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Breaking news: Peter Mueller will not make the road trip to play games one or two. He will miss the first two contests. I think Game 3 is a strong possibility, but who really knows for sure.
The DobberHockey Panel prediction charts have been updated (see headline article), including my own picks and the consensus picks (that are eerily accurate over the years).
Tarik El-Bashir is reporting that Nicklas Backstrom was injured on Saturday (this is a surprise to everybody - undisclosed of course). He was not in practice today and is questionable (in my mind doubtful) for Game 1. Brendan Morrison was on Alex Ovechkin's line in practice.
If your playoff pool counts plus/minus, you may want to take a real close look at WAS defenseman Jeff Schultz. Not only was he plus-50 on the year, but he was also a plus-11 in his final three games.
Almost a third of Boston rearguard Dennis Wideman's points (nine of 30) came in the last 12 games.
Pittsburgh blueliner Kris Letang is pointless in his last 11 contests. With Jordan Leopold on board, Letang has been filling a more defensive role. He'll still be a rearguard who possibly pots 50 points, but you may not see it for two or three years. Gonchar leaving should help (and yes, I am guaranteeing that he is gone this summer).
Jaroslav Halak is winless and has given up nine goals in his last three games. he has started five in a row. We have seen him dominate when he gets in the zone, but as of right now he is not in that zone. I would be concerned about Carey Price stealing the job from him if I was a Halak owner. Both goaltenders will be on a short leash and I wouldn't touch this situation in hockey pools if I can help it. Price, by the way, is also winless in his last three starts and has started just twice since March 4.
Reason No.1 why Nashville is my favorite Cindarella team for a first round upset - Pekka Rinne's numbers over the last 14 games: 10-3-1, 1.75, .940
Since returning from a terrible wrist injury, NJ defenseman Paul Martin has nine points in 13 contests. He has also stepped up in past postseason play.
According to the Gazette, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Chris Kunitz AND Matt Cooke will all be back for Game 1. That means Eric Tangradi has been returned to Wilkes-Barre Scranton, along with any dark horse hopes. It was a long shot anyway. Cooke, for one, is a surprise to me because of his concussion. They may call it a "head injury", but they can call it a "salami sandwich" for all I care. I call it a "concussion" and he's coming back too soon.
The Penguins signed Brent Johnson to an extension (two years). Barring a miracle (or massive injury), John Curry's underdog success story stops here. He had made Boston University as a walk on, then stole the starting job, then dominated the NCAA, then was signed by the Pens and sent to the ECHL, then he dominated that league. He was brought up to the AHL as a backup when the Pens needed Ty Conklin. He proceeded to steal that starting job and has 56 wins over the last two seasons there. This year was a rough one though and at 26 years of age he will need some bounces to go his way.
I'm sure that by now you know of TB's firings yesterday. I wasn't the biggest fan of coach Rick Tocchet, but just for what he did with Steve Downie alone, that warranted another season. As for Brian Lawton, I think last year's draft was a good one and I thought his acquisition of Teddy Purcell was astute. He also handled himself well with the press and was one of the rare GM's to be open and candid on Twitter. He didn't have enough time.
The Red Wings have recalled Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl. You probably won't see the latter here in the postseason, but you may see the former for a few games.
The Tennessean is reporting that Denis Grebeshkov may be ready for Game 1. He is good for a point every two games.
An update on some injured Colorado players, courtesy of Adrian Dater of the Denver Post: Peter Mueller had another hard off-ice workout and Dater opines that Mueller will make his postseason debut in Game 2 or Game 3. Matt Duchene and David Jones are both probably ready for Game 1, but Jones is doubtful to be dressed for it as they are erring on the side of caution.
The Blue Jackets have signed prospect defenseman Ted Ruth to an ELC. I have him ranked 60th on my prospects list for fantasy defensemen, but he will not have fantasy value in the near future.
I'm sure that by now you know of TB's firings yesterday. I'll give my thoughts on it when I update the ramblings later this morning.
Phoenix forward Martin Hanzal heads into the playoffs pointless in nine and a minus-5 in that span.
Detroit pivot Val Filppula has no points in his last six games and is a minus-6. However, I think he makes an excellent dark horse given his performance a year ago.
Don't forget to check out my article this afternoon on the Eastern Conference playoff musings. The Western Conference piece can be found here.
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