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Home / NHL / Around the Rink: The Match-ups are (almost) Set…It’s Time for War

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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.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins: With their 5-3 loss to the Penguins last night, the Bruins have officially secured their top spot in the Northeastern Division. If they weren’t the top team in the Northeast, the Bruins would tied with NJ for sixth in the East rather than their current position at second.

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres have become the East’s dark horse team, as they have scratched and clawed their way back into the playoff picture with a come-from-behind win over the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. They still need to win out and hope Washington loses at least one game, but Buffalo is coming on strong at the right time…

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are playing spoilers as they assured that the Devils would remain in the sixth spot in the East with their 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. The Senators will remain the 7th or 8th seed.

Florida Panthers: Words cannot describe how devastating the Panthers loss to the Winnipeg Jets in overtime was last night. They blew a 3-0 lead to tie up the game 4-4 and force overtime. However, Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd scored the game winner in overtime to their Southeastern Division rival. The Panthers now need just one more point to clinch the top spot in the Southeast.

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens have fired their head coach, their general manager, and are now looking ahead towards the Draft. In what will be the worst season by Canadian teams in recent history, the Canadiens will look to rebound quickly next year.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils have caught fire, as they are on a three game winning streak, most recently their 3-1 win last night against the Islanders. However, center Jacob Josefson suffered a broken wrist, and will be out 4-6 weeks. Unfortunate for a guy who earlier in the season broke his clavical and missed the first few months of the season.

New York Islanders: Talk about crawling to the finish line. The Islanders are on a three game losing streak and are 5-5-0 in their last ten games to end out the season. Better luck next year, boys.

New York Rangers: The Rangers put on a clinic against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, and ended up winning 5-3 when all was said and done. They have clinched the top spot in the East, and will be watching the game closely to see who they will end up playing in the first round of the playoffs.

Ottawa Senators: A team that seems destined to play the Boston Bruins in the first round. Two Northeast Division rivals going at it in round 1? What else could a hockey fan ask for?

Philadelphia Flyers: Ilya Bryzgalov slipped back into his old ways as he let in 5 goals against the New York Rangers last night in Philadelphia. Their goaltending problem has been an issue all season. Man, does this team miss Pronger or what?

Pittsburgh Penguins: With the commotion that erupted between the Penguins and Flyers Monday night, it should be no surprise that everyone who says they are a hockey fan will be watching this potential playoff series like they watch a train wreck: They want to turn away, but they just can’t.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightening played spoiler to the Washington Capitals, as they defeated them in regulation not giving Washington an opportunity to run away with the eighth seed in the East. Stamkos also scored his league leading 57th and 58th goals of the season in the game.

Toronto Maple Leafs: A word that comes to mind when thinking of the Toronto Maple Leafs: Free-fall. The team is 2-3-5 in their last 10 games and are looking as if they’ve given up on the season. Perhaps they have! #FailForNailYakopov

Washington Capitals: With Buffalo’s win over the Maple Leafs last night, the Sabres are now tied with the Caps for the 8th and final playoff spot. This one will come down to the wire, and whichever team makes it will end up getting hammered by the New York Rangers in the first round. You read it here first.

Winnipeg Jets: Another spoiler team, they have been resilient all year, coming from behind to defeat the Florida Panthers in overtime last night. This team should be fired up next year and with the addition of some new players, they should be ready to make an immediate jump to the playoffs in 2012-2013.


Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks– The Anaheim faithful came out in droves on Saturday to see Teemu Selanne in what could have been his last home game as a Duck (a 2-1 loss to Edmonton). The fans chanted for “one more year!” from the 41-year old Finnish superstar, while giving him a standing ovation that delayed a faceoff. Check it out:

Calgary Flames– Calgary will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, and could be looking at a serious front office and roster overhaul this summer. Failure does not sit well in Canada, and Flames fans are getting impatient for the return of playoff hockey to western Alberta…..

Chicago Blackhawks– Captain Jonathan Toews, out since early March with a concussion, was recently cleared to return to practice, and may be back in the Blackhawks’ lineup for the start of the playoffs…

Colorado Avalanche– Semyon Varlamov’s first season in Colorado didn’t go quite as the Avalanche expected, seeing as they gave up a first round pick for his services. Still, he played well down the stretch, and at least gives Colorado some stability at a position they’ve been forced to play five different goalies at in the past two years….

Columbus Blue Jackets– Have the Blue Jackets found an answer to their goaltending woes? Allen York backstopped three straight victories before losing 2-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday. With five starts under his belt since making his debut this year, York has a 3-2-0 record, a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average, the latter two stats being the best on the Blue Jackets…

Dallas Stars– Atop the Pacific Division mere days ago, the Stars have lost three straight and are in dire peril of missing the playoffs for the third straight year. They need to win their final two games, and have either San Jose, Phoenix or Los Angeles lose their remaining two…

Detroit Red Wings– Nice try, Pavel Datsyuk:

Edmonton Oilers– Devan Dubnyk is quietly becoming the goaltender Edmonton envisioned when they drafted him in the first round back in 2004. He’s 10-5-1 in his last 16 starts, including two shutouts against Columbus and Philadelphia. If he continues to improve, Edmonton may have its new franchise goaltender…

Los Angeles Kings– Jonathan Quick is making one impressive push to win the Vezina Trophy. His save percentage (.931), goals against average (1.89), win (35) and shutout totals (10) are all top-five in the NHL, and the fact that the Kings have the second-lowest goals-scored total in the league and are still on pace to win the Pacific Division makes a strong case for Jonathan Quick being the most valuable goaltender in the league…

Minnesota Wild-The Wild pranked rookie forward Jason Zucker, right before his first NHL game, letting him skate out by himself as the team was about to take the ice against the Florida Panthers…

Nashville Predators– Nashville vaulted itself into fourth place in the Western Conference with a 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, as goaltender Pekka Rinne notched his league-leading 42nd win of the year…

Phoenix Coyotes– Goaltender Mike Smith currently hold a three-game shutout streak, keeping the Coyotes firmly in the top eight of the Western Conference as the season draws to a close.

San Jose Sharks– A mere week after finding themselves in ninth place, the Sharks have won three straight, including two over division rival Dallas, to put themselves into the last playoff seed in the West with two games to go and a three-point lead in the standings over Dallas.

Vancouver Canucks– Vancouver kept its hopes alive for a second straight President’s Trophy by beating Anaheim 5-4 yesterday. The Canucks need to either win both of their remaining games and have the New York Rangers lose at least one of their remaining games, or the Canucks need to win one more and have the Rangers lose out….

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