Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Watch: Laine Scores 30th Goal and Brawl Ensues

It has been an amazing year for rookies. So amazing, in fact, that Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Martin decided to drop the gloves to fight about which team had the better rookie--Toronto's Auston Matthews or Winnipeg's Patrik Laine. The answer? Inconclusive.

What we do know is that Laine pumped in a pair of goals during Winnipeg's 5-4 overtime loss to the Leafs on Tuesday at Air Canada Centre, making the 18-year-old Finn the first rookie in over a decade to score 30 goals in 55 games or less.

The rookie also joins hockey legends Teemu Selanne and Jarri Kurri as one of just three Finnish-born players to score 30 in his rookie season.

Laine's two goals give him 30-24-54 on the season, but don't forget about Matthews, who registered three assists to push his points total to 52 (28-24-52).

This year's rookie scoring race looks like it might end up being more riveting than the Art Ross Trophy race. Neither Laine nor Matthews is in the Top 10 of the NHL's scoring race, but Laine is just three behind Sidney Crosby in the goal-scoring race, while Matthews is tied for fourth with 28.

Watch: Kadri Rattles Chiarot's Bones and Falls into Bench

The Jets were left questioning the NHL Department of Player Safety's decision to not suspend Evgeny Malkin after his hit on Blake Wheeler last week in Pittburgh (even Kerry Fraser wasn't happy). Now, they have something else to stew about.

Nazem Kadri.

More specifically, Nazem Kadri leaving his feet to deliver a hardcore blow to Winnipeg defenseman Ben Chiarot during the Leafs 5-4 overtime win at Air Canada Centre.

The wild, raucous affair featured 36 penalty minutes in total, but Kadri was not penalized on this play. It's a big hit, and some would say a beautiful one. But is it dirty? Hard to say.

Chiarot finished the game with 23:07 of ice time, and appeared to be okay.

Carey Price Saves the 'Habs Bacon vs. Rangers

If there was ever something that could light a fire under the Montreal Canadiens it is this type of heroic save by their leader and star goaltender Carey Price.

Price robbed J.T. Miller in the waning seconds of overtime at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night and the Canadiens rebounded to notch a much-needed shootout win when Paul Byron scored in the 10th frame of the shooutout.

The victory was a statement for Price, who has struggled of late, going 7-10-1 with a 2.98 GAA since Janaury 1st, as much as it was for the Canadiens, who desperately need to pick up some confidence after a rough stretch of play has put them within striking distance of Ottawa as they barely cling to the top spot in the Atlantic.

Montreal improves to 32-20-8 with the win and jumps two points ahead of the Senators in the standings. Ottawa also picked up two points on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over the Devils.

The Canadiens improve to 1-1 under new head coach Claude Julien but they've got their work cut out for them as Ottawa has two games in hand and Montreal has gone 3-6-1 in its last ten.

Kings' Quick Still on Target for March Return

Jonathan Quick is closer to making his return from a severe groin injury, but he's not quite there yet. The Kings No.1 netminder has been skating and practicing since late January, and L.A. Kings Insider Jon Rosen reports that King is taking on a heavier workload in those practices of late.

According to Rosen, Quick's target return date remains the first half of March. But head coach Daryl Sutter isn't about to rush his goalie back. For one, Peter Budaj has shouldered the load quite nicely. He's 26-19-3 with a 2.14 GAA and a .916 Save Percentage--way beyond expectations for a 34-year-old journeyman that had not played more than a single game in an NHL season since the 2013-14 campaign.

Secondly, Quick has had groin issues before, and he says that this time around the injury he suffered was even worse than the one that kept him out for two months in the 2013-14 season.

“We’re going to do it day-by-day in simulated games and see exactly where he’s at, and then I’ll say, ‘this is the game you’re playing,’ and that’s what we’ll do,” Sutter said, according to Rosen. “In terms of deadlines or any of that other stuff, that doesn’t involve him and I at all. That’s how we deal with that.”

Flames acquire D Stone from Arizona for a third-round and conditional pick

The Calgary Flames added some defensive depth on Monday, acquiring Arizona Coyotes Michael Stone for a third round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft as well as a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft that hinges upon whether or not Stone signs with the Flames in the off-season.

Not everybody loves this deal.

But some are hopeful:

Stone had an NHL career-high 36 points in 75 games last season before he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 26, 2016. He had reconstructive surgery last April. After signing a one-year, $4 million deal this summer to play for Arizona, Stone has struggled. He has a goal and eight assists in 45 games this season.

Here's what Flames GM Brad Treliving said about the deal, per NHL.com:

"He's a right-shot defenseman, which are hard to come by, and he can do a lot of things," Treliving said. "He can play on both sides of special teams. Mike's probably going through one of his toughest years. He came back from a real serious knee injury. Those things are hard to come back from. When we looked at our team, one of the things we tried to do was to see if we could add depth to our blue line."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Zadorov injured in practice, will miss rest of season

The Colorado Avalanche took a hit on Monday when they lost their biggest hitter to injury.

21-year-old defenseman Nikita Zadorov fractured his ankle after collliding with Mikko Rantanen in practice, and was quickly ruled to be out for the rest of the season.

“He got tangled up with Mikko and actually fell on top of Mikko, but his leg got trapped underneath Mikko and (he) fell awkwardly,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said immediately after practice, according to the Denver Post.

Zadorov was the Avs leading hitter and has played all but one game for Colorado. The 6'5" 230-lb Moscow native has 10 assists in 56 games and averages 19:03 of ice time per game.

Jets' Trouba Suspended Two Games for Head Shot

The Winnipeg Jets will lose defenseman Jacob Trouba for two games.

Trouba was suspended two games for his hit to the head of Senators forward Mark Stone during Winnipeg's 3-2 win at Canadian Tire Center on Sunday. Stone left the game and did not return and it isn't known when he'll play again.

Senators head coach Guy Boucher expressed his displeasure on a night that he lost both Stone and Mike Hoffman to injury, saying “It’s a clear shoulder straight to the head. Things happen fast and people have to make decisions. I don’t want to (do the league’s job). They usually do a very good job so we’re going to rely on that.”

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Trouba will forfeit $33,333.34. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Latest Coach's Challenge Reversal Leads to More Derision

During the Rangers 2-1 win over the Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, another close coach's challenge on an offside call drew the ire of fans (big surprise, right?). The Rangers thought they had a power play goal late in the first period when Mika Zibanejad scored into a yawning net (video above), but the play was wisely challenged by Capitals head coach Barry Trotz.

Officials quickly came back to declare the goal no good because Ryan McDonagh was offsides on the play.

They were right.

