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March 31, 2012

10:29 PM: OK...up to the minute info - the Islanders - see ya on the golf course...they lose 6-3 to Boston, and they are out...

Ottawa made life easier for themselves, with a 4-3 shootout win against Philadelphia - they are now four points clear of the outside...and they now have a game at hand against both Washington and Buffalo...who were both in action, and both needing to win...Toronto played spoiler - a rare 4-3 home win, but oddly enough, their record against the Northeast Division, especially Buffalo, has been unbelievable...Buffalo sits in 9th, 2 points out...Washington wins in Montreal, in a shootout, but giving up the extra point doesn't amount to a hill of beans - the Caps take sole possession of 8th...

Winnipeg loses in overtime to Tampa Bay...Steven Stamkos now has 56...if the Jets weren't completely out of it, they have no chance now...one point is just not going to work...

Calgary is down 1-0 to Vancouver...they're another team that could be out of it, if they aren't already...

Los Angeles-Minnesota is going to OT, tied 3-3...

New Jersey with a big 5-0 win in Raleigh, and the Devils clinch a spot...

Looks like the Kraft Hockeyville announcement may have leaked before it had a chance to be announced...Global BC this morning was reporting Stirling Ontario was the winner...Kraft is going ahead with the announcement on HNIC as planned...

 

March 30, 2012

10:48 PM: OK...somewhat of a busy Friday night...

They're getting down to the wire of the first round in the OHL...Ottawa 67s hosted the Belleville Bulls tonight in Game 5 of their series, deadlocked 2-2 coming into tonight...and it was all Ottawa, at least in the 3rd period...Shane Prince scored a hat trick (and scored one hell of a goal in the 2nd period - check the highlights...it hit the post, and then he managed to bat it out of the air, over the goalie's shoulder, and in...), and Sean Monahan had the GWG as the barber poles go up 3-2 in the best of 7...of note - the Bulls have two of P.K. Subban's brothers playing for them - Morgan Subban is their goalie, and Jordan Subban plays forward...tonight's game was actually Sportsnet's CHL game of the week (or "Friday Night Hockey" as they call it)...Jeff Marek made a suggestion that perhaps Toronto should draft Morgan, given their recent goalie woes - not sure if he was serious or not...

Series shifts to Belleville for Game 6...it's been a good one, with all of the home teams winning, and Games 1-4 all needing overtime to decide...

And just another OHL note - oh how the mighty have fallen...the Windsor Spitfires were swept by the London Knights...

NHL tonight - the Buffalo Sabres needed a win against Pittsburgh to put pressure on Washington...it didn't happen...Penguins won 5-3 on the strength of a four point night from Sid...Evgeni Malkin took a puck over the glass delay of game penalty late, but the Swords couldn't convert...they are probably thanking their lucky stars, however, that they still have Toronto twice more, including tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre...a place visiting teams have done extremely well since the All Star Break...

In 3 other games that mean anything - the L.A. Kings are up 3-1 against Edmonton, so far a shorthanded goal from Mike Richards is standing up as the potential GWG...

Colorado is all over Calgary 3-0...and Vancouver is up 1-0 on Dallas...

The NY Rangers are up to 107 points after a 4-1 win over Montreal...

Winnipeg won 4-3 over Carolina in OT, they were down 3-1 at one point...the Jets would need to run the table, and even if they did, no guarantees...four games left and they need to get at least 7 points...and that's going by up to the minute standings...yup...so close...yet so far away...

Milestone win for Barry Trotz, the only coach Nashville has ever known, his 500th win for the Preds tonight in a 4-1 win over Detroit...the Red Wings just don't look like they're going to do much, unless they're just saving up their energy...Detroit-Nashville first round?  Are you kidding me?!

I'm still reeling over the fact the San Jose Sharks could miss the playoffs...and looks like they just might...

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2:54 PM: Couple of notes from last night...San Jose sits outside the playoff picture today after falling 2-0 to Phoenix...same amount of points between the 2 teams, Dogs with one game at hand...

Lot of disappointed Calgary Flames fans yesterday after their team fell to the Los Angeles Kings, a game they had to have - won't they really be upset if Edmonton beats them tonight?...

