Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Will the real Los Angeles Kings please stand up? Are they the team running on fumes we saw Tuesday night in Edmonton, or are they the side with a championship heart that has one last flurry of swings in them?
The beauty of this time of year is that the answers will become crystal clear. The Kings are in Calgary tonight and must register a regulation victory to tie the Flames on points at 95, and then hope they can finish a point ahead of Calgary after the Flames head to Winnipeg and the defending champs host the San Jose Sharks.
Tonight's contest in Calgary will be revealing in many ways, with the champ on the ropes and the upstart Flames having a chance to book their ticket to the postseason, easily the most surprising development of the year if it comes true for Bob Hartley's men. And don't forget, they've been doing it without team MVP Mark Giordano since Feb. 26, going 11-5-3 without their capatin. Unreal.
Does the clock strike midnight tonight? We shall see.
read on for notes on the Bruins, Capitals, Jamie Benn/Sidney Crosby and the Canadiens from the ESPN hockey crew...
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
There is no remaining wiggle room for the reigning Stanley Cup titans. No more mulligans. No more Get Out of Jail Free cards.
There is nothing beyond this game. No White House visits. No parades. No champagne.
Just 60 minutes against a foe that is neither in fear nor awe.
One loss, either here or against the San Jose Sharks come Saturday, or two Flames’ points over Calgary’s final pair of games, and the Kings go from hockey aristocrats to afterthoughts.
They are, in reverse, a storyline every bit as compelling as the Flames.
from the CP at GlobalNews,
There is now a quick and straightforward path to the NHL playoffs for the Calgary Flames.
A win in regulation over the Los Angeles Kings in Calgary’s final home game of the season Thursday will put the Flames in the post-season for the first time since 2009.
Calgary’s 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes combined with the Kings’ 4-2 loss up the highway to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday gave Calgary 95 points in third place in the Pacific Division — two points up on the Kings.
The Flames can put insurmountable distance on the defending Stanley Cup champions with a victory in regulation Thursday.
“We’ve been trying to take care of business leading up to this game,” Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman said.
“We knew just the way everyone seems to be winning, we knew it would come down to this game as long as we won ours. And we have been. So here we go.”
from Kristina Rutherford of Sportsnet,
SN: Has anything about being an NHL player surprised you?
Gaudreau: The amount of free time I have. After practice, I have the whole day to figure out what I’m gonna do.
SN: Did you expect your rookie season to go so well?
Gaudreau: No, not at all. I’m really fortunate I got to make the team right out of camp. I’ve been playing with some really good players here who helped me my first season.
SN: Even you underestimated yourself?
Gaudreau: Yeah, I think so. You always gotta believe in yourself, but there’s that thought that you may not make it. I wanted to make sure it was in the back of my mind so I wouldn’t get too upset if I didn’t make the team right out of the gate.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Imagine the NHL’s Western Conference playoff race as a game of musical chairs, with nine teams competing for eight spots and one guaranteed to miss out when the music stops.
On Tuesday night, all four of the on-the-bubble contenders in the West were in action and when the smoke cleared, the best possible scenario unfolded for all of Canada’s Western-based teams.
Both the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets won their games – over the Arizona Coyotes and the St. Louis Blues respectively – meaning each team is just a single victory away from clinching a playoff spot, with two games remaining on their schedules.
Idle Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks nevertheless clinched a playoff spot when the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers avenged an 8-1 drubbing by the Kings four days earlier in Los Angeles and enhanced both Calgary’s and Winnipeg’s playoff chances with the victory.
The Flames hold a two-point lead over the Kings and can knock them out of the playoffs with a victory.
Barry Melrose says Kings and Jets, in, Flames out.
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The Flames finish out the regular season against the two clubs threatening to beat them out of a playoff berth -- the Los Angeles Kings at home on Thursday and the Winnipeg Jets on the road Saturday.
"I don't who made the schedule, but this guy has a flare for drama," Flames coach Bob Hartley said Monday following practice.
Calgary (43-29-7) is battling the Kings for third in the Pacific Division, as well as Winnipeg for the last wild card berth in the Western Conference. The Kings and Jets both had a game in hand on Calgary but both played Monday night.
The Flames are aware of the stakes in their last two games of the season, but there is also the matter of hosting the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
Teams out of the playoff race can impact those still in it. A 3-2 shootout decision to the also-ran Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday dealt a blow to the playoff prospects of the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference.
"The media is talking about the last two games, but we as a group, we're really focused on this (Arizona) game because we know they're a dangerous group," Flames defenceman Kris Russell said.
Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that they have recalled center Sam Bennett from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.
Bennett, a native Holland Landing, Ontario was the Flames first round pick (4th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 18-year-old played 11 regular season games for Kingston and amassed 24 points (11G, 13A) before recording three assists in the Frontenacs’ four playoff games.
from Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province,
There’s no other way to put it.
It would be insane for this to happen, but it could.
As first pointed out by the guys over at Jewels From the Crown, there’s a scenario where we find ourselves on the last day of the season and the Jets and Flames find themselves locked in battle, tied…only to stop trying with minutes to play and letting the game get to OT, because both teams earning loser points would mean the Kings get eliminated.
That’s quite the scene. Just imagine, in a season where negative play has become a much-discussed talking point, this would put a whole new twist on the concept of tanking.
Should he have received more for this?
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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