The MassMutual East Division drama. The division became a little more interesting on Thursday night after the Pittsburgh Penguins won without drama or fuss. No injuries, no late comebacks. It was a rarity for a team that typically has enough drama to fill a daily soap opera (and thank you for that). However, the New York Islanders are suddenly stumbling, Alex Ovechkin was injured, and the Boston Bruins with Taylor Hall are hot.
And if you’re into the former Penguins thing, Matt Murray has two shutouts this week for the Ottawa Senators. We’ll get to that at the end.
The Penguins’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to eight because they won in regulation, and Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Rangers.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Here’s the turning point for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby changed what was a tense atmosphere. He changed everything in just 41 seconds.
PHN+: Kasperi Kapanen was good. Sidney Crosby was great. The Penguins beat the Devils 5-1. From a subscriber’s suggestion, we tried out a new Report Card format where we grade units — the first line, second line, team grade, etc… Full page of takeaways, analysis, and consequence on Kapanen’s value to the team, the Jeff Carter second line, the defense, and more.
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Sportsnet: The Penguins trail the Washington Capitals by one point for the East Division lead. Washington beat the New York Islanders 1-0. However, Alex Ovechkin was injured and left the game on Thursday night.
Philly Hockey Now: The Flyers beat the New York Rangers in regulation, but the goal by James van Riemsdyk was something else. He scored a goal off of his face.
When the now losing goalie doesn’t react to the goal but checks on the “goal scorer” in a must-win game, it’s something serious.
When you look at the East Division standings (from NHL.com)
You can see Boston has two games in hand on everyone. If they win both of those games, they would be in second place just one regulation win behind Washington and one point ahead of the Penguins. The East is a dogfight.
Boston Hockey Now: The Boston Bruins have won SIX in a row. And Taylor Hall is on fire.
The rest of the NHL:
TSN: Will the NHL participate in the 2022 Olympics? What about a North Division bubble?
Ottawa Sun: Matt Murray is starting to show the form Ottawa expected. He earned his second shutout this week.
Vegas Hockey Now: Vegas has clinched a playoff berth and Marc-Andre Fleury led the way.
San Jose Hockey Now: The Sharks made a little run at the playoffs, now that’s over and things are getting chaotic.
Colorado Hockey Now: If you’re into sports betting, the Colorado Avalanche is the odds-on-favorite to win the big prize.
The prize, McCleod!
Sportsnet Video: Jakub Vrana had a pretty good night for Detroit. If you consider four goals pretty good.