Interviews with James Neal, Bob Gainey, and a Look Last Night at the West

  • Tanya Lyon of Hockey's Future sat down for a Q&A with James Neal. The very humble James Neal as it turns out.
  • Q: What’s it been like to be a rookie in the NHL and to be such a big part of the team as you guys battle for a playoff spot? A: It’s been nice to be able to come in and play with such good players and get a good opportunity. I never thought it would turn out like this or that it would happen this way and you just go with it. It’s been great. Playing with Modano, playing with a guy like that it helps you so much and things just started off good and I can’t say enough. Things have been rolling ever since and hopefully I can keep things going here and make a name for myself going into next year.
  • Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News caught up with former Dallas Stars general manager and current Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey to reflect on Gainey's past in Dallas and how that's helped him with the current issues he's dealing with in Montreal.
  • "I definitely think you are affected by all of the experiences of your life, and I was with that organization for 12 or 13 years," said Gainey, the former Stars GM who built the team that won the 1999 Stanley Cup. "By going out in the world, you find out there are a lot of different ways to look at a problem."
  • The Stars were idle last night. A few of the teams they are battling with for playoff spots, weren't.

Columbus 8, Detroit 2 - For the second straight Saturday, the Red Wings gave up eight goals to another Central Division rival. Last week, it was the Preds. This week, it was the Blue Jackets.

Yeah, I'd say that's enough to get the Stress Train rolling and fully packed up in Detroit.

Vancouver 3, Sharks 1 - The Canucks just keep on rolling as they registered not only their 12th win in their last 14 games, but their first against the Sharks in almost two years.

Speaking of the Sharks, they've officially hit  "Slumpville" with a four game losing streak (0-3-1). They may also be without veteran defenseman Rob Blake for awhile. On the power play that generated the only Sharks' goal of the night, Blake was stationed in front of the Canuck net and took a shot off the leg from Jonathan Cheechoo that rebounded over to Joe Thornton who scored with three seconds left in the second.

Edmonton 4, Toronto 1 - Apparently, there were a lot of Oiler fans who made the trek east across Canada last night. Or some Edmonton expatriates live in Toronto.

Either way, the Oilers bounced back from a crushing loss in Ottawa two nights earlier to stone the Leafs, 4-1. Or more precisely, Dwayne Roloson stoned them with a 39 save effort.

Philadelphia 4, Nashville 1 - Finally, some good news for the Stars as the Flyers, after playing to a scoreless tie in the first, broke the tie with a two-goal second period. Martin Erat halved the deficit almost eight minutes into the third, but his score was quickly answered by Joffrey Lupul just 66 seconds later. Claude Giroux added his fifth goal of the season to salt the game away.

Florida 5, St. Louis 3 - More good news as a St. Louis Blues' rally in South Florida fell just a bit short last night. Florida jumped out to a 4-1 lead late in the second before David Backes scored with 14 seconds left in the period and Brad Boyes scored 1:52 into the third to quickly cut the lead to 4-3.

But they never could get the equalizer and David Booth salted things away for the Panthers.

Los Angeles 4, Minnesota 3 - Again, more good news for Dallas.

I suppose.

Then again, given the Stars recent troubles with Los Angeles, do we really want them crashing this playoff battle party?

Anyway, it was also a regulation win for LA, which meant no three point game here. LA broke open a 2-2 game in the second with goals from Anze Kopitar and Teddy Purcell to open up a 4-2 lead. Eric Belanger's 12th of the season in the third pulled Minnesota to within a goal, but no closer.

Pos Team W L OTL GP Pts PtPct PrjPts
1 San Jose 42 12 10 64 94 .734 120
2 Detroit 43 15 8 66 94 .712 117
3 Calgary 39 20 6 65 84 .646 106
4 Chicago 36 18 9 63 81 .643 105
5 Vancouver 34 22 8 64 76 .594 97
6 Columbus 33 27 6 66 72 .545 89
7 Edmonton 32 27 6 65 70 .538 88
8 Dallas 31 26 8 65 70 .538 88
9 Nashville 33 29 4 66 70 .530 87
10 Anaheim 31 29 6 66 68 .515 84
11 Minnesota 31 28 5 64 67 .523 86
12 St. Louis 29 28 8 65 66 .508 83
13 Los Angeles 28 28 9 65 65 .500 82

I decided to incorporate the point percentage standings that Andrew's DSP uses and also added the point total that each team will project out to if they stay on their current pace. I also decided to drop Colorado and Phoenix from these rankings for now since the Yotes are nine points out of a playoff spot and Colorado is 13 out.

Dallas still has the inside track for the 8th seed over Nashville, by that's only because the Preds have played one more game. If Dallas loses tonight, they'll be even in games with Nashville. But more importantly, they'll be two games back in the win column, equating to a virtual half-point lead for Nashville.

But you already knew these games were huge.

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