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Features

Five reasons Senators clinched a playoff berth

Saturday, 04.11.2015 / 4:15 PM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2012 Los Angeles Kings proved that all a team needs to do is get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; from there, anything can happen. Los Angeles caught fire after the 2012 Trade Deadline, sneaking into the postseason as the No. 8 seed, and then eventually winning the 2012 Stanley Cup.

The Ottawa Senators have followed that blueprint to the letter so far.

On Feb. 10, the Senators were 14 points out of a playoff spot. Five teams stood in the way of a postseason berth.

Playoff hockey is all about "what have you done for me lately?" and of late, the Senators have been the hottest team in hockey. Ottawa is 23-4-4 since Feb. 10, and 32-16-7 since coach Dave Cameron took over on Dec. 11. Th Senators, the one led recently by a first-year goaltender and timely goal-scoring, now have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Here are five reasons the Senators clinched a playoff berth:

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Kraft Hockeyville USA announces top 10 finalists

Saturday, 04.11.2015 / 3:30 PM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

NHL Public Relations

NORTHFIELD, Ill. – Hundreds of communities across the country have shown their hockey spirit and passion by nominating their local rinks for the esteemed title of "Kraft Hockeyville USA," and the chance to host an NHL Pre-Season Game in their local community. Launched in the United States for the first time on January 1, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), National Hockey League (NHL), NBC Sports Group and USA Hockey, Kraft's Canadian-born program captured the nation, reaching communities in all 50 states, with 1,324 rinks nominated and 18,388 unique story nominations. The top 10 communities will share $425,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft.

The 10 communities, five from the West and five from the East, moving on to the first round of voting include:

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Playoff clinching scenarios for Saturday, April 11

Saturday, 04.11.2015 / 11:56 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

On the final day of the 2014-15 regular season, two berths and much of the remaining seeding in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs remain up for grabs.

Here are all of the clinching scenarios for Saturday:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

* The Senators would clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point against the Flyers OR if the Penguins lose to the Sabres in regulation OR if the Bruins lose to the Lightning in any fashion.

* The Senators would clinch the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division if they defeat the Flyers in any fashion AND the Red Wings lose to the Hurricanes in regulation.

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Boston U. freshman Eichel wins Hobey Baker

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 9:01 PM / Prospects

Connor Mellas - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- As clips of Boston University freshman Jack Eichel played on the video board at Matthews Arena, Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey turned to Eichel and laughed, shaking his head.

With the way Eichel scores goals, sometimes that's only appropriate response.

"That goal he scored against Wisconsin, it was pretty hilarious," Vesey said. "It was just a highlight-reel goal. He's just such a good skater and he uses edges so well there, and his reach and then the shot."

"He's a great player, and giving him the Hobey Baker is very well-deserved. He's been the most dominant player in college hockey."

Eichel won the 2015 Hobey Baker Award on Friday, becoming the second freshman to earn the award and the first since Paul Kariya led the University of Maine to the national championship in 1992-93. The award is given annually to the top player in NCAA men's hockey. It's named after Baker, a hockey and football standout at Princeton University who died test piloting a plane for the Army Air Service at the end of World War I. It's the highest individual honor in men's college hockey, the equivalent of college football's Heisman Trophy.

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Five reasons the Kings didn't make the playoffs

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 7:51 PM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The water bottles were lined up on the bench and the ice was fresh at the Los Angeles Kings practice facility, but the players never put on their skates Friday. Later, a manager came out to pack up the bottles, and the lights were turned off.

The scene summed up the past three days for the Kings: a flicker of light for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that was extinguished Thursday when a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames made Los Angeles the first defending Cup champion to miss the postseason since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said. “There’s a lot of words to describe this season but, yeah, I think it’s maybe too fresh right now. It’s a weird, weird feeling. It’s a feeling we don’t like. We don’t want to relive this. You have a feeling of winning, and then you have a feeling of this. It’s pretty disappointing.”

Here are five reasons the Kings missed the playoffs:

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Bruins struggles a group failure, GM says

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 7:06 PM / Expert Picks

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is more than a little bit disappointed with their performance this season.

“I consider it a failure and it’s a failure on everybody’s part,” Chiarelli said Friday in Tampa on an off day for players and coaches. “But being a failure doesn’t mean there has to be a complete overhaul of everything. Guys fail, teams fail, and they get back on their horse. And so again, I consider it a failure, but you don't always succeed in this business. You don’t always hit the ball out of the park all the time, and you’ve got to get back and do your job, and we’ve shown we can do that. But right now it’s very disappointing.”

Chiarelli’s comments were surprising considering the Bruins have a chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth straight season. Boston will play its regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NESN, SN1), and there’s a chance it won’t be the Bruins' last game of the season.

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Avalanche's Pickard thriving with AHL workload

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:25 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Goaltender Calvin Pickard's ability to handle a heavy workload is starting to pay off.

Making his NHL debut, doing so under the watchful eye of one of his childhood idols and earning the top spot in ESPN "SportsCenter’s" Top 10 Plays are all things the 22-year-old can check off his to-do list. Between the Colorado Avalanche and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, Pickard has appeared in 61 games this season. That includes his first appearance and victory in the NHL.

“It seems like both places I've been in, I've been able to play a lot of games,” said Pickard, Colorado's third-round pick (No. 49) in the 2010 NHL Draft. “That’s how you develop, and I've been earning a lot of experience this year, playing at both levels and in different situations. It’s been a big year for me, for sure.”

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Sakic says Avalanche better than this season's record

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 2:53 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic had an inkling that this could be a difficult season as early as training camp.

Yet he didn't anticipate the Avalanche missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs one season after they won the Central Division with 112 points under first-year coach and former teammate Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche are in last place in the division with a 38-31-12 record and 88 points with one game remaining, Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center.

"We expect to win," Sakic said. "We didn't come here to be hovering and missing the playoffs. Last year, for sure, 112 points ... we know we weren't as good as 112 points. This year, I think we're better than what we've performed. This year, the big thing is what happened the first half of the year. We weren't ready for (it)."

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Perseverance propels Senators to playoff brink

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 2:08 PM / Expert Picks

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Sometimes it really is about the process and sticking with routines. The Ottawa Senators have proved in the past two months that believing in both eventually can yield positive results.

Ottawa will clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by gaining one point Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Senators were 14 points out of a playoff spot Feb. 10 before they faced the Buffalo Sabres.

The Senators have gone 22-4-4 since, and the key is they haven't done much differently in the past 30 games than they did in their first 24 under coach Dave Cameron, who coached his first game Dec. 11 after taking over for Paul MacLean.

"We went through a stretch where we thought we were playing reasonably well but we weren't able to get on that roll," Cameron said following Ottawa's 3-0 win against the New York Rangers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. "We'd win one and we'd lose one and we'd sit down and analyze the game, look around at other teams in the League that were getting on rolls, and we'd say, 'Why isn't that happening to us?' We didn't have the answer for it other than the fact that we just have to trust that if you put in the work and you do it everyday eventually good things will happen. I don't care how good your team is you never sit back and say you know you're going on a roll like this, but we knew we put in the work and right now things are going good for us."

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Playoff clinching scenarios for Friday, April 10

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 12:28 PM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With two days remaining in the regular season, two berths in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs remain up for grabs (both in the Eastern Conference).

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Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final