AROUND THE RINK is a new weekly hockey segment on the NHL and all of its teams. Every Wednesday we go over what’s new with your favorite teams, your favorite players, as well as the crazy things going on within the National Hockey League.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins unleashed the cannons Tuesday night as they blew out the sinking Toronto Maple Leafs 8-0. Tim Thomas looked hot in goal for the B’s, but the question remains: Can Tim Thomas keep up his stellar play for the playoffs with backup goalie Marty Turco looking slow and not up to the task?
Buffalo Sabres: Despite the late season turn-around by a team that looked to be dead in the water, it’s becoming less and less likely that the Sabres will make the playoffs. They currently sit in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 points behind Washington. They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, and have gained serious respect back from most of it’s Eastern Conference opponents.
Carolina Hurricanes: After hearing it all night from the Winnipeg crowd, Eric Staal put up the tying goal and set up the game winner as the Hurricanes defeated the Jets 4-3. Maybe the Jets shouldn’t chant “Jordan’s Better!” anymore…
Florida Panthers: The Panthers pulled off a gutsy 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers last night at the Wells Fargo Center. Backup goaltender Scott Clemmenson looked stellar in net for the Cats, as they further secured their top spot in the Southeast Division.
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens are rounding out the Eastern Conference basement this week, going 4-3-3 in their last 10 games. They face the Buffalo Sabres tonight, who have been one of the hotter teams in the East the past couple of weeks. Things just can’t seem to get better for this team.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils looked destined for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. With the 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators last night at Scotiabank Place, the Devils moved five points ahead of the 7th place Senators, which is good news to anyone who wants the Devils to face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Playoffs.
New York Islanders: The Islanders have looked lost as of late, but gained some momentum back as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 last night in Toronto. They are 4-4-2 in their last 1o games, however, and will not make the playoffs yet again this season.
New York Rangers: The Rangers are officially slumping. Their once untouchable lead in the Eastern Conference has shrunk to one point, as they are trailed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers would drop to 4th place in the East, where they would face a dangerous Philadelphia Flyers team in the first round of the playoffs. I don’t think that’s what John Tortorella wants.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators couldn’t solve the Devils last night as they were defeated 1-0. Ben Bishop played a solid game in net, making 33 saves and standing tall for most of the game. He should be a solid contributor for the Sens come playoff time.
Philadelphia Flyers: Despite a decent performance by the Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers couldn’t manage to score as they were defeated by the Florida Panthers 2-1. Luckily for the Flyers, their schedule gets much easier as they face the Capitals, Canadiens, Lightening, Leafs, and Senators in their next 5 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pittsburgh Penguins are once again the number one team in the NHL, and here is just one example: Last night, the Penguins defeated the Winnipeg Jets at home 8-4. Sydney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal all together added 13 points in the game, including Neal with the hat-trick and an assist while Malkin scored 2 goals and 3 assists. That’s how you know.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightening have now lost three in a row, most recently to the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 7-3. Time for Steve Yzerman to pack up the season and start over again this summer. #FailforNailYakupov
Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafs fans made a classic move last night as their team lost 5-2 to the lowly New York Islanders, chanting “Fire Burke, Fire Burke” throughout the Air Canada Centre. Interestingly enough, the team chanted “Fire Wilson, Fire Wilson” just days before the ex-head coach was actually fired and replaced by now Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.
Washington Capitals: A recent surge has pushed the Caps into 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Here is to hoping that we see a Penguins/Capitals round 1 playoff match up, because honestly there I don’t think there is anything that the NHL would love more.
Winnipeg Jets: A couple of tough losses have pushed the Jets to 4 points out of a playoff spot. A similar position for a team that must be used to not making the playoffs at this point after a bunch of tough years in Atlanta.
Anaheim Ducks- How’s this for an interesting statistic: Ducks forward Corey Perry, the 2011 Hart and Rocket Richard Trophy winner, leads Anaheim in not only goals, but penalty minutes. Perry has racked up 106 penalty minutes this year, 38 more than the next closest Duck (George Parros with 68)…
Calgary Flames– Emergency call-up Sven Baertschi has been nothing short of Sven-sational since joining the Flames. He scored three goals in his first four games, and may remain with the team for the rest of the 2011-12 season as the Flames begin their push to clinch a playoff spot…
Chicago Blackhawks– Marian Hossa was the victim of a humorous prank during pre-game warm-ups on March 21st before the Blackhawks’ game against the Canucks:
Colorado Avalanche– Colorado has jumped into 7th place in the Western Conference on the strength of a two game winning streak. With seven games to go, the Avalanche are looking to clinch their first playoff berth in two years…
Columbus Blue Jackets– The Blue Jackets will likely have a strong presence from their front office at the OHL playoffs, as top prospect Nail Yakupov, the Blue Jackets’ likely pick at the top of the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft, will be back in the lineup after missing a few games with an injury for the Sarnia Sting’s upcoming postseason run…..
Dallas Stars– The Stars blew a two-goal lead against the Coyotes but held on to win 4-3 in a shootout for their first win in the past three games. The game wouldn’t have made it to a shootout without this ridiculous, acrobatic kick-save from Kari Lehtonen:
Detroit Red Wings– The Red Wings, who are currently in free-fall thanks to their depth being gutted by a rash of injuries, received a big boost when playmaking center Pavel Datsyuk returned to the lineup March 17th against the San Jose Sharks. Datsyuk scored this unreal goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks:
Edmonton Oilers– The Oilers put up one of their most impressive performances of the season against Nashville last Tuesday when they chased Predator goaltender Pekka Rinne en route to a 6-3 victory over one of the Western Conference’s top teams…
Los Angeles Kings–
Minnesota Wild– In a case of too little, too late, Wild captain Mikko Koivu will be returning to the Minnesota lineup after a month-long absence. Any playoff aspirations that existed for the Wild when Koivu last played have now disappeared….
Nashville Predators– Enigmatic forward Alexander Radulov is returning to Nashville after almost four years away from the team. Radulov, who skipped out on the final year of his rookie contract to play in his home country of Russia, will potentially add a dynamic scoring threat to a Predators team that is already a playoff contender. Radulov was the top scorer in the Kontinental Hockey League the past two years….
Phoenix Coyotes– Coyotes captain Shane Doan was suspended three games for elbowing Dallas forward Jamie Benn in the face during the ‘Yotes 4-3 shootout loss to the Stars. Doan is Phoenix’s third-leading scorer and emotional leader, and his loss at this critical time could be a damper on the Coyotes’ playoff hopes. Phoenix currently sits at the edge of the playoff picture at ninth in the Western Conference….
San Jose Sharks– Martin Havlat is finally healthy, and ready to make a big impact during the Sharks playoff push. He’s already netted four goals and has totaled six points in the four games since he returned to the Sharks’ lineup on March 15th, including a two-goal performance capped by the game-winner in overtime against the Red Wings on March 17th….
St. Louis Blues– Jaden Schwartz is quickly showing why he was considered one of the best players not in the NHL before this season. The 19-year-old forward has netted a goal in each of his first two NHL games…
Vancouver Canucks– All-Star forward Daniel Sedin will miss at least one game after suffering a head injury during the Canucks’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Blackhawks. Sedin suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, an incident that stirred up emotions on both teams, and provided a little fuel in an already potent rivalry….