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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NHL Headlines 4/2/08

These playoff races are starting to come into focus a little better aren't they? Teams are slowly starting to be eliminated from contention. Once the pairings have been established, I'll be doing a breakdown of both conferences as far as the match-ups go and who should come out of each conference to battle for the Stanley Cup.

Here's the day's headlines.

Canadiens Lock Up Northeast Title

This one annoyed me last night. I left Carey Price on my bench assuming that the Senators would have actually showed up to play in this game. Now, I'm only a little annoyed as I control all the goaltending categories in my championship match-up with Gopher, but who doesn't like to pad the lead?

Anyway, congrats to the Canadiens who are now tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference at 100 points. The Penguins play Game 81 tonight against the Flyers in what should no doubt be a barnburner.

The Habs and Pens battle will have to be settled on the last day of the regular season as the both teams have two games remaining. The Penguins will clinch with a win tonight and a Habs loss in their next game on Thursday against Buffalo.

The Habs clinch if they win their final two games and Pittsburgh wins none or 1.

Should the teams remain tied in points or end up tied in points, the Penguins win due to having more total wins than the Habs.

Preds Rally Back From 3-0 Down To Win 4-3

What a blow this would have been to their playoff chances had they not stormed back to win this game. A loss in regulation would have left them one point behind the Vancouver Canucks with both teams having two games remaining. Instead, now they control their own destiny. If they win out they're in the playoffs. Sounds simple enough right?

They play the Blues again on Thursday and finish up the season against the Blackhawks.

The road for the Canucks is slightly tougher in my humble opinion as they play the Oilers and Flames to finish the season. To say these are must-win games for both squads is an understatement.

I was following along online for the Preds game last night and couldn't help but think to myself, "How can they possibly not show up when their playoff lives are on the line?"

No sooner did I that thought go through my mind did the comeback begin. Freaky right? I'm gonna start using that more often for my own benefit by hoping for a million bucks. I'll let you know how it goes.

Avs Secure Playoff Berth, Put Canucks On Life-Support

I wish I would have been home last night to watch this game. This must have been fantastic to watch. Both teams fighting to get into the playoffs. One team locks up a spot with a win, the other stays one point ahead of the 9th place squad.

This time of year is better than Christmas for me. Not in the spiritual sense, but the joy I get out of playoff atmosphere hockey is better than the gift giving. Not to mention it's a lot cheaper and there's no snow on the ground in June unless you're my parents who will have it until next August.

Peter Forsberg finally played long enough to score his first goal since returning to the NHL. I know I rip on him a lot and it's not because I don't like the guy. I do think he's an amazing player, but he's so injury prone it's not even funny and why anyone would gamble one million bucks on him knowing he's one rut in the ice from being done for the year is beyond me.

Zubov Out For Regular Season, Playoff Status Unknown

I like the Stars right now as a Stanley Cup contender even with the recent lack of winning shall we say? Getting Sergei Zubov back ASAP will dramatically improve their chances. When he's healthy, if you don't have him on your fantasy team you know you're scared out of your mind of playing against him.

There's not many defensemen who can be as lethal as a forward and he's one of them. Before the injury he had 35 points in 42 games. That's pretty impressive for a d-man. He's also a solid guy in the defensive zone who plays smart and doesn't take many penalties. He only had 12 minutes in penalties in those 42 games. I wish Sergei Gonchar stayed out of the box as much as Zubov does. I'd be swearing a lot less than I do.

I think the Stars can still make a run without Zubov who's been out since Jan. 17 battling a groin and foot problem, but his leadership and overall ability could take this team all the way if he's healthy.

Sundin Done For Rest Of Season

As a hockey fan, I hope this isn't the last we've seen of Mats Sundin in Toronto. I'm still in shock they were trying to trade him at the deadline. Of course I understand the logic behind it, but he's done everything for the organization except deliver the Stanley Cup.

Where's the loyalty in this sport anymore? The last guys I remember giving everything they had to an organization like Mats has were Mario and Ray Bourque.

Bourque eventually went to management and tearfully requested a trade to a contender, since the Bruins weren't going anywhere soon, so that he could have another run at the Stanley Cup.

That clip is probably my all-time greatest Stanley Cup ceremony aside from seeing the Pens hoist it in the early 90's. Messier and the Rangers was another classic, but I lived in New England for Ray's entire career and I knew a cousin of his personally so this one takes the cake.

How big of an impact did Bourque have on Boston? If the Bruins and Avalanche were to have met in the finals, I really think the fans would have given up their own quest to see the local boys win the Cup and would have rooted on Bourque. The guy was and is always going to be one of the legendary sports heroes of Beantown.

How great would it have been to see th Avs clinch the Cup in Boston and see and hear the crowd reaction as the teary-eyed Bourque hoisted it up? I'm getting chills even thinking about it.

What Bourque was to Boston, Mats is to Toronto and it will be a sad day in hockey when he isn't wearing the blue and white.

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