Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NHL Morning Skate – March 30, 2024

* After the Sabres won the lone contest Friday, the final Saturday of March features 15 games including a doubleheader on ESPN+/Hulu to go along with a four-game Hockey Night in Canada slate.

* Saturday will begin with an NHL Network Showcase that could be a First Round preview as the Red Wings, battling for a Wild Card spot, and Panthers, jockeying for a No. 1 seed, meet for a matinee in Sunrise (also on Sportsnet).

* The Avalanche and idle Canucks can both clinch a berth in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday. For more details on their clinching scenarios, click here.


HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA, ESPN+/HULU DOUBLEHEADER HIGHLIGHT SATURDAY SLATE

Five Canadian teams are in action on Hockey Night in Canada as three Saturdays remain in the 2023-24 regular-season schedule. The Maple Leafs (41-22-9, 91 points), who own a four-point cushion on the Lightning (40-25-7, 87 points) for third in the Atlantic Division, travel to Buffalo for a contest also broadcast as part of an ESPN+ and Hulu doubleheader.
 


* While the Sabres eye three wins in a single season against the Maple Leafs for the third time in the past decade (3 in 2021-22 & 2015-16), Auston Matthews and his pursuit of a second career 60-goal season continues (59-35—94 in 71 GP). Matthews, with goals in each of his past four games against Buffalo, owns 18 career tallies against the franchise – tied for this third most against one club (26 vs. MTL, 24 vs. OTT & 18 vs. VAN).

Frederik Andersen helped the Hurricanes (46-21-7, 99 points), who trail the Rangers (49-20-4, 102 points) by three points in the Metropolitan Division, clinch their sixth consecutive playoff berth with a 24-save shutout Thursday. Andersen has won each of his past seven games since returning from injury on March 7 and owns the lowest goals-against average (1.14) as well as the second-highest save percentage (.957) among all goaltenders through that span (min. 5 GP).

* Saturday would mark the 500th game of Connor Hellebuyck’s career (270-172-41, 2.63 GAA, .917 SV%, 36 SO) should he get the start for the Jets (44-23-6, 94 points) – a club that occupies the third seed in the Central Division behind the Stars (46-19-9, 101 points) and Avalanche (46-21-6, 98 points). His 270 victories are the most by any U.S.-born goalie through their first 500 career games.

Jack Eichel (66-82—148 in 155 GP w/ VGK) and the Golden Knights (40-25-8, 88 points) start the ESPN+ and Hulu doubleheader when they travel to Minnesota to face the Wild. Eichel, who owns one of the highest goals-per-game rates among all Vegas skaters since joining the club in 2021-22, sits two points shy of 150 in his career with the reigning Stanley Cup champions.



PAIR OF WESTERN CONFERENCE CLUBS CAN CLINCH SATURDAY
The Avalanche (46-21-6, 98 points) and idle Canucks (45-20-8, 98 points) can both clinch a berth in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday. There are four scenarios in which Colorado can punch its ticket to the postseason, while Vancouver can lock in a berth with a Minnesota loss to Vegas in any fashion AND a St. Louis loss to San Jose in regulation. Check out the March 30th edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates for more details on their clinching scenarios.

Mikko Rantanen (39-58—97 in 73 GP) enters Saturday’s contest against the Predators one goal shy of 40 on the season and three points back of 100. He can become the sixth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to record multiple 40-goal seasons – he would join the likes of Michel Goulet (7x), Joe Sakic (5x), Peter Stastny (5x), Nathan MacKinnon (3x) and Milan Hejduk (2x).


QUICK CLICKS

Bruins focused on fine-tuning game with spot in Stanley Cup Playoffs clinched

NHL EDGE stats: Rookies making late-season impact

Marc-Andre Fleury may return to Minnesota in 2024-25 season

Stars clinch playoff berth, now set sights on winning Presidents’ Trophy
NHL Buzz: Mitchell Marner returns to practice with Maple Leafs

THOMPSON SPEARHEADS SABRES COMEBACK WIN WITH FOUR-GOAL GAME
The Sabres rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Devils with the help of a four-goal game by Tage Thompson and a 28-save performance by Devon Levi. Thompson became the fourth player in Sabres history to record multiple four-goal games, joining Rick Martin (4 GP), Dave Andreychuk (3 GP) and Alexander Mogilny (2 GP). He also joined Alex Ovechkin (4 GP), Anze Kopitar (2 GP) and Nathan MacKinnon (2 GP) as the fourth active player with multiple four-goal outings.

* Thompson recorded his sixth career hat trick, moving him into a tie with Drew StaffordPat LaFontaine and Miroslav Satan for the seventh most in franchise history. Five of those six hat tricks have come over the past two seasons alone – the only player with more over that span is Auston Matthews (6), who Thompson is set to clash with Saturday.



WEEKLY PODCAST ROUNDUP

NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/25): Fantasy playoffs preview; Week 24 pickups
NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/27): NHL | Action Network collaboration: Capitals’ playoff push
NHL @TheRink (3/27): Alan May joins; playoff races, surging Predators, Josh Doan’s debut
La Tasse de Café LNH (3/27): Une course endiablée pour le trophée Hart
The Chirp (3/28): Dave Goucher joins; Playoff races, intriguing matchups, Cinderella teams
NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/28): Fantasy playoff mailbag: Week 24; guest: Chris Meaney

Wager-Tracker: All Sports Betting Log

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