Everybody that could have clinched playoff spots or division titles last night, didn't...Boston could have clinched, they lost in a shootout to Washington...St. Louis could have won their first Central Division title since a guy named Pronger played there...didn't happen, they lost to Chicago...

Now, even Ottawa is in danger of missing out if they're not careful...Washington and Buffalo could both get in...

Looks like it will be right down to the wire...again...I just found out I'm going to Ottawa's last home game next Thursday, against Boston...compliments of my employer...that'll be a good one...I absolutely love it in the box...Scotiabank Place should be electric with it being the last home game before the playoffs, and potentially a playoff spot on the line...

Can't beat this time of year...

 

March 29, 2012

8:28 PM: Just an odd, odd day today...we woke up to the news that Montreal finally woke up and smelled the coffee on general manager Pierre Gauthier...he, along with whatever title Bob Gainey held, have both been relieved of their duties...the Habs have brought in Serge Savard to hold down the fort, at least for the rest of this season, and perhaps even beyond...as many media types are saying, and I'll echo it here - this next move, whatever it may be, they have to get it right...too many names flying around to even speculate on who will take the Habs into their 20th season since they last won the Stanley Cup...most intriguing name I heard, suggested by Ron Maclean on HNIC Radio - Scotty Bowman?!?!?  Really?!?!  Certainly it would make sense, but as I said, too early to tell...

And, down the highway in Toronto, it gets even worse before it gets better...the Leafs wanted to give Jonas Gustavsson a couple more starts before the season ends, but that opportunity was squashed when he took a puck off the knee in warmup, and left the ice...rookie Jussi Rynnas, who was recalled earlier this week when James Reimer went down with an upper body injury (come on Toronto, you're not going to the playoffs, cut it out with this upper/lower body injury crap!!), is playing his first NHL game...and it's not going well...last I checked it was 4-1 for Philadelphia on the strength of 2 1st period goals by Brayden Schenn...

Scary moment in the 2nd period of the Islanders-Penguins game - Sidney Crosby took a puck in the face and went off for about 10 minutes for repairs...seemed none the worse for wear, but you could hear a collective gasp in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Colliseum from the Pens fans who showed up...a win for Pittsburgh, and the Islanders will be mathematically eliminated...and they're playing like they have their backs against the wall, it's 3-1 after 40 minutes, Al Montoya in goal for the fishsticks...next win for Pittsburgh's M.A. Fleury will tie him with Tom Barrasso for the franchise lead in wins, 2 more wins, and he'll be the franchise leader...didn't this guy just come into the league a few years ago?!!  Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure he's got to 225 wins way faster than Barrasso...

Look for Sheriff Shanahan to review a Jason Chimera boarding hit on Adam McQuaid in tonight's Boston-Washington game...Chimera got 5 and a game misconduct, but Boston failed to score...in fact that one is still scoreless after 40 minutes...Washington is tied with idle Buffalo for the 8th and final playoff spot...oh yeah, speaking of goalies leaving due to injury - Tomas Vokoun appeared to have tweaked a groin, and he has left that game, in favor of Michal Neuvirth...look out...

And let's all salute Winnipeg for a valiant effort in their first year removed from Atlanta...they made a good run, but will unfortunately fall a little short in their quest for a playoff round this year...but that team will only get better, and the fans will only get louder...especially when they finally decide on whatever realignment scheme they want...man, it's been sad this week, you could hear a pindrop in that building for the first time all season both on Monday against Ottawa and last night against the Rangers...

In the West, looking like Calgary isn't going to happen either...they are still mathematically alive, with 3 points to make up...they'll need a lot of help...2 games left against Vancouver...ouch!!!

St. Louis can wrap up the Central Division with a win against Chicago tonight...who saw that coming last summer!??  Blues can win the President's Trophy, even - it'll be between them and the NY Rangers, both with 105 points coming into tonight...way to go Alfred!! (Hitchcock...get it?!?...)

Panthers and Wild are scoreless after 1 period, and the Devils are up 4-3 on the Bolts after 2 periods...late game has San Jose up against Phoenix...Sharks have a 1 point lead over the Dogs for 8th, and are only 2 points up on Colorado...Anaheim is too far back to be a threat...if San Jose misses the playoffs, it'll be a long summer over in California's Bay Area...unless, of course, you're a San Francisco Giants' fan...

