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Canucks-Blackhawks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 08:19:25 PDT)
Having rebounded well from frustrating back-to-back defeats, the Chicago Blackhawks are focused on further improving their position in the Central Division. Seeking a third straight victory, the Blackhawks try to avoid being swept by a Vancouver Canucks club that's looking for a sixth consecutive road win Thursday night. Chicago (46-24-6) dropped to fourth in the Central and into the Western Conference wild-card lead after being outscored 9-3 in consecutive losses to Philadelphia and Columbus last week. "That's where we want to go." Though the Blackhawks are five points behind first-place Nashville with six games remaining - Chicago has two games in hand - a victory in this contest could move them ahead of the Blues, who host Calgary on Thursday.

Dose: 50 Again from Ovechkin (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 01 Apr 2015 01:23:00 PDT)
Wednesday's Hockey Dose discusses yet another impressive accomplishment by Alex Ovechkin, plus much more.

NHL Three Stars: Lucic comes up big for Bruins; Ovechkin goes 50 (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 22:17:42 PDT)
No. 1. Star: Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins In big games, your top players need to come up with the big plays. Lucic scored a goal and added an assist in a crucial 3-2 regulation win over Florida. The game-winner came with 1:09 left in the game. The victory essentially eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention, and kept the Bruins three points clear of Ottawa (who also won) for the final playoff spot. No. 2. Star: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals The Caps’ sniper picked up his 50th goal in a season for the sixth time in his career. He also added an assist for good measure in a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps’ plus-37 goal differential ranks third in the Eastern Conference. No. 3 Star: Nick Bonino, Vancouver Canucks Notched two assists in a big 5-4 shootout win over the Nashville Predators. Bonino also played 19:05 in the contest. The victory further cemented Vancouver’s playoff status – seven points clear of Los Angeles, which is the final team out of the postseason. Honorable Mention: Rangers forward Derik Brassard scored one goal and added one assist in a 3-2 win over Winnipeg … Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 32 of 34 Jets shots on goal … Winnipeg’s Jim Slater scored a goal … Vancouver forward Alex Burrows scored one goal and added an assist in the win over Nashville… Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis notched two assists and was a plus-3 against the Predators … Andrew ‘Hamburglar’ Hammond moved to 15-1-1  by stopping 16 of 17 Detroit shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout win over the Red Wings … Three of four Ottawa shooters scored in the shootout … Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist scored a goal … Toronto forward Nazem Kadri scored one goal and added one assist in a 3-1 win over Tampa … Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer stopped 40 of 41 shots on goal in the win … The Columbus Blue Jackets won their seventh straight in a 3-2 overtime victory over New Jersey … Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson scored the game winner in overtime … Devils forward Mike Cammalleri scored two goals … Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen notched two assists … Bruins forward David Pastrnak scored a goal and added an assist … Washington defenseman Mike Green scored one goal, added one assist and was a plus-3. Did You Know?: Hammond is the first NHL goaltender to get a point in his first nine road starts in a single season since Edmonton's Grant Fuhr in 1981-82.    Dishonorable Mention: Nashville’s Pekka Rinne stopped 21 of 25 Vancouver shots on goal in the shootout loss … Carolina’s Brett Bellemore was a minus-3 … Five Hurricanes players were a minus-2 or worse … Carolina’s Cam Ward allowed four goals on 20 Caps shots on goal … Florida’s Jussi Jokinen and Aleksander Barkov were each a minus-2. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Canucks get down and dirty in shootout win over Predators (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:56:48 PDT)
For at least a little while, it seemed like the Vancouver Canucks had changed their diving and ‘cheap shotting’ ways. This wasn’t the same type of group many despised, like the squad that lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 and the LA Kings Twitter feed trolled in 2012. But at least for one night, against the Nashville Predators in a 5-4 shootout win, the Canucks morphed back into that type of team in a few plays.  First, we take a look at Alex Burrows’ hit on Predators forward Paul Gaustad. (S/t Steph as always) i really don't know what happened. i think it's just shoulder contact, but holding his face for no reason is absurd pic.twitter.com/0WMdT1rWTS — Steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2015 He did say, after the game the play wasn’t intentional. It appears Burrows is skating up ice and Gaustad well … gets in the way. Whether Burrows acted appropriately after Gaustad impaired his skating line is another story.  Said Burrows to Rinkside Report: “I felt that we collided more than anything, but you never want to see someone go down,” Burrows said. “I’ve been on the wrong side sometimes and you never want to see someone be down. I hope he’s alright.” Burrows was ejected from the game, as is mandatory when an interference major is called. “My intentions weren’t to hurt him or anything,” Burrows said. Gaustad did leave the game and Burrows received an interference major and a game misconduct. Also ... Defenseman Kevin Bieksa went for a headshot on Viktor Stalberg in the first period and got two minutes for an illegal check to the head.  You also have this possible slew foot by Chris Higgins (S/t Steph again) slew foot? pic.twitter.com/ZWYPqs53OT — Steph (@myregularface) April 1, 2015 Bieksa also pulled this gesture later after the Burrows/Gaustad collision, per Rinkside Report. As Gaustad was down on the ice, Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa skated by him and yelled in his direction and was immediately given a game misconduct by referee Francois St. Laurent. Alas there are definitely more honorable paths to victory, but it was just one night. If only these two teams could face one another in the playoffs... - - - - - - - Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY  

