Tag:Eastern Conference
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Playoff watch: Bruins, Habs set for another round


Boston Bruins (38-19-8) at Montreal Canadiens (36-23-7) 

Bell Centre, 7:30 pm ET

SEASON SERIES: Boston 1-2-1; Montreal 3-1-0  

IMPLICATIONS: A Boston win and a Flyers loss Tuesday would pull the top two teams in East even in the points department. (Flyers would still technically be in first since they'd still have more wins.) Montreal could pull within three points of the Northeast lead with a regulation win. 

BREAKDOWN: The Habs won the first three meetings, outscoring the Bruins 10-6 in those games. Then came their last meeting, a slugfest Boston won, 8-6, on Feb. 9. That contest included 45 penalties for a total of 182 minutes -- and two of the dozen fighting majors was the result of a goalie fight (above) between Montreal's Carey Price and Boston's Tim Thomas

“It was pretty crazy,” Boston forward Milan Lucic told CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty. “Especially that second period with eight goals scored, and four for each side. I remember watching the highlights later and hearing  (Bruins play-by-play announcer) Jack (Edwards), say ‘Mercy.’ It was fun to be in, and I know our fans talk about it and remember it.”

The same goalies in net for the last meeting are expected to get the call again tonight. Last game was long on penalties, but short on saves. 

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Boston LW  Milan Lucic vs. Montreal LW Michael Cammalleri.  Cammalleri took a “therapy day” on Monday, a day away from the rink that might have been needed since he has two points in the seven games since he returned from injury. The Bruins are nearly perfect, 21-1-0, when Lucic scores, something he did twice in the last meeting. 

KEY STAT: 710. The total number of meetings between these two Orginal Six clubs, second only to Detroit vs. Chicago (712).
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:31 am
Edited on: March 8, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Morning skate: Crosby's sister suffers concussion



Taylor Crosby, the sister of Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby, recently suffered the same injury that has kept her big brother sidelined for more than two months. 

The Toronto Star reports that 14-year-old Taylor, a goalie, was injured two weeks ago during a practice for her under-16 team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Minnesota. Taylor -- shown above with Sidney, mother, Trina, and father, Troy -- has since returned to the ice.

Dr. Charles Tator, a leading expert on brain injuries in Canada, said having multiple family members suffer concussions isn't uncommon, pointing to the Lindros brothers as one example. 

“I know several families that have all had concussions,” said Tator. “We do wonder whether some families have a special susceptibility to concussion. But there’s no proof for this.”

Twelve NHL players were listed as injured with concussions on Monday and three more with “head injuries” and one with “dizziness,” according to The Toronto Star. A Pittsburgh Penguins spokesperson told the newspaper there has been no change in Sidney Crosby’s status.

The topic of concussions will be a key issue discussed at next week's GM meetings in Florida, accordng to USA TODAY.

HOLTBY BAILS OUT CAPS: As Michal Neuvirth was forced out after a period when a piece of metal got lodged in his eye, Braden Holtby was put between the pipes for the Washington Caps on Monday. 

No pressure. Holtby -- who had gone nearly six weeks between NHL starts -- responded with a 21-save performance, not counting his three stops in the shootout as the Caps earned a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Washington Post's Katie Carrera reports that Holtby's saves just as he entered the game set the tone. 

"Right off the bat he comes in and there's a power play," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Holtby. "I think he has three great chances. [Simone] Gagne had a fabulous chance and when he saved that you knew he was going to be on.”


Boudreau said after the game that it took some time to get the small sliver of metal -- which flew into his eye on a shot by Tampa Bay forward Nate Thompson in the first minute of the game -- out of his eye, but added  Neuvirth would be fine. 

Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who has been playing through a broken thumb, fell on his injured hand and missed the third period. Like Neuvirth, Boudreau said Backstrom should be OK.

PHILLY DOESN'T HAVE IT EASY: The Philadelphia Flyers, losers of four in a row, seem to have the right team coming to town to end their slump. 

But maybe not. 

Sure, the Edmonton Oilers are a point away from being the worst team in the league. But they do enter Tueday's contest against the East's top team 7-3-1  7-3-0 in their last 10 games. 

