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01 April 2007

7 teams fighting for 3 spots...

The Hurricanes and Islanders have fallen (make that) 4 points out of the final spot...7 teams are fighting for a playoff spot.

With the Canadiens, Islanders, Maple Leafs, Rangers and Lightning in action tonight, the playoff barely got clearer and it looks like we're gonna see it all go down to the wire folks!
The Canes are failing and their schedule isn't very easy till the end of the season...the Islanders won't go anywhere without Rick DiPietro...

  • The Canadiens held on to beat the East-leading Buffalo Sabres, 4-3.

Michael Ryder, Radek Bonk, Maxim Lapierre and Saku Koivu all scored for the Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak, winning his 6th of his last 7 starts, made 22 saves.
The Sabres got to the Habs first, Daniel Briere became the first player since Pat LaFontaine to surpass the 90-point mark for the Sabres, scoring 9:20 into the first frame.

Michael Ryder responded with a trickle through-the-legs goal on backup goalie Ty Conklin, who got the start over the tired Ryan Miller and did not impress me at all as he allowed 4 goals on 19 shots.

Dainius Zubrus
, who indicated he might be interested in coming back to Montreal as a free-agent this summer provided the Sabres with their 3rd goal and that was where the line was drawn for Lindy Ruff's club.

The game was nearly penalty free, with both teams getting only 2 powerplay opportunities and both going 0-fer with the extra man tonight...4 of the Canadiens 5 goals were assisted by defenceman (the lone attacker to get a helper tonight was Alex Kovalev, who was blanked for the second straight game after scoring two 2-goal games in a row against the Rangers and Capitals) namely Janne Niinimaa, only his 3rd point of the season, Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, who shot the puck that was tipped in by Michael Ryder in the first period, and Mark Streit (well, he is a d-man playing forward...)

The Canadiens have won 5 of their last 6 games and things are looking mighty good after tonight's win over the Sabres, the chemistry is very good, the team is focused, they know what's at stake...Jaroslav Halak made a few very good saves, but...Cristobal Huet is coming back in a few days and is the dream over for the young Slovakian netminder?

He's played great and all, but his last 3 starts (he's allowed 11 goals) are a worrisome indication...and you know what else? Everyone's making a HUGE deal out of Halak winning 5 in a row and not how the Canadiens have won 5 in a row.
You know? Hockey c'est un team sport.

He had a 1.33 GAA last week and was named the NHL's third star, he deserved it, he played awesome...and I shudder to think how it'd ruin his confidence if he was sent down.

Or maybe I'm exaggerating at the 11 goal stat and just sore that Cristobal Huet still isn't cleared to play...I really don't know how Gainey will go along with this.
Aebischer you ask? Screw 'im...

  • Wow! The Leafs beat the Penguins
It's desperation time for Paul Maurice's squad now, the Leafs know that margin for error in their upcoming stretch is little to none.
After a sad 3-2 overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, Paul Maurice promised his team would be ready for tonight's game.

They sure were: my scoreboard read 4-1 Leafs at some point in the second period, and I was like: "Wow!".
Another "wow" goes to Tomas Kaberle, who scored his team's 3rd goal in the second period and flashed "clutch" by potting the game-winner in extra innings just as Bob Cole exploded.

A "wow" to the Penguins also, who rallied from a 3 goal deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime. Sidney Crosby gets a goal to further add to his scoring lead over the Sharks' Joe Thornton...just as all was said and done and Harry Neale put away his broadcasting equipment, Ryan Whitney ties the game with 4 seconds to go!

I think that deserves a "wow" too.

Andrew Raycroft made 32 saves and Leafs TV made a horrible choice for the 3 stars, putting in Pavel Kubina as the 3rd (he had only one assist on the Kaberle goal in overtime), simply ignoring Kyle Wellwood's 3 helpers.

Jocelyn Thibault was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 20 shots and that likely spells the end of the veteran goalie's attempt to win over Michel Therrien's heart and be the Pens' number one guy come playoff time. Marc-Andre Fleury relieved the latter about half-way through the game and made 16 saves.


And I'm saying those words after the Scotia bankers beat the Habs last night...and they repaid me nicely, but not entirely, by knocking the Islanders even further on their rear end.
Victor Kozlov and the revived Marc-Andre Bergeron scored the only 2 goals for the Isle, who lost for the second time in as many nights and in that span being outscored 11-6.
Mike Dunham simply isn't getting it done for the Islanders, so Ted Nolan goes to minor-league goalie Wade Dubielewicz and the result was astonishing.

I don't think the likes of Tom Poti, Brendan Witt, Chris Campoli, Bruno Gervais, Sean Hill and Marc-Andre Bergeron were there tonight.

They allowed 46 shots on goal and Dubielewicz did the best he could, pushing away 42 of those shots and keeping his team in the game as long as he don't win games by allowing the double of your shots on goal and scoring only twice.

Mike Comrie scored twice, Christoph Schubert, the defenceman/forward put in his 8th and Dany Heatley is 2 goals away from yet another 50-goal season after scoring late in the 3rd to put the game entirely out of reach.

Dean McCammond scored his 14th and Martin Gerber got the start in goal.

  • The Flyers can't upset this time..
The Flyers closed some mouths a few days ago by beating Peter Laviolette's awe-strucken Hurricanes team 5-1.
Tonight was a different story, well, it was the same story entering the game: A nothing to lose team trying to ruin a team's chances of making a run at Lord Stanley's Cup.
Final score: 6-4, not bad, the Rangers didn't exactly coast through this one.

Jaromir Jagr, the shadow of last season's version of himself, scored twice for Big Apple, Martin Straka, Tomas Pock, Ryan Callahan and Peter Prucha scored the others.
Jagr also added an assit, as well as Martin Straka (he had 2).

Michael Nylander added 2 assists and Sean Avery stayed out of the penalty box.
For the Flyers now...the 23rd overall pick by the 'Yotes back in '02, Ben Eager, scored his 5th and 6th goals of the season and Braydon Coburn, the young defenceman acquired from Atlanta for Alexei Zhitnik, scored only his 3rd and Ryan Potulny potted his 6th of the season. Simon Gagne was also on the scoresheet with 2 assists...
Martin Biron was pulled from the Flyers' goal after giving in to 5 Rangers' goal on 22 shots, Antero Niittymaki made 11 saves out of a possible 12.

The Ligtning still alive...

After beating out on the Canes 4-2 last night, the Lightning had an easy opponent in the Washington Capitals and the score proved it once again: 5-2 Lightning.

The league-leader in goals, Vincent Lecavalier, scored his 51st of the season while quebecois Martin St. Louis added his 43rd.

Lecavalier also added his 54th and 55th assists as he continues his career season...
Jason Ward, Dan Boyle and Ryan Craig scored the other 3 Tampa goals...Cory Sarich got his 14th and 15th assists.

The Lightning still hold a 2-point lead over the 8th place Canadiens and a one point lead over the Rangers...

Yawn...good night!

Oh, and on a side note, the Panthers are still winning and they have not lost hope yet...but, with barely 5 games to go for the season and a 4 point deficit, barring any *ouches wood* Habs losing streak, the Cats are probably out.

Kronwall's injury is more serious than expected, he'll miss 6-8 weeks of action and that possibly means the entire playoffs. HUGE blow for this Wings team, Kronwall is a fine puck-moving defenceman but I think Andreas Lilja can compensate for this loss.
This is the third major injury of Kronwall's 3 season career (knee surgery, broken leg...)
And he didn't strain his hip, he BROKE his sacrum, which is a "large triangular bone at the base of the back" (Hat tip to Wikipedia).
Yow! That's gotta hurt.

And here's something for you to sleep...or wake up on:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

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