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Defensive depth plays huge role in Wild's success

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - 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."

Five reasons Capitals clinched playoff berth

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:30 PM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - 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.

Blues control destiny after win against Blackhawks

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:28 PM / Expert Picks

Louie Korac - 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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Quote of the Day

[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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