Still a good rush to the finish for the few teams still in the thick of it...big, big game tomorrow night between Pittsburgh and Buffalo...we're about 9 days left in the regular season...I'll be chiming in much more regularly now...playoffs start on April 11...can you believe we're already end of March!??!  I have to say, though - I love how the schedule hasn't been so lopsided this week...at least 6 games every night...instead of there being 1 game on Monday and 12 on Tuesday...this should be the norm, with Saturday being the big day, as always...

 

March 21, 2012

11:54 AM: So, just like it's been here in Ottawa the past few mornings, the playoff picture continues to look foggy...

I'm watching the tail end of this game last night between the Senators and New Jersey Devils, and with the Devils up 1-0, on the strength of Ilya Kovalchuk's 400th career NHL goal, a late 5 on 3 failed to give Ottawa any momentum whatsoever...Erik Karlsson had bad luck with his stick (apparently it was the 3rd one broken in the game), and the team just looked, flat...they couldn't complete a pass to save their lives...so maybe, just maybe, it's not in the cards, even if the Sens do squeak in...

Not looking good for Winnipeg after last night's 8-4 loss to Pittsburgh...Pens are just scary...period...the Jets still have a chance, but they have to win those divisional games, starting Friday against Washington...can you say "must win"?...9 games left for Washington, Buffalo, and Winnipeg...and a 4 point spread between them...Jets have to make up 4 points...like I said, it's not looking good, but not impossible, either...

Then I flip over to Edmonton-Nashville and see Ales Hemsky score a hat trick?  Or did he and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins just happen to put the wrong sweaters on?!  Where was that offense in December?!

Speaking of Nashville, we'll find out soon enough if the return of Alex Radulov will be a boost or a distraction...if you ask me, it's already a distraction...see that Tweet yesterday of him travelling to New York?  When asked by the media, it prompted coach Barry Trotz to act coy and say "Really?  Is he coming here?"

The race for 8th in the West is even less certain...two points separate 8th from 11th...Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Calgary...only one, or possibly two of them (if Colorado can't continue their winning ways) will make it...that is just odd...

 

March 7, 2012

10:11 PM: After a busy Tuesday which saw 24 teams in action, only 4 in action tonight...but some big games...

Toronto - what can anybody say?  Is it the lack of Ontario players on their team?!  ;)

Well whatever it is, they lost again tonight...3-2 against Pittsburgh, on Mario Lemieux Statue unveilling night...that just went final...

Buffalo continues to charge for that last spot - a win in OT against Carolina - they are 2 points back of Winnipeg again, and tied in points with Washington...only thing saving the Caps right now, a game at hand...

But staying with Pittsburgh - that Atlantic Division fight is far from over...they are now 6 points back of the division leading NY Rangers, and while the Rangers now have a game at hand, there are still two head to head games coming up - next Thursday at MSG (I'm sure Scottie Ferrall will be all charged up over that one), and again on April 5, just before the end of the season in Pittsburgh...with Sid now taking contact drills, and a return coming as soon as this Sunday, wow...look out...that April 5th game could decide the division...well, that, and perhaps the last game of the season, April 7th, against Philadelphia...still 3 more Penn State battles coming...2 more against New Jersey and 2 more against the Islanders...

So, the Atlantic Division, as always should come down to the very end...the Southeast Division will most likely come down to the very end...even the Northeast, to a certain extent...not sure if Ottawa can catch Boston, but it will be close...

BTW - anybody else see St. Louis take over 1st in the Central yesterday?  That one was kind of under the radar...what has happened to Chicago?!?

One last thing - speaking of the Rangers - seems the Sean Avery saga is coming to somewhat of a quiet close - the Rangers, according to ESPN, have informed Avery he will not be a part of the Connecticut Whale's playoff roster, and has been told he no longer needs to report to practice or games...this after he cleared waivers last week for about the umpteenth time this season...Avery has been a healthy scratch since Jan 27...well, I guess there's always the modelling career...no??  Or perhaps he could open up a sports bar in Penn Station...right beside K-Mart...at least he'd still be close to MSG...

