N.H.L. This Week: Red Wings Fight for Final Playoff Spot


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From left, Mike Green, Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards and the rest of the Detroit Red Wings face crucial games with playoff implications this week.

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Carlos Osorio/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

Stars at Blackhawks, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Dallas has had Chicago’s number this season, winning three of their four meetings so far and outscoring the Blackhawks, 14-9. But for the final meeting of the regular season, the first-place Stars will be without Tyler Seguin, their second-leading scorer, who sustained a 15 percent cut of his right Achilles’ tendon last Thursday. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, but he hopes to return for the start of the playoffs.

Red Wings vs. the Standings

Detroit has advanced to the postseason for 24 seasons in a row, the longest active streak in major professional sports. But on Tuesday morning, the Red Wings woke up only a point ahead of the surging Flyers for the East’s final playoff spot. In recent years, the Red Wings have made a habit of eking into the playoffs, and this season is no different. Detroit faces crucial games this week against two teams battling for playoff position — at the Lightning on Tuesday and at home against the Penguins on Saturday. A home game Thursday against foundering Montreal is a must-win.

Panthers at Bruins, Thursday; Panthers at Lightning, Saturday

With nine games left, the Panthers are in first in the Atlantic Division, 2 points ahead of the Lightning and 3 ahead of the Bruins, and have their last meeting with both teams this week. After a loss to the Rangers on Monday, Florida is 4-5-1 in its last 10, but Tampa Bay and Boston have not been much better of late. The Panthers are 0-2-1 against the Bruins this season and 3-1-0 against the Lightning.

Wild at Avalanche, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Minnesota and Colorado are wrangling for the last playoff spot in the West, and this will be their last chance to settle it head to head. The Wild entered Tuesday’s games a point behind the Avalanche, but are 3-1 against them this season. Colorado has won three in a row, weathering injuries to Nate MacKinnon and Matt Duchene and the suspension of Gabriel Landeskog.

Penguins at Rangers, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. (NBSCN)

Despite their befuddling inconsistency, the Rangers seemed secure in their playoff position, but then the Penguins caught fire. Pittsburgh has won six in a row to grab third place in the Metropolitan Division from the Islanders and even briefly caught the Rangers for second. Not surprisingly, Sidney Crosby has been the spark. With Evgeni Malkin out until the playoffs, Crosby is riding a 12-game point streak, with six goals and 14 assists in that span. Most impressive, the Penguins did not need goals from Crosby in outscoring the Flyers and Capitals, 10-3, in their past two games.

In Case You Missed It

Many N.H.L. teams give away hard hats, cowboy hats, Broadway hats or other tokens to their most valuable player after each victory. This season, for reasons that even players are not clear on, the Florida Panthers have been awarding a “Spacey in Space” hoodie — a blue sweatshirt that features the actor Kevin Spacey’s head floating in the cosmos.

The weird tradition caught Spacey’s attention. The team and some of its players have had exchanges with him on Twitter, including Spacey congratulating Aleksander Barkov on his contract extension. The team store sells the hoodie and shares the proceeds with Spacey’s foundation. It was only a matter of time before Spacey himself showed up to a Panthers game, and it happened on Saturday, when the team also handed out cardboard cutouts of the actor’s face — a Spacey Facey — to fans.

Get to Know

Scott Wedgewood, Devils

Stability at goalie has long been a hallmark of the Devils. Martin Brodeur was in the net for the vast majority of games for 21 years, playing 70 or more games 12 times. When Cory Schneider eventually took over, it was more of the same. He started 83 percent of the team’s games last season. He had played in 55 of the Devils’ 66 games before he went down with a knee injury on March 4.

Suddenly, Devils fans had to get to know some backup goalies. Coach John Hynes said he wanted it to be a competition, so the goalies have had to prove themselves on the ice.

Keith Kinkaid, the regular backup, has had his moments, including a shutout on March 10. But he allowed 13 goals in his last three games. Yann Danis, a 34-year-old journeyman, has appeared in two games and allowed four goals on 18 shots.

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Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood, right, recorded his first career save on Sunday, against the Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky, center, then won in his debut.

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Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Devils called up Scott Wedgewood, 23, from Albany of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Later that day, he became the first Devils goaltender to win in his debut since a 19-year-old Brodeur in 1992.

A third-round draft pick by the Devils in 2010, Wedgewood had been waiting — and waiting — for the opportunity.

“Over the years, obviously, with Marty playing for a long time, Schneids doing amazing and Keith being here — all great goalies and not too many guys have been hurt,” Wedgewood said after his 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. “I had a frustrating year down there with a couple injuries, so it was one of those things with a little bit of lack of opportunity. This year, I’ve been doing the best I can when I’ve gotten an opportunity to play. I got the call, which is something I’ve been waiting on.”

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