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Wednesday afternoon notes: Playoff bubble teams feeling the heat

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Our league-wide hockey notes start off with assorted updates from a number of teams battling to make the playoffs. Key players are returning to action, tough road trips pose serious challenges, and one star player who has struggled this season may be heating up just in time...

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Nashville Predators News

Debate: Making a case for the playoffs - Cross Checks Blog - ESPN
Buried towards the end of their banter, Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside preview the likely Detroit-Nashville playoff matchup.

Red Light District Hockey: How much would Suter, Parise earn in free agency?
If anything, I think Alexander is being a little conservative on Suter. With a projected salary cap of $69-72 million next season (prior to any possible rollback as part of CBA negotiations), I could see Suter setting a new standard.

More on the Post Rockford Playoff Fallout | Admirals Roundtable
Hope is beginning to fade for the playoffs in Milwaukee, so Jason just looks for a successful weekend to start with.

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

Matt Duchene skating in Buffalo | All Things Avalanche — The Denver Post
The Avalanche can use every bit of help right now, and an early return for Matt Duchene could prove to be a major boost.

The Five For Howling Roundtable - The Phoenix Coyotes Hit The Road - Five For Howling
Phoenix faces a tough road ahead in the battle for one of the final Western Conference playoff spots.

The Peerless Prognosticator: Evolution
Is Alex Ovechkin finally figuring out the way to diversify his offensive game? If so, when considered alongside a possible return by Nicklas Backstrom, the Washington Capitals could be a menace in the playoffs.

Silver Nuggets: Senators chances of moving up improving - Silver Seven
Don't look now, but Ottawa is within reach of Boston for 1st place in the Northeast Division.

Bettman: Business as usual in the NHL - The Globe and Mail
Teams have been told to proceed normally this summer, even though a new CBA has yet to be negotiated. I have to imagine there will be some caution, however.

Blues sale progresses; NHL remains confident -
It sounds like a local group not dissimilar to Nashville's may soon buy the St. Louis Blues.

28 Days Later: Re-Throning of the Kings - The Triangle Blog - Grantland

Bill Simmons reports on a Kings game as part of a 28-game flurry of activity at the Staples Center. We look forward to seeing if he writes about Saturday's game when the Predators hit La-La Land.

What’s behind the Buffalo Sabres potentially historic turnaround for playoff berth? | Puck Daddy
Hmm... they are 6-2-0 since trading Paul Gaustad to the Predators.

The captain’s role in hockey, and why the Flyers’ are fine with just "A’s" | Backhand Shelf
I tend to go back and forth on the meaning of a Captain, myself.

When hockey players know they’re shooting out the lights (VIDEO) | Puck Daddy