AND FURTHERMORE: As for Marc Staal, he did get a chance to play in Thursday night’s Staal-a-thon in Carolina (where his three brothers, Eric, Jordan and Jared all started the game on a single line – nice touch by coach Kirk Muller there.). Marc, the Rangers defenceman recovering from an eye injury, is expected to be ready when the playoffs begin. The Rangers looked anything but playoff-ready against Carolina – a lucky tying goal forced the overtime that allowed them to win and get in – but many believe they can crank it up in the postseason, which might help people forget how average they’ve been this time around. With three teams, the Rangers, the Islanders and the Senators all tied with 54 points (Ottawa has a game in hand), playoff seedings in the East will likely not be settled until Sunday’s finale between Boston and the Senators, a game that was rescheduled as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings. A few weeks, it was ventured here that the first round could feature three Original Six match-ups. With 48 hours to go, it’s still within the realm of the possible. Wouldn’t a Chicago-Detroit series be fun to watch? Detroit is on a bit of a surge now and a big reason is the Mule, Johan Franzen, is heating up, with seven goals in his last seven games. In the two years Detroit went to the Stanley Cup final against the Penguins, Franzen was on fire – scoring 25 goals in 39 games.
AND FINALLY: The NHL’s draft lottery will take place Monday night, with one minor tweak. Unlike past years, where a team that won the lottery could only move up a maximum of five places in the draft order, this year, each of the 14 non-playoff teams have a chance to go to No. 1. The Florida Panthers, at 34 points, and the Colorado Avalanche, at 37, have locked up the bottom two rungs of the NHL standings – and since they can only fall a single place in the draft lottery, are both guaranteed to draft in the top 3. It’s closer after that, with two points separating five teams: Tampa (40), Edmonton and Nashville (41) and Calgary and Carolina (42). As of Friday morning, Carolina and Calgary have identical records (14-24-4). The tie breaker at the bottom of the standings is the same as at the top – regulation and overtime wins, which gives Calgary the edge if they remain tied with the Hurricanes after 48 games, but not in a good way.
The extra ROW, which would help the Flames at the top of the standings, hurts them at the bottom – and if nothing changes during the weekend, would see Calgary draft seventh, pending the lottery outcome. Edmonton has had the last three first overall picks – before that, it was the Islanders (John Tavares), Tampa (Steven Stamkos), Chicago (Patrick Kane), St. Louis (Erik Johnson, and Pittsburgh (Sidney Crosby). Among the bottom seven, Florida last had a No. 1 with Ed Jovanovski (1994), and Colorado technically had one back in 1991, when the franchise was based in Quebec, and the Nordiques selected Eric Lindros. Neither Nashville nor Calgary/Atlanta have ever drafted first overall. Nashville came closest with David Legwand (No. 2 in 1998 behind Vincent Lecavalier), while the Atlanta Flames got Tom Lysiak No. 2 back in 1973, behind Denis Potvin. Since the team moved to Calgary in 1980, the highest the Flames have drafted was sixth overall in back-to-back years, 1997 and 1998, disastrously selecting Daniel Tkaczuk and Rico Fata respectively.