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Daily Primer April 3: Playoff preview in San Jose

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Edmonton Oilers nearly did the San Jose Sharks a favor Wednesday night, but they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Instead, the Sharks enter Thursday three points behind the Ducks instead of one in the Pacific Division race. San Jose will look to get back within a point of Anaheim when it hosts the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Should the Sharks (48-20-9) be unable to pass the Ducks in the standings, they would almost certainly face Los Angeles (45-26-6) in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings are 3-0-1 against the Sharks this season.

Here's a closer look at the action Thursday:

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Trade to Flyers revived goalie Mason's career

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 7:09 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Steve Mason
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 31-17-7
GAA: 2.53 | SVP: 0.916
Steve Mason says he was ready to walk away from hockey. The game he'd loved since childhood had become a chore.

As the conclusion of the 2012-13 season approached, Mason was at a crossroads. Tossing his goalie pads in the trash seemed like the best, perhaps only, course of action.

One year later, Mason's angst is a distant memory. His smile is omnipresent and the pads he was ready to trash have earned him his second 30-win season. He's virtually assured of making his second trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he has a three-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers that starts in July.

Thursday, Mason will celebrate the one-year anniversary of his arrival in Philadelphia. Coincidentally, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that traded Mason to Philadelphia, will be the opposition.


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Goalie Josh Harding takes part in Wild practice

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 6:30 PM / News

NHL.com

Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding, sidelined since Dec. 31 with complications of multiple sclerosis, practiced with the team Wednesday for the first time since mid-January.

"It was a huge day today. I'm obviously really excited for today," Harding told the Wild website. "I have a lot to go, but it's good getting back out with the boys."

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Bowey signs entry-level contract with Capitals

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 5:01 PM / News

NHL.com

Defenseman Madison Bowey signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. The contract begins with the 2014-15 season.

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Red Wings' Babcock focused solely on the present

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:21 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- It was one of the most enduring images from this year's installment of HBO's "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic," which previewed the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic played between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock stood in front of a white dry-erase board in the locker room putting a patchwork of unfamiliar numbers into his lineup. He added forward Gustav Nyquist's No. 14 to the top of an injury list eight players long that was written vertically down the right side.

"These people don't matter," Babcock said, circling his hand around the injury list.

Circling his hand around the lineup, he continued: "These people matter."

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Injured McDonagh to travel with Rangers

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 2:42 PM / News

NHL.com

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh will continue traveling with the team after sustaining an upper-body injury following a hit from Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows during a 3-1 win in Vancouver on Tuesday, according to the Rangers.

McDonagh appeared to injure his left shoulder on the play, but sustained no structural damage, according to the New York Post.

He isn't expected to play Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.

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Price, top line help send Canadiens to playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 1:57 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

On paper, the Montreal Canadiens have no business being where they are, with an invitation to the Stanley Cup Playoffs already in hand with 11 days remaining in the NHL regular season.

The Canadiens have a negative goal differential at 5-on-5, their possession numbers as a team are in the bottom half of the League, their power play is in the middle of the pack, they have yet to find consistent pairings on defense and they give up far too many shots on goal.

Yet here they sit, staring at a likely first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning and with a comfortable lead on the teams fighting to grab the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots.

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Dowd, Carey, Gaudreau named Hobey Baker finalists

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 12:55 PM / News

NHL.com

Forwards Nic Dowd of St. Cloud State University, Greg Carey of St. Lawrence University and Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College on Wednesday were named the three finalists for the 2014 Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

The winner of the Hobey Baker Award will be announced April 11 at 6 p.m. ET from Philadelphia, the site of this year's NCAA Frozen Four Championship.

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On the 'D'-fence: Martinez matters in fantasy playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

If you were to take a look at the stat line for the Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez you wouldn't be blown away. You wouldn't be scrambling to add him to your fantasy roster for your playoff run and he'd likely only garner interest in the deepest of leagues, but take the time to scrutinize his game log and you see a player who quickly is becoming a must-own commodity.

He is in the middle of one of those special runs that players sometimes have. You know the kind we are talking about; think John Druce scoring 14 goals during the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Washington Capitals or Lee Stempniak putting up 18 points in 18 games for the Phoenix Coyotes after arriving in a deadline deal during the 2009-10 season.

It's the kind of unexpected production that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the fantasy hockey version of a golden ticket in a Willy Wonka chocolate bar.

One minute Martinez, is putting up four goals, three assists and 48 shots on goal in 40 games, and the next he is being added in close to 800 Yahoo standard leagues per day.

What happened? How did he make himself one of the most coveted fantasy defensemen in the league?

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Depth, puck possession deliver Lightning to playoffs

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 11:34 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Three seasons ago the Tampa Bay Lightning, led by a coach who shot through the ranks to become an emerging young star, reached the postseason and came within a goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

The roster at coach Guy Boucher's disposal was highlighted by superstars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, but it also was full of declining veterans. Instead of building off the team's breakout season, the Lightning regressed and general manager Steve Yzerman spent the past two seasons weeding out bad contracts and helping the club get younger.

Boucher went from rising star to unemployed, but instead of taking a conservative approach, Yzerman made another bold move by replacing him with Jon Cooper, another young coach who rocketed through several levels of hockey with great success to make it to the NHL.

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Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions