dimanche 12 avril 2015

NHL playoff race: 6 things to know

source : cbc.ca

It's the final day of the NHL's 82-game regular season and there's still plenty to be decided as far as playoff berths and positioning.

Ottawa clinched a post-season spot with an afternoon victory over Philadelphia, Winnipeg routed Calgary to ensure the Flames will open the playoffs on the road against Vancouver, while Montreal looks to secure a division title tonight.

Here's what you need to know:

Sens gain playoff berth

The Ottawa Senators secured their first Stanley Cup playoff berth since 2013 with a 3-1 win in Philadelphia in the afternoon. Now, only one of Boston or Pittsburgh, which play in separate games this evening, will advance to the post-season. The Penguins visit last-place Buffalo and the Bruins are in Tampa Bay. Ottawa could still finish third in the Atlantic Division should the Detroit Red Wings lose in regulation in Carolina.

Rookie Senators goalie "Hamburglar" Andrew Hammond made 34 saves for his 20th win since the team recalled him from its AHL in mid-February. He finished the regular season 10-0-2 with three shutouts on the road, while Ottawa capped a 22-4-4 run to end the season. The Senators won two of three games in the season series.

Jets rout Flames

Winnipeg finished strong in front of an appreciative home crowd by pounding Calgary 5-1. The Jets own the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference and will face either St. Louis or Anaheim in the first round, pending the Ducks' result at Arizona tonight. A win of any kind would give them the top seed in the West.

Calgary's loss means it will open the first round on the road against Vancouver.

Other playoff scenarios

  • Pittsburgh would make the playoff for a ninth straight season with a victory in Buffalo. But the Penguins, who hold the second wild-card spot by a point over Boston, are 3-9-2 since March 12 and winless in five games in April. Defenceman Christian Ehrhoff, who missed Friday's 3-1 loss to the visiting New York Islanders with a suspected concussion, is doubtful Saturday.
  • Montreal can clinch the Atlantic Division with a win or post-regulation loss at Toronto. A Canadiens loss could see Tampa Bay take the division should it prevail over visiting Boston.
  • Washington and the New York Islanders will meet in the first round. The Isles can take home-ice advantage if they beat Columbus at home tonight.
  • Chicago locked up third spot in the Central Division after Minnesota lost to St. Louis. The Blackhawks will open on the road against Nashville.

Scoring races

It's only fitting that a NHL scoring race that has been tightly contested for weeks be decided on the final day of season. Ditto the race for the rookie scoring champion. John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, who each grabbed a point in Friday's head-to-head matchup, enter play Saturday with 84 points apiece, followed by Dallas' Jamie Benn (83). Crosby has had the most success in the group this season against his Saturday opponent, racking up eight points in two games against Buffalo. Tavares has three goals and six points in three games versus Columbus.

Habs eye sweep of Leafs

Montreal will try to maintain its two-point lead over Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic Division when it visits longtime rivals Toronto. The Canadiens, who have won all three games in the season series, will also attempt to sweep the Maple Leafs for the first time since 1995-96, when they went 2-0-0. Carey Price will start in goal for Montreal. He has stopped 82 of 86 shots he has faced versus Toronto this season with a 1.30 GAA and .953 save percentage. Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty will miss a second straight contest with a suspected concussion. Tough guy Colton Orr has been summoned from the AHL to play his final game as a Leaf.

Miller time in Vancouver

Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, who hasn't played since suffering a knee injury on Feb. 22, will get the call against the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Miller sports a 28-15-1 record, 2.47 GAA and .913 save percentage in his first season with Vancouver.
The game became meaningless for Vancouver when Calgary lost to Winnipeg in the afternoon, ensuring the Canucks will have home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff matchup against the Flames.
Vancouver is 4-0-0 against Edmonton this season but they haven't faced each other since Nov. 19.