Wednesday, March 29, 2023
5-Hour Energy

NHL Morning Skate – Feb. 25, 2023

* The race to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues to build as the Sabres moved into a playoff spot for the first time since Nov. 5 – which was 12 contests into their 2022-23 campaign – and are now in a playoff position this late in the season for the first time since 2012.

Antti Raanta extended his point streak at PNC Arena to 10 games to join an exclusive Hurricanes/Whalers list as Carolina built a five-point lead atop the Metropolitan Division with its fifth straight win.

* The NHL is set for an 11-game Saturday, which will feature Patrick Marleau having hisNo. 12 raised to the rafters and Nazem Kadri making his first return to Colorado since hoisting the Stanley Cup with the club.

* With the 2022-23 NHL Trade Deadline presented by OFX officially under one week away, the official #NHLStats pack has been released.


The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs race is far from over as the Sabres and Kings moved up in the standings, while the Avalanche (32-19-5, 69 point) closed the gap for third in the Central Division. Buffalo’s move highlighted the night as the club is now in a playoff seed for the first time since Nov. 5, 2022 – Buffalo is in a playoff position this late in the season (57 GP or later) for the first time since March 29, 2012.

Alex Tuch (1-0—1) became the third New York-born player to record 100 points with the Sabres and Tage Thompson (0-3—3) posted his second three-point outing in as many nights as Buffalo (30-23-4, 64 points) jumped past three teams to move into the final Wild Card spot. Thompson became the second Sabres player in the past 25 years to record three-plus points in consecutive days, joining Thomas Vanek (Feb. 20-21, 2008) – his 11 three-point outings this season are the second most in the NHL behind only Connor McDavid (15).

* The Kings (33-19-8, 74 points) got out to a 3-0 lead and withstood an Islanders comeback attempt to improve to 5-1-1 in their past seven games and surpass the idle Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points) for second place in the Pacific Division, one point back of the Golden Knights (35-18-5, 75 points). Jonathan Quick earned his 370th career victory to surpass Pekka Rinne and Tom Barrasso for sole possession of 19th place on the League’s all-time wins list.

Nathan MacKinnon reached the 20-goal mark for the eighth time in his career after opening the scoring just 19 seconds into the contest as the Avalanche (32-19-5, 69 points) – who occupy the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference – moved within one of the Wild (32-21-6, 70 points) for third in the Central Division, with Colorado holding three games in hand over Minnesota.

The Friday edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates included notes on all six games, including a nod to Carolina netminder Antti Raanta, who stopped all 32 shots he faced to extend his point streak at PNC Arena to 10 games (9-0-1) as the Hurricanes (39-10-8, 86 points) opened a five-point lead ahead of the Devils (38-15-5, 81 points) for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

* Raanta became the third goaltender in Hurricanes/Whalers history to post a double-digit home point streak, joining Martin Gerber (13 GP in 2005-06) and Cam Ward (12 GP in 2008-09).


NHL Fantasy (Feb. 20): Impact of O’Reilly trade on Maple Leafs; fantasy waiver wire pickups
NHL @ The Rink (Feb. 22): Appleton joins; O’Reilly trade, Buyers/Sellers, Mailbag: Gibson suitors
NHL Fantasy (Feb. 23): 2023 Trade Deadline primer with David Pagnotta
The Chirp with Daren Millard (Feb. 24): TSN’s Darren Dreger joins; Trade Deadline Primer


*Brad Marchand fined $5,000 for actions in Bruins game

Spencer Knight of Panthers to enter NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program
*Erik Cernak suspended 2 games for actions in Lightning game
‘Last of Us’ actor, deaf youth hockey player Keivonn Woodard hosted by Capitals
‘NHL Mash-Up’ set to debut on YouTube with hosts Kathryn TappenDominic Moore


The Flames (27-20-12, 66 points) travel to Ball Arena to clash with the Avalanche (32-19-5, 69 points) in what will be Nazem Kadri’s first return to Colorado since capturing the Stanley Cup with the club last season. Kadri collected a career-high 87 points during the regular season as well as 7-8—15 (16 GP) during the postseason – a stretch that included a hat trick in Game 4 of the 2022 Second Round and marked one of the NHL’s eight three-goal performances that playoff year.

