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Canucks, Kings ready for Pacific Division showdown

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 11:36 AM / Expert Picks

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- For the Vancouver Canucks, defeating the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, PRIME, SNP) would help in securing their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The opportunity to derail the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings attempt to get back to the postseason, avoid Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs in the Western Conference, or make a statement if they do face the Kings in the playoffs was a bonus few wanted to discuss.

"I don't think we're thinking about that at all," forward Chris Higgins said. "You try to keep your focus small this time of year."

That focus is bouncing back from consecutive losses against the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets to finish a four-game road trip, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since mid-January, and taking back control of their own fate in the playoff race.

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Playoff clinching scenarios for Monday, April 6

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 11:24 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With six days remaining in the regular season, there are eight berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the clinching scenarios for games Monday:

* The Minnesota Wild would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Winnipeg Jets in regulation or overtime OR if they defeat Winnipeg in a shootout AND the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Vancouver Canucks in any fashion.

* The Canucks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat Los Angeles in regulation AND Winnipeg loses to Minnesota in regulation.

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Defensive depth plays huge role in Wild's success

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The mumps and mysterious stomach ailments seem like they happened in another season. In many ways, that's because they did.

For the Minnesota Wild, the 2014-15 season has played out in three distinct segments: the good first month, the abyss around the holiday season, and then the rally to Stanley Cup Playoff relevancy.

Along the way, the Wild defensemen have played a key role in it all.

"Mumps and injuries, there's a lot of things we've had to overcome with that group," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Those are types of things that can really break a team, but they can also make it stronger too. And I think we've seen in that time, we've seen different players step up and take their game to another level, taking advantage of that opportunity."

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Five reasons Capitals clinched playoff berth

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:30 PM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Metropolitan Division is not an easy place to make a living in the NHL. Between the New York Rangers, coming off a trip the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins, perennial contenders with two of the best forwards on the planet, and an up-and-coming New York Islanders team, the top of the division is a difficult place to be successful.

The Washington Capitals have navigated those waters and return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after coming up short a season ago.

Washington made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons beginning in 2007. They had 90 points in 2013-14, but fell three points short of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

But with its stars in top form, a new coach and a group of young players who continue to mature, Washington was able to put last season's disappointment behind and qualify for the playoffs.

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Blues control destiny after win against Blackhawks

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:28 PM / Expert Picks

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The magnitude of the St. Louis Blues' 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday will determine a lot when the Central Division standings are finally decided by the end of the regular season next Saturday.

A Blues loss would have dropped them into third place, one point behind Chicago and the Nashville Predators with three games remaining for each of the three teams.

Instead, the Blues (49-23-7, 105 points) control their own destiny and thrust themselves into first place, one point ahead of the Predators and more importantly, three ahead of the third-place Blackhawks (48-25-6).

Whoever finishes in second and third place will be a Western Conference First Round matchup, something the division winner would rather avoid.

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Referee Devorski calls it quits after 26-year career

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 6:34 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Paul Devorski's career as an official started in the early 1980s because of a headline in a newspaper and ended Sunday with NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux shaking his hand and thanking him for his service to the game.

Devorski officiated his 1,594th and final NHL game at Wells Fargo Center. The 56-year-old is retiring after serving as a referee for 26 years.

He worked the game Sunday with his brother, Greg, a linesman.

"You know what, I never thought I'd last this long, but it's so fast out there and it's time to go before you embarrass yourself," Devorski said following the game, a 4-1 win for the Flyers against the Pittsburgh Penguins. "It's so fast out there now. It's time to go."

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Playoff clinching scenarios for Sunday, April 5

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:44 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With seven days remaining in the regular season, there are nine berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the clinching scenarios for games Sunday:

* The New York Islanders (idle) would clinch a playoff berth if the Ottawa Senators lose in regulation.

* The Washington Capitals would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Detroit Red Wings in any fashion AND the Senators lose in any fashion OR if they get one point AND the Senators lose in regulation.

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Playoff Countdown: Blues-Blackhawks preview?

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:24 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

There's a good possibility the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks will face each other in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winner of their game at United Center on Sunday will have the inside track on the home-ice advantage for that series.

The Blues (48-23-7) come to Chicago in second place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Blackhawks (48-24-6). Chicago has won four in a row; the Blues have won their past two games.

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Sharp beginning to find offense for Blackhawks

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 10:13 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- His scoring touch left him for a long stretch of games, but forward Patrick Sharp is starting to round into form at just the right time for the Chicago Blackhawks.

His goal production is trending up as the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs approach, and that’s a welcome relief for a team that’s missing its most potent offensive threat. If the Blackhawks are going to survive long enough to get injured right wing Patrick Kane back, they’re going to need one of Sharp’s patented postseason runs.

Other players were more heralded in Chicago’s 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup championship runs, but Sharp’s name was at the top of the goals column on the stat sheet each time. Odds are he’ll be up there again if the Blackhawks cap these playoffs with another title.

“Everybody wants to gear up for the end of the season and what’s to come,” said Sharp, who has two goals in the Blackhawks’ current four-game win streak. “You know, for whatever reason it’s been a tough season individually, offensively, putting up points and scoring goals. But I think our team’s right where we want to be. We’re playing better hockey as of late, individually, and I think we’re trending in the right direction.”

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North Saanich, B.C. named Kraft Hockeyville 2015

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 9:00 AM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

NHL Public Relations

TORONTO – Last night, millions of votes and countless rallying cries culminated in North Saanich, B.C. being named Kraft Hockeyville 2015 in Canada. During a live spot on Hockey Night in Canada™, NHL® Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that North Saanich will receive the opportunity to host an NHL® Pre-Season Game between Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, and $100,000 to build a dedicated home-team locker room in their arena. In its ninth season, Kraft Hockeyville remains committed to investing in community arenas to help keep the game alive from coast-to-coast.

The Panorama Recreation Centre Hockey Arena plays an essential role in bringing together fans, friends, and family in North Saanich. The centre is home to the Saanich Peninsula's only hockey facility, however, it does not have a dedicated home-team locker room where players can store their equipment and join together before and after games. In its quest for the Kraft Hockeyville title, the community organized several events, including a voting party at the rink with free skating, and received an outpouring of support from many local organizations.

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Quote of the Day

Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.

— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL