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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."

Jagr interested in Panthers return, may play at Worlds

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 4:28 PM / News

Michael Langr - Correspondent

Jaromir Jagr won't be hanging up his skates for the summer following the Florida Panthers' final two regular-season games against the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.

The 43-year-old forward has decided to join the Czech National Team at training camp for the IIHF World Championship in Prague this May, and if he sees his performance on the larger ice surface as sufficient, he will represent the Czech Republic.

Jagr told Czech Daily Sport he agreed with Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka to join practices and play in exhibition games to see if he feels comfortable before making a final decision on playing in the World Championship.

"When the NHL season is over, I'll pack up as soon as possible and come back to the Czech Republic," Jagr told Daily Sport. "I'm gonna join the national team. But it doesn't automatically mean I'll play at the Worlds. I'll work at practices and see how it turns out."

Blackhawks' Kane takes slap shots, progressing well

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 3:52 PM / News

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Anybody who thinks right wing Patrick Kane might return early from surgery to repair his fractured left clavicle only needs to glance at the Chicago Blackhawks' opponent at United Center on Tuesday.

There's a strong chance Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker will play against the Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CH) about eight weeks after having surgery Feb. 12 to repair his right clavicle. Even if Zucker doesn't play Tuesday, his return is close.

Kane, who was injured Feb. 24 and had surgery the next day, started participating in practices and morning skates April 1. The only limitations were no contact and no slap shots, but Tuesday morning he took multiple one-timer slap shots.

"He's progressing real well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Every day he seems like he's getting a little stronger. His skating has always been fine and he's handling the puck extremely well, so it's good signs every day, seeing the progress."

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.

Canadiens' Pacioretty out Thursday vs. Red Wings

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 10:45 AM / News

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty will not play in their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Bell Centre on Thursday, coach Michel Therrien told reporters in Florida on Tuesday.

Pacioretty appeared to sustain an upper-body injury at 5:48 of the first period against the Florida Panthers on Sunday when he hit his head against the boards after being checked by Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and then getting his feet tangled with Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic.

Hockey fans embrace 'Bracketology' with the Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge powered by Samsung

Starting April 12, fans can make their Stanley Cup predictions at

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 10:45 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK / TORONTO – When the mad scramble for playoff positioning ends and before the incomparable drama of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins, NHL fans will get the chance to show off their powers of prognostication. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge powered by Samsung at enables the most passionate fans in sports to predict each and every series through the Stanley Cup Final in a competition for exciting prizes and bragging rights. New this year, Match-up Analysis with Insights from SAP will help fans determine who has the edge in each series.

Starting now, fans can register for the Bracket Challenge at in English or French and create leagues to challenge their friends. Once the match-ups are set, fans can make their predictions in the interactive bracket online up until April 15, the first day of the Playoffs.

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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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