It was a good week for the Anaheim Ducks, who clinched the first place in both the Pacific Division and in the Western Conference, finishing the season on second place overall. However, for Jonas Hiller and Luca Sbisa the week could not have been worse. Hiller played only one game (against the Edmonton Oilers) in which he stopped 24 of 27 shots (.889 SV%) in their 2-4 loss. Luca Sbisa was scratched against the Oilers, but returned to the Ducks’ lineup against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. In their 3-0 win, he played a great game (17:08 TOI) and helped goalie John Gibson to get his first shutout in his first NHL-game by blocking four shots. Unfortunately, he hurt his hand in one of these blocking-attempts and missed the following two games injured. However, he should be back for the playoffs. Without any Swiss help, the Ducks won the last two games of the week against the San Jose Sharks (5-2) and the Los Angeles Kings (4-3 SO). They will face the Colorado Avalanche in their final regular season game today.
Reto Berra got his second start for the Colorado Avalanche, who had already clinched their playoff spot, on Friday against the San Jose Sharks. However, it was a short game for Berra, who had been replaced after a bit more then eleven minutes and two goals against. The Avalanche lost the game 1-5 in the end. Before this game, they celebrated victories against the Vancouver Canucks (4-2) and the Edmonton Oilers (4-1) and lost their first game of the week against the Pittsburgh Penguins (2-3 SO). Although the Avalanche’s season will continue in the playoffs, further starts of Reto Berra cannot be expected, as he is only goalie number three behind Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sébastien Giguère.
The Minnesota Wild and Nino Niederreiter clinched the Wild Card spot this week for the second year in a row. The Wild are ready for the best time in the NHL season. Six points were up for grabs this week – and they got them all. They blanked the Winnipeg Jets on Monday (1-0) on the road. Nino Niederreiter had only 9:54 TOI and fired one shot on goal and left the ice with an equal rating. Against the league leading Boston Bruins they had the chance to qualify for the playoffs and held on to this chance. Nino Niederreiter had 11:20 TOI and an equal rating in the 4-3 shootout-win over the Bruins. The last two points for this week, they earned back home against the former leader of the league, the St. Louis Blues. With one goal, one assist and 15:19 TOI, Nino Niederreiter ended his week with two points, just like his team in their 4-2 victory. The Wild will have their last regular season game on Sunday at home against the Nashville Predators.
Just like last season, the Nashville Predators and Roman Josi missed the playoffs this year. Nevertheless, they earned themselves some additional points last week. Against the Dallas Stars, who were fighting hard for their Wild Card spot, they lost 2-3 in shootout. Roman Josi was successful with his penalty shot but it wasn’t enough to win the game. As usual, he had a lot of ice time (30:10 TOI), a +1 rating and three blocked shots. On Thursday, they were able to defeat another team who was still fighting for a playoff spot in their division, the Phoenix Coyotes (2-0). Josi had again a +1 rating and 26:17 TOI. In the second to last game of this season, the Predators face the current Stanley Cup champion, the Chicago Blackhawks, at home. In a high-scoring game, they beat the Blackhawks 7-5. Roman Josi scored his 26th assist of the season and left the ice with a -1 rating. The Nashville Predators will have their final game of the season today in Minnesota.
New Jersey Devils
Damien Brunner and his New Jersey Devils didn’t make the playoffs this year. In the last week of their season, they lost every game but nevertheless earned two points before today’s final game against the number one in the league, the Boston Bruins. On Monday the Devils were blanked by the Calgary Flames (0-1). Damien Brunner had two shots on goal and 1:28 TOI in PP in a total of 17:09 TOI. He left the ice with an equal rating. The last two games were both shootout losses. Firstly, against the Ottawa Senators at Canadien Tire Center, where they lost 1-2. Damien Brunner had again an equal rating in 13:53 TOI and two shots on goal. Secondly, they lost on Friday against the New York Islanders (2-3 SO). Although Damien Brunner scored with his penalty shot, he couldn’t help his team to win the game. He got 15:53 TOI and had two shots on goal.
New York Rangers
Having clinched the second place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, Raphael Diaz and the New York Rangers have qualified for the playoffs. They earned another five points during the last week by beating both the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (4-1) and the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday (2-1), and by winning another point in last night’s shootout-loss against the Montréal Canadiens (0-1 SO). Over the three games this week, Raphael Diaz averaged a bit more than 16 minutes time on ice and finished the week with an equal rating. In spite of getting some time on power play, Diaz wasn’t able to score any points this week.
With only three points behind the Rangers and one game in hand, also Mark Streit and his Philadelphia Flyers have qualified for this year’s playoffs. In four games this week, the Flyers were able to win three. On Sunday, they celebrated a 5-2 win against the dead-last Buffalo Sabres, followed by a win against the Florida Panthers (5-2) on Tuesday and a 4-3 victory in overtime against the leading team of their own Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Only on Thursday, the Flyers had to accept a 2-4 defeat on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mark Streit contributed a lot to this successful week by scoring one goal and adding six assists – in a four-game point streak. He averaged about 21 minutes time on ice and finished the week with a tremendous +7 rating.
Last week was a mirror of the Vancouver Canucks‘ season overall. Having forfeited their last small chance to make the playoffs with a 0-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on Monday, they weren’t able to bounce back and bring the season to a more or less acceptable end. On Thursday, they lost against the Colorado Avalanche 2-4 despite a good performance, and yesterday they fell 2-5 on the road to the Edmonton Oilers. At least for Yannick Weber there was a positive side to the last three games: his time on ice increased from almost 15 minutes against Anaheim to more than 20 minutes against Edmonton, where he played both on power play and on box play. The Canucks have dropped to the 25th place overall – which at least gives them an early draft pick at the end of June.