Posts Tagged ‘NHL playoff races’

Top Line: Is home ice a disadvantage?; trouble with P.K. Subban; more links

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David Backes and the St. Louis Blues

David Backes and the Blues might want to reconsider the value of chasing the Presidents’ Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

• A nice bit of outside-the-box thinking here from veteran reporter Dave Hodge who offers a fresh take on home ice advantage for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I wonder how many organizations, if given this option, would take it?

• Ted Bird says Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has every right to come down hard on P.K. Subban.

• Elliotte Friedman says Evander Kane is too valuable for the Winnipeg Jets to give up on but after the winger copped an attitude about his benching on Saturday night, it’s fair to ask if their bridge is worth repairing.

• Barry Petchesky says the failures of the Maple Leafs prove the genius of advanced stats. I still take issue with the unshakable faith placed by some people in proxy numbers like Corsi, but until the NHL decides to track actual possession time, we’re not going to hear the end of it.

• GM Steve Yzerman’s tenure in Tampa Bay has seen its share of problems — the Martin St. Louis situation and last season’s playoff DNQ come to mind — but there’s no denying that he has the Lightning on the right path. The four-year extension he was awarded on Monday is proof of their faith in his approach.

• What was Vancouver’s problem this year? Jason Botchford has John Tortorella’s answer in this outstanding edition of The Van Provies.

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  • Published On Apr 08, 2014
  • Games to watch: NHL 2014 season’s final week key matchups (April 7-13)

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    Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh Penguins and Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings

    Evgeni Malkin’s Penguins vs. Gustav Nyquist’s Red Wings on April 9 looks like a first round preview. (Duane Burleson/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    As of Monday morning, there were 55 games left on the NHL schedule, and almost as many questions to be answered as the regular season wraps up.

    There’s a Presidents’ Trophy to be won, with the Bruins, Blues and Ducks vying for home ice as long as they remain alive. There are five teams still in the hunt for the two wild-card spots in the East, and two battling for the final berth in the West.

    There’s a Pacific Division title up for grabs, and home ice to be won in the Atlantic, Central and Metropolitan Division’s first rounds.

    With so much at stake, it’s no surprise that 45 of the 55 games have playoff implications.

    We know you can’t watch ‘em all, so here are five that we deem to be can’t-miss.

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  • Published On Apr 07, 2014
  • NHL 2014 playoff bubble teams: Key Eastern games to watch this week

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    Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

    At stake: Detroit’s 22-year playoff streak and Toronto’s postseason hopes. (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    After the Maple Leafs stormed into Los Angeles and upended the Kings on March 13, projected Toronto as having an 89.7 percent chance of securing a spot in the playoffs.

    What a difference 10 days can make.

    A listless performance against New Jersey on Sundaty night led to Toronto’s fifth consecutive loss. As a result, the Leafs’ postseason chances have dwindled to just 34.5 percent today, forcing a team that was comfortably situated as an Atlantic Division qualifier just a few days ago into a battle for its life as the regular season winds down.

    Even after their stumble, the Leafs have 80 points, good enough for the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference … for now, anyway. It’s better to be in than out, but Toronto is vulnerable. The Leafs have played 73 games, one more than the Washington Capitals (31.8 percent), who trail them by one point, and two above Columbus (56.6 percent).

    It’s no surprise that these clubs find themselves battling each other for the scraps. All three are middle of the road teams, predestined for the murky fringes by their youth (Jackets) or uneven foundations (Caps and Leafs). Add in an injury-ravaged Red Wings team (68.9 percent) and an underperforming Rangers squad (95 percent) that is currently holding down the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and you have five clubs challenging for three spots in the East.

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  • Published On Mar 24, 2014
  • Breaking down the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race

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    The Rangers have some ground to make up, but an easy schedule could send them to the playoffs. (Bill Wippert/ Getty Images)

    The Rangers have ground to make up, but an easy schedule could send them to the playoffs. (Bill Wippert/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Herewith, the second of our looks at the final week of regular season action. Today, the Eastern Conference. Our Western Conference playoff breakdown is here.

    In the wake of Saturday’s action, five teams have officially clinched berths in the Eastern playoffs, leaving three spots up for grabs.

    The Islanders are in the catbird seat after a thrilling 5-4 shootout win in Winnipeg on Saturday. The Devils are drawing their last breath. That leaves the Sens, Rangers and Jets to battle it out for the final two spots.

    Here’s a look at how each of these teams closes out the season and how their chances stack up.

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  • Published On Apr 21, 2013
  • With Andrew Ladd leading the way, Jets remain in playoff hunt

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    Captain Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets

    With two Stanley Cups on resume, Andrew Ladd knows what it takes to win. (Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel offered an interesting take on leadership the other night.

    “It’s a funny thing,” he said. “Everyone has some portion of leadership in them. The question is, is anybody following you? They follow Andrew.”

    Andrew, of course, being Andrew Ladd, the wrecking ball on skates who has carried Noel’s Jets much of this season, but never more obviously than over this final, desperate charge for the playoffs.

    He’s set the tone down the stretch with his grim determination and timely scoring, willing Winnipeg to four straight wins that have moved the Jets into a virtual tie with the Rangers for the final playoff spot in the East.

    Ladd, a 6′-3″, 205-pound winger who plays much bigger than that, was at his beastly best in a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, scoring the opening goal, assisting on the second, and tallying the third before clinching the desperately needed extra point with a beauty in the shootout.

    “He really took charge and led the way,” said teammate Evander Kane. “He couldn’t have put it on display any better. [He's] showing the guys he’s here to win.”

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  • Published On Apr 18, 2013