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Canadiens, Rangers can clinch playoff spots tonight

by Adam Schwartz
The Canadiens still haven't clinched a playoff spot, but they could when they visit Boston (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-CA), where the Eastern Conference-champion Bruins would like nothing more than to help keep their biggest rival out of the postseason.

The Rangers are just one point behind the Habs and will try to clinch a playoff berth of their own when they host the first half of a home-and-home series against the Flyers.

In other Eastern Conference games, the Panthers continue their chase to catch the Rangers and Canadiens by visiting Atlanta; the Hurricanes will try to jump ahead of Philadelphia to gain home-ice advantage when they host the Sabres; the Devils are in Ottawa and can clinch the Atlantic Division title; the Penguins, who would face the Devils if the playoffs started today, will try to catch the Hurricanes when they face off with the Islanders; and the Lightning host the Capitals.

In the Western Conference, the Predators look to regain a playoff spot when they travel to Detroit; the Canucks try to take a lead on the idle Flames for the Northwest Division lead when they host the Kings; the Sharks play their third of four games at home against the Coyotes; and the Avalanche begin a season-ending three-game homestand against the Stars.

Here are some interesting stats about some of the teams playing Thursday:

* Rangers defenseman Wade Redden is 5 points short of recording 30 with just two games remaining. It could be the first time Redden fails to hit the 30 point mark since 1998-99.

* Carolina right wing Tuomo Ruutu is one of just five players in the League with 200 hits and 50 points and has 13 points in 14 games since the Hurricanes traded for Ruutu's linemate, Erik Cole. The third player on the line, Eric Staal, is just one goal short of recording 40 for the second time in his career.

* Sharks center Joe Thornton has 19 more assists than any other San Jose player, but has been held without an assist in five of his last seven games. Thornton feasts on Phoenix with 31 assists and 48 points in 31 career games against the Coyotes, including 2 goals and an assist in five games this season.

* Vancouver twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin both have 81 points, which is 23 more than any other player on the team. Henrik, who is known as the playmaker of the pair, has a career-high 21 goals and hit the 60-assist mark for the third consecutive season Saturday in Vancouver's 5-3 loss to Edmonton.

* The Predators are one of just four teams with two defensemen -- Ryan Suter and Shea Weber -- with 45 points. Nashville has made the playoffs each of the last four seasons, but is one of just three franchises -- joining Columbus and Atlanta -- to have never won a playoff round.

* Florida left wing David Booth leads the team with 28 goals and had 19 in 38 games before the All-Star break, but has just 9 in 30 games since then, including just 2 goals in his last 11 games. Booth, who is 24 and in his third season in the League, has already surpassed his previous career-high of 40 points by 14.

* Devils left wing Patrik Elias is questionable for Thursday's game with a leg injury and New Jersey has lost three of five games Elias has missed this season. Elias' spot on the line with Dainius Zubrus and Brian Gionta is being filled by Brian Rolston.   

* Pittsburgh right wing Bill Guerin has 7 assists and 11 points in 15 games since being traded to the Penguins and joining a line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. With two games remaining, Guerin is 3 points shy of recording his first 50-point season since 2006-07.

* Washington has scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference with 260, but has allowed the third-most goals (231) by a team currently holding a playoff position.

* Dallas center Brendan Morrison had 10 goals in 62 games with the Ducks, but has 6 goals in 17 games with the Stars. Morrison had six consecutive 50-point seasons with Vancouver, but hasn't reached the mark since 2006-07 and has played with three franchises since then.

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