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@gunnerstaal @Hockey_Hurts hockeyhurts.com Rochester, NY • United States • 30 Years Old • Male

Shots from around the league

The battle for the top seed in the Eastern Conference is heating up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers. The Rangers gutted out a 2-1 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on the strength of their Captain and Rochester, NY native Ryan Callahan’s 27th goal of the season on his 27th birthday, in overtime. This restored the 3 point gap the Rangers have on the Penguins (Pens have 1 game in hand). The Rangers were able to escape a late shift by the Red Wings with about 2 minutes remaining in the game when the Red Wings were able to force multiple turnovers each time the Rangers looked like they were going to clear the zone. This created some real tense moments as the guy with the puck was mostly #13 Pavel Datsyuk. The Rangers are a different team when Callahan is in the lineup. It is easy to see why he is the captain.

The Penguins and Predators are set to do battle this evening in what has the potential of a Stanley Cup Final. Both teams have rosters that are built extremely well for the playoffs. Both have goalies with 39 wins (Fleury and Rinne) and both teams boast solid defense corps with the nod going to Nashville’s group. The Penguins should have the advantage at the forward position now that Crosby is back and healthy. However the Predators scored a major win for their unit by reacquiring Alex Radulov, who by all accounts will make his debut against the Penguins. The Predators have not had a dynamic offensive talent like Radulov since Radulov left a few years back. David Poile specifically asked Shea Weber about adding Radulov before making the move and Weber was completely on board with the acquisition. Paul Gaustad who was one of Poile’s main deadline acquisitions has been bothered by a wrist injury and has missed the past few games.

The Buffalo Sabres continue to stay in the playoff race despite many writing them off earlier in the season (myself included). The Sabres have won their last two games in convincing fashion by tallying up 7 goals against the Lightning and then shutting out the Canadiens last night. Cody Hodgson broke his goalless drought that has plagued him since before his trade to Buffalo (13 games), he scored two goals against MTL. It will be very interesting to see how the Capitals come out and play against the Flyers knowing that Buffalo is lurking. It does bear mentioning that Alexander Ovechkin has started to find his scoring touch as of late (5 goals in past 4 games) and that is a necessity if the Capitals are going to stay ahead of Buffalo. Also it has been reported that Nicklas Backstrom is skating again and looking towards a return for this season. He has skated lightly for 3 straight days in full equipment and may join the team for practice in the near future. Backstrom is the most important forward for the Capitals IMO, it would be an enormous boost to their team.

The Anaheim Ducks continue to try and play spoiler against other teams as they defeated the Blues last night 4-3. While the Ducks can’t really spoil St. Louis’ playoff berth potential they did however slow them down from running away with the President’s Trophy for now. Anaheim has had a disappointing season but Duck fans have to be intrigued by what the future holds as Smith-Pelley continues to get better and more comfortable at the NHL level and prospect Emerson Etem is absolutely ripping up the WHL. Etem has played in 65 games and has 61 goals, 46 assists for 107 points. The 61 goals led the league. What makes Etem even more appealing as a Ducks fan is that he is actually a Southern California hockey product hailing from Long Beach.

Boston makes their way out to San Jose where the Sharks desperately need the two points in order to stay in the playoff race. The Sharks are coming off two disappointing losses to the Southern California teams. The Sharks are currently two points out of the playoff race chasing Phoenix and LA. Boston is coming off of two impressive wins over the Flyers and an absolute beat down of the Maple Leafs 8-0. The Bruins are only 3 points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the division lead.

Tidbits from Twitter:

Josh Yohe ‏ @JoshYohe_Trib
Who will get more assists this year? Ovechkin (24 in 69 games) or Crosby (19 in 12 games)?

Shawn Simpson ‏ @SSimpsonHockey
Getting from good sources. Patrick Roy will be the next GM of the Montreal Canadiens and close friend Bob Hartley will be coach!!!

John Buccigross ‏ @Buccigross
ELIAS: Ryan Callahan is the first NY Ranger to score a game-winning overtime goal on his birthday. #whatjohnmcCreaistocake

John Buccigross ‏ @Buccigross
Sabres' Ryan Miller- 5 shutouts over last 22 starts dating back to Feb 1, tying him with Ilya Bryzgalov for NHL lead since that date #elias

Pierre LeBrun ‏ @Real_ESPNLeBrun
Weber and other leaders on the team told Poile to go for it, that adding Radulov would be a great thing.

Brian Metzer ‏ @Brian_Metzer Close
Sidney Crosby is averaging 1.75 ppg this season, but has averaged 2.25 over the four games since rejoining the line-up last Thursday. #Pens

Corey Masisak ‏ @cmasisak22 Close
#Pens Sidney Crosby has 131 points in the past 82 games he has played. Has a period left in Game 82, also.

Corey Masisak ‏ @cmasisak22 Close
Other last 82 games played totals: Malkin 108, Grioux 98, Stamkos 92, Spezza 88, Kessel 85, Datsyuk 84, Kovalchuk 83. Again, Crosby ... 131.

Filed Under:   NHL   Sabres   Predators   Penguins   Rangers   Redwings   Bruins  
March 22, 2012 8:56 AM ET | Delete
Capitols Schedule looks much easier than Ottawa. If the Sabres make it it will be because of a Sens fall than a Caps. Florida has a cake walk. Not an easy road for Buffalo.
March 22, 2012 2:12 PM ET | Delete
Well done Gunner. Assuming the tweet regarding the canadiens future is true. What do you think Cunneyworth will be doing next season?
March 22, 2012 8:02 PM ET | Delete
Cunneyworth should land on his feet, he is a good coach and deserved better than what has happened in Montreal. He might have to go back to the AHL to be a head coach or be an assistant in the NHL, but I think he will get another crack at NHL head job eventually, at least I hope so.
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