Canucks win 2nd straight, beat Predators 5-4 in shootout (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:28:20 PDT)
Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata scored in the shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Predators 5-4 Tuesday night to avoid being swept by Nashville. The Canucks padded their lead to four points over Calgary for second place in the Pacific Division with their second win in two nights. Eddie Lack stopped all four Nashville shots in overtime, then turned away attempts by Mike Santorelli and Filip Forsberg in the shootout. Alexandre Burrows had a goal and an assist for Vancouver.

Blues seek to regain form heading into playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:45:18 PDT)
T.J. Oshie believes information overload preparing for the playoffs could be the reason for the St. Louis Blues' late-season skid. ''There's so much we're trying to pack in here,'' Oshie said after a lackluster 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. ''I'm not sure what it looks like from up top, but guys aren't really sticking with their gut and going with their first instinct.'' A team that's been among the best in the Western Conference all season got a day off Tuesday. They want a avoid a repeat of last spring, when they limped into the postseason on a six-game losing streak and were eliminated in the first round by the Blackhawks.

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Monitor late line trends (NHL)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 09:15:00 PDT)
Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

NHL Playoff Death Watch: LA Kings falling from throne? (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 31 Mar 2015 07:02:10 PDT)


NHL Three Stars: Lightning clinch playoff spot; Sabres don’t lose (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:45:12 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay Lightning   The winger scored two goals and added on assist in the Bolts’ 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens, despite the absence of his linemate Tyler Johnson. He played 13:57 and was a plus-3. The Bolts are now 5-0-0 vs. Montreal this season and clinched a playoff spot. No. 2 Star: Andrej Meszaros, Buffalo Sabres   The defenseman did the Tank no favors, as he scored two goals in the Sabres’ 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes in the race to the bottom. No. 3 Star: Richard Bachman, Edmonton Oilers The Edmonton backstop stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Oilers topped the Colorado Avalanche, 4-1. Brandon Davidson scored his first NHL goal in the win, and the Oilers scored two empty netters. Andrew Miller had three assists. Honorable Mention: Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist. … Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist and Eddie Lack made 23 saves in the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. … Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored 1:04 apart in the second period, helping the Chicago Blackhawks over the Los Angeles Kings, 4-1. Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist. … Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman all had a goal and an assist as the Calgary Flames topped the Dallas Stars in a thriller, 5-3. Tyler Seguin scored his 35th in the loss.  Did You Know? Ben Bishop had two penalty minutes and two assists along with 25 saves. Dishonorable Mention: Alec Martinez was a minus-3. … Johan Klingberg, Cody Eakin and Tyler Seguin were all minus-3. …  Kari Lehtonen was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals. He was quite bad. … Tyson Barrie was a minus-3, as was Matt Duchene. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Canucks-Predators Preview (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 21:06:56 PDT)
(AP) -- - The Nashville Predators have taken care of their first goal and are back in the playoffs for the first time in three years. With five games left, they have their sights set on much more, and those regular-season goals could require a win Tuesday night against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. "Certainly it was a goal to get back in the playoffs," coach Peter Laviolette said after a 5-2 loss to Calgary on Sunday. "It's a goal for us to continue to finish strong here and see what we can do here for the last five games of the year, and then ultimately we're going to get that chance ... It's been an exciting year to this point, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Next the Predators' to-do list includes winning their first division title after five second-place finishes.

Vrbata, Lack strong in Canucks' 4-1 win over Blues (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:46:22 PDT)
As usual, the Vancouver Canucks were strong on the road. The St. Louis Blues didn't put up much of a fight. Radim Vrbata had a goal and assist, and Eddie Lack made 23 saves as the Canucks opened a four-game trip with a 4-1 victory over the struggling Blues on Monday night. ''We rise to the occasion against those good teams,'' said Nick Bonino, who got the go-ahead goal in the second period.

'Shaw'ing the Way (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:15:00 PDT)
Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks is a perfect example of patience on the power play.

Fantasy All-Access: Blue Jackets' Atkinson heats up (NHL)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:05:00 PDT)
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen is the only NHL player with two point streaks of 10-plus games and has 29 points in those 23 games (1.26 points per game). He has 37 points in the other 52 games played this season (0.71 points per game). Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets (owned in 15 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Blue Jackets have scored 27 goals during a six-game win streak, which has made them a great place to find fantasy gems. One of those finds is Atkinson, who has five goals, four assists, 15 shots on goal and a plus-7 rating while playing over 16 minutes a game during the winning streak.

What We Learned: Should the NY Rangers actually scare anyone? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 30 Mar 2015 05:09:58 PDT)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) Henrik Lundqvist returned to the lineup on Saturday for the first time since Feb. 2, meaning he missed more than a month and a half. On Feb. 2, the Rangers earned their 62nd point of the season in just their 48th game, which is a pretty good rate (a pace for almost 106 points for the season) but only good enough for third in the division and a tie for seventh in the conference. Losing Lundqvist was supposed to have been a disaster of near-biblical proportions. Lundqvist is  perhaps the single most important player in the league in terms of what he brings to his team every night, in the form of reliably all-time-great goaltending; the last time he was south of .920 for the season, a rate touched only 134 times in league history, Barack Obama had been in office for three months. Thus, losing him for any length of time could have proved disastrous. A month and a half might have been a death sentence. And in previous years, maybe it would have been. But Alain Vigneault has done such a good job coaching, and Cam Talbot such a good job in Lundqvist's relief, that the Rangers instead racked up another 39 points in his absence, this time in just 25 games. It's a pace for about 128 points over 82 games. This is an impossible accomplishment. To go 18-4-3 without one of the four or five greatest goalies of all time, especially given how good the top of the East has been this season, is remarkable. The Rangers catapulted from the middle of the East to the top of the league without Henrik Lundqvist. Not even the most indefatigable optimist could have seen this coming. A lot of this, of course, is down to the play of Cam Talbot, who proved himself probably the best backup in the league during this stretch. I often find it difficult to determine whether a No. 2 goaltender is actually good; it's just so hard to judge. They only play once every few weeks in a lot of cases, and often against the teams that aren't very good, the ones for which coaches think to themselves that they could put just about anyone out there and still wring at least a point from the contest. Being a backup is challenging in its own way, sure, but for Talbot to do this over more than a six-week stretch was unforeseeable. Playing 33 games in a season is not something you often ask of your backups, and you never expect their performance to surpass that of the guy in front of you. And look, the guy was .941 in 21 appearances last season, so it's not like anyone thought he was bad, but that goes back to his competition: The Oilers twice, the Wild twice, the Islanders twice, the Leafs twice, etc. For the most part he wasn't drawing the difficult assignments. What he's had to deal with since the Lundqvist injury is a lot tougher; 13 of his 23 starts were against current playoff teams, and 12 were on the road. His .929 over that stretch (stopping 653 of 703) would be almost slam-dunk Vezina worthy if carried over an entire season. Looking at this chart of save percentage in all situations, it isn't too hard to guess when Talbot took over the job:

Klingberg scores in overtime as Stars topple Canucks 4-3 (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:32:56 PDT)
John Klingberg scored 4:13 into overtime as the Dallas Stars edged the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Saturday night. Jamie Benn, Patrick Eaves, and Tyler Seguin scored in regulation for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves. Eddie Lack stopped 36 shots for the Canucks, who got goals from Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins and Radim Vrbata.

