A very happy Thanksgiving to all of our U.S. readers! Thanksgiving, in any country, is a date with great significance for many of the same reasons: a chance to reflect and be thankful. However, in the hockey world, Thanksgiving in the U.S. brings another note of significance: playoffs. Sure, it’s early, most teams playing somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 games, but history dictates that teams in the playoffs today are likely to be there after 82 games, and teams that are not, probably won’t be playing after their 82 are finished. In fact, Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards tweets that roughly 76% of teams in a playoff position on Thanksgiving keep it. So, it begs the question: which teams on the outside looking in today will make the playoffs? And who might lose their spot?
In the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings hold playoff positions in their respective divisions, with the New York Rangers holding the first Wild Card spot and the Tampa Bay Lightning tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second spot. In the West, the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle Kraken, and Los Angeles Kings hold playoff positions in their respective divisions, with the Calgary Flames holding the first Wild Card spot, followed by a four-way tie for second place between the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, and Nashville Predators. Will the standings hold? Nick Alberga of The Leafs Nation points out, 12 of the 16 teams in playoff position this time last year ultimately clinched a berth.
- The Buffalo Sabres should get a pair of wingers back shortly, says Bill Hoppe of the Buffalo Hockey Beat. Per Sabres head coach Don Granato, Rasmus Asplund, who’s listed as day-to-day may have been able to play last night, but given his physical style of play, it was better to let him continue to rest. Captain Kyle Okposo, who has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury, skated on his own Wednesday and is expected to join the team on Friday for their morning skate. After losing eight straight, the Sabres have now won two in a row. Getting their full lineup back on the ice should, hopefully, help them continue on this winning path.
- Colorado Avalanche forward Evan Rodrigues left last night’s game early with what appeared to be a lower-body injury and was ultimately ruled out for the rest of the game. From Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar says Rodrigues will be further evaluated today. One of the newest members of the Avalanche, Rodrigues has fit in with Colorado nicely since coming over in free agency this summer, registering six goals and three assists in 18 games so far.
@John—Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! Thanks for keeping us up to date on stuff today!
@Mac- Happy Thanksgiving! :)
@Gbear—Thanks, and right back at ya! There is a bit of a damper on the day, though, with the news of the passing of Mr. Salming. I just wish I could find the video of he and Darryl in the stands dancing with their own photo masks on.
@Mac – Not sure any player took as much physical abuse as Borje did. But he soldiered thru it. Not sure players today have that kind of fortitude.
@Gbear—The two players of today that come to mind for me would be Chris Tanev and Victor Hedman. They’re two of the better examples I can think of that come closest to a Salming-like approach to defense, but are still far from a good comparison. I posted the link to the SportsNet page where I found the videos below @Gavin’s article, and watching highlights of Borje skate just makes your jaw drop. One sequence where he laid a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit on a guy was amazing. It looked like he could saw a guy in half that way.
If the Preds don’t find some spark to their offense, their playoff run will be coming to an end this season.