Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:00 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: The Washington Capitals can clinch their fourth consecutive trip to the postseason a few different ways tonight. The Caps are in if they beat the Flyers, get an overtime or shootout loss combined with a Carolina Hurricanes loss (in regulation or otherwise) or if Carolina loses in regulation to the Ottawa Senators.
ALREADY IN: The Vancouver Canuck and Philadelphia Flyers.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Washington Capitals (42-21-10) at Philadelphia Flyers (44-19-8), 7:30 p.m. ET (Versus)
If memories haven’t already faded about that eight-game slide the Capitals had in December, a victory tonight might just do it. A win by Washington would pull them even in the points department with the Flyers atop the Eastern Conference. The Flyer will remain in first no matter what happens, however, since they have two games in hand on the Caps, which results in a better winning percentage. Here's a look at our playoff tracker.
The Caps will be without Alex Ovechkin, who the team announced Monday would be out seven to 10 days with an undisclosed injury. Arguably the Flyers most recognizable player, defenseman Chris Pronger, will also be out of the lineup as he recovers from an injury to his right hand that required surgery. The Flyers announced Tuesday that enforcer Jody Shelley would be out four weeks due to a fractured orbital bone suffered in practice. He will undergo surgery on Thursday.
There’s still plenty of players left to make one of the East’s better rivalries interesting to watch. The Flyers won two of the first three meetings this season and all went to at least overtime.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: New Jersey Devils (34-34-4) at Boston Bruins (39-22-10), 7 p.m. ET
The Devils are getting close to the point where they need to run the table to make the playoffs. Two teams and seven points stand between New Jersey and eighth-place Buffalo entering Tuesday night’s action. The Bruins won the first two meetings this season.
GOLF WATCH: The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers won't get any new company tonight.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 1:29 am
ARLINGTON, Va. --- Words like “nagging injury,” “aches and pains” and “maintenance” were tossed around the practice rink to explain why Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin' will miss seven to 10 days.
Then Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers was a playoff contest -- not just one of 82 regular season games -- if his captain would play.
“Probably not,” Boudreau told reporters on Monday.
The official word is that Ovechkin is sore. Not upper body. Not lower body. Just sore.
“He's had some nagging injuries for a while now,” Boudreau said. “We only have one game in six days, so we thought this would be the best time to get him completely healed up.”
Ovechkin collided knee-on-knee with Detroit's Darren Helm last week and Ovechkin is also thought to have some sort of hand injury, but Boudreau refused to go into specifics.
“He hasn't practiced with the team in a while,” Boudreau said. “He wants to feel better. He doesn't like waking up every moning and feeling like he's got to go through an hour of (treatment) to get ready for practice. He wants to play. The playoffs are important to him.”
Ovechkin has been a fairly sturdy player through the first six years of his career, including the last couple seasons where he's missed about as many games due to suspension and injury.
But injury is just theory for his lack of production this season. Even before it was announced he'd be out of the lineup, Ovechkin was already on pace for career lows in goals. He has 29 goals and 48 assists this season, although he has seen a spurt in production of late.
“I don't know what's wrong with him,” linemate Mike Knuble said. “Like anybody else, he's banged up a little bit. You never know the severity of it. . . . It's nothing season-ending by any means.”
The Caps were already without forwards Eric Fehr (shoulder) and Jason Arnott (undisclosed injury) along with defenseman Mike Green (concussion). Boudreau said Fehr is questionable for Tuesday. Arnott skated on his own before practice began and Boudreau said “he felt good,” but gave no indication when ether Arnott or Green would return.
Washington just got center Nicklas Backstrom back Friday from a thumb injury that kept him out five games.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:30 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: The Vancouver Canucks will become the first team to clinch a playoff berth (via securing the Northwest Division title) by earning at least one point tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Toronto Maple Leafs (30-30-10) at the Carolina Hurricanes (32-28-10), 7 pm ET.
The Maple Leafs could all but call off their bid to return to the postseason for the first time in since before the lockout with a loss tonight. Losers of four of their last five entering tonight’s contest at RBC Center, Toronto would slip to 12th in the Eastern Conference and fall to six points back of eighth-place Buffalo if they don't manage to secure at least a point.
The Hurricanes are coming off 1-0 victory over the Sabres, Carolina’s first road win in a month, and could pull even with Buffalo (76 points) with a victory. (Buffalo would remain in eighth since it has a game in hand, thus a better winning percentage.) Cam Ward made 44 saves against the Sabres on Tuesday as he made Brandon Sutter’s goal late in the first period hold up.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Washington Capitals (41-20-10) at Detroit Red Wings (41-20-8), 7:30 pm, Versus.
There are only four games on the schedule tonight, but Versus will broadcast what should be a high-powered contest against two of the best teams in NHL. The Caps enter on a nine-game winning streak and we’ll get to see two Russian buddies, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, go head to head.
GOLF WATCH: Edmonton Oilers have been mathematically eliminated.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:11 pm
Count Max Pacioretty among those in and around Montreal miffed that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara escaped a fine or suspension on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward told TSN’s Bob McKenzie exactly what he thought about the league’s decision:
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told me. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.
Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior V.P of hockey operations, said in a statement Wednesday the league could “find no basis to impose supplemental discipline” against Chara. All Chara received for his check on Pacioretty that caused a severe concussion and a fracture bone in Pacioretty was a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct on Tuesday. Here's a link to the video of the hit.
"I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."
The outrage was hardly limited to a patient room at Montreal General Hospital. Several fans called Montreal police to express their outrage, according to The Canadian Press:
The calls demanding criminal charges began Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the NHL announced it would neither suspend nor fine Chara for a brutal hit on the Habs' Max Pacioretty.
News of the inundation of emergency calls, also picked up by independent Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, is hardly surprising. Habs faithful took to Twitter to urge fans to “unfollow” the NHL’s official Twitter feed and cancel their Center Ice subscriptions. Canadian Sports Minister Gary Lunn urged the NHL needs to take such hits more seriously. Even Air Canada, a major corporate partner of the NHL, is threatening to withdraw its sponsorship dollars.
While there is precedence for it, there’s unlikely to be a criminal complaint filed against Chara -- especially if Pacioretty doesn’t pursue charges.
OVI BACK ON TRACK: He has points in six consecutive games. He finally scored his first power play goal at home this season. He seems to be his old jovial self on the bench.
Is Washington Capitals superstar forward Alex Ovechkin finally back on his game?
Ovechkin scored twice in the Caps' 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center Wednesday night. Sure, the Oilers have the worst record in the league, but Ovechkin has played a role as Washington matched a season-best six game win streak.
“I can’t remember (the team) scoring five goals in a game (recently),” said Ovechkin, who has three goals and seven assists over the last six games. “It was a good night for us and a good night for the fans too.”
Ovechkin has 27 goals, so it's not out of the realm for him to reach 40 goals. It'd still be a career low, although he'd have some momentum heading into playoffs.
St. Louis 4, Columbus 3 (OT)
Washington 5, Edmonton 0
Atlanta 3, Carolina 2 (OT)
Tampa Bay 4, Chicago 3 (SO)
Los Angeles 2, Detroit 1
Calgary 4, Dallas 3 (SO)
Anaheim 5, NY Rangers 2
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:22 am
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Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:14 am