At this time of year, every game is important to both ongoing playoff battles and teams’ final decisions on their trade deadline stance. Friday was no different, as the Blues asserted themselves against the division rival Stars, the Avalanche narrowly edged the Ducks to keep up in the Central as well, the Islanders got a much-needed win, and the Oilers, Predators, and Hurricanes all failed to come away with two points in upset losses. However, the fiercest battle in the NHL right now is at the top of the league, where the Bruins and Lightning are simultaneously batting for the Atlantic Division title, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and the President’s Trophy. As good as Boston has played of late, they have still lost ground to a Tampa club that has been unstoppable since December. After a rare Bolts loss to Vegas on Friday, the Bruins needed to take advantage in a Pacific clash of their own in Calgary. The odds seemed bleak after allowing three goals to the Flames in the first six minutes of play, but Boston shut out Calgary for the rest of the game and came away with a meaningful 4-3 win to increase their lead over Tampa Bay to five points. Whether it is a top contender, a fringe playoff team, or a bottom-dweller, every minor move also has significance at this time. With the trade deadline arriving in just two days, look for today to be a busy day for roster tweaks:
- The Vegas Golden Knights have recalled a pair of players, including Las Vegas native Gage Quinney. The 24-year-old forward has finally earned an NHL appearance with 32 points in 42 games so far this season, among the top producers on the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. The trade of Cody Eakin opens up a roster spot up front in Vegas for Quinney and his teammates in the minors, at least until Alex Tuch returns from injury or the Knights make a trade addition. Also returning to the top level is defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who has skated in seven games with Vegas so far this season.
- Scott Wilson is on his way back down to the minors, as the Buffalo Sabres announced that they have reassigned the veteran forward. The move is somewhat surprising, as Wilson has contributed two points in four games since being recalled earlier this month and seemingly looked like he would either stick with Buffalo for a while longer or could potentially be a candidate to be traded as an affordable depth addition for a contender. Instead, the impending free agent will head back to the AHL’s Rochester Americans, where he has 19 points in 29 games this year.
- After losing Cody Goloubef on waivers yesterday, the Ottawa Senators have promoted Christian Jaros to fill his place on the back end. Jaros, 23, played in 61 games with Ottawa last season but only six so far in 2019-20. As the Senators get set to trade away multiple pieces before the deadline on Monday, Jaros is one of a number of minor leaguers from AHL Belleville expected to see an increased role down the stretch.
- The injury-riddled Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled defenseman Gabriel Carlsson from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Carlsson was just sent down yesterday, but the team will need him as they take on the Predators tonight without any regulars expected to return to the lineup. Carlsson, a big, stay-at-home defender, has been a good fit in Columbus as a spot starter, even if he has yet to produce a point in six games this season.
- Darcy Kuemper is taking an important step towards returning to the lineup as the Arizona Coyotes have assigned him to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners on a conditioning stint. He has missed just over two months with a lower-body injury but was one of the top goalies in the league before being injured. Assuming there are no setbacks, he should return to Arizona sometime next week and give them a huge boost in their push for a playoff spot.
- The Philadelphia Flyers have returned defenseman Mark Friedman to AHL Lehigh Valley, reports Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer. He has been shuffled back and forth in recent days and managed to get into Thursday’s game with the big club where he logged more than 16 minutes of ice time.
- With Erik Gustafsson being held out of the lineup with the trade deadline on the horizon (he won’t be joining the Blackhawks for their upcoming road game), Chicago will be recalling defenseman Lucas Carlsson from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, reports Mark Lazerus of The Athletic. If he gets into the lineup, it will be his first NHL action. Carlsson is in his second season with Rockford and has 26 points in 48 games this season.
- The Colorado Avalanche announced they have recalled forward Logan O’Connor from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL. With only 12 healthy forwards on the roster, O’Connor should provide some insurance in case of injury for the time being. The 23-year-old returns after a stint with the Avalanche in December where he played seven games with one goal. The forward has 12 goals and 25 points in 40 games with the Eagles.
- The Edmonton Oilers announced they have assigned forward Colby Cave and defenseman Evan Bouchard to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. Cave has played in six games since being recalled on Feb. 10, but hasn’t picked up a point in that span. He has one goal in 11 games for Edmonton this season. His assignment likely indicates that Connor McDavid is ready to return to the Oilers’ lineup. As for Bouchard, the 10th-overall pick in 2018, he will have to wait to make his 2019-20 debut. He was recalled Wednesday and has been a healthy scratch twice. He is expected to play with Bakersfield on Saturday and could return to be Edmonton’s seventh defenseman on Sunday again.