April 7 – Day 175 – Effectively a play-in

With two three-goal periods by the Oilers, Rexall Place went out a winner over the rival Canucks by a score of 6-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Edmonton saved their first offensive outburst for the second period, as Nail Yakupov got things started at the 28:27 mark of the game with his eighth tally of the season, assisted by Mark Fayne.  Patrick Maroon scored the second 4:49 later, his 10th tally of the season.  The third and final goal of the second period, aka the game winner,  was struck with 2:34 remaining courtesy of a Connor McDavid wrister, assisted by Jordan Eberle (his 21st helper of the season) and Taylor Hall, giving the Oil a three goal lead.

Vancouver finally got on the board at the 5:21 mark of the final period on a Matt Bartkowski snap shot, assisted by Alex Biega and Jared McCann (his ninth helper of the season), but the Oilers returned the differential to three 3:47 later with Maroon’s second of the night, assisted by Eberle and McDavid (his 31st helper of the season).  18 seconds later, Hall scored on a backhander for his 26th tally of the season, assisted by Adam Pardy and Iiro Pakarinen.  With 7:51 remaining in the game, the Canucks scored their second goal on a Bo Horvat snapper (his 15th tally of the season), assisted by Emerson Etem and Derek Dorsett.  The final goal of the game belongs to Leon Draisaitl, whose wrister was assisted by Hall (his 38th helper of the season) and McDavid.

Cam Talbot earns the win after saving 25 of 27 shots faced (92.6%), while Jacob Markstrom takes the loss, saving 32 of 38 (84.2%).

Edmonton‘s win sets the DtFR Game of the Day record at 81-45-19, favoring the home sides by 40 points over the roadies.

I hope you’re ready for another busy hockey night, because you’re in store for one!  Six pucks drop at 7 p.m. eastern (Detroit at Boston [NBCSN/TVAS], Tampa Bay at New Jersey, the New York Islanders at the New York Rangers, Toronto at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh at Washington [SN360] and Montréal at Carolina [RDS]), followed half an hour later by Florida at Ottawa (RDS2).  Arizona at Nashville gets underway at 8 p.m. eastern, with two games trailing 30 minutes later (St. Louis at Chicago and Colorado at Dallas).  Vancouver at Calgary is the only game to start at 9 p.m. eastern, as the co-nightcaps get started an hour and a half later (Anaheim at Los Angeles [SN/SN360] and Winnipeg at San Jose).

There’s a lot of divisional rivalries being  played this evening (Detroit at Boston, Islanders at Rangers, Pittsburgh at Washington, Florida at Ottawa, St. Louis at Chicago, Colorado at Dallas, Vancouver at Calgary and Anaheim at Los Angeles), and four games between teams qualifying for the playoffs (Islanders at Rangers, Pittsburgh at Washington, St. Louis at Chicago and Anaheim at Los Angeles).  The VancouverCalgary game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Western Quarterfinals.

There’s a ton of great games being played this evening, which makes my choice difficult.  Boston has the opportunity to qualify, which in turn makes the TorontoPhiladelphia game important (mark it down though, when was the last time Bruins fans hoped for a Maple Leafs win?).  The Islanders can reclaim a division qualifying spot.  St. Louis can move into first place in the Western Conference (again, that also makes the ColoradoDallas game important).  We’ve got a playoff rematch. And, oh yeah, we need to break a tie for the lead in the Pacific Division.

Since the biggest impact on the playoffs is a team not qualifying moving into the bracket, I suppose we’ll head to New England.

UnknownUnknownThis will be Detroit‘s 12th time featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series, where they own a 6-4-1 record.  The last time they were featured was March 22, a 6-2 beat down at the hands of the Lightning.  Boston has been featured 21 times before tonight, and own a 8-11-2 record in such games.  They were just featured Tuesday in their 2-1 home shootout loss to the Hurricanes.

The 41-28-11 Detroit Red Wings currently sit in third in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.  To get there, they’ve played the 14th worst defense, paired with the eighth worst offense.

Led by Danny DeKeyser’s 103 blocks, the Wings have allowed 2344 shots to reach 27-16-6 Petr Mrazek and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.5% for 216 goals against, the 14th most in the NHL.  They’ve been about that successful on the penalty kill too, neutralizing 81.23% of their infractions for 49 power play goals against, the 14th best rate in the league.

Led by Dylan Larkin’s 213 shots, Detroit has fired the puck 2358 times, with 8.6% finding the back of the net for 204 goals (led by Larkin’s 23 tallies), the eighth fewest in the league.  In comparison, the power play has done well this season, successful on 19.29% of attempts, good for 49 power play goals (led by Pavel Datsyuk’s eight extra man tallies), the 12th best rate in the league.

Detroit enters tonight’s game riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being last night’s three goal shutout victory over the visiting Flyers.  With a win tonight, the Wings clinch their spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, but a loss makes their final game on Saturday in Madison Square Garden a must win, especially since they play at the same time as the Bruins.

The 41-30-9 Boston Bruins currently occupy fourth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference, making them the first team outside the playoff picture.  To get there, they’ve played the fifth best offense in the league, but it’s been paired with the 12th worst defense.  A more statistical breakdown of their game can be found within Tuesday’s post.

Boston enters tonight’s game on a two game losing skid, with their most recent being Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Canes.  The Bruins certainly keeps their playoff hopes alive with a win this evening, but they’ll need Toronto to beat Philadelphia if they want to actually break into qualifying position before the night is through.

This is the final meeting of the regular season between these two squads, and Boston leads the season series 2-1-0.  That being said, it was the last meeting on Valentine’s Day that Detroit earned their lone win over the Bruins, a 6-5 home victory.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (36 goals [tied for fifth most in the league]) and Detroit‘s Larkin (23 goals, including 19 at even-strength and five game-winners, on 213 shots, and +13 [all lead the team]).

I think Boston should be able to win this game.  Their defense shouldn’t be pushed too much, and the offense is more than capable of scoring at a moment’s notice.

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