Here's the iso on the play:

The problem with the optics of the call is that play continued in the Capitals' zone for another :24 after the call should have been made. The Rangers do a great job of winning the wall and twice working the puck back to McDonagh (the culprit) at the right point where he ends up feeding Mats Zuccarello for the primary assist on what would have been Zibanejad's goal.

24 seconds is a heck of a lot of time, and a lot of Rangers' hard work got done during that span (kudos, Blueshirts), so, yeah, I get that it's kind of strange to just pretend it never happened. But the fact of the matter is this: McDonagh failed to keep his skate on the ice and thus allowed his team to enter the zone illegaly. While the Rangers were puck-hounding away, what should have been happening is a neutral-zone face-off.

Trotz and Co. did a heck of a job seeing the missed call and on-ice officials did a good job of using the video to determine the correct call (unlike that horribly botched inconclusive call that came out of Minnesota a week ago).

A lot of pundits, and ones that I highly respect (actually basically everyone according to my latest informal poll), hate the coach's challenge for offsides calls, and I know I'm in the minority on this.

But I do not understand the hatred of the rule. Do we not agree that offsides is pretty much the defining rule in hockey? Do we not agree that a crucial ingredient of any offensive attack is making a legal zone entry, with the puck proceeding all offensive players on the attacking team into the zone? So why is it so bad to nitpick on offsides calls? This isn't pond hockey, people.

Besides, it's not like it happens on every single goal. Coaches get one chance to take a shot at a challenge per game. Sometimes it can take up to five minutes to get the call, but if the alternative is having an offsides play lead to a crucial goal, I'm taking the coach's challenge every time.

The NHL's coach's challenge isn't the culprit here, McDonagh is. If he waits a fraction of a second longer to begin his stride the Rangers have themselves a good goal and a 2-0 lead. But he lazily blew the timing of the play. It cost them the goal and it should have cost them the goal.

It's clear that it's pretty much an impossible call to make on the ice--four Rangers are all crossing the line at once. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THE REPLAY.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Penguins lose Maatta, who has hand surgery

The Penguins lost two defenseman during last night's 4-3 win over the Jets at PPG Paints Arena--and one of them will be out for a pretty long time.

The club reported that Olli Maatta had successful hand surgery and will miss six weeks. The oft-injured Maatta was injured in the second period after taking a hit from Winnipeg's Adam Lowry.


Maatta had seven points and was a plus-17 for the Pens in 54 games this season. He has already had multiple shoulder surgeries in his brief career, so if there is a bright spot here, it's that it wasn't the shoulder this time.

The Penguins also lost Justin Schultz on Thursday when he was checked from behind into the glass by Dustin Byfuglien. Schultz left the game immediately and did not return.

Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy have been recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to replace the two defenseman, according to Puck Daddy.

Maatta is a key penalty killer for the Penguins, who logs 2:21 of shorthanded time on average per game; Schultz is relied on heavily on the power play--he averages 2:29 of ice time with the man advantage per game.

Watch: Jake Allen Makes Save without Mask On

Jake Allen did his best Terry Sawchuk impersonation during the Blues 4-3 victory over the Canucks at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday. When Daniel Sedin's sharp-angle shot jars Allen's mask loose the goalie fiddles with the strap for a moment before realizing it's a lost cause and pulling it off.

Problem was, referee Gord Dwyer either didn't notice that Allen's mask was off or he was in the mood to see the Blues netminder suffer. Whatever the reason he didn't blow the play dead when Vancouver re-entered the zone, and Allen was forced to drop the mask to the ice, square up, and make a save while viewers and his teammates and coaching staff held their breath:

Allen asks Dwyer why he didn't blow the play dead when the whistle does blow, and cameras catch Blue goalie coach Martin Brodeur reacting animatedly to the play while watching the game on video monitors from the pressbox:

Luckily Allen wasn't hurt. There's a reason an automatic whistle is supposed to come whenever a goalie loses his mask. It's simply too dangerous with the way players shoot these days.

"I did it in the minors a couple of times," Allen said of the scary moment after the game. "It's a weird rule because there's some times where some refs call it and some refs don't... It's a tough rule. The buckle completely snapped off there so I couldn't see out of my right eye. I just sort of pulled it off."

Allen said Dwyer told him that he didn't see the mask was off.

"He just said he didn't see it," Allen said. "He said once the play went up ice he didn't look back. I was yelling. It's tough to hear sometimes--fortunately no harm came from it."

Blues coach Mike Yeo had a good laugh about it with reporters after the game.

"He stood in there," said Yeo. "He's crazy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Things are about to get really difficult for the Islanders

The New York Islanders have worked really hard to become relevant again under interim coach Doug Weight. And they've now crept to within one point of the last Wild Card in the Eastern Conference after Thursday's 4-2 win over the Rangers at Barclays Center. But the Islanders are a team that has thrived on home cooking since Weight took over, and basically all season.

With Weight at the helm the Islanders are 8-0-2 at home, with 38 goals for and just 23 against. And their special teams have been spot-on during that stretch as well. The Isles have clicked at 24.2% on the power play and killed penalties at an 87% clip in those past ten home games.

But there's a problem looming, and it's looming large: The Islanders will only play hosts in eight of their final 26 games, and when you consider that this team is tied for the lowest total of road wins in the NHL this season, at 7-12-4, there's still a fairly large hill for this team to climb to make the post-season.

Weight has prided himself on matchups early in his tenure, but the matchups he likes will be tougher to get when he's on the road for much of the season's final two months.

If there ever was a test of a team's mettle, this is it. We'll know a lot more about the Isles' playoff hopes by March 11th, when the club concludes a stretch of ten away games out of eleven, including a run of six games in nine nights that starts in Dallas, goes all the way out west and finishes back in St. Louis.

Here's what those final six look like:

Can the Islanders keep themselves in the race by the time their schedule evens out in the latter half of March? One thing is working in their favor: They are due for road wins.

Watch: Crosby Speaks on the 1,000 Point Milestone

The conversation started nonchalant. "It's nice to get a win," said Sidney Crosby in typical ho-hum fashion after becoming the 12th-fastest player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 point mark.

But Crosby would later admit that the moment was special.

"It's pretty emotional," he he told reporters. "Especially when you start to look up at the jumbotron and you see all those things. They go by pretty quick, you're kind of flashing all these plays and years, that's how fast it feels when you're looking at it. Time goes by quick but you really try to soak in moments like that."

Crosby says that as good as the moment was, he's happy to have it behind him. It's not something you want to be chasing for too long.

"You want to get it--it's great number, but it's not something you want to talk about for a week or a week and a half. It means that you're not putting it in that much. We had lots of chances the last few games and I could tell guys were looking for me a little bit more and things like that--I appreciate it but I'm glad they don't have to think about it either or answer about it."

Watch: Sidney Crosby becomes the 12th-fastest NHL player to reach the 1000-point mark

Sidney Crosby notched his 1,000th NHL point and added another assist and the overtime winner in Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory over the Jets at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night.

Crosby becomes the 86th NHL player to hit the mark and the 12th-fastest to get to 1,000 after assisting on Chris Kunitz' 9th goal of the season at 6:28 of the first.

"He's a tremendous player," head coach Mike Sullivan said after the game. "The fact that he's scored 1,000 points in the amount of games that he has I think is just a testament to the player that he is and the character of the person. He's an ultra-competitive guy, he loves to win and he's an elite player. We're privileged to have him on our team--sometimes the coaches, we marvel at what he does on a nightly basis as far as helping this team win."

Crosby would also pick up an assist on Phil Kessel's game-tying goal at 13:55 of the third, and, just for good measure, pumped in the OT winner off a beautiful assist from Evgeny Malkin at 4:38 of the extra session.

It was a special moment for the franchise, the fans and--of course--for Crosby, who at 29 years of age has accomplished virtually everything there is to accomplish in the sport.

Watch: Dylan Strome Scores Goal with Opponent's Stick

What do you do when an opponent steals your stick and the refs have swallowed their whistles? Why, you still his stick and THEN YOU SCORE WITH IT!

That's what happened on Wednesday night at Erie Insurance Arena during the third period of the Erie Otters 5-1 victory over the London Knights. Check out Brandon Crawley of London thinking he's the cat's meow when he snags Dylan Strome's stick after he lost his own in a collision with Strome by the blue line.

Pretty crafty, we must say.

But Strome has the last laugh as he picks up Crawley's abandoned stick (after pleading to the refs and not being heard) and rifles home his 15th of the season. Afterwards Strome enjoyes a bit of well-deserved hot-dogging before giving Crawley his lumber back.

Strome, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Arizona Coyotes, had one point in seven games for the Coyotes before being sent back to juniors this season.

Bad News for Winnipeg: Jets Lose Enstrom for 2-3 Weeks

The Winnipeg Jets will be without defenseman Tobias Enstrom for at least 2-3 weeks and maybe longer. The 32-year-old Swede underwent surgery for a lower-body injury on Thursday, and the club hopes he can make it back in the first week of March.

"Toby Enstrom had surgery this morning, and it was successful," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "We're hopeful for a two to three week return. We had just gotten to the point that we thought the rehab on it would be at least that long and at the end we still wouldn't know if we had a healthy player--so that took care of that."

The Jets are starting to really struggle on the blue line, as Tyler Myers has been out since November 11th and underwent surgery last week. The team hopes to have him back by the end of the season but it's unclear if he'll be able to do that.

Winnipeg has given up 186 goals this year, which is tied with Dallas for the worst total in the NHL.

In 55 games this season for Winnipeg, Enstrom had a goal and 13 assists and was a minus-3. He was No.3 amongst Jets defenseman, averaging 22:19 TOI per game.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tom Rowe on Luongo Injury: "He just cramped up a little bit"

Apparently Roberto Luongo's injury is nothing serious--that is if you believe his coach.

Also See: The Panthers Win in OT But May Have Lost Luongo

Speaking to media after the game, Panthers' coach Tom Rowe said that his starting goalie is fine and that he just cramped up a bit.

Luongo left the Panthers 6-5 overtime win at HP Pavilion after Joe Pavelski tied it for the Sharks at 19:22 of the third. Luongo appeared to get his legs caught beneath him as he was leaning back on the play, and after the goal goes in he takes about a minute, laying on the ice in pain.

You can see the full video in this post

He would eventually skate off the ice (limp is actually a better word) under his own power.

The 37-year-old netminder has gone 15-14-6 with a 2.71 GAA and a .914 Save Percentage for Florida in 36 starts.

He was relieved by backup James Reimer on Wednesday in San Jose, and Reimer should see another start even if Luongo is fine this weekend, when the Panthers play back-to-back nights in Anaheim and L.A. on Friday and Saturday.

Reimer has gone 10-6-4 in 23 starts for the Panthers, but has been the better goaltender for the Panthers over the last two months. He's 6-2-2 with a 2.31 GAA and a .925 Save Percentage in his last 10 starts.

The Panthers should be in good hands if Luongo does end up needing a bit of rest during this current five-game road trip.

The Blues are Suddenly a Defensive Juggernaut

Two week ago the St. Louis Blues were bleeding goals left and right with seemingly no relief in sight. What a difference 14 days can make. The Blues are 6-1 since firing Ken Hitchcock and they have allowed just eight goals in those seven games.

It's pretty remarkable when you contrast that streak with the team's seven games leading up to Hitchcock's firing. In those games, St. Louis had allowed 32 goals against and went 1-6-0.

How's that for a ringing endorsement of new head coach Mike Yeo and the simplified zone defense he has introduced?

According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Yeo has tinkered with Hitchcock’s man-on-man defensive zone coverage schemes, reverting to more zone coverage. He’s also changed the way defensive pairings handle puck retrieval, calling for more support and communication between partners.

Whatever the heck he's done, it's clearly working. The Blues pitched their third shutout in the last seven games on Wednesday night at the Joe Louis Arena, beating a downtrodden Detroit Red Wings team that lost its fourth straight and dropped to 22-25-10.

Carter Hutton made 25 saves for the Blues and the 31-year-old Thunder Bay, Ontario native now has four shutouts in his past six road starts dating back to January 14.

"We're a different team in here," Hutton told the media scrum. "We're defending harder in our own zone, giving up less high-quality chances, second chances and that's obviously helping everybody in here."

The Blues improve to 30-22-5 for 65 points. They now lead fourth place Nashville by three points but the Predators have a game in hand.

Gustav Nyquist Gets Six Game Suspension for Spearing Incident

The Detroit Red Wings will be without their third-leading scorer for six games.

Gustav Nyquist was handed a six-game suspension from the NHL's Department of Player Safety as a result of his spear to the face of Jared Spurgeon during the Red Wings 6-3 loss to Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center.

"As Nyquist stated during the hearing regarding this incident, he acts in retaliation from being crosschecked from behind," the NHL said in its video statement. "Nyquist insisted, however, that his intention upon getting back on his skates was to respond with a crosscheck of his own and that he was attempting to get his stick around Spurgeon and in position to deliver a crosscheck when the blade jabbed Spurgeon in the face."

"While we accept Nyquist's explanation that he did not attempt to spear an opponent in the face, there are two factors that elevate this incident to a level more serious than merely accidental or even reckless," the video states. "First, as Nyquist conceded, he is attempting to use his stick in a retaliatory fashion. Second, no matter how he specifically intended to retaliate with his stick, Nyquist is completely responsible for using his stick to deliver a blow that was extremely dangerous and easily could have resulted in a major if not career-threatening injury."