NHL Three Stars: In which Tyler Bozak tallies a hat trick vs. Ottawa (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:10:22 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs   Oh, you know, just a Tyler Bozak four-point night against a team in desperate need of points on the playoff bubble. Bozak scored a third-period hat trick and had the primary helper on Eric Brewer’s overtime game-winner in the Leafs’ 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. No wonder Connor McDavid wants to be him! No. 2 Star: Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings The Red Wings goalie made things interesting between the pipes as Detroit pushes towards the playoffs, shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-0. He made 23 saves. No. 3 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins Crosby, who is totally having an off year, increased his hold on the Art Ross by scoring a goal and assisting on two others in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Honorable Mention: Filip Forsberg trolled the Washington Capitals with a goal and two assists as the Nashville Predators clinched a playoff spot with a 4-3 win. Troy Brouwer had two goals for the Caps. … Milan Lucic scored two first-period goals, one of them controversial, as the Boston Bruins earned a 4-2 win over Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. … Kyle Palmieri and Andrew Cogliano scored second-period goals as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the New York Islanders, 3-2. Frederik Andersen made 29 saves. … Melker Karlsson and Brent Burns had power-play goals in the San Jose Sharks’ 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Joe Pavelski scored goal No. 36. … Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers, clinching a playoff spot. … Aleksander Barkov scored two goals. … Rookie John Klingberg scored in OT to give the Dallas Stars a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks, who earned a charity point with a late Radim Vrbata goal. The Carolina Hurricanes topped the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, as Justin Faulk and Eric Staal had goals. … The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the St. Louis Blues, 4-2, thanks to a Boone Jenner second-period goal. … Nino Niederreiter scored two goals and Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves to improve to 35-11-3 on the season as the Minnesota Wild defeated the LA Kings, 4-1. … Matt Duchene had a goal and two assists and Jarome Iginla had three assists in the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Andrej Meszaros had two goals. Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk had three assists each. …    Did You Know? Iginla had three assists, giving him 1,222 NHL points to pass Jean Beliveau into 40th place all time. Dishonorable Mention: On the Bruin’s first goal, the rebound of a Patrice Bergeron shot went off Lucic's skate and past Lundqvist. No goal on the ice, good goal in video review. … Tuukka Rask left the Bruins’ game with dehydration 10 seconds into the second period. … Victor Hedman was a minus-3. … The Lightning lost defenseman Jason Garrison with an upper-body injury, and center Cedric Paquette was helped off the after sliding into the goal post. … Andy Greene was a minus-3. … Jonathan Quick was pulled at the start of the second period. … Kris Letang was taken to the hospital because “Shane Doan was running around like an idiot.”

NHL Playoff Death Watch: Which teams can clinch tonight? (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 28 Mar 2015 07:14:03 PDT)
Since we're down to the final moments of postseason life for teams in contention, Puck Daddy solemnly begins a daily countdown to annihilation. Huge night of action in the playoffs races on Saturday night, and there are a few teams that can end any uncertainty about their participation in the postseason. * The Canadiens would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Panthers in any fashion  OR if the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion  OR  if they get one point against the Panthers  AND  the Bruins defeat the Rangers in a shootout.   * The Ducks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Islanders in any fashion  OR  if they lose to the Islanders in overtime or a shootout.   * The Lightning would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Red Wings in any fashion OR  if they get one point against the Red Wings  AND  the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion  OR  if the Rangers defeat the Bruins in regulation.   * The Predators would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Capitals in any fashion. The St. Louis Blues can clinch with a win over the Blue Jackets. UPDATE: The NHL lists the Blues' magic number as two, but apparently it's three, as they can't clinch tonight.  Here are the current standings. The Death Watch tracks the final Wild Card spot and the teams that are chasing it. Their “tragic number” is the number of points gained by the final wild card team or lost by the team chasing it. All playoff percentages are from Sports Club Stats ; tragic numbers and other figures via the NHL. A team is eliminated from play-offs when their "Tragic Number" hits 0. Here’s the Eastern Conference picture:

