Pregame Skate: Red Wings go for home-ice advantage, Blues go for top spot
After a wild night on Tuesday, things slow down a bit on Wednesday with only two games on the schedule, and only one of them involves playoff teams as the Red Wings and Blues face off in St. Louis.
The Pregame 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.
7:30 ET, Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues : Tuesday night was a pretty crazy night around the NHL, the type of night that makes the end of the regular season and the postseason so much fun. Things slow down a bit on Wednesday with only two games on the schedule, and only one of them involves playoff teams. And even in that game we know both teams are in the playoffs, it's just a matter of where Detroit and St. Louis will finish.
For the Blues, they already have the central division locked up for the first time since the 1999-00 season and the only thing left to determine is whether or not they finish with the top spot in the Western Conference. The Presidents Trophy also remains very much within reach. They didn't get much help on either front on Tuesday as both the Rangers and Canucks were winners, and they now trail Vancouver by three points in the West, but St. Louis still has three games, including Wednesday's game, remaining.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are still in a fight for the fourth spot in the Western Conference, along with division rivals Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks , which would give them home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. They enter Wednesday's game one point behind the Predators and one point ahead of the Blackhawks. After Wednesday's game, their remaining two games are both at home, where they've been nearly unbeatable for most of the season, against New Jersey and Chicago.
7:30 ET, Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens : This game has nothing to do with the NHL playoff picture. Both teams are out of it, neither team has a chance to get back in it. But that doesn't mean there isn't at least something worth watching. Lightning forward Steven Stamkos enters the game with a league-leading 58 goals, 10 more than any other player in the league, and has a chance to become the first player since Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin during the 2007-08 season to score 60 goals.
If he does it this year, and honestly, even if he doesn't, this is one of the best goal-scoring seasons we've ever seen in the NHL when you consider how difficult it is to score goals in the league right now, and how many more he has than any other player in the league. Forget 60 goals, heck, forget 50 goals, there are only three other players in the league this season that have scored even 40 goals.
And Stamkos has a chance, a very real chance, to net 60. Incredible.
Your Promised Miscellany
- Tuesday's Winners and Losers -- Sabres comeback -- Smith stops 54
- The Boston Bruins not only lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, but defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered a knee injury. [CSNNE]
- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is dealing with a "stiff arm" after Tuesday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers . [ESPN New York]
- New Jersey Devils center Jacob Josefson will miss four-to-six weeks with a fractured left wrist suffered in Tuesday's win over the New York Islanders. [Bergen Record]
- And finally, a scary moment for Penguins center Joe Vitale as he gets hit in the face by a Zdeno Chara wrist shot.
Photo: Getty Images
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