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Drive to the Playoffs

Stanley Cup Playoff Primer: April 11

Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 11:16 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The 2012-13 season is racing toward the finish line. In fact, the regular season ends Saturday, April 27, a mere 16 days away. Although the finish line is clearly in sight, the Stanley Cup Playoffs qualification picture is far less clear. To help make sense of the numerous permutations that exist for the playoffs, NHL.com's Playoff Push Primer looks at some of the biggest movers and shakers among the postseason hopefuls.

Teams that clinched Wednesday night: None

Teams that can clinch Thursday night: In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins will clinch a playoff berth if they earn at least a point from their game against the New York Islanders, or if the Florida Panthers defeat the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion. The Montreal Canadiens will clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Buffalo Sabres in any fashion, or if they earn one point and the Panthers defeat the Jets in any fashion. In the Western Conference, the idle Anaheim Ducks will clinch a playoff if the San Jose Sharks defeat the Detroit Red Wings in regulation.

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Stanley Cup Playoff Primer: April 10

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 10:41 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2012-13 season is hurtling toward the finish line. In fact, the regular season ends Saturday, April 27, just a mere 17 days away. Although the finish line clearly is in sight, the Stanley Cup Playoffs qualification picture is far less in focus. To help make sense of the many permutations that exist for the playoffs, NHL.com's Playoff Push Primer looks at some of the biggest movers and shakers among the postseason hopefuls.

Teams that clinched Tuesday night: The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Atlantic Division.

Teams that can clinch Wednesday night: The Anaheim Ducks can clinch a playoff spot by gaining at least one point in their game against the Colorado Avalanche.

2012-13 PLAYOFF PICTURE

  • For a complete look at the current playoff matchups and breakdown of remaining games, click here.

Playoff Positions to be claimed: 14

Days remaining in regular-season: 18

Total games remaining in regular season: 131

Wednesday's schedule

Toronto at NY Rangers -- The Maple Leafs' quest for the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff berth in nine years will get a huge boost if Toronto can beat the Rangers and sweep the home-and-home set. With their closest pursuers, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders, both idle, the Leafs can open a six-point gap on those teams. The Rangers, meanwhile, can leapfrog the Islanders for seventh place with a regulation victory. A loss, though, will leave them with the same number of points as the ninth-place Winnipeg Jets and vulnerable to slipping out of the top eight altogether between Wednesday and their next game, Saturday at the Islanders.

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Stanley Cup Playoff Primer: April 9

Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 11:04 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The 2012-13 season is hurtling toward the finish line. In fact, the regular season ends Saturday, April 27, just a mere 18 days away. Although the finish line clearly is in sight, the Stanley Cup Playoffs qualification picture is far less in focus. To help make sense of the many permutations that exist for the playoffs, NHL.com's Playoff Push Primer looks at some of the biggest movers and shakers among the postseason hopefuls.

Teams that clinched Monday night: None.

Teams that can clinch Tuesday night: The Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch the Atlantic Division with a win against the Carolina Hurricanes; the Anaheim Ducks can clinch a playoff spot if the Los Angeles Kings beat the Dallas Stars.

2012-13 PLAYOFF PICTURE

  • For a complete look at the current playoff matchups and breakdown of remaining games, click here.

Playoff Positions to be claimed: 14

Days remaining in regular-season: 19

Total games remaining in regular season: 140

Tuesday's schedule

Philadelphia at NY Islanders -- The Islanders are closing in on their first playoff spot since 2007 and can leap as high as sixth with a win and a regulation loss by the Ottawa Senators. The Flyers have won seven straight at Nassau Coliseum, and need to extend it to eight if they have any hope of climbing into the Eastern Conference's top eight. They enter the night 12th in the conference, five points out of eighth.

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5 reasons Ovechkin has returned to elite form

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 5:35 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Maybe Alex Ovechkin still is elite after all.

After being dormant for most of the first half of this season, Ovechkin has awoken like a bear coming out of hibernation and has the Washington Capitals on top of the Southeast Division with 42 points heading into a showdown with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The difference in his production is striking and, not surprisingly, it correlates directly to Washington becoming a winning team after a horrific start to the season.

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With or without stars, Penguins find ways to win

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 1:37 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Thanks to the Buffalo Sabres' shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to clinch a spot in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs from the comforts of their homes.

While the Sabres might have carried them the final step, there was a lot of hard work put in by the Penguins that earned them the right to call themselves a playoff team with nine games left in the regular season.

Here are five reasons the Penguins were the first team in the East to reserve their spot in the postseason.

1. Perseverance -- The Penguins have had their three best players, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, in the lineup at the same time only 19 times in 39 games this season. Since March 2, though, it's been just three times and that number could remain there for a while as Crosby recovers from a broken jaw.

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Goalie tandem, depth help Blackhawks clinch first

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 1:12 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

It should come as no surprise that the team that went 24 games to start the season without a regulation loss -- an NHL record -- was the first to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up their postseason spot by beating the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Sunday night. It marked Chicago’s third win against Nashville in seven days and sent the Blackhawks to the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Just how did the Blackhawks do it? Here are five reasons for their dominant run to the postseason.

1. Two elite goaltenders -- Entering this season, the biggest question mark for the Blackhawks was goaltending. Entering the postseason, the biggest question mark for the Blackhawks is which one of their dominant goalies will be the starter. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have shared the workload almost evenly and have nearly identical statistics. Crawford has a 2.01 GAA and .922 save percentage in 23 games; Emery has a 2.02 GAA and .920 save percentage in 18 games.

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Stanley Cup Playoff Primer: April 8

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 1:09 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

The 2012-13 season is hurtling toward the finish line. In fact, the regular season ends Saturday, April 27, just a mere 19 days away. Although the finish line is clearly in sight, the Stanley Cup Playoffs qualification picture is far less in focus. To help make sense of the many permutations that exist, NHL.com's Playoff Push Primer looks at some of the biggest movers and shakers among the postseason hopefuls.

Teams that clinched Sunday night: Chicago, Pittsburgh

Teams that can clinch Monday night: None

Playoff positions to be claimed: 14

Days remaining in regular-season: 20

Total games remaining in regular season: 145

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Quote of the Day

Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me. I know they want to see me get better as a player and this is the place to do it.

— Zac Rinaldo to the Flyers website on signing a two-year contract extension with Philadelphia