Friday, April 2, 2010

In the NHL: No one wants to make the East playoffs

Awesome night for playoff bubble teams in the East. (That's sarcasm.)

$60 million doesn't buy many goals
It's amazing that a team like Boston can spend, according to nhlnumbers.com, over $60 million (cap hit listed at $60.347; bonus cushion of 4.26) and yet not have anyone who can score a goal. I know the Marc Savard injury is negatively affecting goal production, but Boston has the fewest goals in the league. Yes, even Toronto and Edmonton have more.

Anyway. The Bruins launched 36 shots on Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen, plus another 32 shots that were blocked and 18 more that missed everyone (that's 86 total if you're scoring at home) and yet none made it into the net and the Panthers dented Boston's playoff hopes, 1-0. Keith Ballard scored for Florida.

Don't worry, we suck too
Boston's loss opened the door for a few other teams, but they politely closed it.

--Blake Comeau scored two of the Islanders' three first-period goals en route to a 6-4 victory over Philadelphia. Jon Sim added a goal and two helpers for New York. The Flyers remained in a three-way tie with Montreal and Boston at 82 points. The Islanders had lost 15 straight games to Philadelphia.

--Atlanta tested Semyon Varlamov only 20 times, with one squeaking past, but it wasn't enough in Washington's 2-1 victory over the Thrashers. The Capitals inched closer to clinching the Presidents' Trophy and Atlanta failed to create a four-way tie at 82 points.

--Ray Whitney made a silly play in choosing to take an icing, Ottawa scored the tying goal off the ensuing faceoff with 7.7 seconds left, and the Senators went on to defeat Carolina, 4-3 in a shootout. Jason Spezza had three assists and the shootout clincher and rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson scored twice, including the game-tying goal. The Hurricanes, given the three losses listed above, kinda-sorta were alive with a win, but losing mucks that up. Ottawa clinched a playoff spot.

Hey, when did these guys get good?
Fun fact: Toronto is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games and is 10-5-2 since the Olympic break. Those numbers are after the Maple Leafs foiled Buffalo's attempt to move further ahead of Pittsburgh in the East, 4-2. Nine different Leafs had points and they had four different goal scorers. No player had more than one for Toronto. The highlight was Garnet Exelby snapping a 154-game goalless drought for the Leafs.

Ladder sweepstakes
--Detroit briefly climbed into fifth place in the West behind a goal and assist each by Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom in a 3-2 victory over Columbus.
--Nashville regained fifth place a little later when Steve Sullivan broke a 2-2 tie in the third period of a 3-2 Predators win over St. Louis. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves and Patric Hornqvist posted three assists. Detroit has played two fewer games than Nashville but trails by just one point.

Red-light special
For the 12th time this season, Vancouver conceded five goals or more in an 8-3 walloping by Los Angeles, highlighted by Dustin Brown's hat trick. Bob Luongo was left in goal for all eight tallies by the Kings. Brown also had an assist for LA, who had five other goal scorers. The Kings are seven points ahead of Calgary and close to clinching a playoff spot.

The Canucks played without Daniel Sedin and much of the game without Alex Burrows, who took a hard slap shot right in the throat and skated immediately and quickly to the locker room. (Sorry, Wild fans, Burrows was talking after the game and seems OK.)

Stats of the night
29, 17, 3 - The Bruins have scored 29 goals in their last 17 home games, of which they've won only three.

Quote of the night
"The break came when Bradley knocked Chris Chelios off the puck in the right corner..."
Associated Press recap describing Matt Bradley's game-winning goal for the Caps. Atlanta, good job signing Chris Chelios. Seriously, why give him a freaking contract? I know when I'm trying to qualify for the playoffs, I want to have a 48-year-old defenseman who's normally a healthy scratch playing crunch-time minutes of a tie game. Um, rant over.

Most ridiculous piece of reporting of the night
From the AP recap in Nashville: After going 9-0-1 in one-goal games during March, Nashville is 1-0 in such games in April.

SERIOUSLY! Really, Nashville is 1-0 in one-goal games in April? You really needed to point that out? Because you know, we'll be reading that either the night of April 1 or the morning or afternoon of April 2. You really felt you had to say that? Did you think your readers would assume they played doubleheaders in hockey or something? I mean, really? Are they also 1-0 in games when Steve Sullivan scores at 6:05 of the third period on a breakaway against St. Louis? Moron.

This guy has a job and I don't. Fuck him.

(Um, second rant over.)

(Actually if you count the Boston bit above, it'd be the third rant. Regardless, I'm done ranting tonight.)

Notable games
Friday, April 2 (7 games)
Oo, fun night on the schedule.
-Chicago (47-22-7) at New Jersey (44-26-6), 7 p.m. ET. Best game of the night, but not the most intriguing.

-Montreal (37-32-8) at Philadelphia (38-33-6), 7 p.m. One team can harm the other's playoff hopes. Worst-case scenario for four other teams: Game goes to overtime. Second most intriguing game of the night.

-Calgary (39-29-9) at Colorado (41-28-7), 9:30 p.m. And here's the big one. The Avalanche are clinging to that eighth positioning with the Flames breathing right down their necks. Regardless of the result, Colorado will still be in eighth. The Avalanche have a game in hand on the Flames and more wins, it's just a question of can the Flames tie them in points.

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