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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.
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SPEAK OF THE DEVILS
Moment of silence for the teams that missed the playoffs.
Oh, wait. You're right. The season isn't over yet! But we can already guess which handful of tams will miss out by a whisker or two. And a couple of them are squads nobody expected to sniff the postseason. Let's give them their moment in the sun.
New Jersey Devils
Ask any number of pundits in September where they thought the Devils would finish, and most would mention Auston Matthews and the first overall pick. I know I was one of them. A couple of years of peddling aging veterans and a weak lineup needed to end. It was time for the rebuild to start. But a couple of shrewd offseason moves (namely, Kyle Palmieri) have paid off, and they made a decent run at the postseason. Kudos.
The Hurricanes were in a similar position, but they've made an improved playoff push on the back of a system built on shot suppression. And they've actually been fun to watch? Jeff Skinner's resurgence hasn't hurt them, either. Trading Eric Staal was a difficult decision, surely, but it also brought them a decent prospect in Aleksi Saarela in a year they were also hunting down the playoffs.
So good for those two clubs. The only problem is they're stuck in rebuilding no-man's land now: outside the playoffs and outside the range of a top ten draft pick.
FRIENDLY NCAA HOCKEY REMINDER!
- The NCAA men's Division I tournament starts today! You can keep up with the schedule, bracket and results all tournament long right here. Bookmark it!
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
- Florida reclaimed the top spot in the Atlantic with a win in Boston on Thursday, but ...
- ... Bruins fans rightfully feel robbed after the refs blew a pivotal goal call.
- You know how the Ducks and Stars clinched playoff berths two days ago? Both clubs followed those highs up with duds. Anaheim lost a firefight with Toronto and Dallas got muzzled by the Coyotes.
- A Red Wings rookie gifted his team a big win and made-up ground in the Wild Card race.
- At least until the Flyers mounted a terrific comeback in Colorado.
- The Avalanche, by the way, can't stop blowing late leads.
- Nashville is still the hottest team in the NHL after an overtime win yesterday.
- Zach Parise and the Wild welcomed back Nicklas Backstrom by scoring six goals on him.
- Another playoff team lost to a non playoff team. Sports!
- Connor McDavid led an unlikely Oilers comeback.
- The Flyers' playoff chances have never been better.
- Taking a look back between the Wild's pipes.
- Matchsticks & Gasoline spoke with the Flames' assistant GM about Calgary's future.
- Roberto Luongo is the best.
- Are the Kings the NHL's most consistent team?
- Anthony Mantha scored his first NHL goal. His grandpa cried. And so did we.