Sunday's notes: Crunch time getting crunchier for playoff wannabes

Now that we're down to the final few games of the NHL regular season, we get that sneak preview of what the intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs brings, as teams on the brink of making the post-season (or not) struggle mightily for every point they can earn. This year, we get an extra treat, as so many of these teams are battling head-to-head over the final days, particularly among the Pacific Division contenders.

For now, however, dive into your morning hockey notes, which will take you all over the NHL landscape! No foolin'!

Nashville Predators News

As always, the morning after a game I encourage you to surf through the "More Predators Sites" box on the left side of the main page here, pretty much every blog in town has a recap from last night's game.

Gail Kerr: Numbers don't lie — Preds, arena are valuable to Nashville | The Tennessean
The paper's local affairs columnist props up the Preds' impact on the city, as a new financial arrangement between the city & team over the arena lease draws near.

Hockey World April 1: Habs’ search for new GM gets underway
Jim Matheson makes the point that if the Preds have soured on Colin Wilson to the point this badly, it doesn't speak well of their 1st-round picks from 2005-2008.

Nashville Predators give Barry Trotz 500th coaching victory | The Tennessean
You know it's a big deal when the coach & GM react like this to a win.

Red Light District Hockey: Is it Nashville’s time to go deep?
There is more pressure on the Preds to succeed this spring than ever before.

Postgame ponderings - Predators Insider
Josh argues that with Erat & Suter enjoying career-best seasons, along with everything else going on, the time is definitely "now" for a deep playoff run.

In a segment yesterday on Sportsnet, Nick Kypreos (who seems to be reasonably plugged in on things) indicates that Minnesota is where you'll likely see Ryan Suter next season (hat tip to Kukla's Korner):

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

'Mr. Hockey' turns 84, still revered in Wings' room - NHL.com
Gordie Freaking Howe, ladies & gentlemen.

The Best Rookies | Bobby Holik - Holik on Hockey
The former NHLer considers the main contenders for the Calder Trophy.

Top draft prospects, CSS talk NHL comparisons - NHL.com
Get some background on the guys you'll see in the early going at the NHL Entry Draft.

Larry Brooks says NHL playoff format hurts New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and other top teams in Eastern Conference - NYPOST.com
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Blackhawks' Toews cleared for contact - NHL.com
This would provide a serious boost to Chicago's playoff hopes.

Shawn Burr Foundation Hockey Cancer Classic - Winging It In Motown
Wonderful stuff here, as the writer participated in a charity fundraiser.

St. Louis Blues Clinch Central Division Title - St. Louis Game Time
Blues fans will get to see a banner raised in the fall...

CTV airs their grievances against the Maple Leafs | Puck Drunk Love
One reporter in Toronto unloads on the Leafs after practice, directing some rough (and pretty much unanswerable) questions at the players & head coach.

Leadership Might Be A Myth - Pension Plan Puppets
Would addressing the intangibles really turn Toronto around?

Wayne Simmonds scores a goal off his face, looks like a bloody mess afterwards | Puck Daddy
Anything for a goal, eh?

The Strength To Go On: Hawks 5 - Preds 4 - Second City Hockey
From the Blackhawks' perspective, it wasn't pretty, but it was a win.

Anaheim Ducks @ Phoenix Coyotes Postgame: Another Amazing Shutout - Five For Howling
Ray Whitney recorded career point #1,000 as the Coyotes stayed a step ahead of the Sharks and Stars.

Sharks win Game 1 of pivotal home-and-home, shut out Stars 3-0 - Fear The Fin
San Jose defended their turf in a home-and-home against Dallas, which allowed them to sneak one point ahead of the Stars and into 8th place.

Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings: Game Recap - Hockey Wilderness
The loser point earned by the Kings was enough to pull them into the Pacific Division lead.

Flames At Canucks Recap ; Three Dressed Up As A Nine (3-2Wo/t) - Nucks Misconduct
The Vancouver Canucks took another two points from Calgary, lifting them past St. Louis for 1st place in the West.

Game 79 Recap: This Was A Triumph - The Cannon
Tic-tac-toe, that's three wins in a row for Columbus.

Recap: Capitals 3, Canadiens 2 (SO) - Japers' Rink
Washington needed this victory, as it leaves them two points ahead of Buffalo for 8th, with just three games left (and the Caps would win the tiebreaker).

New Jersey Devils Crush Carolina Hurricanes 5-0, Clinch Playoff Berth - In Lou We Trust
The Devils are lining up nicely for a 1st-round series against the SouthLeast Division winner.

Senators blow three goal lead, but recover to win 4-3 in shootout - Silver Seven
The Ottawa Senators still haven't quite clinched their playoff spot, so these two points were huge.

The Afterburners: Jets Edge Past the Lightning in a Fine Effort - Arctic Ice Hockey
Winnipeg took this critical battle in the struggle for 10th place in the East.

As usual, the best around-the-league conversation can be found on Hockey Night In Canada's HotStove segment:


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