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Daily Primer April 3: Playoff preview in San Jose

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Edmonton Oilers nearly did the San Jose Sharks a favor Wednesday night, but they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Instead, the Sharks enter Thursday three points behind the Ducks instead of one in the Pacific Division race. San Jose will look to get back within a point of Anaheim when it hosts the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Should the Sharks (48-20-9) be unable to pass the Ducks in the standings, they would almost certainly face Los Angeles (45-26-6) in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings are 3-0-1 against the Sharks this season.

Here's a closer look at the action Thursday:

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Trade to Flyers revived goalie Mason's career

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 7:09 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Steve Mason
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 31-17-7
GAA: 2.53 | SVP: 0.916
Steve Mason says he was ready to walk away from hockey. The game he'd loved since childhood had become a chore.

As the conclusion of the 2012-13 season approached, Mason was at a crossroads. Tossing his goalie pads in the trash seemed like the best, perhaps only, course of action.

One year later, Mason's angst is a distant memory. His smile is omnipresent and the pads he was ready to trash have earned him his second 30-win season. He's virtually assured of making his second trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he has a three-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers that starts in July.

Thursday, Mason will celebrate the one-year anniversary of his arrival in Philadelphia. Coincidentally, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that traded Mason to Philadelphia, will be the opposition.


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Red Wings' Babcock focused solely on the present

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:21 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- It was one of the most enduring images from this year's installment of HBO's "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic," which previewed the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic played between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock stood in front of a white dry-erase board in the locker room putting a patchwork of unfamiliar numbers into his lineup. He added forward Gustav Nyquist's No. 14 to the top of an injury list eight players long that was written vertically down the right side.

"These people don't matter," Babcock said, circling his hand around the injury list.

Circling his hand around the lineup, he continued: "These people matter."

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Price, top line help send Canadiens to playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 1:57 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On paper, the Montreal Canadiens have no business being where they are, with an invitation to the Stanley Cup Playoffs already in hand with 11 days remaining in the NHL regular season.

The Canadiens have a negative goal differential at 5-on-5, their possession numbers as a team are in the bottom half of the League, their power play is in the middle of the pack, they have yet to find consistent pairings on defense and they give up far too many shots on goal.

Yet here they sit, staring at a likely first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and with a comfortable lead on the teams fighting to grab the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots.

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On the 'D'-fence: Martinez matters in fantasy playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

If you were to take a look at the stat line for the Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez you wouldn't be blown away. You wouldn't be scrambling to add him to your fantasy roster for your playoff run and he'd likely only garner interest in the deepest of leagues, but take the time to scrutinize his game log and you see a player who quickly is becoming a must-own commodity.

He is in the middle of one of those special runs that players sometimes have. You know the kind we are talking about; think John Druce scoring 14 goals during the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Washington Capitals or Lee Stempniak putting up 18 points in 18 games for the Phoenix Coyotes after arriving in a deadline deal during the 2009-10 season.

It's the kind of unexpected production that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the fantasy hockey version of a golden ticket in a Willy Wonka chocolate bar.

One minute Martinez, is putting up four goals, three assists and 48 shots on goal in 40 games, and the next he is being added in close to 800 Yahoo standard leagues per day.

What happened? How did he make himself one of the most coveted fantasy defensemen in the league?

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Depth, puck possession deliver Lightning to playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 11:34 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Three seasons ago the Tampa Bay Lightning, led by a coach who shot through the ranks to become an emerging young star, reached the postseason and came within a goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

The roster at coach Guy Boucher's disposal was highlighted by superstars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but it also was full of declining veterans. Instead of building off the team's breakout season, the Lightning regressed and general manager Steve Yzerman spent the past two seasons weeding out bad contracts and helping the club get younger.

Boucher went from rising star to unemployed, but instead of taking a conservative approach, Yzerman made another bold move by replacing him with Jon Cooper, another young coach who rocketed through several levels of hockey with great success to make it to the NHL.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios: April 2

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 10:40 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Los Angeles Kings are the only NHL team that can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday. Here is the scenario:

LOS ANGELES KINGS

The Kings would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Coyotes in any fashion.

The Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens are the Eastern Conference teams that have clinched a postseason spot. The St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks are in from the Western Conference.

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Montreal's Murray faces disciplinary hearing Thursday

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 9:46 AM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray will have a hearing Thursday for his hit against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mike Kostka during the third period Tuesday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Murray was issued a match penalty on the play at 17:47 of the third period.

The following grounds for the proposed supplemental discipline are being considered: illegal check to the head. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to these infractions accordingly upon further review.

The Lightning won the game, 3-1.

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12 games to watch down the stretch

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 9:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

There are 12 days remaining in the 2013-14 NHL regular season, but there is still much to be decided and plenty to play for before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

Seven playoff spots still need to be secured, along with three division titles. There are a couple of first-round playoff matchups that look like safe bets to happen, but the others remain in a state of flux.

Will the Boston Bruins or St. Louis Blues win the Presidents' Trophy, or will the Anaheim Ducks or San Jose Sharks make a late run? Can the Ducks hold off the Sharks to win the Pacific Division and avoid a brutal first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings?

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Over the Boards: Boudreau reflects on historic rally

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 2:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said his team's historic come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win Monday against the Winnipeg Jets reminds him of Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

"We were down [3-0] in Game 4 to the Rangers in New York," said Boudreau, who was Capitals coach from 2007-2011. "We scored three in the third, [Jason] Chimera scored in [double] overtime, and we won."

On Monday, the Ducks trailed 4-0 before Nick Bonino scored with 2:16 remaining in the second period. Anaheim scored three times in the third, including Corey Perry's game-tying goal with 22.7 seconds left, to force overtime. Stephane Robidas' goal 16 seconds into overtime capped the Ducks' largest comeback victory in franchise history.


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Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com