This is Nyquist's first suspension, and he will forfeit $158,333.34. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Panthers Win in OT but May Have Lost Luongo

The Panthers built a two-goal lead in the third period in San Jose only to blow it in the last few minutes.

But Jonathan Huberdeau scored his third goal of the season off a feed from Aleksander Barkov to give the Panthers a 6-5 overtime victory on Wednesday night at HP Pavilion. The win was huge for the Panthers, who are trying to claw their way into the Wild Card race, but the loss could have been devastating as well.

Goalie Roberto Luongo was injured on Joe Pavelski's game-tying goal in the third period and left the game immediately. He appeared to hurt his left knee while falling backwards before the goal and he lay on the ice for a minute or two before limping off to the dressing room.

Here's a look at the play where it happened:

The Panthers improve to 25-20-10 with the win, which leaves them just three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto fell to the Blue Jackets on Wednesday in Columbus, 5-2.

Jagr Cracks Another Milestone: Birthday boy Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th NHL point on the Panthers 5th goal when he made a quick pass to Barkov who then sent a shot past Martin Jones. The 45-year-old is 5th on the NHL's all-time assist list with 1,141 and he's second on the NHL's all-time points list.

Nick Bjugstad and Barkov each netted a pair for the Panthers, while Pavelski scored a pair for San Jose and Brent Burns netted his 25th of the season.

Huberdeau, who returned to play his first game of the season on February 3rd, now has seven points in four games for the surging Panthers, who have scored 18 goals and gone 3-1 since Huberdeau's return.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ray Ferraro on Habs' GM Bergevin: I Don't Know if He Has any Bullets Left

Ex NHLer and current TSN analyst Ray Ferraro joined the discussion about the Canadiens firing of Michel Therrien and hiring of Claude Julien on Tuesday, saying that Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin still has a difficult road ahead of him.

"I don't know that he's got any other bullets left," said Ferraro. "The trade of Subban was controversial and certainly huge news, and now they've fired the coach... I don't see for a second that this roster can be looked upon as completed. They need a defenseman, they need a centerman, I would think that that's the priority going into the deadline, but how much of the future are you going to be willing to pay?"

It has been rumored that Montreal is in the running for Colorado's Matt Duchene, but the ask is very high. Colorado could demand a NHL-ready defenseman plus a top prospect plus a draft pick, and it's not known if Montreal can match those demands. Ferraro says they should not worry too much about the draft pick, especially in a year where the draft is not thought of as particularly lloaded with potential generational talents.

"In a draft that's not tought of as a great draft, why wouldn't you get involved with a first-round pick?"

The reality is that Montreal is a struggling team, no matter who is at the helm. Montreal went 14-4-2 in their first 20 games, but since then they've gone 17-15-6--a record that is 18th best in that span among the NHL's 30 teams. Injuries have played a role, as key players have gone down and stayed down for months, but as they have gotten healthy, the Canadiens woes have continued.

Ferraro says that they'll need to do more to truly compete for a Stanley Cup.

"If you think you are a decent team, which they do, but you're not a team that can compete with the best guys, which they can't--then I think you have to make a move. They've already made this one but they have to look at this roster and say 'Man we cannot win with this defense, we cannot win with Thomas Plekanec scoring one goal in 30 games as one of our top two centermen. They have to make some kind of move--this won't be enough to push them into the upper echelon."

But Ferraro cautions that even one deal might not be enough to make the Habs elite right now.

"Say you were able to put the Duchene deal together, now you have to make at least one more deal, because you have to find a defenseman, too--at least one. And we all know what those things cost, that is really difficult to find."

Dean Morton Laughably Awards Jason Chimera a Penalty Shot

There was one bright spot for the New York Islanders over the course of their game in Toronto tonight. Referee Dean Morton, for whatever reason (the official call goes down as "hooking on a breakaway"), awarded Jason Chimera a penalty shot and the Islanders' captain scored his 14th of the season to temporarily pull New York within one of the Leafs.

The bizarre thing about this call is that defenseman Matt Hunwick barely even touched Chimera as he walked in alone on Frederick Andersen. Did he even touch him? It's hard to tell from the replay.

It didn't matter when it was all said and done. Toronto scored four unanswered goals, including Auston Matthews' 26th and 27th of the season, to notch a decisive 7-1 win over the Islanders.

It was a huge win for Toronto. They would have been leapfrogged by New York in the Eastern Conference standings had they lost.

Frederik Andersen stopped 33 of 34 shots for Toronto, many of them dazzling, particularly in the second period (prior to this terrible call) when the Islanders were peppering the Leafs with shots.

Canadiens Fire Therrien, Hire Julien

Ever since Claude Julien was fired from his perch as coach of the Boston Bruins just before the New England Patriots Super Bowl parade last Monday, nothing but good things have been said about the 56-year-old who guided the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title, a Stanley Cup final and the President's trophy in the last six of his nine-plus year tenure in Boston.

Now Julien will get the chance to prove all of his enthusiasts right.

Julien was hired to take over has head coach of the Montreal Canadiens for the second time Tuesday in a surprise announcement that coincides with the jettisoning of head coach Michel Therrien, who had been at the helm since 2012. Therrien had two turns coaching the Canadiens, and guided them to a Conference Final in 2014.

Julien will enter his second tour of duty as head coach of the Montreal. He previously served from January 2003 to January 2006 with a record of 72-62-10-15 in 259 regular season games at the helm of the team.

The Canadiens are clearly in win now mode after trading for Shea Weber this off-season and as their franchise goaltender Carey Price nears the final year of his six-year $39 million deal. Add to that the fact that Price is approaching 30 and Weber will be 32 this summer, and it's easy to see what Montreal is up against.

Julien inherits a team that has been both good and bad in stretches this season. Montreal holds a six-point lead atop the Atlantic Division at 31-19-8. But the Habs have lost the plot recently under Therrien, going 4-8-2 in their last 14. Though the club wasn't rumored to be shopping for a new coach, GM Marc Bergevin has moved decisevely to claim Julien in the hopes that he can steer his team to the promised land.

There will be no press conference to discuss the move today. We'll be looking forward to dissecting the post-hiring and firing chatter tomorrow.

The Canadiens did release the following statement from Bergevin when the news broke:

"I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track."

Blues Place Stastny on IR

The St. Louis Blues placed forward Paul Stastny on IR with a lower body injury on Tuesday. The 31-year-old center has 35 points on the year, including six in his last five games for the Blues.

He was injured on this strange play in Toronto on February 9th, when he lost his balance after clipping skates with Nazem Kadri.

Stastny is currently fourth on the Blues with 35 points, including 10 on the power play. With Stastny on-ice at even strength the Blues are scoring 57.63 percent of goals, per Puckalytics.

On the power play he is second on the team in primary assists per 60 minutes, behind only Alex Steen, at 2.69.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Watch: Nyquist Retaliates with Vicious Stick on Spurgeon

You've heard of an eye for an eye, but Detroit's Gustav Nyquist went for an eye for a crosscheck during the first period of the Red Wings vs. Wild game in Minnesota.

Watch as Nyquist turns after taking a crosscheck from behind from Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and nearly spears his eye out. Luckily for everybody involved Nyquist got Spurgeon around the cheekbone. Spurgeon went off for repairs and has since returned.

Nyquist was given a double-minor on the play but he was not ejected. He has an assist and is a plus-two thus far.

Conversation has quickly turned to how severe Nyquist's punishment should be, and it's a good question. The Swede is not a repeat offender and Spurgeon appears to be relatively unscathed. Still, the optics of this foul are as bad as they can get. Naturally the Twitterverse is calling for extreme penalties of 10-20 games, but it's unlikely that Nyquist will get anything more than, say, 5 or 7.

Check out the between-period reaction from NBC commentators Mike Milbury and Keith Jones. Jones says that Nyquist would have been "beaten to a pulp" if this was a few years ago. Milbury says that the NHL should be able to review such hits and eject a player from the game after the fact.

The Ref who made the call had a pretty good look at this play. There's really no excuse for not ejecting Nyquist here. More important will be the reaction of the Department of Player safety to this hit. Most are already worried about the fact that the DOPS is notoriously lenient on first-time offenders. Clearly, a message needs to be sent here. Nyquist went above and beyond to hurt Spurgeon on this play, so the DOPS should match his zeal and throw the book at him. Ten games would be great. Doubt that it will happen, though.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Statisfaction: Caps Win 11 Straight at Home

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll begin with the juggernaut Washington Capitals, who won their 11th consecutive game at home last night, 6-3 over the Detroit Red Wings.

1. Capitals closing in on an NHL record:

The Capitals have been scoring in bunches, and they've been doing it for an extended period of time. With their six-goal performance last night Washington has now scored five or more goals in ten consecutive home games. According to Elias Sports, the Boston Bruins scored five or more in 11 straight during the 1970-71 season, for the all-time NHL record.

Washington will be home on Saturday against the road-weary Anaheim Ducks, looking to tie Boston's record.

It really doesn't matter where Washington plays these days. Wherever they are, they score lots of goals. The Caps have poured in 89 goals in 20 games since January 1st, 24 more than the second best NHL team in that span.

2. Lucic with Connor McDavid, Lucic without Connor McDavid

It's no secret that it's better to be on Connor McDavid's line than to be off it, but with Milan Lucic the drop-off when he plays without McDavid is pretty extreme. When coupled with McDavid, Lucic is on ice for 64 percent of goals. When he's not with McDavid, Lucic is on ice for only 33 percent of the goals.

3. The Flyers Can't Buy a Goal

It's been really rough for the Flyers, who have scored just 13 goals in their last ten games. Actually it's amazing that they've been able to win four games and accumulate nine points in this stretch of anemic scoring.

4. Kreider cracks his career-best goal total:

Rangers rugged forward Chris Kreider is on pace for 30 goals and he has already topped his career-best total as of Thursday night when he pumped in his 22nd of the season during the Blueshirts 4-3 win over Nashville at MSG.

Kreider scored 21 goals in each of his last two seasons. When you look at it in terms of goals per game, Kreider is scoring .45 goals per game compared to .27 goals per game last season.

5. Price, Rask, Lundqvist All Struggling

Check out the numbers of three of the best goalies of this current generation since January 11. Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist all have plus-3.00 Goals Against Averages. What is going on with these three?

Since January 11:

Price: 4-7-1 with a .894 save percentage:
Rask: 5-4-1 with a .855 save percentage
Lundqvist: 7-4-0 with a 3.07 GAA

Backstrom Boards Ericsson, who Is Injured Badly on Play

Detroit will be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson for a few months after fracturing his wrist when Nicklas Backstrom boarded him during the first period of Washington's 6-3 win at the Verizon Center on Thursday.

Backstrom got two for boarding on the play, and Detroit got some bad news after the game.

According to Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill, the timetable is unknown. "I don't have a total timetable, but I know it's a fractured wrist so to me that would put him in that frame," Blashill said.

Typically this injury is about a 6-8 week recovery time, reports NHL.com's Tom Gulitti.

The injury puts the Wings in a tough spot on the blue line. Ericsson was averaging 19:13 a game, and the team just lost defenseman Alexey Marchenko after waiving him. Detroit drops to 22-22-10 with the loss--they are tied with Buffalo and Tampa Bay for last place in the Eastern Conference.

Blues Down Leafs, but Lose Stastny to Injury

UPDATE: According to a Friday morning report in the St.Louis Post Dispatch, Stastny's injury is not considered serious

The Blues pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory over Toronto at Air Canada Centre thanks to Vladimir Tarasenko's game-winning snipe, and are now 4-1 since Mike Yeo took over as head coach, but the news wasn't all good for St. Louis tonight in Toronto.

Paul Stastsny left the game with a lower-body injury after this strange skate-clipping injury with Nazem Kadri.

The accidental contact pulled Stastny's right leg out from under him (see video above) and he was hurt enough to have to leave the game.

Blues coach Mike Yeo did not have an update for media on the severity of the injury after the game.

If he's out for any length of time it would be a tough blow for the Blues, who just lost Robby Fabbri for the season a few days go. Stastny is the Blues second-leading goal scorer with 15, and he's fourth on the team with 35 points.

With Konecny Out 4-6 Weeks Flyers will Look Inward to Replace Him

Travis Konecny returned to the lineup after a two-game benching on Tuesday night, but he'll be out for 4-6 weeks with ankle and knee issues after he suffered an injury while falling awkwardly during Monday's 2-0 loss to the Blues.

Konecny has had a successful season with 22 points in 51 games, and Flyers' GM Ron Hextall doesn't have a plan to replace the 19-year-old's energy and scoring punch while he is out.

"We'd love to replace him," said Hextall, "but it's not the direction we're going in. If something comes up out of the blue, but I don't see anything out there that's going to replace him. We do have a couple of kids in the minors that are playing well and a couple of vets to, so we'll see where we go."

He added: "Travis, he's a good young player, he brings good energy too, which is something that we'll certainly miss. But we have to go with what we have. That's what we have right now."

The Flyers have mustered just 13 goals in their last 10 games and after Thursday's 3-1 loss at Wells Fargo Center to the Islanders they have dropped out of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are a point behind the Bruins with a game in hand for the final Wild Card spot but the red-hot Islanders have now pulled to within one point of Philadelphia and the Islanders have three games in hand.