The Flyers are still suffering through a bout of the flu that has ravaged the locker room. CSNPhilly.com' s Tim Panaccio reports the Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't using illness as an excuse, but it's not a bad explanation for Sunday's 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers.  

“If everyone is honest here and look at the [loss] as an isolated game, we had no gas,” Laviolette said during a conference call. “We had no energy. To bring them in again, the mental part of it and physical part, I just didn’t see any good it was going to do.”


The Oilers aren't exactly healthy either. Talor Hall, the first overall pick in last summer's draft, is out for the season with an injured ankle suffered in a fight last week and Ales Hemsky is out at least a few more days with a shoulder injury.

And then their GM was also nearly put in the injured reserve. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports that Steve Tambellini was hit in the head by a piece of Plexiglas as he stood near the bench during practice on Monday. 

He wasn’t cut, but he took a wallop to his noggin and definitely was shaken up.

“That’s the hardest I’ve been hit in a long while,” said the former NHL center.


MONDAY'S RESULTS
Washington 2, Tampa Bay 1 (SO)
St. Louis 5, Columbus Blue 4 (SO)
Dallas 4, Los Angeles 3 (OT)
CBSSports.com playoff race tracker 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 7, 2011 4:18 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Playoff watch: Diving Lightning take on Caps


Washington Capitals (36-20-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (37-21-7)

St. Pete Times Forum, 7 pm ET (Versus)

SEASON SERIES: Washington 3-1-1; Tampa Bay 2-3-0

IMPLICATIONS: Tampa Bay would move back into first with either a regulation win or OT/shootout victory over their division foes. The Lightning have the edge in the first tiebreaker, games played. There's a rundown of the full tie-breaking rules at the bottom of our playoff tracker

BREAKDOWN: These teams enter three-game streaks going in opposite directions. Tampa, which held sole possession of the division lead for more than two months, allowed Washington to take the Southeast lead with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday. 

This sixth and final meeting was expected to be spirited ---even before Caps coach Bruce Boudreau’s comments made the rounds on Monday. “(Steven) Stamkos, dives every two seconds,” Boudreau said in comment picked up by The Washington Post“You start to get a hatred on for guys like that. So, it will be interesting."

Gamesmanship for sure and Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher refused to respond, other than to say he had "more respect for the players to say their players or our players are divers." We’ll see how smart it was to go after Stamkos, who hasn’t had a point in four games. (He still enters with a league-leading 41 goals.) 

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Caps LW Alexander Semin vs. Lightning RW Stamkos (above). Stamkos is expected to play the wing opposite pf Martin St. Louis on a line centered by Dominic Moore, according to  Damian Cristodero of The St. Petersburg Times. Stamkos has only one goal over the previous 11 games, just as Semin -- the first Caps player with four hat tricks in a season since Peter Bondra (1995-96) -- has contributed more than just head-scratching penalties. Semin scored the game-winner in OT on Sunday and has 21 goals lifetime against Tampa Bay.

KEY STAT: 8-10. The Caps’ less-than-stellar record in games that go past regulation. 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 7, 2011 1:47 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:53 am
 

Morning skate: Don't four-get Pacific Division




The Pacific Division could be very well represented when the playoffs commence next month. 

Four teams would currently get berths if the playoffs started this morning: San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. Had the Anaheim Ducks not dropped a 3-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night, they would have booted the Kings out of the eighth seed. 

No other division has more than three teams in contention at the moment. Here’s a look again at our playoff tracker.

The Pacific has placed four teams in the playoffs twice since the current division system was established before the 1998-99 season. (The Northeast leads the way, placing four teams in on four occasions.) The Pacific has only had fewer than three teams in the playoff mix only three times and two Pacific teams skated with the Stanley Cup --- Dallas (1999) and Anaheim (2007) -- during that span.

How tough would it be for all five to make it in, something that hasn’t happened in the division era?

It would take a freefall by the Calgary Flames (3-2 winners Sunday over the Nashville Predators) or the Chicago Blackhawks -- two of the hottest teams in hockey. The fourth-place ‘Hawks are riding an eight-game winning streak and the fifth-place Flames are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.

Making the chances even more remote is the fact teams typically face only other division opponents in the closing weeks of the season, meaning it’s very difficult to make up ground in the conference standings without darkening a division foe’s chances.

Not that it enters into the equation this time of year. 

DEAL NOT SO SUITE: An opinion page columnist at The Washington Post called for Capitals and Wizards principal owner Ted Leonsis to take back the two luxury boxes at Verizon Center donated to the city by previous ownership. The suites were a gift to city hall after D.C. approved a $50 million upgrade to the arena in 2007 and the boxes that cost as much as $175,000 annually for everybody else are meant for “economic development purposes.” Colbert I. King wrote that it’s unclear whether the two free suites are actually being used in that manner.
So taxpayers don't know whether the luxury suites have been used only to promote the city or whether they have been used to reward campaign contributors and volunteers, to curry favor with special-interest groups, to entertain family members and friends, or for the officials' personal enjoyment.


COYOTES' LOSSES MOUNT: The Chicago investor seeking to take over the Phoenix Coyotes and Jobbing.com Arena told The Arizona Republic this weekend that the team has already lost $40 million this season --- $10 million more than a season ago. The NHL, which has run the team since its previous owner filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago, still expects to sell the team to Matthew Hulsizer without losing money, a price that currently sits at $210 million. 

The Coyotes, who enter action Monday sixth in the Western Conference, have shown signs of life financially, according to team president Mike Nealy.

Despite ownership uncertainty and the NHL tightening the team's front-office budget this season, the Coyotes made gains in ticket sales, ticket revenue and overall revenue per game, according to league statistics dated last month obtained by The Republic.
Nealy said at the end of the season, with lucrative sell-outs and a potential playoff run this spring, he expects losses to drop below last year.


The long-running ownership drama took another turn when ESPN.com reported that the City of Glendale is expected to file a lawsuit today against Goldwater Institute, a watchdog group opposed to a bond sale that would help finance the sale. 

Confused? TSN.ca has created its own Jets Meter.   

LINE CHANGES: Marian Gaborik, out the last two weeks with a concussion, returned to the lineup for the Rangers’ 7-0 rout of the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. In 14 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time, he had four shots and two penalty minutes.  . . . Jarome Iginla became the 10th NHL player to reach 30 goals in 10 consecutive season as he netted a second-period tally in the Calgary Flames’ victory over the Nashville Predators on Sunday.  . . . . For a complete look at Sunday’s action, click here

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 5, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Playoff watch: Chicago takes streak to Toronto



Chicago Blackhawks. (36-23-6) at Toronto Maple Leafs (29-27-9) 
Air Canada Centre, 7 pm ET


SEASON SERIES: First (and only) meeting

IMPLICATIONS: The Leafs can move within two points of idle Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Chicago, which was well out of the playoff picture six weeks ago, could move within five points of the Central Division lead with a victory and a Detroit Red Wings loss. 

BREAKDOWN: Both Original Six franchises are surging. The Blackhawks enter on a seven-game win streak, while the Leafs are unbeaten in regulation over the last nine games. The Blackhawks have won each of the last five contests against the Leafs. 

PLAYER Vs. PLAYER: Chicago's Marian Hossa vs. Toronto's Phil Kessel. Depending on how Leafs coach Ron Wilson matches lines with the last change, these right wingers could see each other a bit tonight. Kessel (above) has eight points over the last four games. Hossa, who has 36 points (14 goals and 22 assists) career against the Leafs, had his five-game goal streak snapped in Friday's victory over Carolina, but he still managed two assists. The 'Hawks are 20-4-2 this season when Hossa gets at least one point. 

KEY STAT: 9. That's how many consecutive one-goal games the Maple Leafs have played in, going 6-0-3 during this stretch.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Playoff watch: Rangers look to end slide



New York Rangers (33-29-4) at Ottawa Senators (22-33-9)
Scotiabank Place, 7:30 pm ET

SEASON SERIES: Rangers 1-1-0; Senators 1-1-0

IMPLICATIONS: A victory by the Rangers moves them up to seventh place in the  Eastern Conference. The Sens will only hurt their chances in the draft. Here's our playoff tracker.

