Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Watch: Marchand Trips Stralman in a Slew-Footy Way

If all Brad Marchand got was a $10k fine for his slewfoot on Niklas Kronwall, he'll likely get nothing for this dangerous trip of Anton Stralman. People will talk about it, and deservedly so because of Marchand's reputation for slew-foots (he's now been suspended once and fined twice) but this play looks pretty innocent. The Bruins' forward starts to head up ice looking for a stretch pass but quickly changes direction and makes a sharp turn that steers him into Stralman.

It probably could go for a tripping minor (he didn't get one), but we don't expect to her about Marchand being disciplined for this.

The Bruins got the 4-3 win to sink Tampa further down the standings. Patrice Bergeron continued to heat up for Boston, scoring his 12th of the season and fifth of the month. He has doubled his points total in January, scoring 5-8-13.

Tampa falls to 22-23-6 on the seasons. They are just six points out of a Wild Card spot in the East but they will need to leapfrog five teams (Toronto, Florida, Islanders, Carolina and New Jersey) to get there.

Islanders Extend Points Streak to Seven, Six under Weight

It wasn't pretty, but the Islanders will take it. New York notched a 3-2 win over the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Barclays Center, and climbed within three points of the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York has gone 6-0-1 in their last seven games, and 5-0-1 since Doug Weight took over for Jack Capuano on January 17th.

Evgeny Kuznetsov opened the scoring for Washington with his tenth goal of the season, but the Islanders got goals from Alan Quine and Ryan Strome before Johnny Boychuk put it out of reach with an empty-netter late in the third.

Alexander Ovechkin brought the Capitals closer with a one-timer from the point that Isles goalie Thomas Griess never even saw at 19:13 of the third, but the Islanders held off Washington to get the victory. The goal was Ovechkin's 24th, which moves him into a tie with Cam Atkinson, Jeff Carter and Max Pacioretty for second in the NHL. Connor McDavid leads all scorers with 27 goals.

New York has defeated Columbus, Montreal and Washington in its last three games. They improve to 22-17-9, and 7-2-1 in their last ten.

Washington remains atop the NHL at 33-11-6, one point clear of Minnesota and two clear of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Rangers Ink Vigneault through 2020

The New York Rangers got there man today.

The club made head coach Alain Vigneault the third-highest paid coach in the NHL, just behind Mike Babcock and Joel Quenneville.

This, per ESPN's Craig Custance:

The New York Rangers on Tuesday signed coach Alain Vigneault to an extension through the 2019-20 season that would make him the third highest-paid coach in the league.

A source told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that Vigneault's new deal is worth a little more than $4 million per season, which would place him behind only Toronto's Mike Babcock and Chicago's Joel Quenneville among the highest-paid coaches.

According to the source, Vigneault will make $4 million next season and in 2018-19, and $4.25 million for the 2019-20 season.

The Rangers have not missed the playoffs in Vigneault's three full seasons in New York. This year they have been a dynamic offensive team and are currently holding down the top wild card slot in the Eastern Conference with a 31-17-1 record.

With 597 wins, Vigneault ranks 15th on the NHL's all-time coaching win leaderboard. He is sixth among acctive coaches.

"I gave it, obviously, a lot of thought, but I feel with the young kids that we're bringing in, whatever you want to call it, the retooling, I believe we can win and can compete in a very tough league," Vigneault told NHL.com. "It was a pretty easy decision as far as you're a coach and you want to have a chance. You've got a first-class organization, so it didn't take me long."

Isles Extend Greiss for Three Years

The New York Islanders handed goaltender Thomas Greiss a three-year extension on Tuesday.

According to Newsday's Arthur Staple, the 31-year-old German signed a three-year, $10 million extension. Originally signed as a backup to Jaroslav Halak, Greiss guided the Islanders to their first post-season series victory in 23 years after Halak was injured last March.

"It's awesome. It's just gratifying," said Greiss, according to NHL.com. "It just feels good. I'm just happy. Now the work starts and we've got to get the ball rolling here."

Greiss has gone 14-7-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and is fifth in the League with a .928 save percentage. He's probably the biggest reason the Islanders are still in the playoff picture. Per Puckalytics, the New York Islanders are giving up 62.30 Corsi events per game at even strength, good for last in the NHL this season.

Greiss started the year as part of a trio, along with Halak and J.F. Berube, but relations between the Islanders and Halak became strained when Halak's agent complained about the Islanders employment of a three goalie system. To be fair, he had a point. But that doesn't change the fact that Greiss has been as good or better than Halak, who is currently toiling in the minors.

Halak has gone 6-1-2 in Bridgeport in nine starts, with a GAA of 2.03.

New York will likely look to move him at the deadline or buy him out at some point.

Meanwhile, it's Greiss' net in New York. The Islanders will face the Capitals in Brooklyn tonight.

“It’s the most success I’ve ever had playing hockey, so it’s been fun,” Greiss told Newsday after signing his deal. “It’s a great organization; we have great guys on the team. That makes you more comfortable on the ice, too.”

Jets' Perreault Had Finger Broken by Corey Perry Slash

Matthieu Perreault hopes to return this week for the Winnipeg Jets. He was slashed by Anaheim's Corey Perry during Winnipeg's 3-2 loss to the Ducks at MTS Centre and has not played since.

Perreault, who has 4 goals and 12 assists on the season, hopes to return on Thursday when the Jets visit Dallas.

He was not overly pleased with what he perceived to be a dirty play by his former teammate.

"It was a little dirty, I would say," Perreault said of the hit. "It's not like he was trying to make a play on the puck really, he was coming at my hands. To me it was dirty."

Perreault has put up five points in his last five games for the Jets.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Watch: Gaudreau Snaps 11-Game Scoring Streak with OT Winner

The Calgary Flames really needed this one.

And, thanks to Johnny Gaudreau, they got it.

Calgary snapped a four-game losing streak (one in which they had been outscored 20-7) with a 3-2 win over the Senators at Canadian Tire Center on Thursday night. The Flames (25-24-3) will head to the all-star break with a one-point lead over the Kings for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But the Kings have three games in hand.

Gaudreau had been struggling heading into tonight, and head coach Glen Gulatzan moved Michael Frolik up to the top line with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to try and generate a little more grit for the line. It seemed to help. Gaudreau, who had been a minus-7 with zero points in his last four, was a plus-two tonight and he grabbed an assist on Sean Monahan's beautiful goal earlier.

"It was an important game for us," said Gaudreau. "Huge two points for us."

Gulatzan, who had been highly critical of his team during their losing streak, was pleased to get the win, and he liked the response. "I thought we did a really good job," he said. "In the third we sat back a little too much with the lead, but I liked our response, as a whole."

Gaudreau's goal brought the curtains down in Ottawa, but it was this pretty work of stickwork by Sean Monahan that was the goal of the night. How about goal of the year?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Varlamov Has Undergone Successful Hip Surgery

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov has undergone a successful hip surgery, reports the Denver Post.

Here's Avs' GM Joe Sakic, per the Denver Post:

“[Varlamov] has been dealing with groin and hip issues for some time now.” He added, “After further evaluation from our team doctors, it was determined that the best road to recovery was surgery. Doing this procedure at this time ensures that Semyon will be fully healthy for the start of training camp.”

The 28-year-old netminder, in his sixth season with the Avalanche, has gone 6-17-0 in 23 starts for the Avs this season. In his best season with the Avalanche (2013-14), he won 41 games and produced a .927 save percentage, and was a Vezina finalist.

He had played at least 57 games in each of the three seasons prior to this. The Samara, Russia native has been dealing with many injury concerns over the past few years, however.

Varlamov has struggled mightily this season, and he has the highest GAA (3.38) in the NHL, among goalies with a minimum of 20 games played.

The teams said he is due back for next season. He is signed through 2019 with an AAV of $5.9 million.

Marchand Fined $10K for Slewfoot on Kronwall

Brad Marchand picked up a $10K fine for the above slewfoot on Niklas Kronwall during Boston's 4-3 win over the Red Wings on Tuesday at TD Garden.

Marchand has been suspended once and fined once for similar incidents, but the word on the street is that the NHL Dept. of Player safety probably didn't see this as one of the more egregious slewfoot infractions because Marchand didn't use his arms to dump Kronwall.

The language of the DOPS tweet says it all--they don't consider this a slew-foot. It's a "dangerous trip" to them.

Are they spot-on with this assessment?

Here's the definition of slewfooting, per the NHL rulebook:

Slew-footing - Slew-footing is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent’s feet from under him, or pushes an opponent’s upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent’s feet from under him, causing him to fall violently to the ice.

You be the judge (you know you want to).

Duchene Open to Being Traded away from Avalanche

So, how are the Matt Duchene sweepstakes going? There are, at last check, about 29 teams that could use a forward as talented as the 26-year-old, who still has two years remaining on his current deal at an AAV of $6 million. But not many will be willing to part with the assets that the Avalanche, a team on the cusp of a full rebuild, will likely seek.

We're talking a bona fide No.1 defenseman and a healthy combo of prospects and picks.

Duchene, who is in his eighth full season with the Avs, has only tasted NHL playoffs twice. He's sounding pretty ready to move on. In fact, he was probably ready last season when then head coach Patrick Roy criticized him for celebrating to joyfully after his 30th goal.

“I’m open to it,” Duchene said Wednesday, according to the Denver Post. “When I say open to it, I know it’s part of the business, and it’s something that might happen. I’m not hiding from it. I’m not running away. I’m not banging my head. I understand it’s part of what we deal with as pro athletes.”

Here's more from Duchene, per Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post:

“It’s been really tough to have any taste of success at the NHL level as a team,” Duchene said. “Thankfully, I’ve been able to have (success) at the international level with Team Canada. And it’s something that has given me some really good experience. I know when this team, or whatever (NHL) team I’m on, is ready to win, I know I’ll be able to bring some experience to it. That’s something that fuels me, and it keeps me positive.”

Now, to find a suitable trade partner. In his article, Kiszla says that Carolina's Jaccob Slavin could be a good fit for a trade. The second-year Hurricane is a Denver native and a fine young defenseman in the making, but it will likely take a few more prime pieces for the Avs to do that deal.

What about the New York Islanders? Desperate to add a premier talent (with some term, no less) on John Tavares' line, would the Isles be able to part with one of their top defensemen? Could Colorado be tempted to take a package that includes a combination of a current Isles defenseman (say, Travis Hamonic), a prospect (say Ryan Pulock) and another prospect or pick?

One thing we do know: Isles GM Garth Snow is desperate, having dug a deep hole for his club by doing very little to replace the top-tier talent (Kyle Okposo and Frans Neilsen) that left this summer. Jack Capuano's firing buys some time for snow, but the Isles need to show John Tavares that they are committed and ready to sacrifice by July 1st, when it becomes time to begin negotiations with Tavares on an extension.

It's clearly speculative, like everything else we are going to hear leading up to the February 28th trade deadline, but we're saying the Isles are a good fit because they are one of the more desperate teams out there.

They aren't the only desperate team, so stay tuned...

Malkin out, Cam Atkinson in for All-Star Game

Evgeni Malkin has snubbed the all-star game. Well, actually, the Russian will miss this weekend's festivitites due to a lower-body injury, which means that one Metropolitan Division player gets an all-star un-snub.

There are plenty of good candidates--we thought Nicklas Backstrom might have been a good call--but in the end it was a deserving player from the Columbus Blue Jackets that got the nod: Cam Atkinson.

The 27-year-old has put up 24 goals in just 47 games for the Jackets, which puts him just three shy of his career-high total, and he's tied with Jeff Carter for second in goals, behind only Sidney Crosby.

Malkin will miss tonight's game against the Bruins due to a lower-body injury sustained on Tuesday in a loss to the Blues. He was hit by Joel Edmundson and ended up having difficulty putting weight on his left leg after the play, though he did recover quickly and finish the game.

According to Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, Malkin will be re-evaluated after the break.

The Blue Jackets will now have four representatives in L.A. at the all-star game, if you count head coach John Tortorella (who gets the not based on January 10 standings). Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman Seth Jones were chosen by the NHL's hockey operations department.

For more about this weekend's festivities in Los Angeles, go here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kerry Fraser Confirms Kevin Pollock's Blown Call on Trouba

The above play played a huge role in Winnipeg's 4-3 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday at MTS Centre, as it handed Melker Karlsson a penalty shot that allowed him to score the game-tying goal.

After the game Jets coach Paul Maurice disagreed with the call, simply repeating: "That's not a penalty." Even the Sharks' broadcasters had a hard time believing that Melker Karlsson got a penalty shot on this play--but he did.

According to Kerry Fraser, the call was wrong (duh).

On his website, KerryFraser.com, the longtime ref states that Kevin Pollock didn't have a good enough vantage point to make a call on that play. He says that Trouba made a perfecly legal stick check on Karlsson, but that Karlsson fooled Pollock, selling the slash by shaking his glove after he loses the puck.

"Trouba never gave up on the chase and made a very good defensive play by utilizing a legal stick check (stick to stick contact on the shaft and below the hands of Karlsson.)

Finally, the last piece of information that the referee perceived, and most likely one that caused him to throw his hand up (thinking that stick contact had been delivered to the hand), was when Karlsson had no play on the puck and took his top hand off his stick and gave the glove a little shake. It was at this point the penalty was called.

Once the referee felt that an infraction had been committed the only call he could make on this play was to award a penalty shot.

So, the call was bunk, but there was good news. We got to hear Sharks color man Randy Hahn bust out his Melk Man call.

We'd also like to point out that Karlsson was flying and there wasn't really much that Pollock could do to get in better position (hard to skate that fast when you are watching a play). Also, there's this. Trouba got dusted on this play and made it easy for Pollock to want to blow him for something (couldn't he just give him a minor for being slow?).

In the end, Pollock made the wrong call. He shouldn't have called what he didn't see. It wasn't a slash, and the Sharks shouldn't have had a penalty shot, or even a power play. It's definitely a bummer when as a defenseman you make a good play and the result is getting shafted.

Too bad there's no crying allowed in hockey.

Sharks' Karlsson Granted a Penalty Shot on Iffy Call, and Scores

In one of the stranger calls you'll ever see, San Jose's Melker Karlsson was awarded a penalty shot after a stick tap by Jacob Trouba that forced him to mishandle the puck as he rambled in on a breakaway.

But checking the stick of an opponent is not illegal. Trouba didn't slash Karlsson's stick, he simply tapped it. Under the rule 61.1 for "slashing" the NHL rulebook states that "Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing."

If the referee felt that Trouba's stick check was forceful or powerful, then he was within his rights to call the penalty shot, because Trouba was behind Karlsson and Karlsson had control of the puck prior to the "slash." But is that really the type of stick check that can be characterized as a slash? Don't you basically have to break an opponent's stick to draw that call?

After the game Paul Maurice aired out his opinion of the call:

"It's not a penalty," he said. "It's not a penalty."

Karlsson scored on the breakaway and added the game-winner at 15:27 of the third, his fifth in two games.

The Sharks notched the 4-3 win to climb into first in the Pacific Division with 64 points. The Jets nearly tied the game with :17 seconds left but it was ruled that they had scored after the whistle.

Flames Coach Lambastes His Pathetic Squad after loss to Habs

It was only last Saturday that we reported on Glen Gulutzan's frustrations with his team after a rough loss to Edmonton. Well, the trend has continued.

Calgary was blasted 5-1 by the Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday and afterwards Gulutzan took his anger to a higher level.

"Yeah, we were pathetic. We were pathetic. It was a pathetic display," he said. "No bite back, no kick back... top guys didn't do anything and we need somebody to step up."

The Flames have now lost four straight and gone 2-6-1 in their last nine games. They have failed to score the first goal in each of those nine.

Calgary has been outscored 20-7 in their last four games, and they drop to 24-24-3 on the season. It's good enough to keep them in a Wild Card slot for now, but if things continue this way, Calgary will surely miss the post-season party.

"We have to man up," Gulatzan said. "We play well then one bad thing happens and we crumble... Our starts have been good. One little shot, it goes in and we crumble. We just crumble. We have no resolve to stay with it."

Things have been difficult for Johnny Gaudreau of late. He bobbled a puck at the blue line that led to a Montreal breakaway and allowed the Canadiens to take a 2-0 lead. The 23-year-old has been struggling on the scoresheet in a big way, with just three goals since December 6.

The New Jersey native has not scored since January 4th and he's a minus-7 in his last four games.

Flames captain Mark Giordano echoed his coach's sentiments after the game.

"We're not pushing back hard enough," he said. "Right now it's tough to explain. We're not creating any energy when we get down, it seems like we're waiting for something else bad to happen. We have to get out of this funk."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marchand Slewfoots Kronwall, and Will Face Hearing

Brad Marchand got Niklas Kronwall with this sneaky slewfoot during the second period of Tuesday night's Bruins-Red Wings game at TD Center. The play went unnoticed and uncalled by the refs, and Kronwall was not injured.

Today it was reported that Marchand would have a hearing for what the NHL's Department of Safety is terming a "dangerous trip."

According to Sportsnet:

Marchand has had his issues with slew footing in the past and has been fined or suspended on two different occasions. He was fined $2,500 during the 2011-12 season for his slew foot of former Penguins defenceman Matt Niskanen, and was suspended two games during the 2014-15 season for doing the same to then-Rangers forward Derick Brassard.

The problem for those eager to vilify Marchand for the hit is that many are saying it doesn't really fit the definition of slewfoot.

According to the NHL rule book, however, what Marchand did seems to fit the definition:

Slew-footing - Slew-footing is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent’s feet from under him, or pushes an opponent’s upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent’s feet from under him, causing him to fall violently to the ice.

Sens Snaps Washington's 14-Game Unbeaten Streak

The Washington Capitals had their 14-game winning streak snapped at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa on Tuesday, as the Sens (26-15-5) notched a 3-0 lead against the NHL's top team.

Bobby Ryan scored his 11th of the season and Zack Smith scored his 12th to hand the Capitals their first regulation loss since December 27th. Philipp Grubaer took the loss in net for the Capitals.

The Caps rigorous January schedule appears to have finally caught up with them.

"I didn't think we had a lot of juice," Caps head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. "From my standpoint I can tell when we have juice on the bench and when we don't. We looked like a little bit of a tired hockey team."

Washington (32-10-6) still leads the NHL with 70 points. Second place Columbus, who fell to the Islanders 4-2 in Brooklyn, has 68 points.

Washington has already played 13 games in 24 nights in January. They'll be home against the Devils in their final game before the all-star break on Thursday.

"I didn't think we were very sharp, and we didn't have much of our legs," said Trotz. "We'll just move on."

Sharks Ship Wingels to Ottawa

The San Jose Sharks dealt forward Tommy Wingels for Buddy Robinson, Zack Stortini and a 2017 seventh-round draft pick. The Sharks free up some roster space and some cap space by moving Wingels, who was set to become a free agent at the end of the season and who had a cap hit of $2.475 million according to Cap Friendly.

Robinson, a 6'6" 230-lb forward, has seven NHL games under his belt, with two points. Stortini, 31, has 257 NHL games under his belt but has not played a game in the NHL since the 2011-2012 season.

The Senators said that the Sharks are retaining 30 percent of Wingels salary, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It's the second move the Sharks have made to get younger this month. The waived Matt Nieto in early January and he was picked up by the Avalanche.

The Sharks are high on rookies Kevin Labanc (21) and Timo Meier (20), and they are also giving Ryan Carpenter a look at center. The Sharks are expecting Tomas Hertl to return at pivot, either this Thursday against the Oilers, or immediately after the all-star break.

Hertl was a 21-goal scorer last season, but went out of the lineup with a knee injury on November 7th. He had surgery on the right knee in late November.

The Sharks defeated the Jets 4-3 on Tuesday at SAP Center. They leapfrogged Anaheim to lead the Pacific Division by one point.

Patrik Laine Makes Return from Concussion

Patrick Laine is back in the lineup after missing eight games due to a concussion suffered on January 7 againt the Buffalo Sabres. The Jets are hosting San Jose tonight at MTS Centre.

Laine has registered a shot, a hit and a blocked shot in 3:21 of ice time in the first ten minutes of the game. Here's more of what Jets head coach Paul Maurice had to say prior to the game about Laine's return:

Despite missing those eight games, the 19-year-old Finn still third among rookie scorers in the NHL this season. Here are the top 5:

Watch: Tkachuk Slewfoots Marincin at Buzzer

Matthew Tkachuk has been a sparkplug for the Flames in his rookie season. In addition to providing scoring, energy and grit, he's also been a bit of a pest (in a good way if you are his teammate, maybe not so much if you're the opposition). But he may have taken it a bit too far on Tuesday with his last second slewfoot of Toronto's Martin Marincin.

In the waning seconds of Toronto's 4-0 win he takes Marincin down and Marincin's knee gets twisted pretty rudely as he falls. The defenseman needed to be helped off the ice and highlights showed him grimacing and not putting much weight on his knee as he was walked through the tunnel to the Leafs dressing room.

Here's a slo-mo of the play if you want to see what happened to Marincin's knee (does not look good).

After the game Leafs coach Mike Babcock didn't wanting to comment on the play, saying that kind of stuff is up to the league. When asked about Marincin's statuus he hinted that he was not seriously injured. "He'll be good," he said.

The game was chippy, and also featured this hit by Leo Komarov on Flames star Johnny Gaudreau:

Gaudreau was shaken up on the play, left the game, but returned.

"I feel fine," he said after the game. "It's part of hockey--you're going to get hit every once in a while. He said he went through concussion protocol and checked out fine.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Patrick Marleau scores four in third, first since '97 to achieve feat

The Sharks were deadlocked with the last-place Colorado Avalanche on Monday night at the Pepsi Center.

Then Patrick Marleau took over.

The 37-year-old winger scored four goals in the third period (see all four in the video above) to power San Jose to a 5-2 victory over Colorado.

Marleau becomes just the 12th player in NHL history to score four goals in a period and the first since 1997.

Brent Burns was the other goal scorer for the Sharks. With his 20th goal in is 48th game Burns became the fastest defenseman to hit the 20-goal mark since Kevin Hatcher scored 20 in 48 games for Washington in 1992-1993.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Beleaguered Claude Julien lobs a verbal volley in at Bruins Front Office

Claude Julien's hot seat is getting hotter by the period in Boston.

The Bruins are slipping, and after going 3-5-2 in their last ten games, they are clinging by the claws to third place in the Atlantic Division. Problem is, they have played 50 games already, and when one peeks at the points per game NHL standings, the Bruins aren't looking so hot.

The Bruins (1.04 ppg) are actually behind Toronto (1.15), Carolina (1.07), Philadelphia (1.08), and when those teams make up their games in hand things might even look worse for Julien and the Bruins.

If they don't make the playoffs that will make three consecutive non-playoff seasons for the storied franchise.

There are those that believe that Julien has been handcuffed by the poor roster decisions of management, and evidently Julien, who has been the subject of firing rumors from the last few weeks, made it clear that he's one of those believers after today's 5-1 shellacking in Pittsburgh.

"This is a team that needs all 20 guys going to win," he said (see video above for the full statement). "We don't have enough talent to think we can get away with a mediocre game."

Julien is the longest-tenured NHL coach, but he may not last too much longer if he keeps lofting verbal volleys, albeit subtle ones, in the direction of the Boston front office.

Julien hinted that he's in no mood to fixate on his job security earlier in the week, stating that he was in no mood for "shock journalism."

He also went on a long and interesting ramble about how he doesn't have time to worry about his job--it's not up to him.
Here's the meat of that discussion, thanks to WEEI's Ty Anderson:

In Julien's defense, the Bruins are among the best possession teams in the NHL, and they've fielded a relatively young, inexperienced blue line and done quite well with them. Many feel that the club, which has the lowest 5-on-5 PDO in the NHL, per Puckalytics, has been snakebitten and will soon turn things around.

Whether they will, and whether Julien will be there to guide them if they do, remains to be seen.

Gulatzan Embarrassed by Flames Performance vs. Oilers

Head coach Glen Gulatzan started out with a pretty calm explanation about the Calgary Flames 7-3 loss at Scotiabank Saddledome tonight, but when he was asked about his team's compete level against the rival Oilers, he showed his true feelings about the team's loss.

"It's embarrassing," Gulutzan said. "It's embarrassing. I don't talk to the guys after the game, win or lose, I talk to them the next day, but certainly in the coaches' room, emotions are high. It's embarrassing."

The Flames fell behind 3-0 before six minutes had passed, and Chad Johnson was relieved by Brian Elliott at 5:58. But Elloitt couldn't keep the Oilers from adding to their lead in the second. They expanded the lead to 5-0 by the 12:24 mark on Connor McDavid's 16th of the season and Jordan Eberle's 11th (and second of the game).

Edmonton swept the season series with the Flames for the first time in history and improved to 5-0-1 in their last six. Goaltender laurent Brossoit earned his first NHL victory in the contest, making 38 saves in his season debut.

The Oilers are now just one point out of first in the Pacific Division and nine clear of the Flames in the standings.

“For sure it’s important," said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. "They’re fighting for a playoff spot too and that puts them nine points back. Those are points they can’t get back."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pavelec Breaks Jets Record for Saves in a Period

The Winnipeg Jets have been a wildly inconsistent team this season and they came into today as one of the NHL's worst defensive teams, having allowed 147 goals in their first in 48 games. That's why Ondrej Pavelec has been recalled from Manitoba to man nets for the Jets for the last two games, and--whaddyaknow?--the Jets are on a two-game winning streak.

Pavelec stood in his head in the second period, stopping all 25 shots he faced to break the franchise record for saves in a single period.

"I don't think it's very important at all," he said of the record after Winnipeg's 5-3 win over St. Louis at MTS Centre.

Bryan Little scored two power-play goals, and Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist for the Jets (22-23-4). Ehlers now has 16 goals this season, one more than his previous career-high.

23-year-old Schiefele's goal was his 21st. He is now eight short of his career-best total from last season.

The struggling Blues turned to rookie Pheonix Copley in net and he was hit early and often by a steady Winnipeg attack. The rookie Copley made 24 saves his first NHL start for the Blues (23-19-5), who have lost three straight games.

The Blues have been frustrated defensively, and Ken Hitchcock pulled their No.1 goalie not once but twice in the Blues 7-3 loss to the Caps on Thursday.

Bo Knows Stitches

Canucks center Bo Horvat has been having a breakout season in Vancouver, with 30 points in his first 40 games.

He's also a hit on social media. The Canucks posted this photo of Horvat's stitched-up head after the 21-year-old took the friendly fire of teammate Nikita Tryamkin during last night's 2-1 win over the Panthers.

Here's a look at the play:

Horvat was fine, and returned to finish the night with two shots on goal and 17:08 of ice time.

The team reports that his head is "tender" but apparently fine.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Laine Doesn't Remember Much about Hit He Took from McCabe

Rookie phenom Patrik Laine says he doesn't remember much about the hit that concussed him on January 7th.

Asked if he can remember the hit, Laine, 19, said: "Kind of... I got the puck and that's it--I can't remember anything else. I can't--that's all. It wasn't a good feeling, but that kind of stuff happens and I hope that I won't get hit like that again."

Laine skated in non-contact fashion during Winnipeg's practice today. It is still unclear as to when he will make his return.

He says the symptoms dragged him down a bit but that he's gotten much better in the last few days.

"Just headaches and I was kind of tired all the time. Just focussing it was hard, but basically headaches and I was tired."

Laine said the fog started to clear a few days ago. "It's been pretty good now," he said. "Just get back to work."

Laine has been incredible in his rookie season for the Jets. He has poured in 21 goals in 37 games. He is second in rookie goals, behind Auston Matthews, and tied with Mitch Marner for second in rookie points with 37.

He said he's not sure when he'll be ready to play. "I don't know. It's day-by-day. But I think it's looking pretty good now--hopefully soon."

Subban Activated from IR, Set to Play Friday

P.K. Subban will return to action on Friday.

Nashville's star defenseman missed 16 games with a lower back injury and will play on Friday at Edmonton. He has been out since December 15.

"I think it's been about five weeks since I've been into a hockey game," Subban told reporters today. "Just trying to get my feet wet--this will be the first step for me."

The Predators have dangled in and out of a playoff spot this season, and they've suffered quite a few injuries. James Neal has missed time, Roman Josi has missed time, and the team has struggled to forge an indentity with key players out of the lineup.

"It's not easy with some of the players that we've missed the past month, in and out of the lineup," Subban said.

The defenseman, who was traded from Montreal this summer for Shea Weber, has seven goals and 17 points in 27 games for the Predators this season.

Laine Skates in Non-Contact Jersey at Jets Practice

Patrik Laine is getting closer to making his return. The Winnipeg Jets rookie skated in the yellow non-contact jersey at practice today in Winnipeg.

Laine was concussed on January 7 after taking a big hit from Buffalo's Jake McCabe.

The 19-year-old phenom has been magnificent in his first NHL season, pouring in 21 goals and 16 assists in 37 games.

"It was nice to go out there with the team," Laine said. "I'm feeling pretty good."

When Laine asked if he was symptom free he answered: "Yeah, kind of."

He said he really can't remember the hit he took from McCabe. "I got the puck, and that's it--can't remember anything else. I can't. That's all."

Paul Maurice also commented on Laine's status today in Winnipeg.

"He has skated for two days," said head coach Paul Maurice. "He comes back in tomorrow and if he's right where he left off and felt good then we would start to push the heart rate a little bit and kind of gradually work up from there."

Maurice says there are tests that Laine will have to undergo before they determine if he's fit for contact.

"He's absolutely not getting back into a game until he's at 100 percent and clear," said Maurice.

At that point, Maurice says that he'll insert him into the lineup. "Once a guy is ready to go and he feels good you want it out of his mind," Mauricd said. "You want to soon get him back into the flow."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

McDavid scores in OT, or does he?

On the night that Connor McDavid registered his 100th NHL point, his 102nd was far more significant. But it nearly did not happen.

McDavid scored on a breakaway with 2.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Oilers the 4-3 win, but officials needed a few minutes to review it because Florida goalie James Reimer had actually caught the puck in his glove. Only problem for Reimer was that his glove drifted behind the goal line as he corralled the puck.

Good goal, good night.

"I thought it went in just because he was already in his net basically," said McDavid. "The refs did a good job and the guys back in Toronto did a good job of being able to find a clear shot of it."

The Oilers improve to 25-15-7 with the win and McDavid's three points bring his NHL-leading points total to 54 (four clear of Sidney Crosby's 50).

The Oilers were happy to get the points, but it was by no means a happy coach Todd McLellan addressing the media after the game.

"I can tell you this... If we move forward playing that way it will be a long while until we win again," McLellan said. "It kind of hurts to say but I thought we were out worked tonight--we were out-hustled."

The Oilers blew a 2-0 lead but pulled even in the third on Jordan Eberle's first goal since December 6th.

He added: "If you want to keep your number between one and ten in the league you have to be prepared every night. To get outworked, outhustled, out-positioned, out-passed--for a whole game basically--is disappointing."

Pavelec Wins in First Game for Jets

Ondrej Pavelec made his return to the crease for the Winnipeg Jets and led his team to a 6-3 victory over the Coyotes MTS Center. Pavelec made 30 saves in his season debut for the Jets. He has been a roster casualty this season in Winnipeg as the team elected to go with a younger tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, but both goalies have struggled along with the team, which was 20-23-4 heading into tonight.

"It's nice to get the win," he said. "Without the guys I wouldn't be able to bounce back and get the win."

The 29-year-old Czech has gone 8-7-2 with a .917 GAA for the Moose this season.

"Going to the minors at this point in his career is a humbling thing, and he figured out how to handle it right," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I'm happy for him." Maurice hinted that Pavelec will probably get the start in the Jets next game on Saturday against the Blues. "He's feeling good, we're feeling good, I probably won't be changing a whole lot."

Rielly out day-to-day with lower body injury

Morgan Rielly confirmed that he'd be out day-to-day with a lower body injury. After being removed from Tuesday night's game against Buffalo when he crashed into the boards, Rielly says he's walking around and feeling better.

"The way it looks is pretty much the way it felt," said Rielly, "but I'm happy that I'm walking around and everything and feeling better than I was yesterday. That's the most important thing."

Rielly is Toronto's leading minute-eater on defense, so he will certainly be missed.

"He won't play tomorrow, and he's day-to-day," head coach Mike Babcock confirmed. Frank Corrado will be inserted into the Leafs lineup for Thursday's game against the Rangers at Air Canada Center. The 23-year-old played one game for Toronto this season, on Nov 12.

The brunt of extra minutes will likely go to Jake Gardiner, who played nearly thirty minutes after Rielly went down on Tuesday.

"I think he's played well, like every player he has some dips, but he's played well. He really moves the puck well and really skates. What we're on him lots abotu is defensive detail, just because we think he can get to another level as a player yet."

Jonas Brodin out for a month with broken finger

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin will miss at least a month with a fractured finger. He suffered the injury in the first period of Minnesota's 4-3 loss to the Devils on Tuesday. Brodin is just three shy of his career-high points total at 3-13-16 for the first place Wild. The 23-year-old Sweded is third on the Wild in average ice time per game with 19:46.

"He's a good player, so it's a big loss," coach Bruce Boudreau told the Wild website. "But good teams persevere, we don't fold like an accordion. Somebody [else] gets into the lineup and he has to do just as good."

Isles GM Garth Snow Discusses Capuano Firing

Garth Snow's conference call with reporters doesn't give a lot of clues as to what's next with the New York Islanders, but it's an interesting listen novertheless.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vigneault Laments Rangers' Defensive Woes

The New York Rangers are starting to lose their grip in the Metropolitan Division standings and their defense is the primary culprit. And it's spiraling out out of control for the team and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. On Tuesday Lundqvist allowed seven goals on 27 shots in two periods before being replaced by rookie Magnus Hellberg to start the third.

According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Lundqvist has now allowed 12 goals on 49 shots in his past four periods.

The Rangers have been able to mask their defensive deficiencies for much of the season with a potent attack, but as the dog days of January kick in they are a team looking for answers on the blue line.

"No doubt we need to do a better job in front of our net," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "Our offensive game is pretty good at this time but defensively there's obviously too many breakdowns."

Vigneault said that Lundqvist will start the next game and that the team is committed to righting the ship.

"He's going to play next game," he said. "He's going to try real hard and we're going to try and play better in front of him. We're all going to stick with one another and do what we can to get out of this three-game losing streak."

The Rangers scored three goals in 4:15 of the third period to close to within a goal, but could not manage an equalizer. They drop to 28-16-1 and still hold a seven point margin over the Senators for the top wild card spot. They'll travel to Toronto on Thursday to face the Leafs at Air Canada Center.

Babcock on Rielly: We Have to Manage This

Mike Babcock says that he and his staff will know more about the extent of Morgan Rielly's injury tomorrow, but he does seem to be expecting the injury to be somewhat serious, based on his comments to reporters after the Leafs 4-3 win over the Sabres at Air Canada Center.

"Wehave to manage this well, I don't know if he's out a week or ten days or a month," said Babcock. "I don't have a clue."

Babcock added that he was pleased with the way his defense handled the loss of Rielly on Tuesday.

"I thought [Jake] Gardiner and [Nikita] Zaitsev were great tonight, stepped up," he said. "I thought [Hunwick] had a solid game--actually all of them were pretty good."

Gardiner led the Leafs with 29:24 of ice time. Babcock also added that he has no timetable on when Martin Marincin will return from his lower body injury, which was suffered in mid-December.

Leafs Lose Morgan Rielly with Lower Body Injury

The Toronto Maple Leafs could be without their top defenseman for some time. Morgan Rielly crashed into the boards in the first period and looks to have injured his right knee on this play during Toronto's 4-3 win over Buffalo on Tuesday at Air Canada Center.

Rielly leads the Leafs in total time on ice and any prolonged abscence would be a blow to a team that is not particulary deep on defense. Jake Gardiner had to play 29:24 with Rielly going out early and he'll likely be leaned on if Rielly is not able to make a speedy return. "He's a top defender for us, so that would be a huge loss," said Gardiner.

The Leafs have one of the best penalty kills in the NHL, so Rielly's abscence will hit them on special teams as well.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock did not offer much after the game, so expect to hear more tomorrow on Rielly's status.

Toronto fought back from two goal deficit to beat the Sabres and move to within just one point of the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic. Toronto also has five games in hand on the Bruins.

Isles Fire Capuano

The New York Islanders have fired head coach Jack Capuano. The team has had a very disappointing first half, struggling to a 17-17-8 record. It comes on the heels of the franchise's first playoff victory in 23 years.

Capuano will be replaced by Assistant GM Doug Weight on an interim basis.

"The New York Islanders would like to thank Jack for his tireless work throughout his seven seasons with the organization as head coach," general manager Garth Snow said. "His leadership guided the team to the playoffs in three of the past four years, which included two straight 100-point seasons. He is a great coach and an even better person. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward."

Snow's job appears to be safe for now, but he is widely believe to be a big part of the Islanders struggles this season. He failed to bring in top-level talent after letting Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen walk after last season. The Islanders also stumbled around their goaltending situation, keeping three goaltenders on the roster, which brought heated protest from Jaroslav Halak's agent. Halak has since been sent to the minors.

With star center John Tavares nearing free agency, the Isles have squandered much of his prime years by failing to place elite talent on his wing. Andrew Ladd was brought in to help but he has struggled in New York. Josh Bailey has had a good season but he isn't regarded as a long-term solution for a team that entered this season with hopes of becoming a true contender.

Capuano had a record of 227-191-64 in 482 games. He is second on the Islanders' all-time list behind Hockey Hall of Fame member Al Arbour in games coached (482) and wins, and Capuano was the fourth-longest tenured coach in the NHL, behind Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks' Joel Quenneville and Dave Tippett of the Arizona Coyotes.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bishop Leads Bolts to Win over Kings

Ben Bishop is undefeated since making his return from a lower body injury last week. Now, it's only two games mind you, but the Lightning were a team badly in need of some big goaltending when the 30-year-old made his return on January 12 against the Sabres.

Since then Bishop has answered the bell for the Bolts, winning both of his starts and making 55 of 58 saves.

Today Bishop stopped 31 of 32 shots to lead he Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Kings at Staples Center. The win was exceptionally big in that it came without Victor Hedman and it marks the beginning of a critical six-game trip for Tampa.

Bishop made a rare puckhandling error that led to the Kings' first goal but he closed the door from there to enable Tampa Bay to improve to 21-20-4 on the season.

Mistakes happen. It's how you react to them that really define a player. Today Bishop was up to the task. He's been the subject of trade rumors all season, but judging from the way that Andrei Vasilevskiy has played in Bishop's absence, a lot of the heavy lifting will have to be done by Bishop down the stretch if Tampa is going to return to the playoffs.

Mental Mistakes Killing Flyers, Says GM Hextall

Flyers GM Ron Hextall is clearly not pleased with the Philadelphia Flyers performance as they head into a five-day break on the heels of a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals on Sunday.

But he's not naming names, and not over reacting. Oh, but it's pretty obvious he's not happy.

"The worst thing you can do is over react when things aren't going right," said Hextall, who also says that he's not looking to make any big changes to the roster at the moment. But like any good GM, he wouldn't rule out changes if he found himself with an offer he couldn't refuse. "[over reacting] is not going to happen," he said. "But if we can find a way to make ourselves better, we will."

Hextall says the team is not reacting well to its mistakes. "We have to react as a group better when something doesn't go our way. That's bottom line," he said. "Mistakes are going to happen. Unfortunately right now it seems every time we make a mistake it ends up in our net."

The Flyers have gone 3-7-3 in their last 13 and they are on the cusp of falling out of the wild card spot that they currently cling to. Surging Carolina is just one point behind the Flyers with three games in hand.

With five days off before a meeting with the Devils on Saturday, Philly will look to regroup. Maybe now is the best time for a prolonged break. "Quite honestly we're not very happy right now," Hextall said. "We clearly have to pick it up as a group--there's responsibility all over... Mentally we have to be better."

Wild Make it 8 Straight over Blackhawks, Take Central Lead

Jason Pominville scored for the first time in 20 games to give the Wild a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at the United Center. The Wild, who have notched points in 23 of 25 games (also in 12 straight road games), have now won eight straight regular-season games against their division rivals.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," said Boudreau. "I don't understand how you can do it--I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple of years ago."

Patrick Kane scored in the first and again in the second period to give Chicago a 2-0 lead before the Wild started to rally. Kane now has 14 goals on the season.

Nino Niederreiter and Chris Stewart scored less than five minutes apart later in the second period to level things after two.

"They just refuse to lose at this stage," said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau. "I hope we can continue to have that feeling for the rest of the season."

The Wild improve to 28-9-5 with the win. They lead Chicago (27-14-5) by two points and have four games in hand.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Kings and Carter Continue to Thrive in OT

The Los Angeles Kings are an overtime juggernaut.

And so is Jeff Carter.

The Kings improved to 9-1 in games decided in overtime when Carter buried his 23rd of the season at 1:36 of the extra session to give L.A. a 3-2 win. The Kings lead the NHL in overtime wins and according to Jon Rosen the franchise is an NHL-best 21-4 since the league went to the 3-on-3 format at the beginning of last season.

Carter pulls within three goals of Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead with 23. He is one of eight players to have cracked the 20-goal mark this season.

At 22-17-4 the Kings are clinging to the 8th wild card slot in the West. The Jets, meanwhile, drop to 20-22-4, four points behind the Kings' pace.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Canadiens Erupt in third, overcoming disputed goal to defeat Rangers

Carey Price and the Canadiens did not get the call on this goal by Rick Nash in the second period--Michel Therien challenged the "good goal" ruling on the ice but it was not overturned--but the Habs scored three goals in 1:02 in the third period and hung on for a 5-4 win at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

The disputed goal left many bewildered because Kevin Hayes clearly got a good piece of Price's pad and dragged him away from the play, making Rick Nash's tap-in a breeze, but the NHL must have believed that Price was outside of his crease and therefore not subject to the same goaltender interference rules that might have been enforced if he was in the crease when Hayes hooked his pad.

Price said he didn't agree with the call after the game and would not elaborate further.

Against Henrik Lundqvist, who was came in in relief for injured Antti Raanta at the beginning of the second period, Montreal made sure it did not matter.

Alexei Emelin scored on a seeing-eye point shot that Lundqvist never saw to tie it (nice screen by Brian Flynn on the play), and Max Pacioretty got the eventual game winner (his 15th in 20 games) 36 seconds later when he slipped a shot through Lundqvist's five-hole after sneaking in on a breakaway. 26 seconds later Paul Byron scored his 13th of the season to send the Bell Centre to a frenzy.
Montreal improves to 27-11-6 with the win, while the Rangers drop to 28-15-1.

Watch: Andreas Athanasiou Scores Brilliant Goal vs. Pens

Oh no!

Oh my!

Watch as Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou turns on the jets and splits two Penguins defenders to score a brilliant goal on Marc-Andre Fleury tonight at the Joe. Notice the back-checking forward that looks like he has a shot but ends up breathing Athanasiou's exhaust -- that's the speedy Carl Hagelin (also notice Malkin's meek stick tap on Athanasiou as he hits light speed in the neutral zone).

The unassisted goal at 1:46 of the third period gave the Wings a 4-3 lead against the Penguins. Mike Green has since scored a power play goal at 11:51 of the third to pad the lead.

With his ninth tally of the season Athanasiou ties his career-high goal mark, which he set in his rookie season in 37 games.

The 22-year-old London, Ontario native has now scored four goals in his last five games.

Hello Andrew Shaw, Good-Bye Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw got in his first NHL game in over a month tonight against the Rangers at Bell Centre.

It didn't last that long. Shaw was given a five-minute major for interference on this hit against Rangers' forward Jesper Fast. He got a game misconduct, solidifying his return on the scoresheet: 5:19 of ice time, 22 PIMS, and 1 shot.

Fast was okay and has played on since the hit.

The Rangers lead Montreal 3-2 after two. Rangers goalie Antti Raanta was injured and replaced after the first period by Henrik Lundqvist.

Meanwhile, Carey Price's struggles continue in Montreal. He has the NHL's third-worst GAA since December 15th among goalies with eight or more games in that span.

Krejci Gets 500th Point vs Flyers

Thanks to a beautiful primary assist from Austin Czarnik, Bruins sniper David Krejci got his 500th point at TD Garden during Boston's 6-3 win over the Flyers on Saturday.

It was also a big day for Brad Marchand who celebrated his 500th NHL game with five points for the B's.

Marchand scored shorthanded and on an empty net and added three assists to match his career-best total for points in a game.

In ten full NHL seasons with Boston, Krejci has 144 goals and 356 assists. The 30-year-old has 28 points on the season.

Philadelphia's defensive woes continue in full force. The Flyers have 2-4-2 since Christmas, allowing 28 goals in those eight games. Philly falls to 22-17-6 and their lead over Carolina for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference is down to three points (Carolina has three games in hand).

Canadiens to Get Galchenyuk, Shaw Back for Tilt with Rangers

The New York Rangers got two key players back for their Friday night tussle with the Leafs at MSG. Now the Montreal Canadiens will get two of their own walking wounded when they face the Rangers on Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Alexander Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw are set to make their return.

The Canadiens went 9-5-4 in 18 games without Galchenyuk, who was knocked out the lineup on December 4th. The 22-year-old is first on the Habs in 5-on-5 assists per game with 1.48 and second in points per game with 2.22. He has gone 9-14-23 in 25 games for the Habs, who are still without center David Desharnais but will also see the return of Shaw tonight.

Shaw has not played since December 12, when he was injured in a dangerous collision with Boston's Torey Krug.

Shaw has 15 points in 29 games for the Habs, and has been a physical presence and leader on the ice.

On Friday the Rangers saw the return of Rick Nash from groin injuries and Pavel Buchnevich from a back injury. Both teams have been depleted by injuries in the season's first half, but remain firmly in playoff position.

Montreal leads the Atlantic with 58 points (26-11-6) while the Rangers are in fourth in the stacked Metropolitan Division, but hold a seven point over the second wild card team. New York is 28-14-1.

Martin St. Louis Gives Emotional Speech Before His Number is Retired in Tampa

Martin St. Louis is the first player to have his jersey raised to the rafters in Tampa Bay Lightning history. And in a heartfelt speech the veteran of 1,034 games and scorer of 1,033 points paid fitting tribute to his mother.

It was a beautiful, moving speech from the player that was the pulse of the Lightning for 13 seasons. It's not the first time he's given thanks to his mother. She died at the age of 63 from a heart attack, less than three years ago.

St. Louis also wrote about his mother for the Players' Tribune in 2015, if you'd like some back story on his career, and the role his mother played in it.

St. Louis played 972 games with the Lightning where he won the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross twice and three Lady Byngs. In 2004, he became the eighth player in NHL history to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies and the Stanley Cup in the same season, and the first to do so since Wayne Gretzky in 1986–87

He also won the Cup with the Lightning in 2004 under coach John Tortorella, who was on hand for the festivities on Friday.

Columbus got the 3-1 win over Tampa, but it was the ceremony and the celebration of St.Louis' career (and mother) that was the big winner on this evening. St. Louis was an undrafted player who was overlooked because of his diminutive stature, but the Laval, Quebec native inspired by showing hockey fans and young players that it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Rangers Get Nash, Buchnevich Back, Leafs Get Win

The Rangers got healthier on Friday as they got Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich back for their original six battle with the Leafs at Madison Square Garden, but it was the Toronto Maple Leafs who came away with the 4-2 win.

William Nylander opened the scoring with his ninth goal, Mitch Marner potted two assists and Toronto killed all six penalties it took to improve to 19-13-8, just two points behind Ottawa for third in the Atlantic.

Toronto has the NHL's best penalty kill on the road at 90.5 percent, and they also have the NHL's best power play on the road. It's clicking at 30.3 percent, and was 2 for 4 on Friday in New York. The Leafs came out ornery after their five-day break and took a 2-0 lead into the dressing room after James van Riemsdyk's 15th of the season.

Toronto has now earned points in their last nine road games.

Nash had missed 11 games with a groin strain, while Buchnevich missed 26 games with a back injury. Injuries have mounted of late for the Rangers but they appear to be on the mend as Mika Zibanejad is also nearing return. He broke his leg in a scary collision on Nov. 20 and is already skating. He's likely to return in a week or two.

That's a lot of scoring coming back into the Rangers lineup, and they are already the NHL's highest-scoring team. Nash has 20 points in 30 games, Buchnevich had 8 points in 10 games and Zibanejad had 15 points in 19 games.

The Rangers lead the league with 146 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.

Isles' Tavares Records 500th Point, Hat Trick

For those of you who have criticized the play of John Tavares this season just because he hasn't been able to single handedly keep the Islanders in playoff contention, here's a story for you: Tavares netted three goals and tied Derek King for tenth on the Islanders all-time points list on Friday at BB&T Center.

Tavares hat trick was the first for an Islander on the road since Matt Moulson recorded a hattie on December 3, 2011 in Dallas. It was the sixth hat trick of Tavares' career (and first since 2014). His first hat trick also occurred in Florida in 2010.

For those scoring at home, Tavares now has 100 more career points (221-280-501) than anyone else drafted in his draft claass of 2009 (Matt Duchene is next with 401).

The Islanders got the 5-2 win over Florida to improve to 16-16-8, while Florida drops to 19-17-8.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sullivan Ejected from Game in Ottawa

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan got the heave-ho from Thursday night's 4-1 loss at Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa. Whatever Sullivan said to the refs it must have been uncalled for--he doesn't even seem that surprised that he's being thrown out. Either that or he just wanted to get away from his team, which was floundering against the Sens. The loss marks the first time the Penguins have lost back-to-back games in regulation since December, 15 2015.

Here's Sullivan's explanation (or lack thereof) of the incident:

Oiler Country Pays Tribute to Taylor Hall, Kassian Tries to Kill Him

Taylor Hall was given a warm welcome on his return to Edmonton, as the Devils visited Rogers Place for the first time on Thursday evening. Hall, who spent six years with Edmonton and was the No.1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, would later pick up an assist on the Devils second goal, which was scored by Steven Santini.

The Devils currently lead 2-1 as the teams approach the midpoint of the third stanza.

