N.H.L. This Week: As Teams Jockey, Capitals Can Clinch a Spot


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Shayne Gostisbehere and the Flyers entered Tuesday’s action 3 points out of an N.H.L. wild-card spot with 76 points.

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Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Every Tuesday, The New York Times will look at the week ahead in the N.H.L., highlighting hot — or not so hot — teams and players. (All times Eastern.)

Games to Watch

Flyers vs. Anyone

A month is left in the regular season, and the jockeying for playoff position will be in intense, particularly in the East. Philadelphia entered Tuesday’s action 3 points out of a wild-card spot with 76 points, but three of its next four games are against the teams just above them. The Flyers host Detroit on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) and Pittsburgh on Saturday before visiting the Islanders on Monday.

Capitals vs. Clinching Possibilities

Washington isn’t quite at the Golden State Warriors’ level, but the Capitals are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot with 14 games left. With 103 points in 68 games, Washington is 17 points better than the second-place team in the East (Boston) and 12 points ahead of Dallas and St. Louis in the Presidents’ Trophy race. The Capitals have several ways to earn a playoff berth Tuesday night, according to the N.H.L.:

Kings at Stars, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.

Los Angeles faced a doozy of a doubleheader this week, visiting Chicago and Dallas on consecutive nights. The Kings passed the first test in style, shutting out the Blackhawks, 5-0. The Hawks have lost three in a row, allowing the Stars and the Blues to leapfrog them in the Central Division. Tuesday’s matchup pits the N.H.L.’s highest scoring team (Dallas, with 3.21 goals per game) against its stingiest (Los Angeles, with 2.24 goals against per game). With the Stars battling injuries and scoring droughts by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza has risen to the occasion, scoring in six straight games. Coach Lindy Ruff said this was the best Spezza has played since arriving in Dallas before last season.

Rangers vs. California

With Rick Nash back after a seven-week absence and Henrik Lundqvist healthy, the Rangers are at full strength for the first time since mid-January. But that hasn’t solved their erratic play. The Rangers had three frustrating losses in the past week to Eastern teams they are battling for playoff position. Now they head out for a three-game swing against likely playoff teams in California, beginning Wednesday in Anaheim. On their last trip against top Western teams, the Rangers came away with statement victories over the Blues and the Stars, who are tied for the best record in the conference.

N.C.A.A. Women’s Frozen Four, Friday and Sunday

Led by Alex Carpenter, undefeated Boston College is trying to become the first team from New England to win the Division I women’s hockey title. To do so, the Eagles will have to defeat two teams with champion pedigrees. In Friday’s semifinals in Durham, N.H., Boston College faces Clarkson, the 2014 champion. In the other semifinal, the five-time champion Minnesota and the four-time champion Wisconsin play for the sixth time this season. Minnesota, which has won three of the last four titles, claimed two of the three games between the teams since Amanda Kessel returned from a two-year absence last month.

In Case You Missed It

The Boston Pride won the inaugural Isobel Cup, winning the National Women’s Hockey League championship on Saturday against the Buffalo Beauts. Along for the ride was Denna Laing, who was paralyzed while playing for the Pride in an exhibition game at the Winter Classic in January. Her jersey hung behind the Pride bench, and she was part of the on-ice postgame celebration, where a hat with her number was placed on top of the trophy and her teammates talked to her through FaceTime.

Pride players took the Isobel Cup to Laing the next day at the rehabilitation facility where she is staying, and she even took a drink from it.

Get to Know …

The Toronto Maple Leafs

Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The rebuilding team has been shedding veteran contracts since the off-season, and after the trade deadline on Feb. 29, the Leafs went all in on their youth movement, meaning there are a lot of new faces to get to know. They called up some of their top prospects, including William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen. They added the young defenseman Connor Carrick in a trade and gave 22-year-old Garret Sparks the backup goalie job.

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William Nylander, right, who was pursued by the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin, left, and Tomas Tatar on Sunday, is a part of the Maple Leafs’ new youth movement.

Credit
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Nylander, the son of the former N.H.L. player Michael Nylander, is the most touted of the bunch. The No. 8 overall pick in 2014, Nylander, 19, has two goals in eight games with the Leafs. (Fun fact: Brooks Laich assisted on Michael Nylander’s last N.H.L. goal and on William Nylander’s first N.H.L. goal.) Soshnikov, 22, and Hyman, 23, also have two goals since their call-ups.

The team faces a decision in coming days on whether to keep some of the players beyond their 10th N.H.L. game, which would count as the first year on their entry-level contracts.

With the worst record in the N.H.L., the Maple Leafs will almost certainly be part of the lottery for the No. 1 pick — another young face on a team now full of them.



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