images
    Posted on: March 19, 2011 1:48 pm
    Edited on: March 19, 2011 1:51 pm

    Playoff Watch: Sabres can gain some separation

    WHO CAN CLINCH:  The idle Philadelphia Flyers will seize the first playoff berth in the East with a victory in Dallas tonight. 

    GAME OF THE NIGHT: Atlanta Thrashers (30-29-12) at Buffalo Sabres (34-28-8), 7 p.m. ET

    The Sabres have one game in hand against the Thrashers and the weakest strength of schedule over their remaining games among teams eighth through 12th in the East. It seems like the bottom couple teams in the East -- no matter who they’ve been -- have slowed down a times to let everybody else catch up. The Sabres did just that Tuesday, losing to a Carolina Hurricanes team that enters even with them with points (76).

    Buffalo is 2-0-1 heading into this fourth and final meeting between these two clubs. Defenseman Andrej Sekera enters on a tear, scoring 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) over the last 10 games. The Thrashers appeared to have to have solved their recent malaise, winning five of the last six games to become contenders again.  (The Thrashers enter in 10th place, four points behind the Sabres.) Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien have averaged a point a game against the Sabres this season. 

    ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Anaheim Ducks (38-27-5) at Los Angeles Kings (40-26-5), 10 p.m. ET 

    A victory by the Ducks against their SoCal rivals would put all five teams in the competitive Pacific Division back in playoff contention. Ray Emery earned his first NHL win in more than a year with a 30-save effort against St. Louis and could get the start in net again for the Ducks. The Kings will likely counter with Jonathan Quick, who has lost eight of this last 12 games.

    GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight to the Edmonton Oilers, the only team already mathematically eliminated.
    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:32 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:08 pm

    Bettman: NHL 'comfortable' with Chara decision

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday he backs the league's decision not to suspend Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara, even as many fans and sponsors were angered no punishment was meted out for the check that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty injured. 

    “Our hockey operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that has been made,” Bettman said in a briefing designed to promote the game of hockey on Capitol Hill. “I think it was a horrific injury. We are sorry it happened in our fast-paced, physical game. But I don't think whether or not supplemental discipline is imposed would change what happened. In fact, people in the game I've heard from almost to a person . . . believe it was handled appropriately by hockey operations.”

    Obviously, Bettman hasn't spoken to  Pacioretty, who suffered a fractured vertraba in his neck and a severe concussion after a check from Chrara Tuesday night sent him headfirst into a divider between the benches. (Here's a link to the video.)  He told TSN's Bob McKenzie that he thought Chara deserved at least a couple games for the check. 

    Just because the league failed to act, Chara may not be totally off the hook. 

    Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions said was recommending an investigation of the incident, according to French-language news outlet  Rue Frontenac. The investigation will begin immediately, Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe, told  The Montreal Gazette.

    The Canadian Press reports Quebec has pursued three criminal cases in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League players since 2008, most notably Atlanta Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier. The province has instituted strict laws in recent years in an attempt to curb hocky violence, which could come into play in Tuesday's incident.

    Here's a link to video Bettman at the panel discussion in Washington on Thursday via TSN.

    Photo: Getty Images

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