NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2012.

Sabres defeat Rangers, Blue Jackets down Hurricanes, Chara to play 1, 000th career NHL game, Predators unconcerned over slumping Rinne, Red Wings getting healthy, the reason behind Bryzgalov’s improvement, Gagne’s season may be over, and Wild coach upset over uncalled “dirty hit” by Flames Alex Tanguay.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres moved into a tie for eighth in the Eastern Conference with the Washington Capitals, defeating the Conference-leading NY Rangers 4-1, who also lost forward Mats Zuccarello to a broken left wrist. The Capitals still hold the tie-breaker with most victories, but if they keep playing as they did against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night (link can be found in today’s “Canadian Corner” update), the surging Sabres could soon pass them.

Umberber's hat trick leads Columbus to victory.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: R.J. Umberger had a hat trick, and Steve Mason made 39 saves, as the Blue Jackets down the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1.

CSNNE.COM: Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will play his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. I must confess, when I watched him play his first NHL season, back in 1997-98, I thought he was too big and gangly to be an effective NHL player, let alone blossom into one of the game’s best defensemen. Chara’s come a long way since then, going on to what I believe is a Hall of Fame career.

THE TENNESSEAN: Goaltender Pekka Rinne has allowed 11 goals in his last two starts, but the Predators aren’t concerned, and there are no plans to give him a break over the remaining two weeks of the season.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings are starting to get healthier as the playoffs draw near.

PHILLY.COM: Improved confidence is the reason behind Ilya Bryzgalov’s notable improvement in recent weeks. Couldn’t have come at a better time for the Flyers.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings GM Dean Lombardi is doubtful injured winger Simon Gagne, out with a concussion since December 26th, will return before the end of the season.  I think it’s doubtful he’ll be able to continue his NHL playing career.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo remains upset at Calgary Flames winger Alex Tanguay for his “flying elbow” which waylaid Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon.