Friday's notes: Playoff pressure escalating as Sharks stumble against Phoenix

Mar. 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) and defenseman Dan Boyle (22) watch the puck shot by Phoenix Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata (17) during the third period at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes beat the Sharks 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The race for the playoffs is drawing close to a dramatic finish, and while the Washington Capitals earned two critical points last night in their battle for 8th place in the Eastern Conference, the San Jose Sharks suffered a shutout loss at Phoenix which puts them in real danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Only 3 home games left... use the OTF Discount and save on tickets!

Nashville Predators News

Preds On The Glass: The Playoffs start now for the Nashville Predators
Buddy's ready to ratchet up the intensity today. I'm guessing he's just all pumped up with Mule Day Fever.

Hockey Night in Nashville: Preds rivalry with Red Wings just getting started
I'd say from the Nashville side it's already huge, but it won't be important in Detroit until the Preds actually gain the upper hand for once.

Stat Chat: The Importance of Fourth Place for the Predators - Predneck Nation
Miranda also sees a playoff-level of excitement this weekend, between tonight's game and with Chicago coming to town tomorrow.

Morning Skate: Fight For 4th - Winging It In Motown
The Red Wings want a win tonight just as badly as the Preds do. They have probably relied more on home-ice success than any team in the NHL.

Nashville Predators look for home ice in NHL playoffs | The Tennessean
Sometimes home ice isn't all it's cracked up to be, as Ryan Suter discusses the poor ice quality which can occur in Nashville due to rising heat & humidity at playoff time.

The Hippodrome: Could Losing Help The Preds? | Pith in the Wind
You gotta love Count Von Count.

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

Coldhearted: Deciphering the cloudy playoff picture in the NHL - Grantland
I, for one, welcome NBC Sports and their approach to playoff coverage. If some people get tired of things like Hockey 101 segments, well, that's the price of growing the fan base.

CBC searches for someone to take Hockey Night’s helm - The Globe and Mail
It sounds like there could be some major changes to Hockey Night In Canada next season.

THE Most Important Hockey Season Is Coming Up? : CoachChic.com
For youth hockey players, it's already time to start building a foundation towards next season, and one aspect of this is to focus on off-season training.

Guelph Storm coach Scott Walker calls Whalers ‘bunch of soccer players’ after diving-filled game - Buzzing The Net
Scott Walker, Plain Talker.

VIDEO: Sidney Crosby Takes Puck To The Face - SBNation.com
Sid got an owie.

Shot Blocking Outside the Prime Scoring Area - The Copper & Blue
Sometimes it's not a great idea to block a shot.

Not On My Watch - Hawks 3, Blues 3 (Hawks Win Scattegories) - Second City Hockey
The Blackhawks are just one point back of the Preds after topping St. Louis.

San Jose Sharks @ Phoenix Coyotes recap: Vrbata Sinks the Sharks with Pair - Five For Howling
The Coyotes put San Jose on the ropes with a 2-0 win at Phoenix.

Total domination: Briere, Simmonds, Schenn get going in 7-1 romp of Leafs - Broad Street Hockey
The entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization should be embarrassed over how that team has collapsed. It sure sounds like their fans are.

Recap: Caps 3, Bruins 2 (SO) - Japers' Rink
Washington pulled out a huge win over Boston.

Third Period Lead Blown as Panthers Fold to Wild in Overtime - Litter Box Cats
Meanwhile, the Panthers inch closer and closer to that Southeast Division title, picking up a Loser Point against Minnesota, their league-leading 16th consolation prize of the season.

Islanders 5 (EN), Penguins 3: Josh Bailey with Five Points. Five. Points. - Lighthouse Hockey
The fourth-year forward makes the most of garbage time.

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