Hawks Miss Opportunity to Clinch Presidents’ Trophy, Rangers Looking Toward Playoffs

The Chicago Blackhawks (34-6-5) entered Monday night’s play with an opportunity to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy with a win over the Vancouver Canucks (26-13-7) and a victory by the Ottawa Senators (23-16-6) over the the Pittsburgh Penguins (35-10-0) in regulation.

Neither happened and instead the Hawks center Dave Bolland went down with a lower-body injury in the first period. With this second straight loss, coach Joel Quenneville called the game “the worst of the year.”

Dave Bolland edits

Blackhawks Dave Bolland

Win their 3-1 win, the Canucks clinched their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title and won home-ice advantage for the first round of Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blackhawks still sit in first place for the Western Conference and are No. 1 overall over the Pittsburgh Penguins by three points. Next up for the team is a trip to the Edmonton Oilers (17-21-) on Wednesday. In their most recent matchup on March 10, they lost 6-5 but on Feb. 25, the Blackhawks won 3-2.

For the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks are +300 to win it this year.

In other Monday action, the Anaheim Ducks (29-11-6) clinched the Pacific Division with a 3-0 win over the Oilers. This was the first time to do so since 2007, which was the same year they won the Stanley Cup.

For 2013, they are +800 to do so again.

With another loss, the Oilers have been knocked out of playoff contention and they now have the longest NHL postseason dry spell at seven years.

The Detroit Red Wings (21-16-8) defeated the Phoenix Coyotes (19-18-8) 4-0 on Monday and now have 50 points, sitting one point behind the No. 8 Columbus Blue Jackets (22-17-7).

It’s a tight race for the few Western Conference teams still trying to get into the playoffs:

No. 7 Minnesota Wild (51 points with three remaining games (20 regulation/OT wins)
No. 8 Blue Jackets (51 points with two remaining games (17 ROW)
No 9. Red Wings (50 points with three remaining games (19 ROW)
No 10 Dallas Stars (48 points with three remaining (20 ROW)
No. 11 Coyotes (46 points with three games left (15 ROW)

So who is likely to make it?

The Red Wings are -175 yes/+125 no while the Coyotes are -500 no/+300 yes.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s games, the New York Rangers (24-17-4) will play the Florida Panthers (13-26-6).

Rangers vs. Panthers

The Rangers are getting closer to punching their postseason ticket. They will enter Tuesday night’s game on a three-game win streak and with another win it will represent a tie for a season-best fourth consecutive win, and nine wins in their last 12 games.

Besides looking for a win, the Rangers will keep their eyes on the Winnipeg Jets (24-19-3) vs. the Washington Senators (25-18-2) outcome. With a win, the Senators will clinch the Southeast Division. They are 1 for 3 to do so.

The Rangers are currently No. 7 with 52 points while the Jets are No. 9 with 51 points.

In their last game on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers won 4-1. This knocked the Devils out of playoff contention and gave New York an 8-2-1 record.

The Rangers are peaking at the right time and right wing Ryan Callahan said of their recent play via ESPN, “We’re playing our best hockey we’ve played all year. Now is the time to do that. We’ve been playing playoff-style hockey the last couple of games. These are must-wins for us. It gives us a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.”

Rangers Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers Henrik Lundqvist

Contributing to the team’s wins has been goalie Henrik Lundqvist who has also gone 8-2-1 with a 1.79 GAA in his last 11 starts. Against the Panthers, he’s won eight of his 11 previous starts and has a 1.27 GAA against them.

For Florida, they’ve lost six straight games and have been outscored 30-8 during this time.

Not helping matters is the team’s leading goal scorer Tomas Kopecky missed the team’s last game on Sunday and has been listed as day-to-day with an injury.

Regardless, the win goes to the Rangers (-230, 5 o/u).



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