- Western Conference focus today. It has to be one of the tightest playoff races ever, and despite a light slate of games tonight, they have a gigantic impact on the race. The Ducks are holding onto seventh, with the Blackhawks in eighth. Calgary and Dallas will be gripping hard for both teams to lose, as they sit one and two points out, respectively.
- Do we really want Calgary or Dallas in though? Come on! No offense to those teams, but how could you not be drooling over a Chicago vs. Vancouver battle in the first round?
- Good luck in what is the start of a huge week ... and remember to check our goalie grid for the latest news on official starters for tonight.
Chicago (Corey Crawford) vs. Detroit (Joey MacDonald), 7:30 p.m
Dave Bolland (C) - Out indefinitely still as he recovers from a concussion.
Patrick Sharp (RW) - Out, and will miss another week or so with a knee injury.
Jimmy Howard (G) - Out. He skated on Monday but did not take any shots. He hopes to fully practice on Tuesday, with an outside shot of returning for Wednesday's game with the Blues.
Johan Franzen (RW) - Will play tonight, according to himself.
Pavel Datsyuk (C) - Out with lower-body injury. Eyeing Wedensday as a return date, but Satuday is more likely.
Colorado (Brian Elliott) vs. Anaheim (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 p.m
Ryan Wilson (D) - Doubtful as he battles a knee injury.
Matt Hunwick (D) - Questionable, and most likely a game-time decision after missing two games over the weekend with a sore back.
Mark Olver (C) - Not expected to play because of a head injury.
No Significant Injury News
Cam Atkinson (RW) Columbus - Signed two-way, entry-level contract with Blue Jackets
Blair Jones (C) Tampa Bay - Assigned to Norfolk (AHL)
Braden Holtby (G) Washington - Assigned to Hershey
Marc-Andre Gargnani (D) Buffalo - Recalled from Portland (AHL)
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Ryan Getzlaf (C) Anaheim - It's hard to look at Getzlaf's line over the last four games and not think that there has been a clerical error. He has a goal and 10, yes 10, assists in the last four games for the Ducks, who look to hang on to the soft grip they have on that seventh spot out West.
Joe Pavelski (C) San Jose - Staying in California, Pavelski has seemingly been hot for a month now. He is on a seven-game binge in which he has five goals and ten helpers. Pavelski has emerged as one of the elite playmakes in the entire league....but that lingering question is still there. Can San Jose carry a great regular season into the playoffs, or will it be another disappointing early exit?
Lubomir Visnovsky (D) Anaheim - Keeping with the Western Conference theme; you cannot deny that Getzlaf, Pavelski and Visnovsky's long and sustained hot streaks are amazing. "Lubo" has six goals and eight asssists in the last 11 games for the Ducks, and is carrying a plus-13 during that stretch. Really amazing stuff...what team out West wants any part of Anaheim in the first round?
Fedor Tyutin (D) Columbus - Tyutin isn't cold from a lack of effort. In the last eight games for the Jackets he has 16 shots-on-goal, but he can't get on the scoresheet to save his life. This isn't a guy who should have stretches like this - he does have 20 assists and six goals in Columbus' other 65 games.
Dainius Zubris (C) New Jersey - As Zubrus has struggled, the Devils have too. They've fallen into one of their patented ruts offensively at the worst possible time, and Zubrus embodies the struggle in the swamp. He is 0-for the last six games and is a minus-5 over that stretch.
Scott Clemmensen (G) Florida - This one is directed more to those of you in day-to-day leagues. Tomas Vokoun has been brutal of late for the Panthers, and to add injury to insult, Vokoun went down with an injury on Sunday. Clemmensen can get you a cheap win or two, especially with offensively inept Columbus and Ottawa on the slate for the Panthers this week.