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Playoff clinching scenarios for Wednesday, April 8

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 12:04 PM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With four days remaining in the regular season, there are six berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

These are the clinching scenarios for games Wednesday:

* The Anaheim Ducks, who have already clinched a playoff berth, would clinch the top seed in the Western Conference if they defeat the Dallas Stars in regulation or overtime.

Nill named Canada GM for 2015 World Championship

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:28 AM / News

Hockey Canada on Wednesday named Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill the GM for Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

The tournament will be played May 1-17 in Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

Nill previously served as GM for Canada at the 2004 World Championship and director of player personnel at the 2003 Worlds, winning the gold medal both times.

On Nill's staff are former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee, former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Claude Loiselle, Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager Sean Burke, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Pat Verbeek, and Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada.

McDavid, Eichel easy choices for top of draft rankings

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There was little need for debate on the projected top two players for the 2015 NHL Draft when NHL Central Scouting met to rank the top North American prospects earlier this month.

What seemed like a foregone conclusion became official Wednesday when NHL Central Scouting revealed that center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League is No. 1, and center Jack Eichel of Boston University of Hockey East is No. 2 on its final list of the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the 2015 Draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

"At the start of the year McDavid and Eichel were considered Nos. 1-2," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "I don't know if it's a surprise that it ended up that way but I think a lot of credit has to go to Eichel in the way he was able to at least keep it interesting.

Finland's Rantanen tops list of international skaters

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The rise of Finnish right wing Mikko Rantanen began with an impressive showing at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in January.

In the eyes of some, the 18-year-old was Finland's best player, scoring four of his country's eight goals at the tournament.

Rantanen rejoined TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, three days after his team lost to Sweden, 6-3, in the quarterfinal round of the WJC to resume his top-line role. In 56 games with TPS he had nine goals and 28 points while serving as an alternate captain.

A great finish enabled Rantanen to advance one spot to No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of international skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on June 26-27.

NHL Scouting Combine features new look, location

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Once NHL Central Scouting finalized the rankings of the top 2015 NHL Draft-eligible prospects earlier this month, the focus shifted to the NHL Scouting Combine, to be held June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Among those scheduled to take part in the Combine are Central Scouting's top two players in its final ranking of the top North American skaters, centers Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League and Jack Eichel of Boston University of Hockey East.

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr confirmed that 120 players, among them some of the top North American and international skaters and goaltenders, will be invited to attend the Combine.

The Combine will give all 30 teams complete physical and medical assessments of hockey's future stars three weeks before the 2015 NHL Draft is held, June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Playoff Countdown: Rivalry night has implications

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 10:17 AM / 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.

The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals each have their own motivations when they play at Verizon Center in the first game of the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader.

The Capitals (44-25-11) have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and would take a big step toward securing home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round with a win. It would give them a three-point lead on the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division, with the Islanders having two regular-season games remaining and the Capitals one.

Ward embracing chance to play on Capitals' top line

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 9:24 AM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- To say the odds were stacked against Joel Ward would be putting it mildly. Three months shy of his 28th birthday, with 11 games on his NHL resume, Ward sought fulltime work with the Nashville Predators in September 2008.

"I really thought it was a do-or-die kind of moment in my career," Ward said of his first training camp in Nashville.

It was there, after three years spent primarily with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, that Ward met then-Predators coach Barry Trotz.

"I remember Joel came to camp," Trotz said, "and all the amateur scouts were telling me how good the young prospects were. But maybe this is where amateur scouts and coaches differ because I saw the detail and maturity of Joel's game -- he could handle a lot more than most of the kids."

Around the League notebook for Tuesday, April 7

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


Mike Hoffman scored the tying goal with 1:48 left in regulation and Mark Stone scored at 2:43 of overtime to rally the Ottawa Senators from an early three-goal deficit to a 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, their fourth victory in their past five games (4-0-1).

* The Senators (41-26-13, 95 points) moved into a tie with the idle Boston Bruins (41-25-13, 95 points) in terms of points for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They also kept pace with the Detroit Red Wings (42-25-13, 97 points), who won in regulation to move into third place in the Atlantic Division. Boston has one game in hand on both Detroit and Ottawa, while the Red Wings lead in the ROW tiebreaker (DET: 38, BOS: 37, OTT: 35).

* Elias Sports Bureau says the Senators overcame a 3-0 deficit to win for the second time this season, following a 4-3 overtime win on Dec. 7 vs. VAN.

* Also via Elias, different rookies scored the tying goal in the third period and the overtime winner for the first time in franchise history. The last time different rookies did that for any team was Feb. 8, 2011 (Nick Palmieri and Mattias Tedenby w/ NJD vs. CAR).

Five reasons Canucks clinched playoff berth

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

The Vancouver Canucks made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for five consecutive seasons before missing in 2013-14.

But the remodeled Canucks, under first-year coach Willie Desjardins, are back in the playoffs after clinching a berth on Tuesday. The Canucks got off to a fast start and held a share of first place in the Pacific Division at the end of November. Although they cooled off, the cushion they built allowed them to overcome some key injuries and give them the inside track to a second-place finish and the home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round.

Here are five reasons the Canucks are back in the playoffs:

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:

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website