Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Evening Preview (Apr 2)

There's going to be plenty of playoff ramifications in the 10 games on the NHL schedule tonight, which may be a little bit more exciting than some of the hockey pool races that are left, but we'll mix in a little bit of both, just like we have been doing for the last few weeks.

Stacey M. retook 2nd place on Monday night, gaining a 2-point advantage over Kristy & Don and Stacey still has a slight advantage in the projected games to be played column on the standings page as well.

Jesse and Tony both got off to good starts last night, Jesse passing Grant's team for 4th place and made up a little bit of ground on the duo, now 19 points back heading into tonight's action.

Dale C. and Ryan both made up some ground on Wes' team for a top 10 spot in the standings this year, Wes' team is now clinging to a 2-point buffer for that last coveted spot in the standings.

Finally, Derek B.'s team leads Scott's team 1-0 this week in the battle for the basement, Derek's team is now 4 points clear at the start of play tonight.  Scott's team had the chances last night, but couldn't post the points.

Lots to go on the schedule today, so let's get right at it.

Pekka Rinne (John P.) versus Carter Hutton (Wes)
The Nashville Predators dropped to 3rd in the Central last night, thanks to tie-breakers not in their favour, but they could retake 2nd with a win in Buffalo tonight.

The pool goalie match-up will see Pekka Rinne going for John P. and his 15th place team against Carter Hutton and his 10th place team in the standings.  Right now, John's team could finish as high as 14th and as low as 18th, while Wes' 10th place hold isn't very strong, only 4 points clear of 13th, so both are jockeying for their own final placement, but where they are, they're not related at all, given the gap between 13th and 14th.

On the injury front, it sounds like Rasmus Ristolainen is ready to return for the last few games of the season for the Sabres, which is okay news for Jeremy's 19th place team.  As it has been mentioned over the last few days, his team is resting comfortably with no hope and no stress.

Tuukka Rask (Jesse) versus Sergei Bobrovsky (Kristy & Don)
The Boston Bruins are in and are now just jockeying for position in the Atlantic Division race, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have been red hot of late and looking to secure their spot in the playoffs in a come from behind sort of fashion.  The Jackets have very little breathing space to work with, but the teams they are racing against, much like themselves, have difficult opposition tonight, so a loss might not be the end of the world.

It's a pretty solid top four goalie match-up tonight, as Jesse's team is tracking down the money spots and he gets a key start for the Bruins and Tuukka Rask tonight, something to possibly shave down the gap between his team and 3rd place.  Kristy & Don occupy that spot and they have the reigning Player of the Week starting, Sergei Bobrovsky, so I would say that this is the hockey pool game of the night and one worth watching.

Petr Mrazek (Stacey C.) versus Garret Sparks (Grant)
The Hurricanes are one of those teams that the Jackets are racing against in that 3-team race for two wild card spots and Carolina has drawn the Maple Leafs tonight, who coincidentally, is racing against the Bruins for 2nd place in the Atlantic.  I'm sure they are looking at Columbus saying, "we'll scratch your back, if you scratch ours" tonight.

Grant gets the first of two starts tonight with Garret Sparks going for the Leafs tonight.  Grant's team lost 4th place in the standings last night to Jesse and starts 2 points out and 21 points out of 3rd, so he'll need some real help from the crease tonight, if he's going to have a chance at anything.  For Stacey C., it looks like the best his team can finish is 7th and his team starts 6 points back of that spot at the start of play tonight, but gets a start from Petr Mrazek and the Canes, as they hunt down a playoff spot.

Eddie Pasquale (N/A) versus Carey Price (Stacey M.)
The third team in the 3-team race, the one currently on the outside looking in, the Montreal Canadiens, don't get any favours tonight, drawing the President's Trophy recipients, the Tampa Bay Lightning.  If there is any saving grace to this, the Bolts played last night, where the Habs didn't, so that could work in their favour a little.

Stacey M. appears to be getting the only pool start with Carey Price heading back to the crease for the Habs tonight, as they try and make that big push to a playoff spot.  Stacey's team is also trying to make that push to get away from Kristy & Don in 2nd place and both of those teams are getting starts here tonight, which should keep things very interesting.

Matt Murray (Scott) versus Jimmy Howard (Tony)
The Pittsburgh Penguins can punch their ticket into the playoffs tonight in the first of a home-and-home series with the Detroit Red Wings tonight, if they post a win in any fashion on the road tonight.  The Red Wings are more than happy to play spoiler, as they have two players really motoring in the scoring department right now and they could make the Penguins sorry, if the Pens take these games for granted.

