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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
(Page 12 of 159)
Features

Blue Jackets in playoffs, ready to take 'next step'

Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 1:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- The atmosphere in the visitors' locker room at American Airlines Center following the Columbus Blue Jackets' playoff-clinching 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night would best be described as festive yet subdued.

Sure, the Blue Jackets were ecstatic about making the playoffs for the second time in their history, but Columbus, which still has games remaining at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Florida Panthers on Sunday, knows that clinching a spot in the postseason is only the beginning.

For starters, with 91 points, Columbus is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers in the race for third place in the Metropolitan Division; the Flyers have a game in hand. The Blue Jackets are focused on improving their playoff positioning over their final two regular-season games.

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Penguins' Letang 'darn good' in return from stroke

Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 12:05 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang noticed some areas he could improve in his first game back after having a stroke but was pleased with his performance Wednesday.

Letang finished with one assist and two shots in 22:30 of ice time in Pittsburgh's 4-3 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings. He said he didn't feel any lingering effects of his stroke after the game.

"There are some things I felt good about, some things I have to get my timing back," Letang said. "Hockey is about timing and, I don't know, maybe it's going to take a week, maybe it's going to take two weeks."

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Call-ups reason Red Wings are back in playoffs

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 11:55 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

There was talk coming out of the Olympic break that the Detroit Red Wings' quest for a 23rd consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was far from a sure thing.

Now we know the fifth-longest playoff streak in NHL history and longest active streak among the four main professional sports leagues is alive and well.

The last time the Red Wings failed to qualify for the postseason was 1990, when George H.W. Bush was president. The Boston Bruins own the NHL record at 29 seasons (1968-96), followed by the Chicago Blackhawks (28 seasons; 1970-1997), St. Louis Blues (25; 1980-2004) and Montreal Canadiens (24; 1971-1994).

Since the start of the 1997-98 season, the Red Wings have won more regular-season games than any team in the NHL. The team's 113 playoff wins, which includes four Stanley Cup championships, also are tops in the League in that span.

Here are five reasons why the Red Wings are heading back to the playoffs:

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Forward depth, physical play help Jackets to playoffs

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 11:30 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Columbus Blue Jackets are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons. They clinched the berth Wednesday night with a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars.

It's been a long haul to get to this point, particularly after losing out on a tiebreaker to the Minnesota Wild for the eighth seed in the Western Conference at the close of the 2012-13 regular season. But the Blue Jackets are a better team this season with depth at forward and a world-class goalie itching to make his mark in the postseason.

In addition, there are several young players in significant roles this season under third-year coach Todd Richards, including forwards Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner and defenseman Ryan Murray.

If the regular-season home finale Tuesday night was any indication, Nationwide Arena will be rocking when the team returns to Columbus to open the playoffs. It was a memorable night too, when Johansen continued his torrid offensive pace with an unbelievable wrist shot to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes in overtime.

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On the 'D'-fence: Final rankings and a look ahead

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Jim Morrison, front man of the classic band The Doors, once penned these haunting words:

"This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend, the end"

They are very fitting for where we are today -- the end of the fantasy hockey season. While most leagues have already wrapped, others are going through their championship rounds and will end this weekend.

It seems as if it were just yesterday that we posted our preseason defensemen rankings, and now we are about to cross the finish line on another season. While some have won and some have lost, here's hoping these rankings helped you on a weekly basis as you encountered tough decisions on who to acquire, who to drop and who to ride for the duration of each scoring period.

It has been an exciting ride as we saw the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson reclaim the throne atop of the defensive heap, the Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien put up career numbers while earning eligibility on the right wing in most formats and Victor Hedman far surpassed expectations in helping the Tampa Bay Lightning weather the loss of Steven Stamkos.

Nine of our preseason top 15 have managed to rank in the top 13 scorers at the position as of April 8, but there were also plenty of surprises at the position that will change the face of our rankings well into the future. While the structure of many blue lines around the NHL is sure to change over the summer, below is where we feel the position stands as the season concludes.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios: April 9

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 11:39 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets can clinch Stanley Cup Playoffs berths Wednesday, while the Anaheim Ducks can clinch the Pacific Division title. Here are the scenarios:

DETROIT RED WINGS

The Red Wings would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

The Blue Jackets would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Dallas Stars in any fashion.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the San Jose Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.

NOTE: A loss by the Red Wings in any fashion would clinch a first-round matchup between the Canadiens and Lightning, with home-ice advantage to be determined.

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Refusal to quit among reasons Wild back in playoffs

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 9:01 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

After going four seasons without qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Minnesota Wild are in the postseason for the second straight season. They clinched their spot after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday.

Last season the Wild made their first trip to the playoffs since 2008. The return was short-lived as Minnesota lost in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. One season later Minnesota is hoping to win a playoff series for the first time since 2003, when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

The 2013-14 Minnesota Wild retained the core that led it back to the playoffs the previous season. But a number of other elements, including an infusion of youth, brought postseason hockey back to Minnesota.

Here are five reasons the Wild are headed back to the playoffs:

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Daily Primer April 9: Last chance for Sharks

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The San Jose Sharks will get one last crack at a possible Pacific Division title in the finale of the NHL's five-game schedule Wednesday night.

San Jose (49-21-9) can move within a point of first place in the Pacific when it visits the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Anaheim (51-20-8) is three points ahead of the Sharks and each team has three games remaining.

The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.

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Tale of the Tape: Red Wings visit Penguins

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Detroit Red Wings make their only regular-season visit to Consol Energy Center when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2). But it's not impossible that the Red Wings could be back next week for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh has locked up the Metropolitan Division title and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins' first-round opponent will be the first wild-card finisher, a position Detroit holds entering the game. The Red Wings begin the night with 90 points, one more than the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Over the Boards: Alzner assesses Capitals' struggles

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner believes honesty in the face of adversity is the best policy a player and a team can have. Alzner's problem is he doesn't think his team has fully bought into that policy.

"We don't always admit to our mistakes, own up to them and fix them," Alzner told NHL.com from Prudential Center last Friday. "We just push them under the rug and worry about it later."

The Capitals won't be able to push away their problems anymore.

After heading into the season thinking they could compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are now longshots to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they staved off elimination with a 4-1 win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues and are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with three games left for each team.

The Washington organization has questions to answer as it nears the end of a disappointing regular season and what will likely be a longer-than-anticipated offseason.

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery