This is all you really need to know

April, 17, 2013

I watched it on tape, but I still had a lump in my throat.

Lauren Hart, singing alongside a video of the late Kate Smith, with a stirring rendition of "God Bless America" before Tuesday night's game between the Flyers and Rangers in honor of the victims in Boston. That's all you need to know from Tuesday night’s NHL games.

What makes us sports fans is the ability to escape.

It was the right call to postpone Monday night’s NHL game in Boston in the immediate aftermath of the twin bombings at the marathon, but otherwise games were played around the NHL as scheduled, and that’s important. Let’s not give the terrorist(s) any further satisfaction by taking away the kind of entertainment that’s an important part of our daily lives in North America.

We continue to mourn the victims in Boston, and moments of silence around NHL rinks underline that emotion and respect, but the games go on.

Which is not to say the NHL is oblivious to the fact a major sporting event was the scene of a terrorist attack Monday.

A source told that the NHL verbally communicated to all NHL arenas hosting games Monday night in the immediate aftermath to step up security, which by all accounts those rinks did. Then the NHL on Tuesday morning sent out written communication to all 30 clubs requesting beefed-up security in all rinks.

Case in point in Washington, where there’s always a potential threat in the U.S. capital, a statement Tuesday from the Caps and Verizon Center officials discussed enhanced security for upcoming events -- including Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over Toronto. The statement underlined the fact that the arena and team regularly consult with "the Metropolitan Police Department, FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security ..." and you imagine those conversations went into overdrive after Monday’s tragedy.

And needless to say, there will be increased security -- including a large number of police officers on hand -- Wednesday night in Boston, where the Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres.

Around the league in most rinks, it’s going to mean longer lines for fans to make their way in for the foreseeable future, but I don’t think anyone is going to complain in light of what transpired Monday in Boston.

And now for some thoughts on another important night with playoff implications on the ice Tuesday:

• The Canucks and Blues don’t like each other, which was evident again Tuesday night in a real chippy and edgy game between the Western Conference foes. The Blues came back for two huge points in a 2-1 shootout victory, giving St. Louis a bit more breathing room -- three points from the danger zone. There’s a chance St. Louis and Vancouver play in a 6-versus-3 matchup in the first round. Make it happen, please.

• Will the Caps ever lose again? I didn’t believe in this team before the shortened season. I felt the lack of a real camp and preseason would hurt new coach Adam Oates in his attempt to change the way this team played. Plus, I wasn’t convinced of the goaltending. I picked them to miss the playoffs. For a while I was on the right track. But the Caps continue their sensational, late-season turnaround, winning their eighth straight Tuesday night by easily disposing of the Leafs, with Alex Ovechkin scoring his league-leading 28th goal. Amazing.

• The Islanders opened a three-point gap over the rival Rangers with a 5-2 win over the last-place Panthers while the Blueshirts fell 4-2 in Philly. It was a must-win for the Isles, who now finish off their regular season with five road games, starting Thursday night in Toronto -- a game I’ll be covering. Never mind the Isles, the Rangers need to worry about the Winnipeg Jets, who also won at home over Tampa on Tuesday night to tie the eighth-place Rangers on points. Should the two teams finish tied come April 27, keep in mind the Jets currently have more regulation/overtime wins (20) than the Rangers (17) and thus would own the first tiebreaker. The Blueshirts do get Florida twice in their final six games, including Thursday at MSG, but conclude the regular season April 27 at home against the Devils, who you just know would like nothing more than to bring their rivals down with them.

• The Sharks edged the Kings 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night in an entertaining game that I finished watching this morning on tape. As it stands Wednesday, the two California clubs are tied at 53 points in the standings and would face off in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today. I covered their playoff series in 2011, and it was a dandy. San Jose rover Brent Burns, by the way, scored his eighth goal in Tuesday’s win; all of his goals have come since he was moved from defense to forward last month. Makes you wonder, will he ever play back again this season?



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