A full Saturday of hockey features a national broadcast doubleheader on ABC and ESPN+ with three Metropolitan Division clubs aiming to improve their playoff positioning. The third-seeded Rangers (33-16-9, 75 points) head to Washington to take on the Capitals (28-26-6, 62 points) – who sit two points out of a Wild Card position – while the Penguins (27-21-9, 63 points) similarly look to hunt down the idle Sabres (30-23-4, 64 points) for the final playoff spot.

Artemi Panarin looks to continue his hot play since the NHL All-Star break, heading into Saturday with 6-9—15 (9 GP) since teams returned to play on Feb. 6. Only two skaters have more points over that span: Connor McDavid (5-12—17 in 9 GP) and Elias Pettersson (7-10—17 in 9 GP).

Alex Ovechkin enters play with 42 goals in 69 career games against the Rangers – one of just four skaters with at least 40 goals versus New York since the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) and one back of Mike Bossy (43 in 60 GP) for the second most. New York is one of eight franchises the Capitals captain has 40-plus goals against (also ATL/WPG: 53, TBL: 50, CAR: 47, PHI: 47, FLA: 43, NYI: 42 & TOR: 41).

* The Penguins head to Enterprise Center with four straight wins against the Blues dating to Dec. 4, 2019; Pittsburgh owns just two longer active winning streaks versus a single opponent (10 GP vs. ARI & 7 GP vs. CBJ). Sidney Crosby (25-44—69 in 57 GP) can record his 13th season with at least 70 points and become the 13th player in NHL history with as many campaigns – Gordie Howe paces the list with 18.


Patrick Marleau, who captained the Sharks for parts of 2003-04 and full time from 2005-06 to 2008-09, will be honored by the franchise when San Jose lifts his iconic No. 12 to the rafters ahead of its contest against Chicago. The NHL veteran of 23 seasons will be the first player to have his number retired by the Sharks.

* Marleau – who played 1,607 of his 1,779 career outings with the Sharks – competed in 196 games in the 1990s, 716 games in the 2000s, 782 games in the 2010s and 85 games in the 2020s. The only player in NHL history to skate in more decades than Marleau is Gordie Howe (5).

* In addition to being the Sharks’ all-time leader in games played, Marleau also holds franchise records for goals (522, playoffs: 68), points (1,111, playoffs: 120), power-play goals (163, playoffs: 23), shorthanded goals (17, playoffs: 4) and game-winning goals (101, playoffs: 16).


Twenty-seven years ago today, Feb. 25, 1996, the Red Wings clinched a berth in the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of the Islanders claiming a 2-0 victory against the Oilers, which ensured that Detroit would outrank all but seven clubs in the Western Conference standings.

* Led by a contingent of four 50-point players at the time – including current Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman who had 29-38—67 at the time (59 GP) – Detroit secured a playoff berth by posting a record of 44-11-4 (92 points) through its first 59 games. They did so en route to setting an NHL record for wins in a season (62).

* Detroit’s achievement (59 GP) represents the fewest games required by any team to clinch a playoff spot during an 82-game schedule, which was used for the first time in 1995-96. The Red Wings also are the only club in that span to clinch a playoff spot before the second week of March.

* Overall, 17 teams have clinched a playoff spot in fewer than 70 games since 1995-96 (under an 82-game schedule). That includes six teams that secured a postseason berth in 67 games or less: the 2009-10 Capitals (67 GP), 2001-02 Red Wings (66 GP), 1998-99 Stars (63 GP), 1997-98 Stars (66 GP), 1996-97 Avalanche (67 GP) and 1995-96 Red Wings (59 GP).

* Flash forward to Feb. 25, 2023, with the Bruins entering their game in Vancouver with a record of 44-8-5 (93 points) through 57 contests. While they are not yet in position to clinch a playoff berth, Boston is on pace for 63 wins in 2022-23, which would break the single-season record first set by Detroit in 1995-96 and matched by Tampa Bay in 2018-19.

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