BREAKDOWN: The Rangers have scored four goals during their current three-game skid, a slump that began right after New York posted a 6-0 victory over the Washington Capitals. (The Rangers are 1-11 on the power play during this stretch.) After Ottawa, New York faces three teams with legit shots at the playoffs (Philadelphia, Anaheim and San Jose), so it might be a good idea to halt the free fall against the worst team record-wise in the East. 

PLAYER Vs. PLAYER: Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist vs. Senators goalie Craig Anderson. Anderson, acquired from Colorado before the deadline, is 4-1-1 with a shutout, a 1.48 GAA and .958 save percentage in his career against the Rangers. Lundqvist has a losing record (9-11-0) against Ottawa. 

KEY STAT: 10-5-0. That’s the Rangers’ record in the second of back-to-back games this season, where they have outscored opponents 39-25. New York is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the Madison Square Garden on Thursday. 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 3:18 pm
 

Playoff watch: Sabres making their move



Buffalo Sabres (30-25-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (30-25-9)
RBC Center, 7 pm ET
Buffalo: 9th in East, 67 points (5-3-2 in last 10 games)
Carolina: 8th in East, 69 points (4-4-2 in last 10 games)
Season series: Buffalo def. Carolina, 3-2, in first meeting on Jan 13. 


BREAKDOWN: A Buffalo Sabres win puts them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, at least for one night. (Buffalo would get the edge in the standings since it has two games in hand. Click here for our rundown of the playoff chase, along with the league’s tiebreaking procedures.) Sabres goalie Ryan Miller probably hasn’t been this much on his game since he led Team USA to silver at the 2010 Winter Games. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in regulation over his last five starts, including Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Without him, the Sabres, who were in 12th place and 10 points out of playoff spot at the end of December, wouldn’t be here. 

Carolina has some room to advance up the standings as well. A victory and a Rangers loss would put them into seventh place. Cory Stillman has two goals and an assist in his return to the Carolina via trade with the Florida Panther on Feb. 24. Goalie Cam Ward is expected to make his 24th consecutive start. Jeff Skinner, one of the contenders for the Calder Trophy, hasn’t scored a goal over the last five games, although he still leads all rookies in points (47).
Posted on: March 3, 2011 1:42 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 2:08 am
 

Morning skate: Flames lose game, maybe Morrison



The Calgary Flames may have lost more than a crucial couple points when they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4, at the United Center on Wednesday. 

First-line center Brendan Morrison skated gingerly off the ice in the third period and did not return. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports that Flames coach Brent Sutter didn’t specify or how bad it might be. 

The victory by the Blackhawks -- their season-best sixth in a row -- moved the defendding Stanley Cup champs to fourth in the West.

Nine of the 10 teams in action Wednesday have at least a fathomable  shot at the postseason and the only one that didn't (the New York Islanders) played the role of spoilers. Here’s our playoff race tracker

GILLIES WASTES NO TIME: In his first game back from a nine-game suspension, New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies went a little more than a period before he repeated the offense. Gillies blindsided Minnesota Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck, whose head hit the glass after the collision. (Clutterbuck had just hit Islanders rookie Justin DiBenedetto, which drew a penalty as well.) Gillies was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Clutterbuck got back up and was in the lineup as the Wild fell, 4-1. Chris Botta of The New York Time’s Slap Shot blog gives a full rundown with video

PARISE ON THE MEND: New Jersey Devils winger Zach Parise was cleared to skate on Wednesday, three months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. “He can begin skating lightly immediately,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in a story on the team’s website. Parise has been out 51 games since hurting his knee Oct. 30. Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger reports that Parise would need a minimum of two more weeks of rehab before he can practice with the team, although there’s still a decent chance he could return by the end of the season. New Jersey edged the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, to keep the Devils’ slim playoffs hopes alive. 

LINE CHAGES: The Toronto Maple Leafs unlikely run for a playoff spot continued with a 3-2 OT victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mikhail Grabovski scored 42 seconds into the extra frame as the Leafs moved to within two points of the Carolina Hurricanes, who tenuously hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.  .  . . Bobby Ryan’s goal via penalty shot in overtime hoisted the Anaheim Ducks to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Ryan was hauled down by Detroit defenseman Ruslan Salei just as he reached the net, resulting in the ref pointing to center ice. Here a link to the video
Photo: Getty Images
 
 
 
 
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