After the surprisingly competitive game between the Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes, that nobody was supposed to want to win, the Coyotes ended up beating the Sabres in overtime. Which was very surprising as that win lessens the chances of the Coyotes getting a top two draft pick. Many people joked that both teams should pull their goalies and see what happens. While that could mean they are both clearly trying to lose, one could argue it would make for a fascinating game that has never been done before, unless you count the All-Star game.

Even though there’s already enough games upcoming with the excitable NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, I thought why not throw the four worst teams into a mini draft pick tournament for the first draft pick? There’s a few days between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason so this would be the perfect filler. The worst team plays the fourth worst team and the second and third worst teams play each other in the first round. The winners of both of those single games play each other in the draft pick final. The winner receives the first overall pick and the loser receives the second overall pick. This ensures no team will tank, as you can’t jettison all your top players, since you need to be somewhat decent to win this tournament. And after all, isn’t that way more exciting than a draft lottery?

Things I like

1. Surprisingly, the New York Rangers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot. At the beginning of the year I had that pegged as a wild card team. Egg on my face. I just didn’t think they were that good, despite making the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and thought it was mostly because of the great coaching job done by Alain Vigneault. Of course it helped them greatly that the Penguins and Islanders are struggling greatly down the stretch. They also have the inside track to the President’s Trophy, something nobody cares about. I still see them struggling offensively in the playoffs, though. And I’m sure it stung losing to the Kings at home, again.

2. This season, we had quite a few unsung goalies come from out of nowhere halfway through the season to immensely help their teams. Devan Dubnyk, Michael Hutchinson, Calvin Pickard and Andrew Hammond. Hammond and Dubnyk are both at the top on the NHL in SV% and are big reasons why their teams are in playoff contention. Pickard was injured and Hutchinson feel to earth a little bit but it’s always fun when undrafted goalies or perpetual journeyman come in and help turn their teams around. Dubnyk will definitely be going to the postseason and he will be tough to beat. It’s possible Hammond and Hutchinson will join him.

3. Only the Rangers in the Metropolitan and the Ducks in the Pacific are locks. To win their division The other divisions are wide open as are the seedings in all of them. There’s also competition for the final wildcard spots in each conference. Besides the Rangers and Ducks, only the Red Wings are locked. They are pretty much stuck in the 3rd spot in the Atlantic division. Everything else is basically a crapshoot. It’s interesting to see the Blackhawks slide back and forth into a wild card spot because of how hot the Wild have been. Boston and Ottawa and Los Angeles and Calgary for those final spots will be a lot of fun down the stretch.

Things I don’t

1. Two weeks ago I said that the Winnipeg Jets would be the odd team out in the Western conference but it looks increasingly more likely that it will be the Calgary Flames, which was my second guess. It’s just as well, as the Flames vastly overachieved this season. The San Jose Sharks, though, underachieved greatly. Which means the often delayed blowup is coming very soon. Never delay the inevitable folks.

2. Two of the hottest teams down the stretch are the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars. Two teams that figured to do more this season. Unfortunately, it’s too little too late as neither will make the playoffs. The Blue Jackets get a pass, as seemingly, half their roster was injured at one point or another. The Stars don’t get a pass, however. This stretch is something for both teams to build on for next season.

Fights of the Week

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

Cody McLeod vs Derek Dorsett

A somewhat decent scrap in a week of mediocre fights.

Shane Doan vs Steve Downie

Because Shane Doan doesn’t fight much, and this is retaliation for the Kris Letang hit, it gets a mention.

Goat of the Week

San Jose Sharks – Joe Thornton

Despite the Senators scoring two goals in the 3rd to take the lead, the Sharks still had a chance. But then a poor pass coupled with Joe Thornton falling down lead to a breakaway and the third goal in a row for the Senators. Just one of the many reasons the Sharks will have their playoff streak snapped.

Stat Line of the Week

3/27/15 Columbus 5 vs Chicago 2

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

Bks

Hits

C. Atkinson

15:34

3

0

3

6

2

1

Cam Atkinson is really hot as of late. You might be asking who is Cam Atkinson? He’s in his second full season as a player and he was drafted in the 6th round. He had his second career hat trick against the Blackhawks and he’s just one of the reasons the Blue Jackets have won six in a row. It’ll be interesting to see if he actually has a breakout season next season.

Numbers, Numbers

4 – Goals for Corey Perry in his last five games
4 – Goals by Cam Atkinson in his last two games
12 – Short handed goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, by far the worst
262 – Blocked shots by Kris Russell, 1st in the NHL, whose become a shot blocking machine in Calgary
0 – Shorthanded goals for the Florida Panthers, the only team without any
6- Goals by the Red Wings and Islanders in the first 10 minutes of their game on Sunday

This Week in Hockey History

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

March 23, 1954 Goaltender Jacques Plante recorded his second career playoff shutout as the Canadiens won 2-0 over the Bruins in Montreal, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals.

March 24, 1974 Ken Hodge scored his 100th point of the season, with an assist in the Bruins 6-3 win over the Canadiens in Boston. Hodge became just the third player in NHL history (after Esposito and Orr) to record more than one 100 point season.

March 25, 1943 Boston’s Harvey “Busher” Jackson scored the first overtime shorthanded goal in playoff history as the Bruins beat Montreal, 3-2 in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Jackson scored the winner at 3:20 of overtime.

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, 1988 Adam Oates had two goals and two assists as the Red Wings ended their 13-game road winless streak in Buffalo (0-9-4) with a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

March 28, 1987 Calgary Flames set a new team record by winning their 46th game of the season, 4-3 over the Los Angeles Kings.

March 29, 2004 Brendan Shanahan scored his 25th goal of the season for the 14th time in his career and added an assist as the Red Wings won 5-3 against the visiting Minnesota Wild.

Rankings

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

Top 5
1. Columbus
2. Dallas
3. NY Rangers
4. Ottawa
5. Minnesota

Bottom 5
30. Toronto
29. Buffalo
28. Arizona
27. Detroit
26. Philadelphia

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 currently plays goalie in ice hockey at San Diego Ice Arena.

http://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/sabres-vs-coyotes-1024x575.jpghttp://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/sabres-vs-coyotes-150x150.jpgAlex MuellerWeekly Recaps
After the surprisingly competitive game between the Buffalo Sabres and Phoenix Coyotes, that nobody was supposed to want to win, the Coyotes ended up beating the Sabres in overtime. Which was very surprising as that win lessens the chances of the Coyotes getting a top two draft pick. Many...