Stars-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:07:50 PDT)
A strong second half has the Vancouver Canucks primed to rejoin the postseason, but the ultra-competitive Western Conference won't afford them any comfort the rest of the way. With a slight cushion in the playoff race, the Canucks face off Saturday night with the Dallas Stars, whose desperate late-season push suffered a near-fatal hit their last time out. Vancouver (43-27-4) has been one of the league's best teams since the All-Star break with 17 wins, tied for second-most in the Western Conference, but will still need a strong finish to stay ahead of playoff hopeful Calgary. The Canucks have as many points (90) as Winnipeg, which holds the second wild-card spot, but are second in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of Los Angeles and three in front of the Flames.

Penultimate Week (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:15:00 PDT)
The Maple Leafs top line of JVR, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel is minus-111 this season and minus-102 since January 1.

NHL Playoff Death Watch: East races intensify; Flames knocked outside bubble (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 27 Mar 2015 04:06:10 PDT)


Avalanche end 3-game skid, top Canucks 4-1 (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:41:46 PDT)
Reto Berra waited a long time for another chance to start in the NHL. Berra made 33 saves, and Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay each had a goal and an assist to lead the Colorado Avalanche past the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday night. Berra, who hadn't won in the NHL since Nov. 6 and hadn't started since Nov. 25, was rarely tested by the Canucks, who sit just two ahead of Los Angeles for second in the Pacific Division after the Kings defeated the New York Islanders earlier Thursday. ''I just wanted to prove to myself and the whole team and everybody,'' Berra said, ''that I can just play in this league.'' Jarome Iginla also scored and Ryan O'Reilly added two assists as Colorado snapped a three-game losing streak.

NHL Three Stars: Pavelec stops 39; Marleau leads Sharks over Red Wings (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:41:01 PDT)
No. 1 Star: Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets The Jets stayed in the playoff hunt with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Pavelec was excellent again, stopping 39 shots for his sixth straight victory. Mark Scheifele and Jim Slater each had a goal and an assist. The win puts Winnipeg three points up on the Calgary Flames for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.  No. 2 Star: Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks Three third period goals helped the Sharks upend the Detroit Red Wings 6-4. Marleau scored twice and assisted on another as San Jose won for the first time in three games. Chris Tierny had a pair of points and Antti Niemi made 30 stops. No. 3 Star: Reto Berra, Colorado Avalanche Colorado scored three goals in the opening 12:56 of the second period and coasted to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Reto Berra made 33 stops, while Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay each recorded two points. The win was Berra's first in a game he started since Nov. 25. Honorable Mention : Ryan Getzlaf’s goal 3:09 into overtime helped give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Frederik Andersen made 27 saves and Cam Fowler, back from being a healthy scratch, assisted on a pair of goals, including Getzlaf’s winner: David Krejci had a pair of assists for the Bruins in his first game back from a knee injury … Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his 21st goal of the season, breaking Nicklas Lidstrom’s record for goals in a season by a Swedish defenseman, and Sam Gagner put home the overtime winner as the Arizona Coyotes got by the Buffalo Sabres 4-3: Anze Kopitar slipped one by Jaroslav Halak with 4:23 left in the third period as the Los Angeles Kings edged the New York Islanders 3-2. Nick Shore scored his first career NHL goal to open the scoring for the Kings. Tyler Toffoli now leads the league in shorthanded goals with five. The third straight win helps move LA into a playoff spot in the Western Conference … Chris Kreider scored twice and Tanner Glass added his first of the the year as the New York Rangers chased Andrew Hammond and routed the Ottawa Senatos 5-1 to clinch a playoff spot.. Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Kevin Hayes and Dan Boyle all recorded two points. Cam Talbot stopped 22 shots for his 20th win ... Matt Niskanen put home the winner 1:13 into overtime as the Washington Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2: Pekka Rinne made 28 saves and earned his 40th win as the Nashville Predators edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 … Brandon Pirri tallied two more goals and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves as the Florida Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pirri now has 20 goals and 2 assists on the season .. Sam Carrick of the Maple Leafs scored his first career goal in the loss … Eric Staal led the Carolin Hurricanes with a goal and two assists as they dispatched the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. The goal was Staal’s 20th of the season, the ninth time he’s reached the mark in 11 seasons. Cam Ward made 27 stops, including this robbery on David Perron , while Brad Malone recorded a pair of helpers … John Tavares couldn’t get by Drew Doughty, so he stole his stick:  Did You Know?   Last #Caps player to score OT GWG vs NJ? Adam Oates. — Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) March 27, 2015 Dishonorable Mention: The Penguins and Islanders are 1-5-1 in their last seven games … Boston has lost six in a row, while Toronto has dropped seven straight …Jimmy Howard allowed three goals on 10 shots before being pulled. He also lost his starting gig for the time being, according to Mike Babcock … Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond allowed five goals on 22 shots and suffered his first loss in regulation … Tampa’s power play failed on all five opportunities … Richard Panik was given a 10-minute misconduct for chucking Pirri’s stick into the Air Canada Centre crowd: MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Fantasy top 30 goalies: No place like home for Mason (NHL)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 09:20:00 PDT)
Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top-30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

