AROUND THE BOARDS

Cecil Whig - - ATHLON SPORTS -

The race for the fi­nal play­off spot in the Western Con­fer­ence turned out to be a dud. The Min­nesota Wild clinched the spot Tues­day night when Colorado lost to Nashville, the fourth loss in a row for the Avalanche. The high­light of the slide was coach Patrick Roy can­didly rip­ping his team’s core, par­tic­u­larly Matt Duch­ene, for a lack of lead­er­ship. ...

The Wild are not ex­actly rolling into the playoffs hav­ing lost four in a row them­selves. Work­horse goalie De­van Dub­nyk, who has played 66 games this sea­son, may be run­ning out of gas. Af­ter win­ning six straight with­out al­low­ing more than two goals in any game, Dub­nyk has lost four in a row and al­lowed at least three goals in ev­ery game. ...

The list of im­pact play­ers who could miss all or part of the postseason con­tin­ues to grow. Per­haps no team has been hit as hard as the Tampa Bay Light­ning. Al­ready with­out de­fense­man An­ton Stral­man (bro­ken leg), Tampa may have lost star Steven Stamkos for good af­ter a blood clot was dis­cov­ered in his arm. Surgery fixed the prob­lem, but he’ll miss at least a month and could miss three. If it’s closer to three, the un­re­stricted-freeagent-to-be may have played his last game with the Light­ning. De­fense­man Vic­tor Hed­man and for­ward Ryan Cal­la­han also missed Tues­day’s game against the Rangers and may not play again be­fore the playoffs. ...

The St. Louis Blues are also hold­ing their breath as goal­tender Brian El­liott left prac­tice on Wed­nes­day with a thumb in­jury. Early in­di­ca­tions were that it was not se­ri­ous, and it had bet­ter not be with Jake Allen al­ready out with a right leg in­jury. El­liott is 11- 0- 1 over his past 14 ap­pear­ances with a 1.77 goals against av­er­age, a .939 save per­cent­age and three shutouts.

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