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Trending: Flyers-Pens, Selanne dominate headlines

Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 10:30 AM / NHL.Countdown

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Trending: Flyers-Pens, Selanne dominate headlines
Pens-Flyers rivalry, Teemu plea, Toews' return, Turris talk all trending.

The future of the Penguins-Flyers rivalry, a plea to a legend, the return of a star in Chicago, the evolution of one in Ottawa, a milestone within reach, and a pair of playoff chases are dominating headlines in the hockey world. So, naturally, they are Trending this Week right here on NHL.com:

#BattleOfPennsylvania

After all the theatrics toward the end of the game Sunday in Pittsburgh, it's almost impossible to think that the animosity between the Flyers and Penguins can grow. Ah, but it can, and people throughout the hockey world, especially in Pennsylvania, are drooling over the idea that it will percolate across what could be eight straight games between the rivals starting Saturday with the regular-season finale in Pittsburgh.

According to NBC Sports commentator Pierre McGuire, as the officials were returning the stray pieces of equipment to their rightful owners and the coaches were being helped off the dasher boards and down the tunnels to their respective dressing rooms, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said, "I can't wait until Saturday's game."

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It will be in Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. The NBC Sports Network will have the coverage. It will be a must-watch game on the final day of the regular season because as much as we know about the Keystone State rivalry, we don't yet know the answers to some key questions:

Will all the craziness late in the game Sunday have a carryover effect?

Will, as Sidney Crosby said, the Flyers continue to bring out the worst in the Penguins?

Will the goalies be able to block out all the noise?

And, most important, who will hold home-ice advantage for what coiuld be the most compelling of the eight first-round series. Pittsburgh holds the advantage now -- by the slimmest of margins -- but that advantage could -- and likely will -- be in play Saturday afternoon.

The answers will come soon and set the course for two weeks of non-stop coverage as the two teams battle up and down the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

This is going to be fun.

#OneMoreYear

The emotional and well-earned tribute Teemu Selanne received from the 17,266 at Honda Center with five minutes to go in the game Sunday against Edmonton should not be the last time he gets cheered as a player in that building -- or any NHL building.

Of course, Selanne alone will determine if that will serve as his send-off, but plenty of people in this game are hoping and crossing their fingers that the Finnish Flash is not yet ready to dash off into retirement.

The fact is Selanne is not done yet; far from the finish line actually.

He has 65 points in 79 games this season. He recently went surpassed the 1,400-point plateau. He still has good wheels and his incredible hockey sense. The Ducks still have a need for a guy like Selanne even though he'll turn 42 on July 3.

Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 39 | PTS: 65
SOG: 208 | +/-: 4
Yes, Selanne could call it quits now and start writing his Hockey Hall of Fame acceptance speech, but he has some good hockey left. He's not injury prone and remains a threat every time he jumps over the boards.

He can -- and should -- do it for one more year. Here's hoping he comes to the same conclusion.

#CaptainComeback

It looks like Chicago will be getting a welcome addition to its lineup at some point this week with captain Jonathan Toews cleared to take contact in practice. Toews, who has missed 20 straight games with a concussion, could play as soon as Thursday at Minnesota. Chicago finishes its regular-season schedule Saturday at Detroit.

Chicago has fared well without Toews, going 12-5-3 since he last played. But, these last two regular-season games could be huge because the Hawks still have a chance to get home-ice advantage in a first-round series against either Detroit or Nashville.

They want Toews on board for both remaining games. And, besides, it'll be good to get him into a few games before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

Toews has skated for the past two weeks, so he shouldn't take him too much longer to get into game-playing shape.

#TurrisTime

Of course it's not his style, but Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray should be patting himself on the back for the trade he made with Phoenix earlier this season to acquire Kyle Turris.

For now, at least, the trade looks like a steal for the Senators as Turris is starring in the NHL and David Rundblad, the prospect that went to the Coyotes, is still honing his craft in the American Hockey League.

Turris has 28 points in 46 games with the playoff-bound Senators. He's living up to all the hype he had as the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft.

More importantly, Turris showed Sunday that he's capable of playing a bigger role when required.