WHL Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Brandon aims to dethrone Oil Kings (Buzzing The Net)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 09:07:09 PDT)


Avalanche-Canucks Preview (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:46:25 PDT)
It was about this time last season that the Vancouver Canucks had won three straight with slim hopes to continue the surge into one of the final Western Conference playoff spots. The Colorado Avalanche ended the winning streak and the Canucks concluded the season with losses in six of eight, finishing well out of contention. They're again in position for a fourth straight win Thursday night against visiting Colorado, but this year the Canucks are much more in control of their fate. You want to get into the playoffs and finish as high as you can, I think home ice advantage is pretty important if you can get it, it's an added bonus." Radim Vrbata had two goals and an assist, giving him three goals and four assists in the last three games heading into a matchup with an Avalanche team that's kept him without a goal in 11 straight games.

Last-place-rooting Sabres fans have message to team: 'Lose!' (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:37:25 PDT)
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres are in last place. And many of their fans are openly rooting for the standings to stay that way.

Canadiens-Jets Preview (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:02:48 PDT)
The Montreal Canadiens are the first team to reach 100 points, though finishing on top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference are still far from certain. The Winnipeg Jets are just trying to hang onto the West's final wild-card spot. The Canadiens have taken 10 of the last 12 meetings and will clinch a playoff spot with another victory Thursday night in Winnipeg. Montreal (46-20-8) lost 3-2 in overtime at Nashville on Tuesday to reach 100 points for the second straight season.

