BY THE NUMBERS
Road losses by the Philadelphia Flyers, most in the league. The inability to play outside the Wells Fargo Center (where they are a respectable 9-4-1) is the primary reason the Flyers could miss the playoffs this season.
Consecutive home wins at the Honda Center for the Anaheim Ducks, including Wednesday’s 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, which moved them to within three points of the overall NHL lead (with a game in hand). Anaheim hasn’t lost at home since its season opener.
Consecutive games with a point for the Columbus Blue Jackets, heading into Friday night’s home date against the Calgary Flames. Even with that unexpected surge, the Blue Jackets hadn’t made their way into the top eight spots in the Western Conference standings.
THEY SAID IT
“Early on we had that doubt. Now we expect to win and we’re holding each other accountable. We know what we’re capable of. We know what each guy’s capable of.” ~ Ryan Suter...The Minnesota Wild defenceman, on his team’s surge past the Vancouver Canucks to the top of the Northwest Division.
“We’re the players, and we’re here to win now. We worry about what goes on in the room and what goes on out there on the ice. It is not for us to worry about some draft pick, with all due respect to those who do, of course.” ~ Vaclav Prospal...The Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward, on the way the perennial cellar dwellers (and lottery draftees) are pushing for a playoff spot.
One of the reasons the Phoenix Coyotes wanted to lock up rising defensive star Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a six-year contract extension was the fear that he could receive an offer sheet this summer, when he was scheduled to become a restricted free agent. Teams generally shy away from issuing offer sheets – the Calgary Flames’ move to land Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly last month was a rare exception – but because of the uncertainty over Phoenix’s ownership situation, and how far the league-owned Coyotes could go to match a creative and inflationary offer sheet, general manager Don Maloney wanted to get a contract done sooner rather than later. Ekman-Larsson would have been an attractive candidate to any team wanting to add an approaching-his-prime defensive stud, a player with a little bit of Nicklas Lidstrom in him. Ekman-Larsson has some offensive skill, even if he isn’t all that flashy and mostly just gets the job done efficiently. Ekman-Larsson’s contract could have an effect on the market for similar players and make it pricier for, say, the Los Angeles Kings to sign their rising young defensive star, Slava Voynov, in the summer. Voynov is piling up the points in his third full NHL season and he, like Ekman-Larsson, could get an offer sheet if negotiations between the team and the player bog down. … The Kings will likely be looking for a defenceman at the trade deadline and one player they may target is Buffalo Sabres veteran Robyn Regehr, who once played for coach Darryl Sutter in Calgary and would provide the big-bodied presence they’ve been missing this year, because of injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Greene is coming off back surgery, but has a chance to come back before the end of the season. There is greater uncertainty about Mitchell’s status since he is no longer skating with the Kings and apparently suffered a setback. … The game of the week – the NHL’s No. 1 team overall, Chicago, vs. the No. 2 team overall, Anaheim – went to the Ducks last Wednesday, and it was a good one. Playing in front of a Honda Center record crowd of 17,610, Anaheim erased a 2-1 third-period disadvantage by scoring a pair of late goals, both set up by a flu-stricken Ryan Getzlaf, and then iced it with an empty-netter. It marked the fifth time this year Anaheim won a game in which it trailed after 40 minutes, a rare occurrence in the era of parity. Anaheim played without Corey Perry, serving the final game of his four-game suspension, but the Blackhawks were without two key injured players as well – Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp . … Their loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs this week, plus a growing injury list that includes Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone and goaltender Anders Lindback, means the Tampa Bay Lightning could be sellers at the trade deadline. Lindback was injured in relief of starter Mathieu Garon and if his injury is a high ankle sprain, that could mean an extended period on the sidelines. In the meantime, Cédrick Desjardins is up from the minors to replace him. … Carolina’s recent swoon helped the Winnipeg Jets move into top spot in the Southeast Division, but the Hurricanes are hoping that Tuomo Ruutu’s return to the lineup (after missing the first 29 games of the season recovering from hip surgery) will give their 29th-ranked power play a boost by providing a greater net-front presence. Ruutu was scheduled to return for the Hurricanes’ Thursday night date with the New Jersey Devils, which also marked Martin Brodeur’s return after a lengthy absence. The Devils had sunk out of playoff contention after a fast start, largely because of Brodeur’s injury, a pinched nerve in his neck. Without Brodeur, the Devils went 3-8-2.