Kyle Turris
Kyle Turris
Center - OTT
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 28
SOG: 135 | +/-: 11
With Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson out of the lineup, Turris scored two goals and dished out two assists for his first four-point game in the NHL. The Senators won at Nassau Coliseum to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

Turris has three multi-point games in the past 11 days, and seven this season. He's clearly earned the trust of the coaching staff because he's playing center on the second line with Alfredsson and Nick Foligno.

If Ottawa is going to do any damage in the playoffs, Turris will have to play well. After a controversial start to his career, it's finally his time to make an imprint when it matters most.

#Chasing60

Steven Stamkos has three games to score two goals. It's really all that matters in what has otherwise been a dismal season in Tampa.

Stamkos is two away from 60 goals after scoring twice in the final 63 seconds Monday to lead Tampa Bay to a 4-2 win against Washington. The second goal was just his second empty-netter of the season.

If Stamkos scores two in the final three games, he will be the first player to reach 60 since Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08. Ovechkin is still the only player to score at least 60 since both Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux did it in 1995-96.

The schedule is favorable for Stamkos considering his opponents will be the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Jets. He has scored a combined five goals against those three teams this season.

Even if Stamkos doesn't reach 60, he should be one of the finalists for the Hart Trophy this season not just for the quantity of goals he's scored, but for the quality of his timing. He has 12 game-winners, including a NHL-record five overtime winners. Twenty of Stamkos' goals have given the Lightning the lead and nine have come when they were trailing by one. Only two of his goals are empty-netters.

#KingMe

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick
Goalie - LAK
RECORD: 35-21-11
GAA: 1.89 | SVP: 0.931
The earliest any of the four Pacific Division teams can clinch a playoff berth is Thursday, but the Kings inched closer to getting the job done and even clinching the Pacific Division title with their 2-0 win Monday against Edmonton.

Los Angeles extended its lead in the Pacific Division to two points on Phoenix. The Kings also own the tiebreaker on both Phoenix and San Jose. Dallas has the tiebreaker on all three, but is stuck in ninth place with 89 points.

The Kings victory Monday means they can scoreboard watch Tuesday with the comfort of knowing that they will still have the lead in the division regardless of what happens when Dallas plays San Jose and Phoenix plays Columbus. If the Sharks beat the Stars, the Kings will be able to clinch a playoff berth Thursday, when they start a home-and-home against San Jose at Staples Center.

The Kings have found their game under Darryl Sutter. They are 9-2-1 in their past 12 and have won seven of the last eight they've played at Staples Center.

Anze Kopitar extended his point-scoring streak to four games Monday with an assist. He has eight points during the streak. Jonathan Quick made 19 saves to blank the Oilers after getting a game off Saturday. Quick leads the NHL with 10 shutouts.

#NoYouTakeIt

The Capitals had an opportunity Monday to push the Sabres squarely up against the wall, into what could have been an elimination game Tuesday against Toronto. They blew it.

The Sabres now have an opportunity against the Maple Leafs to pull into a points tie with Washington heading into the final two games of the season for each. They better not blow it.

The battle for eighth place in the Eastern Conference is no doubt exciting, but only because it is between two flawed teams that look like they're trying to navigate through a minefield every time they play.

The Capitals fought back to regain control of their own playoff fate with shootout wins against Boston and Montreal, only to stumble Monday when presented with their best opportunity of the season to essentially crush the Sabres' playoff dreams.

Washington still controls its own playoff fate, but it basically lost any room for error with its 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

Buffalo stormed into the race by gaining 31 out of a possible 38 points from Feb. 19 through March 27, but back-to-back regulation losses to Pittsburgh and Toronto late last week put the Sabres back on the chopping block.

The loss to Pittsburgh is almost acceptable, especially if the Sabres went out the next night and beat Toronto.

They didn't, and that Toronto game will be the one that sticks with the Sabres if they don't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If they don't exact a measure of revenge Tuesday against the Leafs at First Niagara Center, they'll essentially have wasted the gift Stamkos and the Lightning gave them Monday.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares