Can any team crash the NHL playoffs? Plus, rough times for Canes, Sabres, Niklas Backstrom

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As far as Buffalo is concerned, Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to Winnipeg dropped the Sabres’ odds of making the playoffs to 2.1% percent according to the highly addictive sportsclubstats.com.. Passing three teams to get into eighth place is a huge ask with eight games left, even if Buffalo is only four points back.. The outside-looking-in team to watch in the East is the New Jersey Devils, the best possession team in the conference, who got Ilya Kovalchuk back on the ice for practice on Tuesday, although the star winger’s return date remains uncertain.. Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur have played exactly two games together since the end of February, a pair of wins late last month.. The Jets are tied with the Rangers for eighth place on points, and are two behind the Capitals for the Southeast lead, but New York has two games in hand and Washington one.. Also, Winnipeg has given up four or more goals 15 times this season, which is not exactly encouraging for a stretch run.. In the West, Columbus would inspire a lot more confidence (as would Phoenix) if not for a brutal road record and heavy travel schedule still to come.. The fact that the Stars have closed the Red Wings’ eighth-place margin is two points is incredible, but it feels like a dead-cat bounce after Dallas’ fire sale.. The margins are close, but St.. Louis, Minnesota, and Detroit have generally shown themselves to be better equipped to make the playoffs.. And that’s the corresponding feature of a Cinderella run — someone has to tumble out of a playoff spot. source: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2013-04-10/nhl-playoffs-2013-predictions-carolina-hurricanes-ilya-kovalchuk-sidney-crosby

Minnesota Wild: An introduction, and a Chicago Blackhawks preview

Nice to meet you.. I joined the Pioneer Press on the first of this month and the team proceeded to lose its next three games.. How’s that for a welcome?. Anyway, I came here from the northeast.. I was helping cover high schools for the Boston Globe and before that I covered the Flyers, Eagles and Phillies (and many other things) for the Philadelphia Inquirer.. Before that, I worked for NESN.com and the New Hampshire Union Leader.. While I’ve lived in California and Texas, I spent the last 10-plus years in New Hampshire and graduated from the University of New Hampshire, a place where we know a thing or two about hockey — regardless of what folks from Maine may say.. But I’m glad to be in the state of hockey now and glad to be covering the Wild.. I’m still very new to the area (I think I’ve spent more days on the road covering this team than I have in my own apartment), so I’d love suggestions for places to grab a bite to eat or hang out.. Send me emails at cgraff@pioneerpress.com, follow me on Twitter @ChadGraff and follow me on Instagram @ChadGraff for behind-the-scenes accounts of all the travel. source: http://blogs.twincities.com/wild/2013/04/09/minnesota-wild-an-introduction-and-a-chicago-blackhawks-preview/

Wild’s Josh Harding feels good after MS break

Mike Brehm

12 game, but that’s when he announced he was taking a break because he hadn’t been feeling 100%.. GOALIE NEWS: Flyers defend Bryzgalov The Wild posted video of Harding stopping shots at practice on Wednesday and talking about it afterward.. He said he thought he held his own.. “It was exciting being out with the boys and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.. “It’s a great feeling.” Harding added that doctors have worked out the medicine issue.. “We think we’ve got it all dialed in and we’re excited for the future,” he said.. When he returns to a game remains to be seen.. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that backup goalie Darcy Kuemper is remaining with the Wild for the time being.. But coach Mike Yeo said in his news conference that Harding “looked really good,” especially his energy level and quickness.. “It seems like it’s taking a long time, but this is something that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a good grasp of it,” he said. source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nhl/wild/2013/04/10/josh-harding-returns-to-practice/2071975/

Preview: Blues at Wild

Louis has not lost since acquiring defensemen Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester.. Coach Ken Hitchcock gives credit for the winning streak to the new blue-liners.. “We had a tendency to shovel the puck and make it someone else’s problem under pressure.. We don’t do that anymore,” he told the St.. Louis Post-Dispatch.. ABOUT THE WILD (22-15-2): Goaltender Josh Harding practiced with the team for the first time since landing on injured reserve on Feb.. 12.. Battling multiple sclerosis, Harding thinks he can return to action very soon.. “The way I felt today, I don’t think that it can take too long to get back into game mode,” Harding said.. The trade-deadline acquisition of Jason Pominville became even more important after the Wild learned Dany Heatley would miss the remainder of the regular season, as well as the playoffs, after undergoing successful shoulder surgery.. Pominville has recorded a goal and an assist in three games since coming over from the Buffalo Sabres. source: http://www.clickondetroit.com/sports/Preview-Blues-at-Wild/-/1719176/19706896/-/format/rss_2.0/-/1mhfao/-/index.html

 

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