Jiri Hudler Scores on His Own Net in Ottawa

A thing we rarely say or hear when talking about the Dallas Stars: Can't blame the goaltender for this one.

Watch has Jiri Hudler's drop pass splits the defense and slides into the Dallas net with Kari Lehtonen pulled due to a delayed penalty on Ottawa. This one is a real heartbreaker for Dallas, who took their time to set up the offense after the ref's arm went up. They would fall behind 2-0, and eventually lose to the Senators 3-2 at Canadian Tire Center to fall to 21-24-10 on the season.

Note to Dallas: Save the drop passes for when you actually have a goalie in the crease.

The goal was credited to Chris Kelly, his fifth of the season.

Keep the Offsides Challenge in NHL Games--JUST FREAKING GET IT RIGHT!

For the last year I've been in the minority about the NHL's decision to use video and a coach's challenge system to review critical offsides calls during NHL games. I like the rule and the use of the video because stuff happens fast in NHL games and players frequently do half-ass tag-ups while joining rushes and the like, and if a play is offsides, I've always felt that it's worth it to get the call right.

My belief in the system remained steadfast during last season when a whole lot of goals got overturned. Now there is some strangeness, when a team enters the zone illegally and proceeds to go on a crazy cycle for like 47 seconds before burying a goal. But you know what? Enter the freaking zone legally if you want your goals to count. That's my take, and I know I'm in the minority on it, but as a former linesman and an anal obsessor about offsides, that's my prerogative.

Anyhow, I digress.

Last night's botched call during Chicago's 4-3 win over the Wild in Minnesota made me wonder about the viability of the offsides challenge rule for the first time, because the officials had the replay and still stubbornly refused to make the right call. (A somehow blinded on-ice quartet of officials (#28 Chris Lee, #10 Kyle Rehman, #78 Brian Mach, #81 Ryan Daisy) let Zach Parise's goal stand even though this play was so blatantly offsides that it boggles the mind (the video is above, do check it out).

Puck Daddy Greg Wyshinski has all the details you need to know about the NHL's reasons for the call here, but I do disagree with Wyshinski's notion that it would be better to scrap the offsides video reviews.

Here's his take:

Kill it now. Kill it with fire.

Human error is part of the game, and there are missed calls on every shift that help result in a goal. (And before you claim that something like interference is subjective and an offside is black-and-white, to that I’d say it’s all illegal.)

Goals should be a bigger part of the game. So the idea that you’re allowing their validity to be determined by a skate blade glancing the blue paint before the puck crosses – literally counting pixels – is dumbfounding. Through Jan. 26, we’ve had 62 coach’s challenges for offside, and 21 times the review took a goal off the board.

The NHL has done a good job up until now of getting the calls right on these offsides reviews. I don't get why they botched this one so badly, but let it be a lesson to them. Get the calls right and you don't have to face a barrage of criticism in the ensuing 24 hours.

This was the easiest, most obvious and glaring misinterpretation of a video review that I've ever seen on one of these challenged offsides. On the actual play, the lineseman on the ice clearly got confused because the puck went out and came back into the zone quickly, and because Coyle's skates were not in the zone while Parise was tagging up. I get it as a former linesman and ref--stuff happens fast out there and if you lose your focus (the linesman was also out of position) the call is easy to miss. That's why the system is there -- to fix these bad calls.

The system was in place, the video was revealing. Everything was as it should be. So how did this go so woefully wrong?

I just can't figure out why the officials who stood on the ice watching video of this couldn't make the right call.

Here is the NHL's explanation (lame):

At 7:15 of the second period in the Blackhawks/Wild game, Chicago requested a Coach's Challenge to review whether Minnesota was off-side prior to Zach Parise's goal. Review was not conclusive in determining whether Parise had had tagged up at the instant the puck touched Charlie Coyle's stick. According to Rule 78.7, "If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call."

Except, how was this inconclusive?

Go to Puck Daddy's post and you will find not one, not two, but THREE conclusive angles of this play being offsides.

Here's my marked-up screen cap from the video that the NHL posted along with it's explanation!

That's the issue here--that the call was botched, not the fact that the call was being reviewed.

My point is that the NHL needs to circle back and retrain its officials so that they don't blow these calls again. Give them bigger monitors. Let New York HQ get involved--whatever it takes. But don't scrap the rule because of one botched call. Just be thankful it happened in February and not in May and double-down on getting these calls right.

That's my take and I'm sticking to it.

Look, offsides is part of hockey. It's a crucial element. It takes proper technique and timing to stay onsides when joining a rush. You have to read your teammate and read the play and oftentimes get your skate blade down and keep it down while waiting for the puck to get lugged over the line.

It takes technical wherewithal and tactical smarts to get it done. Offides is the critical rule of hockey. It's everything. Freaking review it. KEEP REVIEWING IT. Just train the damn officials to use their critical minds and their common sense to GET THE FREAKING CALLS RIGHT!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Watch: Baertschi Concussed by McLeod Hit in Nashville

The Canucks lost one of their most valuable forwards early in their 4-2 loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Sven Baertschi was blindsided by Cody McLeod (see video above) and went down immediately, just two minutes into the game. The hit appears to get Baertschi very high, but it's hard to tell if McLeod got all head or a bit of shoulder before he contacts Baertschi's head.

Baertschi left the game soon after and did not return, with the Canucks' Twitter feed reporting that he was concussed.

It's also hard to tell if the hit wasn intentional by McLeod, but he does appear to thrust himself into Baertschi, who is making a hard turn and is unaware of McLeod's presence until he gets hammered. Baertschi never was near the puck on the play so it makes it pretty important that McLeod at least makes an attempt to avoid hitting him.

At the very least, he should avoid giving him the business, but if you watch the replay it looks like McLeod throws a little extra shoulder into Baertschi at the last moment. Was McLeod caught unawares and just throwing the shoulder reflexively, to defend himself? Or was the repeat offender eager to take out a key player with a sneaky little hit?

Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins has his thoughts about that:

We'll wait til tomorrow to find out whether McLeod has a date with the Department of Player Safety.

And we'll also wait and see about the health of the 24-year-old Baertschi. He's put up 27 points in 50 games for the Canucks, which leaves him one point shy of his career-high.

Tyler Myers to Miss 6-8 More Weeks Due to Surgery

Tyler Myers has only played 11 games for the Jets this season, and head coach Paul Maurice revealed today that it's unlikely that Myers will play 11 more.

The 27-year-old, out since Nov. 11 with a lower body injury, had surgery on Monday.

Maurice said that the team had hoped Myers would be able to get healthy by rehabbing the injury without surgery, but he could not push through.

"Tyler Myers had surgery yesterday," Maurice told the media today. "He had an injury that there's a long rehab on. For 90 percent of the people it's just long and they eventually get past that threshold and he could never get past that threshold. You delay it as long as you possibly can because you hope you don't have to."

