Friday on the Forehand (4/6/12)
Player Tweet(s) of the Week
“Honored to be back in the NHL Playoffs. Been a battle this year. Fans stuck by us, and were in for quite a ride going forward! Here we go!” —@Logancouture, San Jose Sharks
Playoff spots are clinched this morning, as the top eight for each team receive the coveted “X” in the standings. San Jose slipped into the West and is currently in 7th, looking at a possible playoff run against St. Louis.
Picks of the Week
Four and Four
With a win last night over the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the number four spot in the East. On the other side, the Nashville Predators moved into the number four in the West spot after a 2-0 victory over Dallas.
The fourth spot in a conference is arguably one of the more interesting battles as it is the highest standing for a team without winning a division. Both of these paralleling teams have, I think, an interesting post-season run ahead of them.
A Brief History of Predator Playoff Pushes
After becoming the second fastest expansion team of the 90s to reach the 100 point plateau in their ’01-‘02 season, the Predators lost in the first round of playoffs for four straight seasons (‘05-‘08). 2010 saw the franchise’s first-ever on-the-road post-season victory in in an eventual first round loss to Chicago.
Last season, led by Captain Shea Weber and alternates Ryan Suter and Steve Sullivan, Nashville advanced to the second round for the first time. They lost the series 4-2 to the first place Canucks.
In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nashville is looking at either the Detroit Red Wings or the Chicago Blackhawks as a first round opponent. Their match up is dependent on the results of the Blackhawks/Wings contest Saturday at 1p.m. and the Predators/Avalanche game Saturday night.
Remaining Regular Season Must-sees
Coyotes at Blues, Friday 7:30 p.m.
The only match up on Friday is between current number 8 spot Phoenix and the current number two spot Blues. After being station atop the West for a long period, St. Louis finds itself two points behind Vancouver, both teams having clinched their division. The Coyotes head to their straight post-season run with two remaining games back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.
Capitals at Rangers, Saturday 6:30p.m.
Securing themselves a spot in the playoffs, the Capitals made a narrow berth after Philadelphia’s defeat of the chasing Sabres. The Rangers have held onto the top of the East since Dec. 30. Both of these teams having little to no vertical mobility in the standings, it is a last match up previewing a possible first round contest.