 

March 5, 2012

10:33 PM: The usual light Monday night fare, but another absolutely huge game in Winnipeg between the Jets and Buffalo Sabres...in fact, it just went final...and the Jets hang on for a 3-1 win...we're talking about a four point game here...literally - Winnipeg started the night in 8th, just 2 clear of Buffalo...well now they're 4 clear of Buffalo...and 4 back of Ottawa...NY Rangers, Boston, Florida (not sure if they can catch Philly for 5th and draw Pittsburgh) - be afraid, very afraid...you think if Winnipeg makes it into 7th and plays Boston that Blake Wheeler won't be on a mission?  Andrew Ladd just won the Cup 2 years ago...and Chris Thorburn...how happy will he be to finally make it to the post season?  All three scored tonight...

I'll tell you what - I know he said so, but Grant Clitsome must be real happy to be out of Columbus...he was hitting everything that moved tonight...two in particular, Cody Hodgson to set the tone in the 1st, and Tyler Ennis, late in the game...

Needless to say, if they make it, they will be my Eastern Conference dark horse...no question about it...well, actually, it will be a toss up between them and Ottawa...Senators, however, they must still feel the sting from the Panthers' bite yesterday...must feel even better to know that Florida has 2 less points, but because they lead their division, they're in 3rd vs 7th for Ottawa...I know you want to reward division leaders, but there has to be a better way...you can still reward a team with home ice for winning their division, but the seeding should be by points, no matter what...imagine if winning your division didn't guarantee you a playoff spot?

Nothing guaranteed yet...the Jets' 8 game home stand is over, and aside from losses to Edmonton, St. Louis and Philadelphia, they have to feel pretty good about themselves...the only game on the homestand that they didn't pick up at least a point in was the Edmonton game - and that one they even led after 40 minutes...huge wins, however, against Boston, Buffalo and Florida...but they're all huge now...

The playoffs in the East are going to be a lot of fun if they make it...

Pittsburgh doubled up Phoenix 2-1, and Edmonton-Anaheim is scoreless in the 1st...better make that 1-0, Ducks...

Whatever you do...don't blink!!!

 

March 2, 2012

11:43 PM: Still reeling over a couple of things from yesterday - the Winnipeg Jets' 7-0 thumping of the Florida Panthers, and Devin Setoguchi's whiff in the shootout against Montreal...after scoring with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game 4-4 (Habs led 4-1 right up until there was about 4 minutes left in the 3rd!), he had the game on his stick, but tripped over the puck, or the hash marks, or something...

Tonight, the big news is out of Toronto - Ron Wilson, see you later, thanks for coming...Randy Carlisle...you're hired...Leafs have won only once in 11 games, dating back to just after the All Star break...(I believe that was the 5-0 shutout in Ottawa)...Brian Burke gets his man...again...

Speaking of Ottawa, a somewhat shaky Ray Emery invaded Scotiabank Place, and left with an exclamation point win...Chicago edged the Sens 2-1...not only did Emery get the win, Marian Hossa got the GWG (and, former Ottawa 67 Brian Bickell also scored for the Hawks)...

And a couple more lopsided games tonight - New Jersey were 5-0 better than Washington, and Detroit 6-0 better than Minnesota...Zach Parise turned the trick...as for the Capitals, so much for the Ovechkin 1 game streak...

So the Devils move into 6th, and push Ottawa into 7th...

As for Tampa Bay...they beat the NY Rangers in OT?  4-3...the Leafs are now down to 12th, Bolts are now in 10th...they had supposedly written off the season...not so fast...same story for Buffalo...Sabres and Lightning both are 3 shy of Washington, who can't seem to do anything right...

And, Calgary, if they're scoreboard watching tonight, will not be happy to learn the Dallas Stars are up 2-0 on Edmonton with about 8 minutes left...Flames are down 2-1 against Anaheim after 40 minutes...

 

March 1, 2012

5:49 PM: Just read with amazement Bob McKenzie's latest entry on TSN.CA - a source tells him there a group out of Saskatoon have expressed interest in an NHL franchise...

A lot of people don't remember this, and it's mentioned in the article - back in 1983, the St. Louis Blues came very close to being moved there, until the league intervened (sound familiar?!)...

Have to laugh out loud at one of the reader comments: "I express interest in Alyssa Milano, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen"...this person obviously doesn't know her...not that I do either...I always thought she was a hockey fan, but it turns out it's baseball (L.A. Dodgers)...

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