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Features

Clinching scenarios: Penguins can earn berth

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 11:32 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins would clinch an Eastern Conference berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the St. Louis Blues in any fashion AND the New Jersey Devils defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in any fashion OR if they defeat the St. Louis Blues in any fashion AND both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings lose in regulation to the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild, respectively.

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Blues' defense, goaltending spark run to playoffs

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 11:09 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The St. Louis Blues are the first Western Conference team to have its ticket punched to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are also in the running to win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1999-2000, when they finished with 114 points but lost to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Obviously, St. Louis is banking on a better result this spring, but before discussing expectations and potential for Ken Hitchcock's team, let's examine how the Blues got to this point in the season.

Here are five reasons why the Blues are heading to the playoffs for the third straight season with Hitchcock in charge:

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Daily Primer March 23: Blackhawks back in hunt

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:19 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Nine days ago, it looked like the Chicago Blackhawks had no chance to win the Central Division and might wind up in third place. That was after the Blackhawks lost 3-2 at home to the Nashville Predators, a team unlikely to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Predators come back to United Center on Sunday, and a lot has changed in the interim. The Blackhawks have gone 3-0-1 since that loss, with one of the wins coming against the division-leading St. Louis Blues. Chicago's 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and the Blues' 4-1 road loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday have cut Chicago's deficit in the division race to a more manageable four points.

Here's a look at all of the action Sunday:


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Rangers getting better at closing out victories

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:06 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Less than two weeks ago, the New York Rangers appeared to be showing their warts as a team that could play well, could hang in tight games, but couldn't close. That seems like a distant memory now.

Nothing is set, not even close, especially with a pair of home games this week against the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers followed by a four-game western road trip. But after going 2-4-1 to start the month, the Rangers have won four of their past five games. All four victories have come on the road, where they have a League-best 23 wins.

They beat the New Jersey Devils 2-0 on Saturday at Prudential Center to solidify their spot as the third-place team in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have 82 points, one fewer than the red-hot Flyers and four more than the fourth-place Columbus Blue Jackets, a team the Rangers beat Friday night.

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Berglund filling offensive void for Blues

Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 11:15 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- According to Patrik Berglund, nothing has changed since his return from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The physical characteristics are certainly the same: He's still a left-handed shooter, he still wears No. 21 and he still plays for the St. Louis Blues.

What has changed is Berglund's name popping up more often on the stat sheet at the end of the night. More often bodes well for these Blues.

Berglund has 14 goals this season -- not an eye-popping number considering the Blues (47-16-7 have played 70 games. But six of those eight goals came in a recent eight-game stretch, and seven of his 31 points on the season came in a 10-game set.

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Bruins' defense, depth led to NHL's first playoff clinch

Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 11:11 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Zdeno Chara is still arguably the best defenseman in the National Hockey League and Tuukka Rask is a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season. Toss in enviable forward depth and a solid defense corps behind Chara along with a seasoned coaching staff, and there are plenty of reasons why the Boston Bruins are the first team to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

The Bruins punched a ticket to the playoffs Friday night by winning their 11th straight game, fittingly with a near-flawless defensive performance in a 2-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

Chara has been his usual minute-munching, forward-crunching self this season. He once again plays nearly 25 minutes per game and always faces the toughest matchups, and Chara, who turned 37 earlier this week, should again be up among the top candidates for the Norris Trophy. He won the trophy in 2009.

Here are five more reasons the Bruins are heading back to the playoffs:

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Clinching scenarios: Sharks can nab playoff berth

Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 11:08 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com Staff

The Boston Bruins became the first team to reserve a spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday, and a Western Conference power can join them Saturday. 

The San Jose Sharks could book a spot in the playoffs if they defeat the Washington Capitals in any fashion and either the Senators defeat the Stars in any fashion or the Bruins defeat the Coyotes in regulation. The Sharks would also clinch if they earn one point against the Capitals and the Senators defeat the Stars in regulation.

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Daily Primer March 22: Bruins try for 12 in a row

Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 12:10 AM / NHL Insider

The Phoenix Coyotes will get the next chance to derail the Boston Bruins.

Boston comes to Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night seeking its 12th consecutive win and second in as many nights. The Bruins stretched their winning streak to 11, the longest in the NHL this season, by shutting down the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in Denver on Friday. Backup goaltender Chad Johnson made 31 saves and the Bruins got goals from Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg as they became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston hasn't lost since March 1 and has outscored opponents 43-15 during its winning streak

Here's a look at all the action on a busy Saturday.

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Maple Leafs eye run with Bolland, Bernier close

Friday, 03.21.2014 / 4:45 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

With 10 points in 12 games, and the Toronto Maple Leafs starting the season 10-4-0, forward Dave Bolland was enjoying a memorable first month with his hometown team after winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Chicago Blackhawks. Then came Nov. 2, when Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian accidentally stepped on Bolland's left leg, leaving Bolland with a lacerated tendon in his ankle.

Bolland hasn't played since, but that could be about to change.

After missing 56 games, Bolland could return Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC). With goaltender Jonathan Bernier also possible to return after missing three games with a groin injury, Toronto could be getting healthy at the right time. Having lost three straight, they certainly can use both players.

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Bruins ride depth, balance to top spot in East

Friday, 03.21.2014 / 4:33 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Boston Bruins are surging toward the top of the NHL standings, and look like a top title contender as the Stanley Cup Playoffs beckon.

The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins will look for their 11th straight victory when they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. It would mark the longest win streak in coach Claude Julien's seven seasons.

"Our whole team is feeling good about their game and when you feel good about your game, you seem to have that energy and right now our whole team has a lot of energy," Julien said after the Bruins beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Tuesday.

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Quote of the Day

I think I'm lucky to be here and you definitely don't take very many things for granted, if you take anything for granted. I definitely put my family and my wife and my close family in perspective, that they're the most important thing in the world. I want to do whatever I can to play hockey, but like I said, under the right circumstances.

— Stars forward Rich Peverley to "The Musers" radio show on The Ticket 1310 AM in Dallas