Two Newfoundlanders are guaranteed to be skating in the Stanley Cup playoffs when they open next week, but there may be a third player from this province in the post season depending on what shakes down in the very tight race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Colin Greening and the Ottawa Senators have a playoff berth wrapped up in the Eastern Conference, along with the Detroit Red Wings and Daniel Cleary in the west.
And it looks as if Ryane Clowe and the San Jose Sharks will slip into the playoffs in the Western Conference following a big 5-2 win over Michael Ryder and the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.
Entering Wednesday night’s light schedule of games — neither of which have an impact on the race for the last playoff spot in the western standings — San Jose was eighth with 92 points, three up on the ninth-place Stars.
Both teams have two games remaining.
Just as close — though not as widely-known or followed — is the race between Ryder and Teddy Purcell for the most points by a Newfoundlander in a single NHL season.
Ryder holds that distinction, having scored 25 goals and 63 points with the 2003-04 Montreal Canadiens, his rookie season when he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
Ryder and Purcell currently have 62 points apiece. Ryder has two games remaining, and Purcell three, including last night’s tilt against the Canadiens in Montreal.
The following is a brief look, in no particular order, at the six current Newfoundlanders playing in the National Hockey League:
74GP-16-27-43, minus-6, 85PIMS
Contract status: third year of a four-year deal ($3.5M this season)
With the Sharks in a dogfight for a playoff spot, Clowe is stepping to the plate with three goals and an assist in his last five games.
It’s been an off-year for the Fermeuse native, who will finish with fewer points than his previous three seasons.
He’s second on the Sharks to Brad Winchester with 85 penalty minutes, but leads the club with seven majors.
74GP-12-21-33, plus-3, 30PIMS
Contract status: fourth year of a five-year deal ($3M this season)
Entering last night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, the product of Riverhead, Harbour Grace had managed only one assist in his last six games.
Cleary has been even-steven at home (where the Wings are 31-6-2) and away (where Detroit has struggled at 16-21-3). At Joe Louis Arena, Cleary has four goals and 10 assists in 34 games, and eight goals and 11 helpers on the road.
Cleary’s production has dipped from last season, when he had 26 goals and 20 assists.
He’s missed five games to injury this season.
80GP-17-20-37, minus-3, 46PIMS
Contract status: first year of a three-year deal ($700,000 this season)
Greening, from St. John’s, has been one of the reasons Ottawa is a playoff team this season.
He is seventh in NHL rookie scoring and tied for fourth among first-year players with four power play goals while appearing in all 80 games for Ottawa.
Only Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris are averaging more ice time, among Senators’ forwards, than Greening.
35GP-0-3-3, minus-6, 14PIMS
Contract status: first year of a two-year deal ($2M this season)
It’s been a trying season for the defenceman from Bonavista, who has been a healthy scratch in the Stars’ last two games, both against the Sharks.
During a 27-game stretch from Jan. 12 until March 8 — 27 games in total — Pardy appeared in only four games for Dallas. Two others were spent in the minors, with the American league’s Texas Stars.
78GP-21-41-62, plus-seven, 16PIMS
Contract status: first year of a two-year deal ($2.35M this season)
The native of St. John’s parlayed a great playoff last spring (17 points in 18 games) into a brilliant 2011-12 season.
Entering last night’s game in Montreal, Purcell was plus-seven, good for second spot on the Lightning, and his eight power play goals trailed only Steven Stamkos.
Purcell has also proven to be durable, missing only one game this season.
80GP-35-27-62, plus-19, 46PIMS
Contract status: first year of a two-year deal ($3.5M this season)
Ryder has cooled off a bit of late, going three games without picking up a point. Prior to the mini-slump, Ryder had two goals and three assists in three games last week.
Either way, it’s been a heck of a rebound from last season when he registered 18 goals and 23 assists for the Boston Bruins.
But, of course, he did win the Stanley Cup.