Well the season is almost over but only half of the teams have clinched so far. Gotta love that drama down the stretch. Only two divisions have been clinched and the other two races couldn’t be any tighter. In the Atlantic, Montreal and Tampa Bay have basically been leap frogging each other the whole second half of the season. I’m not sure if it would be better to play Detroit or Boston in the 1st round and you don’t even know which of those two you would play, if you did in fact win the division.

Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville could all win the Central division. Chicago and St. Louis play each other one more time to end the season but the Blues dd themselves a huge favor by beating the Blackhawks in regulation on Sunday. Nashville has turned itself around and has the regulation and overtime tiebreaker edge.

The Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins is the only game where the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference will play each other directly. The Penguins also play the Islanders the next game. Boston plays Washington but Washington has already clinched. Ironically, the last game of the season for the Bruins is against the Lightning, who they could open the playoffs against.

Out West, the Kings play the Canucks and Flames, which should make it interesting. The Flames have the Kings and Jets. So they both pretty much control their own fate. The Minnesota Wild get to play Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago, the three teams ahead of them, to finish out the season. Lucky them. On the other hand, they could greatly mess up those teams chances of winning the division.

Despite the lack of clinching only nine teams in each conference have a legitimate chance of getting in. Sadly, the hottest team down the stretch, the Ottawa Senators, might not make the dance. Either way, their will only be two really disappointed teams when the playoffs start on April 15th.

Things I like

1. Alex Ovechkin is probably having his best year ever. He’s actually playing defense and creating turnovers, he’s scoring lots of goals and he looks like he’s having a lot of fun doing it. He scored five goals in three games recently and he’s going to lead the NHL, for the third consecutive year, in goals. He’s scored almost half of his goals on the powerplay where he is an absolute menace. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in the playoffs.

2. Speaking of drama, there are five players with a realistic shot to win the Art Ross trophy. They are Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Jamie Benn and Jakub Voracek. There’s usually never that many who have a chance to win this close to the end of the season. There’s also usually not players on non-playoff teams this high either. Of course had Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin not have missed any games, it would probably just be between the two of them. Sadly, Seguin missed too many games because of an injury. There’s always next year.

Things I don’t

1. What’s that sound? It’s the sound of a penguin tumbling faster than an avalanche. Thins look very bleak in Pittsburgh right now. Just two months ago you had the Penguins battling the Islanders for the top of the division. Now you have the Penguins battling for a wild card spot. Yikes. The team lacks heart, motivation, the ability to grind and do anything you need in order to win. In other words that coaching change didn’t really solve anything. The “remake” of the roster also hasn’t really helped. The Penguins have lost nine of their last 12 games and just lost to the Flyers for the eighth time in a row. Quite honestly, I can very easily see the Penguins losing in the 1st round, if they even get in, which would mean the team went backwards from last season. Double yikes. The chances of the beating Montreal, Tampa Bay or New York in the first round is pretty slim. The game against the Senators in Ottawa this Tuesday will define their season.

2. Alex Burrows apparently never learns. Known as one of the dirtiest players in the game, Burrows was up to his old tricks again. When he took a shot at Paul Gaustad’s head and injured him. Burrows was ejected, as was Kevin Beiksa for taunting (classy), but Burrows did not receive a suspension. Why I have no idea. I thought the NHL wanted to cut down on hits to the head of unsuspecting players. Here you have a chance to make an example of a person who usually does these kind of hits and you don’t do anything. Way to go NHL. Although they did suspend Dustin Byfuglien for a pretty crass play of his stick to the back of J.T Miller’s neck.

Fights of the Week

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

Brandon Bollig vs Robert Bortuzzo

A decent short scrap after a boarding call. That’s right, only one fight made the cut.

Goat of the Week

Mike Green – Washington Capitals

In Overtime, Mike Green gets a little careless with his fancy no look centering pass and Kyle Turris takes it the length of the ice for the breakaway game winner.

Stat Line of the Week

4/03/15 St. Louis 7 vs Dallas 5

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

Bks

Hits

J. Schwartz

20:42

3

0

2

5

1

1

This was one of those fun games where both teams scored a lot of goals. See Numbers, Numbers below. Something the Dallas Stars seemed to be a part of a lot this season. Third year man Jaden Schwartz notched his second career hat trick, even though one was an empty net it still counts. The Blues were down one at the end of two, but scored the next three for the 7-5 win.

Numbers, Numbers

10 – Shots on goal by the Colorado Avalanche against the Los Angels Kings, yes that’s right 10 shots for the whole game
50 – Shots on goal by the Boston Bruins against the Toronto Maple Leafs
3 – Teams with a chance to win the William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed, (Rangers, Blackhawks and Canadiens )
18 – Overtime/shootout loses for the Philadelphia Flyers, last in the NHL, yikes
4 – Overtime/shootout losses for the Columbus Blue Jackets, first in the NHL
3 – Goals in 23 seconds to start the 2nd period in the Blues vs Stars game

This Week in Hockey History

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

March 30, 1979 Guy Chouinard scored a goal to become the second player in Atlanta Flames history to get 100 points in a season. It came in a 5-3 win over the Kings, just two weeks after Bob MacMillan became the Flames’ first 100 point scorer.

March 31, 1973 Chicago’s Stan Mikita became the second player in franchise history (and the 9th in NHL history) to score 400 goals. The milestone came as the Black Hawks lost 4-2 at Detroit.

April 1, 1972 Los Angeles Kings played their first “April Fools Day” Game. Butch Goring recorded his first NHL hat trick and Gilles Marotte had a goal and three assists as the Kings beat the Oakland Seals 9-4 at the Forum.

April 2, 1939 Rookie Mel Hill scored after 48 minutes of overtime to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 playoff win over the Rangers in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. It was Hill’s third overtime goal in the Semi-Final series against New York, an NHL record.

April 3, 1988 John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 20 shots for his 6th career shutout in the Rangers’ 3-0 win over the Quebec Nordiques at MSG. Despite the win, the Rangers missed the playoffs when the Devils won later that night in Chicago.

April 4, 1973 Chicago’s Dick Redmond became just the second defenseman in modern NHL history to score a playoff hat trick. His three goals led the Black Hawks to a 7-1 playoff win over St. Louis, in Game One of the Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals.

April 5, 1970 Dave Balon scored his second career hat trick as the New York Rangers set a team record for most shots in a game, with 65 in a 9-5 win over Detroit at MSG.

Rankings

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

Top 5
1. Columbus
2. Boston
3. Washington
4. Ottawa
5. Minnesota

Bottom 5
30. Arizona
29. Toronto
28. Pittsburgh
27. Detroit
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.

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Well the season is almost over but only half of the teams have clinched so far. Gotta love that drama down the stretch. Only two divisions have been clinched and the other two races couldn't be any tighter. In the Atlantic, Montreal and Tampa Bay have basically been leap...