Down the playoff stretch during the final month of the season there are a few teams to keep an eye on. Those teams are the Islanders, Capitals and Hurricanes in the East and the Oilers, Blues and Blue Jackets in the West.

Washington was left for dead a few weeks ago but Carolina and Winnipeg are not exactly tearing it up and with the Capitals sort of getting hot, they have a chance to get in again. Carolina has played the fewest games of the three so they have the advantage. The Jets have a lot more home than road games left which isn’t good for a sub .500 home team. All of those teams can also nab the 8th and final spot. Speaking of that final spot in the East the Rangers currently occupy it. I don’t see him them staying in it. They haven’t played great all season and now they are slumping. The Islanders are on the cusp of getting in for the first time in a long time. The great thing is that all of those teams play each other in the next few weeks so whoever wins those games will be in the driver seat.

Out West it comes down to the Oilers, Blues, Stars and Blue Jackets. I just don’t see the Stars contending, they have the worst record of the four in the last ten games and they are unloading their top guys in trades. The Blues look like they are just having a nightmare season after last years great season so I think they will be out. That leaves the Blue Jackets and the Oilers. The Oilers have a slight advantage as they have played two less games. The Oilers and the Blue Jackets don’t play each other the rest of the way and the Oilers don’t play anyone they are fighting the 8th spot for. Their schedule is their biggest disadvantage down the stretch. They have the Ducks three times and the Canucks twice and the Kings and Blackhawks once each, yikes

Things I like

1. These are some exciting times in Canada as it appears that all the Canadian teams in the Eastern Conference will make the playoffs. Winnipeg is the only team that might not make it, as their only shot is holding back Carolina to win the Southeast division. They currently are in the 1st place by four points but they have played three more games than the Hurricanes. In the West only Vancouver will make it. But five teams seems like a good start to try and end the 20 year Stanley Cup drought.

2. P.A. Parenteau is quietly having himself a decent season in Colorado for the last place Avalanche. Despite being drafted in 2001 he’s only played in two full seasons. Now on his fifth NHL team he’s built upon his last two his mildly successful seasons with the Islanders and is currently 16th in scoring. He has a career best shooting percentage and in a full season he’s on track for over 30 goals.

3. The Penguins now have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla. This harkens back to the Oilers teams back in the 80’s, something you almost never see in the current NHL. This will probably only last one year because with almost 20 million in cap space devoted to two players (Crosby, Malkin) next year the likelihood of keeping Iginla there next year is slim to none, unless he wants to take the Teemu Selanne paycut for Future Hall of Famers that are old but can still produce.

4. We had a group of dandy matchups again this past week. Toronto vs Carolina, Chicago vs Los Angeles and Chicago vs Anahiem. We also had a clash for the Southeast crown with Winnipeg and Carolina going at it. In the Toronto game you had Joffrey Lupul go coast to coast and score a pretty goal. In Chicago you had the Ducks get their third and final win over the Blackhawks. Their mastery of the Blackhawks can’t be understated because even though the Blackhawks have lost half their games recently they did just crush the Red Wings, so they are still a great team. Anaheim on the other hand lost four games in between Blackhawks wins and those game weren’t close. They did pick up a point with an overtime loss in Columbus but it will be interesting to see how both teams fare down the stretch. Some times those games get hyped up so much that all other games are not as big of a deal and you lose focus.

Things I don’t

1. Sidney Crosby, the most important player in the NHL, was wearing a visor but was hit in the mouth with a puck and is now out indefinitely. The NHL was thinking about making visors mandatory but they should just make helmet cages mandatory. It would eliminate pucks to the face and sticks to the face. Goalies didn’t start out wearing helmets at all and they quickly learned how dumb that was. The more protection the better, they can make the cages in a way to maximize visibility. Crosby is ten points ahead of Stamkos so unless he is out a significant amount of playing time, read more than 5 games, he should be able to win the scoring title.

2. The Jarome Iginla trade has now come and gone. The whole thing with Boston seems fishy though. I have no problem that Iginla had the final say because it’s in his contract. But if the Bruins thought they had a done deal Iginla clearly had to have sign off on that. To wait until the last minute to then say I want to play for the Penguins is kind of ridiculous. His reasoning was he wanted to play with Malkin and Crosby. Which is fine but it’s not like they just joined the team. He should have just said the Penguins to begin with.

3. When the Penguins traded for Iginla they gave up a 1st round pick in this years draft and two prospects. Nobody knows what Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski will bring but those two plus your 1st round pick is a lot to give up for one player. If the Penguins ended up winning the Stanley Cup or resigning him then the trade will probably be okay even if those other players become superstars. If they don’t win the cup or resign him you basically rented a player for the last quarter of the season and gave up three prospects for that privilege. Draft picks are not as revered in the NHL as they are in the NFL but I think they will soon be going that way.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Patrick Bordeleau vs Brian McGrattan

Great fight here with a lot of punches thrown. I would have liked to have seen it go longer.

Jared Boll vs Mike Brown

A good back and forth scrap between these two.

Marcus Foligno vs Keith Aulie

The 3rd best fight of the week. It looked like a short fight at first but the refs were too slow to break it up.

Goat of the Week

Tomas Vincour – Dallas Stars

I had never heard of him before writing this but with the score tied in the 3rd, after the Stars just regained possession in their own zone, Vincour makes a no look pass to the center of the ice which is intercepted by Kyle Clifford who feeds Brad Richardson for the goal. I haven’t really seen such a stupidly careless play in a long time.

Stat Line of the Week

03/30/13 Toronto 4 vs. Ottawa 0

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

N. Kadri

15:36

3

1

3

4

0

Although Taylor Hall had a hat trick as well, Nazem Kadri gets the nod for getting a natural hat trick and being involved in the only goals in a meaningful game. Nice to see the patience in Kadri has paid off for the Maple Leafs.

Numbers, Numbers

15 – The current Penguins winning streak
5 – Regulation losses in the last 10 games for the Blackhawks
0 – Regulation losses in the previous 23 games for the Blackhawks
0 – Number of shutouts for Henrik Lundqvist so far this season, yup still 0
983 – Shots against Ryan Miller almost 90 more than the next closest goalie who has also played two more games
16 – The shot advantage in which Anaheim outshot Columbus in the 3rd period (17-1) but lost in overtime anyway

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

March 25, 1980 Montreal’s Pierre Larouche became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals with two different NHL teams. He notched #50 for the Canadiens in an 8-4 win over Chicago, after previously scoring 53 goals for Pittsburgh in 1975-76.

March 26, 1940 Davey Kerr got his 7th career playoff shutout as the Rangers beat Boston 1-0 in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals, at MSG. Murray Patrick scored the only goal of the game, with a shot from the blue line in the final period.

March 27, 1984 Rick Middleton scored his 100th point of the season for the second time in his career, when he picked up a goal for the Bruins, in a 6-4 win against the Nordiques, in Quebec City. Middleton also had three assists in the game.

March 28, 2001 Minnesota Wild had their 39th straight sellout crowd (18,568 in a 2-0 loss to Phoexnis) to set an attendance record for a first year expansion team. They broke the mark of 705,389 set in 1999-2000 by the Atlanta Thrashers.

March 29, 1985 Edmonton’s Paul Coffey scored two goals and added four assists, as the Oilers lost 8-7 at Hartford. Ray Ferraro had his second career hat trick and added two assists for the Whalers, who extended their unbeaten streak to 9 straight games (7-0-2).

March 30, 1995 Ray Bourque picked up two assists in the first period as the Bruins won 3-2 over the Islanders, at Long Island. With the two assists, Bourque became just the second defenseman in NHL history to reach 900 career assists.

March 31, 2004 S.J. Sharks set a franchise record with their 10th win of the month, 3-0 over the Kings in Los Angeles. Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 9th shutout of the year (the 26th of his career) as the Sharks clinched their 2nd Pacific Division Championship.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. Pittsburgh
2. Minnesota
3. Montreal
4. Vancouver
5. Edmonton

Bottom 5
30. Colorado
29. Phoenix
28. NY Rangers
27. Carolina
26. Buffalo

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

Alex MuellerWeekly RecapsAnaheim Ducks,Ben Hanowski,Brian McGrattan,Carolina Hurricanes,Chicago Blackhawks,Columbus Blue Jackets,Dallas Stars,Edmonton Oilers,Evgeni Malkin,Jared Boll,Jarome Iginla,Keith Aulie,Kenneth Agostino,Marcus Foligno,Mike Brown,Nazem Kadri,New York Islanders,New York Rangers,P.A. Parenteau,Patrick Bordeleau,Pittsburgh Penguins,Sidney Crosby,St Louis Blues,Taylor Hall,Teemu Selanne,Tomas Vincour,Washington Capitals,Winnipeg Jets
Down the playoff stretch during the final month of the season there are a few teams to keep an eye on. Those teams are the Islanders, Capitals and Hurricanes in the East and the Oilers, Blues and Blue Jackets in the West. Washington was left for dead a few weeks...