Zach Kassian later changed the tone in the third period when he went after Taylor Hall inadvertently (or did he do it on purpose?) threw an elbow into the jaw of Kassian. Kassian chased Hall down the ice, dropped the gloves and took a few shots at Hall, who did not want to partake.

Several replays of the incident showed that Hall's elbow was a little bit nastier than it first appeared (check the above video at 1:52).

Anton Blidh Ejected after Head Shot on Josi

It was a rough first period in Nashville tonight.

Bruins winger Anton Blidh was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for this hit (see video above) on Roman Josi during tonight's game in Nashville. Josi has not returned to the game.

Tuukka Rask was also injured in the game. He took a puck under the mask and left the game with 7:11 left in the first. The puck was shot by Josi, but deflected off of a Bruins defenseman.

Watch: Nathan MacKinnon turns on the jets for breakaway goal

Jeez, when Nathan MacKinnon is on, he is REALLY ON.

Check out MacKinnon as he blasts through three defenders to break in all alone on Anaheim netminder John Gibson. When he gets there he wastes no time and makes no mistake, burying a backhander for his 11th of the season.

But, as is usually the case with the Avalanche, the Ducks have the 2-1 lead late in the second at the Pepsi Center, thanks to Rickard Rakell's 17th of the season.

Colorado is currently 13-25-1, and they are the only team that has yet to hit the 30-point mark in the NHL.

Watch: ECHL Goalie Fight Ends with One Punch

Everybody loves a good goalie fight--even when it doesn't last as long as one had hoped.

Watch as Quad City’s Adam Vay knocks down Cincinnati Cyclones’ Michael Houser with one punch, then ever so politely comes to his aid.

The Cyclones defeated the Mallards 3-2 and both goalies were given game misconducts at 10:37 of the third.

Watch: Taylor Hall Speaks on Returning to Face Oilers

Taylor Hall will make his return to Edmonton tonight to face the team he spent the first six years of his career with.

Hall, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson in the off-season, had for 20-goal seasons with the Oilers and emerged as a premier playmaking center for a team that never could turn the corner and become a playoff team.

This year, without Hall and led by Connor McDavid, the Oil are in the thick of the playoff race. At 21-15-7 they reside in third place in the Pacific. Hall's Devils have struggled, meanwhile. New Jersey is in second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.

Judging from his very honest comments in the media scrum, Hall still hasn't gotten over the trade that sent him away from Edmonton.

"The disappointing thing for me is that I wasn't able to be a part of the team there that I had been a part of for so long. I played a lot of games and I thought I played hard," he said. "At the moment when I got traded, that was what I was disappointed in."

Hall has nine goals and 16 assists in 32 games for the Devils.

Hall says he's impressed by how well Connor McDavid has performed this season, but not surprised.

"I said when I got traded is that he is one of those guys that you root for," said Hall. "I'm not too surprised at how well he's doing in his second year--he's an amazing player. He makes everyone around him better and he's a really good person as well." But he still couldn't help turn the conversation to what he regrets about being traded away from Edmonton and its talented core of forwards.

He added: "That's why I said when I got traded that those guys are the ones that you want to keep playing with and you want to keep seeing grow, so those are the hard things."

Ben Bishop Set to Make Return vs. Sabres on Thursday

The Lighntning will get Ben Bishop back in a time of need on Thursday night.

Bishop, out since Dec. 20 when he suffered a lower body injury against the Wings, will try to guide the struggling Lightning back to winning ways as they meet the Sabres tonight at Amalie Arena.

Tampa comes in at 19-19-4 on a four game losing streak. That's not good enough for a team that was picked by many to win the Eastern Conference this preseason. Since Bishop went on the IR, the Bolts have allowed an NHL-worst 35 goals in nine games, going 3-5-1 in that span.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who signed a three-year deal this summer, has not been in top form. Since Bishop went down the 22-year-old Russian has only managed a .876 save percentage and a 3.78 GAA in nine games.

His full body of work is less scary (.904 save percentage and 2.97 GAA), but clearly the beleaguered Lightning can use some help from Bishop.

They are currently four points behind Ottawa for third place in the Atlantic, but the Sens have three games in hand.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Maurice Miffed as Inconsistent Jets Lay an Egg vs. Habs

The Winnipeg Jets tossed in a clunker against the Montreal Canadiens at MTS Centre on Wednesday, leaving head coach Paul Maurice on the verge of a meltdown. He's been relatively calm all season, especially when one consideres the ebbs and flows of Winnipeg's season, but something about Wednesday's 7-4 loss to Montreal really ticked Maurice off.

"It was the whole fucking game, from the goaltender from every guy up front," said Maurice, adding: "We were horsheshit from the start, from the drop of that first puck right to the very end."

Winnipeg drops to 20-21-3 with the loss, and 11-9-1 at home. Montreal improves to 26-10-6 with the win. Rookie Artturi Lehkonen and center Phillip Danault each notched two goals for the Atlantic-leading Canadiens.

Mueller Sent from Game after Sharks Lineup Gaffe

The coaches blew it, Mirco Mueller had to pay, and Joe Thornton cracked up. That's the story, in a nutshell of what happened on the Sharks bench during Calgary's 3-2 victory over the Sharks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday. Let the video roll through with the sound up to see Thornton's reaction because it really is classic Jumbo.

Here's how Sharks' head coach Peter DeBoer explained the situation, thanks to Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News:

“That’s on us, the coaches,” DeBoer said. “We have some checks and balances on our lineup. We went into warmup and we felt Marty could play and there was some last minute movement there, obviously. He didn’t play and just got left out. “I feel badly. I apologized to Mirco. It’s not a good spot to put him in, but I thought the other guys did a good job.”

Video: Tkachuk Earns his minor for holding the stick on Burns

Ah, to be young and in love--with BEING A PEST!

Flames' rookie Matthew Tkachuk swipes Brent Burns' stick and takes off with it, earning a minor for interference.

Here's how Flames coach Glen Gulutzan explains it:

"I don't know. It was in his gut, then it was in his pants, then it was on our bench. "I'm sure he could have handed it back, but if you know the kid he's not gonna hand it back."

Tkachuk would go on to score the tying goal late in the second then create the screen for Dougie Hamilton's game winner at 17:41 of the third.

Safe to say he's out of the doghouse already.

Big Buff on Paul Byron: "Aw Fuck, He's fast"

Big Buff. There's nobody quite like him. He's known to some as Dustin Byfuglien. And to others he's just known as plum crazy. Watch (video above) as Byfuglien compliments the speed of Montreal winger Paul Byron during the Canadiens 7-4 win over the Jets at the Bell Centre on Wednesday. Even better is the fact that Byfuglien won the race.

This isn't the first time that Byfuglien has done some hilarious crap during a game. We found some other stuff on Reddit tonight. Like this:

Or this, when Byfuglien catches a glance of a forechecking Tyler Pitlick:

How does the commentator keep it straight after that?

Watch: Ovechkin Reaches 1,000 Points with Early Goal vs. Penguins

35 seconds was all it took for Alexander Ovechkin to clock his heavily anticipated 1,000 point. And it was a big one. The Russian moved past Maurice the Rocket Richard on the NHL's all-time scoring list with his 545th career goal (20th of the season) on his first shift of the night.

Ovechkin joined the rush, took a pass from Niklas Backstrom and did a nifty toe-drag to elude the sick of Kris Letang before depositing a wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury for the goal.

Here's some celebratory tweets: