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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins have won five consecutive games and are in a heated race to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Washington Capitals have clinched a playoff berth, but they are battling for home-ice advantage in the opening round.

Boston (41-25-13) has earned points in six straight games (5-0-1) and won for the fifth consecutive time in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Washington (44-25-11), which has a five-game point streak (4-0-1), is coming off a 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. The Capitals are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the New York Islanders with two games remaining.

The Capitals will try to inch closer towards finishing second in the Metropolitan when they host the Bruins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

In the nightcap, the Dallas Stars will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (NBCSN, SN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Anaheim (50-23-7) is trying to finish atop the Western Conference standings; the Ducks are two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues with two games remaining.

Here are five things to watch in the two Wednesday Night Rivalry games:

Five reasons Wild clinched playoff berth

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Dan Myers - Correspondent

The Minnesota Wild are heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season after clinching a berth Tuesday in a 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

It's the first time the Wild have qualified for the playoffs in three straight seasons, the sixth time overall in their 14 seasons. Minnesota is 25-7-2 since Jan. 27.

Here are five reasons the Wild clinched a playoff berth:

Boudreau knows Ducks playoff expectations are high

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Bruce Boudreau's chats with reporters are a little different than those of other coaches at this time of the season.

Instead of talking about jockeying for position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoreboard watching and desperation, the Anaheim Ducks coach is asked about winning the Presidents' Trophy and resting his top players down the stretch.

It's a familiar scenario for Boudreau, who for the second straight season will follow a successful regular season with high expectations for the playoffs.

Anaheim entered its game Wednesday against the Dallas Stars (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN) leading the Western Conference with 50 wins and 107 points, slightly behind last season’s conference-best and Ducks-record 54 wins and 116 points.

The expectations might be bigger this time around.

"I think they always get higher, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse here," Boudreau said. "Let's win the first round and then we'll talk about winning the second round. I don't think there's anyone in the room that doesn't sit at home and dream about what they would do with the [Stanley] Cup, you know? I mean, that's your boyhood dream.

"But it just so happens there's, right now, probably 20 teams dreaming the same thing every night. It's not like just because we want to win, it's going to happen. We have to go out there and beat other teams."

Playoff Countdown: Rangers after Presidents' Trophy

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 2:02 PM / Expert Picks

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, will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

There are few certainties when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; however, a regulation win by the New York Rangers on Tuesday will guarantee them home-ice advantage in each series for the entirety of their postseason run.

The Rangers (51-21-7), who have already clinched the Metropolitan Division title, can win the Presidents' Trophy with a road victory against the New Jersey Devils (32-34-13), a team they defeated 6-1 on home ice Saturday. New York then ended the nine-game winning streak of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 4-3 overtime win Monday. The Rangers need one point to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Playoff clinching scenarios for Tuesday, April 7

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 1:26 PM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With five 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 Tuesday:

* The New York Rangers would clinch the Presidents' Trophy if they defeat the New Jersey Devils in any fashion.

* The Rangers would clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference if they get at least one point against the Devils.

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Ranks entering offseason

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 12:13 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

After six months of setting lineups, swinging trades and scouring the waiver wire, we're reaching the finish line of another thrilling fantasy season. Whether you've won your fantasy championship or fallen short of the ultimate goal, most would agree that 2014-15 has been defined by its surprises.

This season has proven how valuable under-the-radar forwards can be. Preseason standouts Filip Forsberg and Nikita Kucherov have been mainstays among the top 30, Rick Nash has bounced back with 40-plus goals, and Jakub Voracek has been among the League's top point-scorers all season.

Five Questions: Pierre McGuire talks playoff push

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features NBC analyst Pierre McGuire:

Pierre McGuire used to be a coach in the NHL, but now he laughs when he says he just plays one on TV.

McGuire does it for NBC, offering his analysis from between the benches on nationally televised games. His is a unique vantage point for not only watching the game and talking about it, but hearing what goes on during the game.

He has seen all the top teams in the League up close and never hesitates to weigh in with his opinion. That's why he is the subject of the Q&A this week, the final week of the 2014-15 NHL regular season.

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Quote of the Day

You could feel it. You could feel that they were going after each other and trying to win the game for their team.

— Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom on Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby each scored hat tricks
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