It is believed that Myers will rejoin the team before the end of the regular season, which closes on April 8th.

"He had it yesterday--there's a six to eight week window on this recovery that we hope cleans everything up," Maurice said. "If he gets to that window and all goes well then he'll be back at the lineup at that time."

Maurice says that he plans on having Myers back before the end of the season.

"Not having Tyler has had a major impact," said Maurice. "Tyler has from the time he's been here had a real big impact on our game. It has pushed Byfuglien's minutes to a point where I don't think its helped him."

The injury is not to Myers' hip, which was repaired last year. Maurice said the surgery was to repair a pre-existing lower body injury.

"His hip's been good," Maurice said. "Hip and knee that he had done last year have been fine."

Myers cut his 2015-16 season short to undergo surgeries to his hip and knee last March. He played 73 games for the Jets last season, which was his first full season after being traded to Winnipeg in February of 2015.

Bruins Fire Longtime Coach Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins have fired longtime head coach Claude Julien and replaced him with Assistant Coach Bruce Cassidy.

Julien had been on the hot seat for some time as the Bruins have struggled to a 26-23-6 record. Many have made note of the fact that the Bruins have been snakebitten this season. They have the NHL's worst PDO at 5-on-5 (96.7) and they are the NHL's best puck possession team with a 5-on-5 CF% of 55.8 percent.

Julien is Boston's all-time coaching wins leader with 419 career wins. He compiled a 419-246-94 record and .614 winning percentage in 759 games with the club. The Bruins advanced to the playoffs in seven of his nine seasons as head coach. Julien famously led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2011, a return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and a Presidents' Trophy in 2014. Julien also won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's top coach following the 2008-09 season.

Julien is 21st on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list. He is one of four coaches to be fired this season, along with Gerard Gallant, Jack Capuano and Ken Hitchcock.

Many believed that the writing was on the wall when Julien took a subtle shot at the Bruins' upper management in late January. "This is a team that needs all 20 guys going to win. We don't have enough talent to think we can get away with a mediocre game," he said.

The firing was announced and GM Don Sweeney's press conference was conveniently held during the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory parade, something that irked many locals, including the reporters at the press conference.

"If we had waited another day it impacts whether or we had an advantage on the ice and two practice times," Sweeney said. "If we had announced it during the Super Bowl or prior to the Super Bowl the questions would be probably similar. Once the decision was made then you have no choice but to stand up and answer the questions accordingly."

More to follow...

Hagelin out with concussion

Winger Carl Hagelin has been diagnosed with a concussion after taking a hit from Blues' forward Alexander Steen during Saturday's 4-1 win over the Blues.

"Haggy was diagnosed with a concussion," said head coach Mike Sullivan. "He's in the concussion protocol right now, he skated this morning on his own. We'll see how he responds from there and we'll go from there."

Hagelin has six goals and 13 assists in 51 games for Pittsburgh this season.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Malkin Speaks on NHL 100 Snub

When Evgeni Malkin was left off the NHL 100 list at this year's all-star weekend, several of his teammates and Mario Lemieux came to his aid and spoke on his behalf.

On Monday, Malkin spoke with media about the perceived snub for the first time, and he made everybody laugh (see video above).

“I tried to forget about that,” was Malkin's initial response, which drew a laugh. “I’m proud what the team said and what Mario said. I’m proud of my family and friends. They support me. I did my best. There’s nothing I can do. Those 100 players are legends. They deserve to be on this list. Maybe I’ll win a couple more trophies, a couple more Stanley Cups. Maybe next year, in the NHL’s 101st year, maybe they’ll send me a great black jacket. I will be No. 101.”

Very well-handled by Malkin.

The 30-year-old is getting closer to returning from the lower-body injury he suffered on January 24th against the Blues, but not quite yet.

Malkin wore a noncontact jersey while skating for an hour with his teammates before doing some individual work. "I want to be back soon," said Malkin. "Today is a step forward, to skate with team and after practice a little bit extra."

Malkin has 54 points in 47 games for the Penguins this season.

He's anxious to get back but he'll have to watch on Tuesday and root for his captain Sidney Crosby to reach the 1000-point mark.

"It's amazing," Malkin said. "Every night I enjoy to watch him, enjoy to play with him. I hope he scores three points tomorrow."

Flyers lose game, and maybe Konecny

The Philadelphia Flyers gave Travis Konecny a few games as a healthy scratch to get his mind right. On Monday he returned for the Flyers' game against the Blues, and he couldn't get his body right.

Konecny tumbled wildly into the boards on this play (video below) in the second period of the Blues 2-0 win, and after struggling off the ice he did not return. It is not entirely clear whether Konecny suffered a shoulder injury or a lower body injury as he appeared to be favoring both. A report is expected tomorrow.

Konecny has 22 points in 51 games for the Flyers (currently tied for 13th in rookie points), but head coach Dave Hakstol has scratched him for the past two games in an attempt to resuscitate his struggling lineup. Philly is really desperate for goals at the moment--they've managed just 21 goals in their last 13 games, and with Shayne Gostisbehere a healthy scratch for the last three, the Flyers have just managed three, but they've been shutout in back-to-back games.

"We played solid defensively. I don't think that's taken away from what we're doing offensively," Hakstol said, according to Philly.com. "I just think we can be a little sharper, not just on the power play but five-on-five in order to generate more offense."

The Flyers have gone just 7-11-4 since their 10-game winning streak ended on December 14th. They'll face the Islanders at home on Thursday.

Statisfaction: Dallas not Comeback Kids

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll jump around the league, throwing a few darts at a few walls. Will any of them stick? It's up to you to decide. We're just doing our job here...

1. Dallas needs to steal a few points

Did you know that the Dallas Stars are the only remaining NHL team that has not managed a single victory when it has trailed after two periods? Well, it's probably not that hard to believe when one considers how difficult this season has been for the Stars. Last year Dallas won six games when trailing after two (Toronto was the only NHL team that went the whole season without a win when trailing after two) en route to a 109-point season that left them in first place in the Western Conference.

This year, they are 0-18-2 when trailing after two.

2. Sid Crosby will bid for his 1,000th point Tuesday night

Sid the Kid will bid to become the 86th player in NHL history--and third this season, along with Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin--to reach the 1000-point mark when the Pens take on the Flames at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night.

If Crosby gets those three points he needs in the next 11 games, he'll become the 11th-fastest in history to reach the mark.

Here are the Top 10:

3. Your 3-on-3 juggernaut is...

The Los Angeles Kings. L.A. has a 3-on-3 shooting percentage of 50 percent in 15 overtime games (27:27 of 3-on-3 time).

It's utterly ridiculous--but true. The NHL average is an 18.32 shooting percentage in 3-on-3, and the Kings are 9 for 18.