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins' playoff hopes; college hockey awards; Calder race (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:28:47 PDT)
[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]  7. “Fans don't care about CapGeek.” Just make salary information publicly available, you dopes. Everyone wants it. 6. The Bruins Just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, the David Krejci-less Boston Bruins, losers of their last five and surrenderers of the final playoff spot in the East, announce that Dougie Hamilton is out “indefinitely.” In effect, that probably means “until next season,” because the Bruins without their Nos. 2 center and defenseman are dead in the water, and that's if Andrew Hammond starts playing to his career average starting tomorrow. Hell, even having one of them out for an extended is going to be cause for concern, and Krejci's not showing his hand as to whether he'll be good to go against Anaheim — just what any team fighting for a playoff spot having lost six straight needs: A game against the Ducks — on Thursday. You can say what you want about Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg, mainly that they're no Krejci, but the dropoff in quality overall isn't as stark as it is from Hamilton to, say, Dennis Seidenberg. The Bruins have blue line problems to begin with; center depth not so much. Adding in any sort of extensive injury to Hamilton, who in addition to being very good also has an extraordinarily high ceiling, and you're asking for trouble, especially at this late stage. The thing is that if the Bruins are going to trade back-and-forth shots with the Sens over the next two weeks, they at least have the talent level to go punch for punch and see where they're at when the season ends. Without Hamilton, it's a lot more difficult to see that being a possibility. Which means that we have to at least think about the reality that the Bruins' window is now effectively closed, because if they don't make the playoffs, big changes are coming. We've been talking for a while now about the possibility that either or both of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli could find themselves canned, and it wouldn't be a good idea. But it's what might (probably will?) happen. The Bruins are a team with flaws but which has a very good skeleton. Hamilton looks like he could be a No. 1 defenseman, they have an elite one-two punch down the middle, and one of the best goaltenders alive (i.e. in an “off year” his .921 save percentage is something most NHL goalies could only dream of). If they were run a little better maybe they're in the playoffs this year — not having all that dead cap money left over from last year probably killed them — but you once again have to look at everything that's happened this year through the lens of: “Chiarelli pushed all-in on last season, and lost with a pair of pocket aces.” They had to know this season could have turned out like this, but man the end is shaping up to be torturous. 5. College hockey awards I love college hockey more than anyone living or dead. I'm going to five games in three days this weekend, and I will probably see about 80 live before the season is over. I write about it for two outlets, and so on. And believe me when I tell you that nothing in the sport is dumber than the people who vote for awards. For instance, Jack Eichel should win the Hobey Baker this year in a runaway, because he has 66 points in 36 games and that's 1.83 points per game and no one else is north of 1.57. He's also doing this as the fourth-youngest player in the country. But the Hobey is awarded not to the best player in the country, but the great player who is also the nicest (seriously: “ Strength of character, on and off the ice ” is the No. 1 criteria, which is so dumb as to boggle the mind.) But this is really only done selectively; sometimes the nicest guy wins but mostly it's the best player. It's only when there's enough reason to complain about the best player — Eichel drank beer can you believe an 18-year-old would do such a thing!!!!! — that this is up for debate. If Eichel doesn't get caught on Snapchat or whatever, we're not having a discussion about Jimmy Vesey winning the Walter Brown award, because he doesn't win it. (The Walter Brown award is given to the best American-born college player in New England. Vesey had a great year but Eichel's was better by a significant margin.) The people who vote on these things didn't even give Johnny Gaudreau, who put up 80 points in 40 games, the Hobey unanimously last year . A guy who finished with fewer points on the year than Gaudreau had assists was in the final three because he is A Nice Boy. Eichel's going to fall into the same category. And it's not really decided that he's going to even win the Hobey. Which I can't believe I have to say, but I do believe that college hockey awards voters are that demonstrably dumb. And would it shock you to learn balloting for most of these awards is kept secret? Oh yeah, buddy. 4. Ilya Kovalchuk's return Wow, you mean the NHL might be able to lure Kovalchuk, who's not even really dominating the KHL to any great extent, back when he's just 34 years old? Where do I sign up?! 3. Weirdly valuable players You will never ever in your entire life hear someone refer to Chris Tanev as any kind of great defenseman. But Chris Tanev is kind of a great defenseman. He just re-upped with Vancouver for five years, with a cap hit of $4.45 million, which has to be the largest cap hit for a player most hardcore hockey fans couldn't pick out of a lineup. But here's the thing: Tanev has the best CF% on the Canucks, ahead of even Alex Edler, and he just recently turned 25. He doesn't pile up points, but if he'd hit the open market there would have been a feeding frenzy of smart teams. Among defensemen with more than 1,000 minutes at evens this season, Tanev's possession numbers are tied for 27th out of 92, putting him well into the class of “No.1 defenseman” even if the points per 60 is eighth from the bottom. Which is why Vancouver was able to get him so cheap. If those