Tuesday provided an eventful night of NHL games, as the 10-match slate shuffled the Eastern Conference wild card standings in an especially startling way. The Dose will absolutely take these playoff races into account, but from a fantasy standpoint; if you want a look at what happened last night, may suggest this link for the East and this one for the West.
One big deal that is especially relevant to Wednesday's Dose is the win for the Phoenix Coyotes and loss for the Dallas Stars, however. Beyond the rather noteworthy info that Mike Smith is only considered day-to-day (which, honestly, can be more agonizing if that happens to be many days), it's worth noting that the Coyotes are now three points ahead of Dallas. Still, the Stars have a game in hand, so no one will quit and take it easy just yet.
Also relevant to this column is the idle Vancouver Canucks, who at least have an outside shot of making some noise.
Before I get to the Pacific rundown, it is with a heavy heart that I pass along a report that Chris Kreider could miss about a month if his hand is indeed broken. His mixture of solid scoring and nice grit stats made him a nice stealth add in certain formats. As nice as those 17 goals were, it's his 72 PIM and 146 hits that made him a nice asset. The one ray of hope is that the New York Rangers are only labeling him day-to-day at the moment, but I'd be tempted to drop him with playoffs in full swing in some leagues.
The Anaheim Ducks could deal with an up-and-down closing stretch to the 2013-14 season.
Beginning on Wednesday, they face a three-game road trip that might be more challenging for travel reasons than based on their opponents (Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver).
The following week switches things up with three straight home games. After that, it's three of four on the road before finishing it all off with a home game against Colorado.
The Ducks' schedule includes three games against the Oilers, one against Calgary, one against Nashville and two against Vancouver. That's a schedule with a pretty good chunk of games in which the Ducks would be the prohibitive favorites. There's enough parity in the league that it's dangerous to call anything "easy," unless you throw out the all-important "relatively" caveat. So let's call it relatively easy.
Speaking of easy, Anaheim clinched its playoff spot while idle last night. Nothing like accomplishing something while resting, eh?
The Calgary Flames play their next two games at home before things get messy.
From March 30 to April 7, they play five straight games on the road with four of those contests taking place against teams with at least a conceivable chance of making the postseason.
After that, they play two home games and one road contest versus opponents expecting to have more on the line.
Keeping it simple, if you're going to add Flames players, maybe stay away from March 30-April 7.
The Edmonton Oilers are closing out a six-game homestand, though this week's chunk of games aren't simple (San Jose beat them yesterday, Anaheim on Friday, the Rangers on Sunday).
The Oil begin April likely getting battered on the road, too, with a three-game trip against the Sharks, Ducks and Coyotes. After that, it's four straight games at home to close out the season.
Every single game comes against a playoff team or a team competing for the postseason, so the Oilers are going through the meat grinder to close things out. I'd say stay away from the less-than-obvious Oilers, then.
The Los Angeles Kings just ended a five-game homestand on Saturday and began a three-game road trip on Monday and Tuesday; they'll wrap it up in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
After that, the Kings play three home games in a row, four straight on the road and a season finale against the hated Ducks at home.
The Kings mostly face playoff teams and contenders (unless you don't count Winnipeg, which ...) until April 09 against Calgary and April 10 versus Edmonton.
Los Angeles has been a streaky team and that imbalanced schedule might continue the trend. Since Jan. 28, they lost four in a row, won eight straight, dropped three consecutive games and now find themselves on this four-game run.
They're in a peculiar place when it comes to motivation, as the Ducks and Sharks are likely too far ahead of them, so perhaps the Kings will opt to rest people here and there? We'll see.
The larger picture is that the Phoenix Coyotes have been strong in the month of March with a 8-4-1 so far. They end their three-game road trip through the Metropolitan Division Thursday against the Devils in New Jersey and end the month by hosting the Minnesota Wild
Starting with the March 29th home game against the Wild, Phoenix plays three of four at home, which intersects with three of four on the road from April 2-10. Overall from Thursday to April 10, it's four road games and four home contests. They'll finally finish off the season with two home games: vs. San Jose on April 12 and what could be an epic against the Stars on April 13.
The Coyotes may hope April 12's game won't matter much to San Jose, as the following day's season-closer against the Dallas Stars in Phoenix. There could very well be a playoff spot on the line in that last contest.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
The Sharks wrap up two road games against non-playoff teams (Calgary, Edmonton) with Tuesday's game against the Oilers. Following that, it's a home game against Winnipeg on Thursday and a road contest against the Avalanche on Saturday.
April begins with some strong opportunities with three home games in a row and four of five in San Jose.
San Jose finishes its schedule against the Coyotes in Phoenix against a Coyotes team that faces a challenging weekend.
The Vancouver Canucks get a breather from Sunday, playing their first game on the road against the Wild on Wednesday and then another away game against Colorado on Thursday.
After that, it's five straight home games and six of seven in Vancouver to finish the regular season.
Things begin against contenders and then they play two could-be easy games against Edmonton and Calgary for their final two contests of the season.
We'll see if it will be too late for those games to count, but at the moment, things set up reasonably well for Vancouver to at least talk itself into a late charge toward the finish line. That bodes well for coin-toss choices, though things aren't pretty there, no doubt.