Matt Murray was the first off the ice at the Penguins' skate this morning, meaning that Scott will get another start out of the Pittsburgh number one tonight.  Scott's team is the only one sitting at zero points at the start of play tonight.  The race to get out of last is far from over.  It doesn't seem very logical that the Red Wings would bring out a keeper for his first start against the Penguins, so it seems far more likely that Jimmy Howard gets the start again, but that has yet to be confirmed.  I'm sure Tony is looking for this start, hoping the Wings can play a spoiling role at home tonight.

One scratch expected tonight, as the Penguins didn't have Brian Dumoulin on the ice at the skate, he is not expected to play against Detroit due to a lower-body injury.  A missed skater game from the blueline likely won't hurt Neil's team too badly, but his team has reached its ceiling of 7th, now trying to stave off Stacey C. for the spot.

Eric Comrie (N/A) versus Devan Dubnyk (Wes)
Big Central Division match-up in Minnesota, when the Jets take on the Wild.  The Wild are looking at this game with a serious level of desperation, 5 points back of the last wild card spot, so they most definitely need a win in any fashion to at least have a chance, while the Jets, they're just looking to pad their small lead in the division, looking for that division title.

We knew the Wild were going into this big game with Devan Dubnyk back in the crease, giving Wes another start tonight, getting both keepers into the nets tonight will certainly help his chances at defending 10th place tonight.  The Jets haven't confirmed their goalie, but seeing as though they are on back-to-back nights and they still have two games remaining after this one, it seems very likely that they will finally give Eric Comrie a spin in net, since Laurent Brossoit may not be ready to go from his injury yet.

Cam Talbot (Mike) versus Anton Khudobin (Grant)
The Dallas Stars only need 1 point to get themselves into the playoffs and they get a team now playing for pride in the Philadelphia Flyers at home, but they shouldn't be taking this team likely, as the Flyers are a sly bunch and will play spoiler at the drop of a hat.

Grant's team does have a little bit of hope with a second start tonight, thanks to the Dallas Stars and Anton Khudobin getting the call against the Flyers.  It's not going to be an easy game, but one that he could win and help Grant retake 4th place and possibly make that late push for 3rd as well.  The Flyers are doing Mike's team a favour tonight and giving Cam Talbot another audition for a job for next season, as Mike may or may not (I'm not exactly sure, to be honest) want that 20th overall spot from Benson.

Mikko Koskinen (Tony) versus Semyon Varlamov (Wilton)
The Oilers were officially eliminated last night, while the Avalanche can eliminate the Blackhawks and pad their slight lead in the wild card with a win tonight.  Both teams are coming off of losses last night, so the curse of the back-to-back will do one of these teams in tonight.

Surprisingly, with not a whole lot to play for, Tony is going to be gifted another start from the Oilers, as they'll send Mikko Koskinen back to the net, which will certainly give him at least a chance for 2 points, but the Avalanche are going to be hungry for those points and I can't imagine the mood in the Oilers room is all that giddy.

Martin Jones (Brenda & Seward) versus Thatcher Demko (Clayton)
The San Jose Sharks are locked into 2nd place in the Pacific and the Vancouver Canucks have been out of the playoff picture for a few days now, so there isn't a whole lot to play for tonight, except for jobs and pride.

The Canucks will be giving rookie goalie Thatcher Demko a chance to improve their chances against the Sharks, a team they haven't had much success against in recent history.  Clayton's 17th place team sure hopes that's the case, but the best his team can do is 14th, so the hope for the pool points is somewhat moot.  Brenda & Seward will get another start from Martin Jones and the visiting Sharks tonight, as expected, their only start of the night, chasing down Chelsea's team, which misses out on a Canucks start tonight.

And if Clayton's team wanted that win, he probably didn't want to see the return of his forward Joe Pavelski to the Sharks lineup tonight.  It looks like he's ready to return from injury, after missing the last few weeks and sinking his pool team into the depths of the bottom half of the standings.

Jack Campbell (N/A) versus Darcy Kuemper (Neil)
The Arizona Coyotes have the most hope remaining in the schedule to possibly climb into a wild card spot, as they start the night only 2 points behind the Avalanche with three games to go and they have the tie-breakers in their back pocket, so they just need to get the points to make it really interesting too.  They get the Kings tonight, who lost last night to the Flames, which may bode well for the dogs, but this is why we play the game!

No surprises with the Coyotes tonight, as they will definitely be going with Darcy Kuemper again, giving Neil another start and a good chance at points in this game.  His grip on 7th could be strengthened by a good effort from the dogs tonight, especially with a road-weary club as their opponent.

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