Stanley Cup Playoffs: A look at the keys to the three series starting today

April 16, 2014 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

And Rich Chere's take on each series

PENGUINS (51-24-7, 108 points) VS. BLUE JACKETS (43-32-7, 93 points).

THE OUTLOOK

This doesn’t figure to be much of a test for Pittsburgh, which swept all five regular-season meetings and has the NHL’s scoring leader in C Sidney Crosby (36 goals, league-high 68 assists). The key for the Penguins will be how they are able to work in C Evgeni Malkin (23 goals, 47 assists in 60 games), who last played March 23 because of a foot injury. He began skating last week. Columbus G Sergei Bobrovsky (32-20-5, 2.38 goals-against average), who only played once against Pittsburgh during the regular season, will be under fire all series.

THE SCHEDULE

Today: at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

Monday: at Columbus, 7 p.m.

April 23: at Columbus, 7 p.m.

x-April 26: Columbus at Pittsburgh, TBD

x-April 28: at Columbus, TBD

x-April 30: at Pittsburgh, TBD

RICH CHERE’S TAKE

Penguins in six. Pittsburgh G Marc-Andre Fleury has to get past recent playoff flops, but the Penguins have NHL scoring champ Sidney Crosby. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky can’t do it by himself for injury-plagued Jackets.


LIGHTNING (46-27-9, 101 points) VS. CANADIENS (46-28-8, 100 points)

THE OUTLOOK

Tampa Bay took three of four regular-season meetings, though three of those games were tied 1-1 after regulation and the other was a 3-1 Lightning victory that included a late empty-net goal. That, and the fact that these two were separated by just a point in the overall standings, should indicate how close this series will be. RW Steve Stamkos (25 goals, 15 assists in 37 games) leads Tampa Bay, and Montreal has been infused by LW Thomas Vanek’s arrival at the trade deadline (six goals, 15 assists in 18 games).

THE SCHEDULE

Today: at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

Friday: at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

Sunday: at Montreal, 7 p.m.

Tuesday: at Montreal, 7 p.m.

x-April 24: at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

x-April 27: at Montreal, TBD

x-April 29: at Tampa Bay, TBD

RICH CHERE’S TAKE

Canadiens in six. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop has been out with an elbow injury and is questionable. Habs are deeper.


DUCKS (54-20-8, 116 points) VS. STARS (40-31-11, 91 points)

THE OUTLOOK

Anaheim earned the Western Conference’s top seed thanks in large part to six players with a plus-20 or better rating on the season. RW Corey Perry (43 goals, 39 assists) was a team-best plus-32, and C Ryan Getzlaf (31 goals, 56 assists) was right behind at plus-28. The Ducks also led the league with 3.21 goals per game, and they’re hopeful that sort of output will help them avoid a second consecutive first-round exit. The Stars will have to rely on G Kari Lehtonen (2.41 goals-against average, .919 save percentage).

THE SCHEDULE

Today: at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

Friday: at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

Monday: at Dallas, 9:30 p.m.

April 23: at Dallas, 8 p.m.

x-April 25: at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m.

x-April 27: at Dallas, TBD

x-April 29: at Anaheim, TBD

RICH CHERE’S TAKE

Ducks in five. Is Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller vulnerable for an upset? Nope. The Ducks have too much firepower.




NHL Draft Lottery tonight for non-playoff teams, but Devils locked into 30th pick

April 15, 2014 - Fire & Ice - View Full Article
The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery tonight (8 p.m., NBCSN) to determine the picking order for this yearís first round for 13 of the 14 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs.

The one team that didnít make the playoffs that already has its first-round picking position set, of course, is the Devils.

As part of the penalty for being ruled to have circumvented the salary cap with Ilya Kovalchukís rejected 17-year, $102 million contract in 2010, the Devils originally had to give up their first-round pick in one of the next four drafts. After not surrendering the pick in the last three drafts, the Devils would have had to give up their first-rounder this year if new owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer hadnít filed an appeal.

On March 6, the NHL announced it was reinstating the Devilsí first-round pick, but were locked be into the 30th pick (last in the first round) and could not trade or transfer it.

So, the outcome of tonightís lottery will not impact the Devils at all, but they will still be in it with a 1.5 percent chance to win. If they do win, however, there will be an immediate redraw to select a new winner with that process repeated until a winner other than the Devils is selected.

The reason the Devils will still be in the lottery is to ensure that the 13 teams that are eligible to win it are equally impacted by the Devilsí ineligibility. The remainder of the draft order will be determined by the outcome of the playoffs with the Stanley Cup winner picking 29th this season instead of the usual 30th.

The draft lottery is only to determine the order for the non-playoff teams (excluding the Devils) in the first round. The order in Rounds 2 through 7 will go by order of finish in the regular season for the non-playoff teams and by playoff results for those that qualified.

So, the Devilsí picks are already set. After picking 30th, they will select 42nd (second round), 72nd (third), 132nd (fifth), 152nd (sixth from Florida in Krys Barch trade) and 162nd (own sixth-round pick). They traded their fourth-round pick (102nd) to Winnipeg last season for Alexei Ponikarovsky and their seventh round pick (192nd) to Phoenix last season for Steve Sullivan.

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 27 (Round 1) and June 28 (Rounds 2-7)  at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Click below to see the odds of winning the draft lottery for the participating teams.