4. Islanders with and without Tavares

How good is Islander captain John Tavares as a possession driver? Well, the Isles have an even-strength CF% of 44.9 when Tavares is not on the ice. When he hops over the boards the Islanders become a plus-possession team with a CF% of 51.1.

Of course, we all knew he was pretty darn good...

5. Can you feel the RADU-LOVE?

If you are a Habs fan, you sure can. The Russian is the only player with more than 100 mins of power play time to have a shooting percentage of OVER 50 percent.

See you next time, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Watch: Fabbri Knocked out for Season by Hit from Rowney

The St. Louis Blues lost 19-year-old forward Robby Fabbri after he was taken roughly into the boards by Pittsburgh's Carter Rowney during the Penguins 4-1 win over the Blues at Scottrade Center.

The club later announced that Fabbri will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left leg. He should return by the beginning of next season for the Blues.

Fabbri has had a streaky season with St. Louis. He has gone long stretches without goals, but has still managed to put up 11 goals and 28 assists in 51 games.
Fabbri had not scored since his first career hat trick on December 28th against the Flyers.

The Blues have recalled Kenny Agostino and Magnus Paajarvi from Chicago to help fill the void. Agostino is currently the AHL's point leader with 60 in 42 games; in 279 career games with the Blues and Oilers, Pajaarvi has 36 goals. He has spend the season in the AHL at Chicago, putting up 16 points in 25 games.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Statisfaction: What a Difference a Year Makes in Columbus

Welcome to Statisfaction, your daily dose of NHL-related numbers and factoids. Today we'll begin with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are bidding to match their 2015-16 win total with a win tonight against New Jersey. It's FEBRUARY 5TH! That's an amazing turnaround for John Tortorella and the boys. Can you say NO MORNING SKATES!

1. Columbus is THE turnaround story of the NHL this season, by far.

Columbus, 2015-16: 34-40-8
Total Goals: 213, rank 18
Goals allowed: 248, rank 29

Columbus, 2016-17: 33-12-5
Total Goals: 167, rank 3rd
Goals Allowed: 121, rank 5th

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been in shape from the get-go, and has already played more games this season (40) than he did all of last season (37). And the defense, particularly the top two pairings of Seth Jones/ Zach Werenski and Jack Johnson/David Savard have been lights out. Those four are a combined plus-53.

Sergei Bobrovsky, 2015-16: 15-19-1, 2.75 GAA, .908 Save Percentage
Sergei Bobrovky, 2016-17: 28-9-3, 2.14 GAA, .927 Save Percentage

2. Burns playing point-per-game hockey in SJ

There are nine players, 25 games minimum, that are averaging a point per game this season in the NHL. Remarkably, one of them is a defenseman. Can't say enough about what Brent Burns is doing to help the Sharks attack this season.

In the last decade a defenseman has gone point-per-game only three times. Viking God Erik Karlsson did it last season (1.00) and Mike Green did it in back-to-back seasons, starting in 2008-2009 (1.07). Green was 1.01 in 2009-10.

Will Burns finish with the highest points-per-game totals for a defenseman in the last ten years?

3. Sebastian Aho is looking real-deal

The Hurricanes rookie scored another goal last night, giving him 16 on the season. Aho has now scored nine goals in his last 14 games to far outpace all other rookies since the start of the new year.

4. Bolts Sinking Deeper into Obscurity

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in dire straits right now. Only one NHL team has been worse than the Bolts since January 1st, and as the losses pile up it is unclear how Tampa is going to approach the deadline. The team has gone 3-9-2 since January 1, sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference where they are currently eight points behind Philly for the last Wild Card spot. Tampa has a minus-18 goal differential in their last 14 games.

5. According to Puckalytics, Nino Niederreiter is the best at dishing primary helpers in the NHL this season

Things are going right for pretty much everywhere in Minnesota, but we haven't given Nino Niederreiter much love of late, so here goes: 15 of the Swiss' 17 assists have been primary assists. For whatever that is worth... Connor McDavid is second, and how about Nashville's Colin Wilson making the below list?

That's it for today -- see you next time!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Watch: Girgensons Tattoos McDonagh in Buffalo

Hey, you--tough guy. You like big hits? You want to see old-fashioned smash-mouth hockey?

Then here's the play of the night for you. Watch as Zemgus Girgensons sends New York Rangers Ryan McDonagh flying then skates up ice and finds another white jersey to hit.

The Rangers notched the 2-1 OT win, thanks to Chris Kreider's goal in the 3-on-3. It was Kreider's 20th of the season.

Honestly, the hit wasn't that big, it was just the way that McDonagh got caught and went flying, arms and legs akimbo, that made this a cool highlight. Luckily nobody got in the way of McDonagh's skate when his right leg went flying because that could have done some damage.

Cooper on Bolts fragility: Team is waiting for bad stuff to happen

The Tampa Bay Lightning keep falling further down the rabbit hole.

The team dropped to 3-8-2 since January 1st with a 5-2 home loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

After the game head coach Jon Cooper waxed philosophical. "It's a long year," he said. "It's 82 games, it's ups and downs. When things are going awry a little bit you can't take your focus off the team... we're just a little off-center. It's not going to last forever, but let it be a lesson for myself and everybody. What led to these occurrences? And how now can we try and fix that? That's what were in the process of [doing] now."

Tampa drops to 22-24-6, eight points out of the last Wild Card spot in the East.

"I think there's a little bit of, they are just waiting for something bad to happen," Cooper added. "And that's the part they have to get over. One thing I know about the group, is that it's a proud, proud group. And there's a reason we've won in the past--for whatever reason it's not happening for us now."

Erik Karlsson had three assists and Mark Stone scored twice to help the Ottawa Senators earn the win and improve their record to 27-16-6). Defense and goaltending have been big issues for the Bolts this season. With Andrei Vasilevskiy in the nets, the bad luck continued on Thursday. The 22-year-old falls to 11-12-3 with a 2.84 GAA and a .909 Save Percentage. It has been a tough month for Tampa's goalie tandem, to say the least.
Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman says that the team is already in playoff mode: "We are in the playoffs right now," he said. "We're in a dogfight. We have to try and figure out a way to win every night regardless of what happened in the previous game."


It's not clear how the Lightning are going to play the trade deadline. They still seem to believe that they have a shot to make the playoffs, and in today's age of parity, a playoff berth means a shot at the Cup. So they probably aren't a pure seller regardless of their spot in the standings. But will they buy? Yzerman says he would make a deal if there was a fit for his team, but on the short-term and in the long-term. "We're trying to win," Yzerman said. "If I could do something that helped our team make a trade, that identified a need for us--not just for this year, but going forward--I would do that. I haven't been able to do that."