numbers were even somewhat near the league average for those 92 defensemen, some of whom are still on their entry-level deals, the cost would have gone up a lot. Locking down a defenseman of that quality, regardless of the lack of offense, for basically the entirety of his prime (that is: until he's almost 31) is almost certainly going to look like a smart bet. We generally find that high-corsi players can keep up that skill as they age, but not so much with the offense. And what's Tanev gonna do if his game is diminished four years from now? Score less? 2. The Calder race A month or two ago this probably didn't seem that interesting. “Filip Forsberg's getting his name on the trophy unless something horrible happens,” was the general discussion point around Calder voting. And something horrible happened: Forsberg stopped scoring. That opened the door for Johnny Gaudreau, who has 51 points in 61 games since October (about a 69-point pace), to state his case. And look, Gaudreau is basically one of three reasons the Flames are still alive at this point (the other two are Sean Monahan, who's having a brilliant sophomore season, and Jiri Hudler, who continues to dazzle as he did last season). So you have to ask yourself whether that should be enough. The fact that we're even having the conversation at this point shows how sharply Forsberg has dropped off, but what it doesn't mention is the fact that Aaron Ekblad is having an historically great rookie season. And that's beyond the very respectable 35 points he's compiled in his first 71 games. He's actually getting more difficult minutes than you might expect (but not as difficult as some make them out to be), and his CF% is north of 53. Add in the 21 points at evens — his 1.03 per 60 is tied for 34th in the NHL with Johnny Boychuk and only a shade behind Alex Goligoski, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Shea Weber — and you're talking about a guy who's a very legitimate candidate. But defensemen don't win awards that are typically won by forwards, so this is basically Gaudreau's to lose at this point. We're talking 0-fer down the stretch. Or, put another way, “pulling a Forsberg.” 1. Partnership Well done to the Canadiens . There's no reason on earth that the NHL shouldn't have a partnership with the CWHL, but if it's not going to, the local clubs really ought to pick up the slack. Boston, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal all have clubs (there's a fifth in Brampton) and the fact that the Boston Blades and Brampton Thunder don't have an NHL team supporting them is sad. Okay, fine, Brampton might need the Sabres to step up or something, but the Bruins not helping out is weak. Really ought to change, y'know? (Not ranked this week: Your team's “playoff push.” If you're like five or six points out with nine games to go, you're not making up the ground. It's not gonna happen. It just isn't. Sorry to the Stars and Sharks and Panthers but this is over for you. Start booking your summer getaways.) MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Timonen returns to Philly; Canucks' empty-net success; Berenson back at Michigan (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:15:01 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com . Skates on a plane!!! Sweden bound for The World Championships! #gocanada @AirCanada @pou29 @RJohnst6 @KTerr10 pic.twitter.com/sy6Tn37iMM — Natalie Spooner (@natspooner5) March 24, 2015 • That's one way to fight for extra leg room on a long flight. • Here’s a look at Team USA’s entry that looks to win gold again at the Women's World Championships this weekend. [ Hockey Wilderness ] • Kimmo Timonen returns to Philadelphia tonight, where Flyers fans will welcome him back warmly. [ Broadstreet Hockey ] • Meanwhile, Flyers owner Ed Snider firmly believes his team can compete for the Stanley Cup next season. [ Daily News ]  • Henrik Lundqvist will backup Cam Talbot on Thursday night when the Rangers visit Ottawa. [ NY Daily News ] • Claude Noel has parted ways with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants to pursue pro opportunities. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Brandon Pirri of the Florida Panthers has the season’s oddest stat line — 18 goals, 2 assists, 40 games played. He's in line for this season's Cy Young Award. [ Eye on Hockey ] • The Vancouver Canucks scored their 20th empty-net goal of the season, which might just be an NHL record. [ PiTB ] • The summer coaching carousel could be much more intriguing than what might happen in free agency. [ ESPN.com ] • The Eastern Conference has a number of contenders this season. Can they steal back the Stanley Cup from the West? [ Bleacher Repor t] • Red Berenson has announced he will return behind the University of Michigan bench for his 32nd season. [ Michigan Daily ] • Here's solid interview with Dave Gunnarsson, the goalie mask artists whose work has been featured here numerous times. [ Hockey by Design ] • Shockingly, Hockey Night in Canada has not been destroyed during a dismal season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. [ Yahoo ] • Shannon Szabados has been named SPHL player of the week after posting a 2-0-0 record, 1.00 GAA and .970 save-percentage. [ SPHL ] • Alex Ovechkin skated with 35 kids from the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club on Monday. [ Color of Hockey ] • The NHL Network picking up games is bad for selling the sport. [ Winging It In Motown ]  • No, your favorite college hockey team did not get screwed by the Pairwise. [ College Hockey News ] • Happy Greek Independence Day! Here’s the backtory of hockey in Greece, including a sweet, sweet national team jersey from 1992. [ Third String Goalie ] • Finally, if you missed it last night, Malektronic had their spaceman in attendance during the Bolts-Panthers contest: MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

OHL Eastern Conference playoff preview: Oshawa Generals, Niagara IceDogs coming in hot (Buzzing The Net)
(Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:15:00 PDT)


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