Canadian playoff picture
Only nine weeks remain in the 2010-11 NHL regular season and two weeks to go until the Feb. 28 trade deadline. The eighth-place team in the East is on pace for 89 points, while eighth in the West is on track for 97 points. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the playoff possibilities for each of the six Canadian clubs:
Calgary - 33 points needed.
24 games remaining (13 home, 11 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (11) Dallas, Montreal, Boston, San Jose, Nashville, @Dallas, @Phoenix, @Anaheim, @San Jose, Anaheim, Vancouver.
Edmonton - 57 points needed.
26 games remaining (13 home, 13 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (14) Dallas, Montreal, @Minnesota, Boston, Nashville, @Philadelphia, @Washington, @Detroit, @Pittsburgh, Phoenix, @Nashville, @Minnesota, @Vancouver, Minnesota.
Montreal - 21 points needed.
25 games remaining (10 home, 15 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (12) @Vancouver, Carolina, @Tampa Bay, Boston, @Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay, @N.Y. Rangers, @Minnesota, @Boston, Washington, @Carolina.
Ottawa - 45 points needed.
26 games remaining (13 home, 13 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (14) Boston, Philadelphia, Boston, N.Y. Rangers, @Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, @Carolina, @N.Y. Rangers, Washington, @Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Montreal, @Boston.
Toronto - 37 points needed.
26 games remaining (12 home, 14 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (14) @Boston, @Montreal, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, @Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, @Carolina, Boston, @Minnesota, @Detroit, @Boston, Washington, Montreal.
Vancouver - 17 points needed.
26 games remaining (12 home, 14 away)
Games against top-8 teams - (13) @Minnesota, @Nashville, Dallas, Montreal, Boston, Nashville, @Anaheim, @Phoenix, @San Jose, Minnesota, Phoenix, @Detroit, Minnesota.
Donuts and bagels
Columbus set a record it was not proud of when they were blanked 16 times in 2006-07. With the Maple Leafs 3-0 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday, Toronto leads the way having been shut out nine times this season.
The Blues are the only team that hasn't been blanked and, remarkably, last year's conference regular-season champs, San Jose and Washington, are just behind the Maple Leafs.
Here are the teams that have been shut out the most this season:
9 -- Toronto
8 -- Washington
7 -- San Jose
6 -- N.Y. Islanders, Ottawa
5 -- Philadelphia, Colorado, Nashville, Montreal, Phoenix, Boston
4 -- Carolina, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, New Jersey, Los Angeles
3 -- Dallas, Detroit, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Florida, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, N.Y. Rangers
2 -- Columbus
1 -- Atlanta, Chicago
0 -- St. Louis
When the Flames rid themselves of Dion Phaneuf, they were hoping the move would free up defenceman Jay Bouwmeester to return to the goal-scoring prowess he exhibited in his final two seasons with Florida when he hit the 15-goal mark in each campaign. But Bouwmeester has scored only once in his past 34 outings and in a little more than year since the Phaneuf trade to Toronto, Bouwmeester has checked in with only five goals.
Mark Giordano is tops in goal production from the Calgary blue line with eight since the Phaneuf trade, followed by Ian White (6), who was traded to Carolina, Bouwmeester, Anton Babchuk (4), Cory Sarich (3), Robyn Regehr (2), Steve Staios (2) and Adam Pardy (1).
Fisher fits in
When Mike Fisher returned to his stall in the Nashville dressing room after his first game with his new team, he found a cowboy hat waiting. The hat is presented to the Predators player of the game as determined by the winner in the previous outing.
Fisher had an assist in his first game since being dealt by the Senators and provided the screen for a Shea Weber goal.
Usually, when the Predators acquire a new player, head coach Barry Trotz will welcome that player at the airport. But this time was different because Fisher's wife, country music star Carrie Underwood, lives in Nashville.
"I'm sure someone he knows a lot better than me picked him up," Trotz told the Tennessean newspaper. "We phoned him an offer, he said 'I'm OK.' "
Heritage Classic cashes in
NHL chief operating officer John Collins admitted in an interview with Canadian Press recently that the Tim Horton's Heritage Classic in Calgary on Sunday will bring in more corporate sponsorship than any of the previous four Winter Classic outdoor games.
"We've got more sponsorship dollars against this game than we actually did even in Pittsburgh, which is amazing to me," Collins said. "It just speaks to the [interest in Calgary].
"Believe me, Pittsburgh was by far the biggest event business that we've had to date."
Besides the big game between the Flames and Canadiens on Sunday, Calgary's AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat, will meet Edmonton's farm club, the Oklahoma City Barons, at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday. There also will be an outdoor Flames-Canadiens alumni game on Saturday and an outdoor junior tilt between the Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats on Monday.
Schneider to get NHLPA post
Unrestricted free-agent defenceman Mathieu Schneider was instrumental as part of the search committee that convinced Donald Fehr to become the NHLPA's new executive director. Now it appears Schneider will join the players' union in a similar capacity that current Hockey Night In Canada commentator Glenn Healy held before he resigned 18 months ago as director of player affairs.
Odds and ends
Just wondering when Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux issued his harshly-worded statement on Sunday - that included this sentence, "The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed" - was he also talking about the way Matt Cooke has been running around and causing havoc in the past 12 months or just the brawl between his Penguins and the Islanders last Friday? ... Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson is hot with seven goals in eight games. So are Calgary's Curtis Glencross with seven goals in 10 games and Edmonton's Dustin Penner with six in eight games. But Islanders forward Michael Grabner has nine goals in his past five matches to push his season total to 24. Not bad for waiver pickup after Florida gave up on him after training camp. Nobody on the Panthers has scored more than 15 goals at this point of the season ... With the Kings recent 7-1-2 run to move into ninth place in the West, there is a possibility the three California NHL teams will make the playoffs together for the first time ... The Ducks have gone 2-for-2 with the return of defenceman Francois Beauchemin, who was traded by the Maple Leafs last week, but the Avalanche have dropped two in a row with Peter Forsberg back in the line-up ... After a dismal 3-9-2 start, the Sabres have gone 23-13-4 to skate into the playoff picture in the East.
Games I won't miss this week
1. Forty thousand packed into McMahon Stadium will make for the perfect venue for the Tim Horton's Heritage Classic between the host Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. The early forecast calls for a cloudy conditions with a chance of flurries and a high of minus-3 Celsius.
2. Phil Kessel has only one assist in nine games against his former team, the Bruins, since he was dealt to the Maple Leafs. He gets a chance to bust out of his current 14-game goal-less slump in Boston on Tuesday.
3. The Canucks have beaten Dallas in the previous three meetings this season by a combined score of 15-3. Can Vancouver continue the trend at home on Saturday evening?
(Photo of David Desharnais (58) and Brett Lebda (23) courtesy Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?