The Phoenix Coyotes have been trying to hold on to the second Western Conference wild-card position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They return home after a three-game road trip looking ahead, not behind.
The Coyotes went 2-0-1 on their trip, and a victory against the visiting Minnesota Wild on Saturday (9 p.m. ET) will move them into the first wild-card spot, ahead of the slumping Wild. Phoenix won games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils with backup goaltender Thomas Greiss, who's likely to get the call against Minnesota in place of starter Mike Smith, who's out with a lower-body injury.
Born in Canada to immigrant parents from Barbados, Joel Ward wasn't sure his dream of becoming a hockey player would ever come true. That was, until a certain someone familiar to NHL and NHL Network fans introduced Ward to the game. Ward grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, close to Kevin Weekes, a goalie in the NHL for many years and now an analyst for NHL Network. Through that relationship, Ward learned quickly that indeed a hockey career could be possible. The Washington Capitals forward talks about his mentor, as well as his upbringing, charitable work, decision to attend Canadian college and other subjects in the latest installment of Tapped In.
Kathryn Tappen: I don't usually ask on-ice related questions, but you've been on fire lately! What has been working for you offensively?
Joel Ward: My linemates have been great. I've gotten a couple of good bounces and rebounds that have been lying around. I happen to just put them in. We've had a handful of good games, have played pretty solid getting the pucks out of our own zone, and getting up the ice. I've been an opportunist, at the right place at the right time.
It didn't seem to matter who was in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins, or how many key players were on the injured list -- and on most nights there were a lot.
Through all the issues the Penguins continued to win, and Friday they became the second team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That spot in the postseason is just the first step for a team with aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009.
That can't happen until June. For now, here are five reasons the Penguins were able to punch their ticket to the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.
DALLAS -- Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley said Friday he would like to return to the NHL if the time is right, but he'll need time to decide on his future as he recovers from a successful heart procedure.
"I feel great. I've gone back into my sinus rhythm (normal heartbeat) and I think under instructions of the doctors, I've been able to start working out and monitoring my heart rate," Peverley said in his first press conference since having the procedure last week at the Cleveland Clinic. "Going on the ice leisurely I think is something that shouldn't be a problem."
Peverley was able to take the ice Thursday for the first time since his procedure, which was to correct atrial fibrillation, the technical name for an irregular heartbeat.
"I went on the ice yesterday, and ultimately my goal would be to come back if it's the right time," he said.
The Sabres will induct Hasek into their Hall of Fame on Saturday night; they announced Friday that they will retire his No. 39 next season. Returning to the city where he made his biggest mark as a professional to be honored is something he's taken to heart.
Hasek joined the Sabres on Aug. 7, 1992, when he was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks. For the next nine seasons, Hasek earned his nickname of "The Dominator" by winning the Hart Trophy as the NHLs most valuable player twice and the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goalie six times.
Nearly two decades ago, Alex Broadhurst and his older brother, Terry, were just beginning to discover a shared love for the game of hockey.
"We had an unfinished basement, so it was all cement," Alex said. "We'd just put on our roller blades and go 1-on-1 for hours."
Fast forward to the present day, where the duo has moved to a much bigger stage. They're teammates on the Rockford IceHogs, the American Hockey League affiliate for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Blackhawks would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Ottawa Senators OR if the Dallas Stars lose to the Nashville Predators in any fashion.
Avalanche (idle) would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the Stars lose to the Predators in any fashion.
The New York Rangers boosted their hopes of finishing second in the Metropolitan Division earlier this week with home victories against the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers. They'll get a different kind of test when they begin a four-game road trip Friday night with a game against the Calgary Flames (9 p.m. ET).
The Rangers (41-29-4) are three points in front of the Flyers as they begin their trip, which also includes games against the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche. They've actually played much better on the road (23-13-0) than at home (18-16-4), and they are 3-2-0 in their past five visits to Scotiabank Saddledome.
TORONTO -- Prior to the start of every season, NHL Central Scouting already has evaluated hundreds of the top prospects available in the upcoming NHL draft.
In addition to putting together meticulous reports that detail a player's good and bad points, and then sharing them with their colleagues, it's also required that each prospect file some paperwork to Central Scouting.
So long before Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs, Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders, Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice and Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts begin a new season, they've already completed the NHL Central Scouting questionnaire.
One of the more intriguing parts of the questionnaire happens to be the section that requires each prospect to admit their strongest asset, weakest area and the NHL player they most resemble. The self-assessments, for the most part, are pretty accurate. They also provide the scouts with a gauge as to what type of player each prospect expects to become.
Here's a summary of what each of the top five North American prospects, top North American goalie and top European skater provided on their questionnaire, followed by an evaluation of that response by NHL Central Scouting.
Players are listed in the order they were ranked in Central Scouting's midterm release in January.
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