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Canucks, Kings ready for Pacific Division showdown

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 11:36 AM / Expert Picks

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- For the Vancouver Canucks, defeating the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, PRIME, SNP) would help in securing their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The opportunity to derail the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings attempt to get back to the postseason, avoid Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs in the Western Conference, or make a statement if they do face the Kings in the playoffs was a bonus few wanted to discuss.

"I don't think we're thinking about that at all," forward Chris Higgins said. "You try to keep your focus small this time of year."

That focus is bouncing back from consecutive losses against the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets to finish a four-game road trip, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since mid-January, and taking back control of their own fate in the playoff race.

Playoff clinching scenarios for Monday, April 6

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 11:24 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With six 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 Monday:

* The Minnesota Wild would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Winnipeg Jets in regulation or overtime OR if they defeat Winnipeg in a shootout AND the Los Angeles Kings lose to the Vancouver Canucks in any fashion.

* The Canucks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat Los Angeles in regulation AND Winnipeg loses to Minnesota in regulation.

Defensive depth plays huge role in Wild's success

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The mumps and mysterious stomach ailments seem like they happened in another season. In many ways, that's because they did.

For the Minnesota Wild, the 2014-15 season has played out in three distinct segments: the good first month, the abyss around the holiday season, and then the rally to Stanley Cup Playoff relevancy.

Along the way, the Wild defensemen have played a key role in it all.

"Mumps and injuries, there's a lot of things we've had to overcome with that group," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Those are types of things that can really break a team, but they can also make it stronger too. And I think we've seen in that time, we've seen different players step up and take their game to another level, taking advantage of that opportunity."

Around the League notebook for Sunday, April 5

Monday, 04.06.2015 / 12:21 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


Braden Holtby made 35 saves to backstop the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. In addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs defeating the Ottawa Senators, the Capitals clinched a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result. Washington reached the postseason for the 25th time in Capitals history and for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

* The Capitals are 44-25-11 (99 points) and leapfrogged the idle New York Islanders to take sole possession of second in the Metropolitan Division standings.

* The Capitals have earned points in five consecutive games (4-0-1) and have earned points in seven of their past eight road games (6-1-1).

* Holtby stopped all but one of 36 shots he faced and is 40-19-10 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Holtby has earned points in six consecutive decisions (5-0-1).

* With a career-high 40 wins this season, Holtby ranks third among League-leaders and became the second goaltender in Capitals history to earn 40 victories in a season; Olie Kolzig had a 41 wins in 1999-2000. The victory was Holtby's 100th in the NHL and he became the fastest goaltender in Capitals history to reach the 100-win mark (176 GP).

Five reasons Capitals clinched playoff berth

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:30 PM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

The Metropolitan Division is not an easy place to make a living in the NHL. Between the New York Rangers, coming off a trip the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins, perennial contenders with two of the best forwards on the planet, and an up-and-coming New York Islanders team, the top of the division is a difficult place to be successful.

The Washington Capitals have navigated those waters and return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after coming up short a season ago.

Washington made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons beginning in 2007. They had 90 points in 2013-14, but fell three points short of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

But with its stars in top form, a new coach and a group of young players who continue to mature, Washington was able to put last season's disappointment behind and qualify for the playoffs.

Blues control destiny after win against Blackhawks

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 11:28 PM / Expert Picks

Louie Korac - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The magnitude of the St. Louis Blues' 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday will determine a lot when the Central Division standings are finally decided by the end of the regular season next Saturday.

A Blues loss would have dropped them into third place, one point behind Chicago and the Nashville Predators with three games remaining for each of the three teams.

Instead, the Blues (49-23-7, 105 points) control their own destiny and thrust themselves into first place, one point ahead of the Predators and more importantly, three ahead of the third-place Blackhawks (48-25-6).

Whoever finishes in second and third place will be a Western Conference First Round matchup, something the division winner would rather avoid.

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Quote of the Day

[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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