CBCSports.ca senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information from the hockey world.Jeff Carter hasn't played since March 21. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
1. Carter cleared for Flyers
The New York Rangers' dominating 5-1 victory
at home over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday moved the Rangers to within a point of the eighth-place Boston Bruins and within two points of the seventh-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers and Rangers have a home-and-home this weekend to settle the final playoff spot and the Flyers could have sniper Jeff Carter back in the lineup for the critical games.
Carter received medical clearance for his broken left foot to practice on Thursday. If all goes well he will return to the Flyers lineup for the first time since March 21.
Meanwhile, the sixth-place Montreal Canadiens can lock up a playoff spot in the East by gaining a point in their road game in Carolina against the Hurricanes on Thursday. The Bruins can help their cause with a win against the Buffalo Sabres.
2. Anybody else joining Tkachuk?
Keith Tkachuk, 38, announced on Wednesday that he will retire
after 18 NHL seasons. But will the soon-to-be 40-year-old Mike Modano play for the final time, too? He will wait until the summer to decide.
Modano, however, has invited his parents to the Stars' season finale in Minnesota, where his career began with the North Stars. He made his NHL debut in the 1989 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche captain Adam Foote will turn 39 this summer. But he has indicated he would like to return for another season. Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom will decide in the summer if he will continue playing.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins will play the 1,667th and final regular-season game at the 48-year-old Mellon Arena when they entertain the New York Islanders on Thursday. The building, known as the Igloo, will have quite a sendoff. More than 50 former players are expected to be on hand, including owner Mario Lemieux and his fellow Hockey Hall of Famers Andy Bathgate, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Craig Patrick and Bryan Trottier.
They will be joined by popular Penguins of the past in Syl Apps, Dave Burrows, Jean Pronovost, Ron Schock and Bryan Waston. Bathgate played in the inaugural NHL game at Mellon, a 2-1 loss to Montreal on Oct. 11, 1967. The others from the game who will be on hand include Les Binkley, Ken Schinkel and Gene Ubriaco as well as coach Red Sullivan and general manager Jack Riley.
Next season the Penguins will move across the street to the new Consol Energy Center.3. Another reason for Flames' failure?
In the second intermission of Game 4 of the Kitchener Rangers-London Knights quarter-final series on Wednesday, long-time Rangers broadcaster Gary Doyle interviewed Calgary Flames director of player personnel Duane Sutter. The Flames executive remarked that one of the reasons for his team's not making the playoffs was its poor play at home.
"I'm not saying we had to be tougher at home, but we needed to make it tougher for opponents to play in our building," Sutter said.
The Flames have 20 wins at the Pengrowth Saddledome this season, with their home finale slated against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. But if the Flames beat the Wild they would match their home-win total of two seasons ago when they made the playoffs and reach the same total they had in 2003-04 when they advanced to the Stanley Cup final.4. NHL all-star game to Raleigh
The NHL all-star game will return next season, and on Thursday the league will announce that it has awarded the festivities for the 2011 game to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 30.
The all-star game was not held this season because of the Olympic Games in Vancouver.
5. NCAA Frozen Four on Ford Field
The NCAA hockey championship begins at Detroit's Ford Field on Thursday afternoon. The home of the NFL's Detroit Lions has been configured for a seating capacity of 35,000 for the United States college championship.
In the first semifinal, the Rochester Institute of Technology takes on Wisconsin. Boston College meets Miami of Ohio in the nightcap. The winners clash in the final on Saturday evening.
Miami is the sentimental favourite because they dealt with the death of student assistant Brendan Burke on Feb. 5. They also suffered a heartbreaking loss in last year's final when a last-minute meltdown saw them let a two-goal lead turn into a 4-3 loss in overtime to Boston University.
Miami of Ohio has a couple Canadians in their lineup, including Toronto's Reilly Smith and Curtis McKenzie of Golden, B.C. Both are forwards and Dallas Stars prospects. Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, who was a guest coach at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp last fall, is a former Miami player and hails from Toronto, too.
Another familar name with Miami is 6-foot-4, 210-pound Justin Vaive, a third-year player who was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and is the son of former NHLer Rick Vaive.
Back to accessibility links