The NHL playoff push is our daily look back and ahead at the post-season picture as teams position themselves for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If the season ended today…
(A1) vs. (WC1)
(M1) vs. (WC2)
(A2) vs. (A3)
(M2) vs. (M3)
Note: The NHL changed the playoff format last season. Click here for full details.
Series we’d love to see: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins – The last time these two teams faced off in the regular season, the Lightning finally broke their 10-game losing streak against the Bruins. Have they cracked the code? We should get a better idea when the teams do battle in the regular season finale April 11.
What’d I miss? The Pittsburgh Penguins continued their downward spiral with a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The loss was costly for the Penguins, who have dropped 10 of their past 13 games and at risk of falling out of the playoffs… Braden Holtby made 35 saves to earn the red-hot Washington Capitals an important 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings… The Capitals did end up clinching a playoff berth as a result of the Ottawa Senators’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Senators, currently sitting outside the playoffs with 93 points, are now no longer solely in control of their own post-season fate. They’ll need help from Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh, all of whom have 95 points, if they have any hopes of making it out of the regular season… Tomas Plekanec scored his 200th career goal, Devante Smith-Pelly netted his first goal with the franchise and Carey Price earned his league-leading 42nd win of the season as the Canadiens routed the Florida Panthers 4-1. Max Pacioretty left the game and did return when he hit his head hard on the boards after being checked.
Monday’s game to watch: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet. The red-hot Jackets head into New York on the heels of a hot streak to take on their former captain Rick Nash and the East-leading Rangers.
The rest of Monday’s sked: There are no other playoff-relevant games in the East conference on Monday.
Fun fact: With the win over the Florida Panthers, Carey Price earned himself a spot among Canadiens goaltending legends:
If the season ended today…
(P1) vs. (WC2)
(C1) vs. (WC1)
(C2) vs. (C3)
(P2) vs. (P3)
Series we’d love to see: St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild – Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been one of the league’s biggest surprises this season. We’d love to see him take on the Blues’ deep roster of scoring threats.
What’d I miss? The St. Louis Blues edged the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in a gritty matchup that might serve as a first-round playoff preview. The Blues’ victory means they’re now at the top of the Central division.
Monday’s game to watch: Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks – This huge Western matchup is a must-win for the defending Stanley Cup champions if they want to make it into the playoffs — especially with the Winnipeg Jets tied with them at 92 points.
The rest of Monday’s sked:
– Jets vs. Wild: The Jets passed their first test without Dustin Byfuglien in the lineup. Can they do it again? They’re going to have to if they want to edge their way back into a wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Wild need to turn things around after losing two in a row.
Fun fact: Blues winger Ryan Reaves actually pulled out his own tooth (!) on the bench after a hard hit knocked it loose. (Somebody’s already in playoff-mode.)