Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Watch: Auston Matthews Scores to Break Leafs All-Time Rookie Goals Record

It was just a matter of time, and that time has come. Auston Matthews buried his 35th goal of the season during the first period of tonight's Maple Leafs vs. Panthers game at Air Canada Centre to take sole possesion of the Toronto Maple Leafs all-time rookie goals record.

Matthews breaks Wendel Clark's record of 34 goals by a rookie, which was set by Clark in the 1985-86 season. Matthews entered the night tied with Winnipeg's Patrik Laine for the rooking scoring lead. So far Laine has been held pointless in New Jersey tonight.

Matthews is just four points from equalling Peter Ihnacak's franchise rookie mark for points, set back in the 1982-83 season.

Toronto currently leads the Panthers 2-1 late in the second period. The Leafs began the night one point ahead of the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic. Boston currently leads Nashville 2-0 in the third period at TD Garden.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brock Boeser Scores for Canucks in NHL Debut

Former No.23 overall pick Brock Boeser picked up his first NHL goal in his first NHL game during the Canucks' 4-2 win over the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Boeser, who had 60 points this season for the University of North Dakota, signed a three-year entry level contract with Vancouver this morning after his team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Boston University in Fargo.

Boeser played on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. In addition to his goal he had four shots and three hits in 12:44 of ice time.

Tuukka Rask Will Miss Bruins-Isles Showdown in Brooklyn

The Bruins will be without their No.1 goalie when they take on the Islanders at Barclays Center in one of the biggest tilts of the season in the Eastern Conference race. Rask has lost four straight, allowing 15 goals in those games. He has a lower-body injury.

Per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE:

“He came in [on Friday] with some discomfort in the lower body, so he had some work done and didn’t feel like he’d be ready to go today,” said Cassidy of Rask after the Saturday morning skate in Brooklyn. “We had talked about getting Anton [Khudobin] in any way, and that was part of it. Those plans are always subject to change.

“So there’s no real surprise in that area, but we’re monitoring it really closely. We expect that he’ll be able to practice on Monday.”

It's not the first time Rask has mysteriously missed a big game. Rask missed the final game of the 2015-16 season with a stomach flu and the Bruins lost and subsequently missed the playoffs. There have been other times, writes Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshinski.

Anton Khudobin will play for Boston.

The Islanders and Bruins are currently tied with 82 points in the standings for the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. New York has a game in hand.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Watch: Sidney Crosby's Slash Does Significant Damage to Marc Methot's Finger

Sidney Crosby did some serious damage to Marc Methot's left pinky finger with this wicked slash during Ottawa's 2-1 shootout victory at Canadian Tire Center on Thursday night.

There was no penalty on the play.

After the game Senator's beat writer Bruce Garrioch confirmed the damage to Methot's finger.

According to Garrioch, Senators Coach Guy Boucher was told by the refs that they did not see the slash.

Methot has 12 assists and is a plus-13 for the Senators in 68 games. He is Erik Karlsson's partner on the Senator's top defensive pairing.

Islanders Lose Strome to Broken Wrist

The New York Islanders have likely lost Ryan Strome for the season. The winger/center suffered a broken wrist after taking a hit from New York Rangers' defenseman Brady Skjei during the Islanders 3-2 win at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. That's tough news for the Islanders, as Strome was beginning to show signs of returning to his 50-point form of 2014-15 under interim coach Doug Weight.

Strome had 13 goals and 30 points on the season, and was given more time at center by Weight after Jack Capuano's firing. The 23-year-old had 17 goals and 33 assists in 2014-15, but found himself in Capuano's doghouse for much of the last two seasons.

Blackhawks Ink Rookie Kero to Two-Year Deal

Chicago rookie Tanner Kero has signed a two-year deal that will keep him under contract until the end of the 2018-19 season.

The 24-year-old has put up five goals and 12 points in 38 games with the Blackhawks. Kero, a Michigan Tech standout, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Hawks in April of 2015.

Kero is part of a strong rookie class that is led by Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz in Chicago. Blackhawks rookies have combined for 93 points this season, which is second only to Toronto.

Ristolainen Suspended Three Games for Guentzel Hit

Sabres' defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been handed a three-game suspension for his jarring hit on Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel during Pittsburgh's 3-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday (see hit above).

Here's the NHL's explanation of the Ristolainen's offense:

A few opinions:

First and foremost, Guentzel never touched the puck on the play and therefore was not eligible to get hit, let alone PLASTERED.

Second, for those vehemently stating Ristolainen was committed to the hit prior to Crosby's pass to Guentzel being deflected, it doesn't matter. Nobody is saying that Ristolainen is evil for this hit (well, Penguins fans probably are). But he is in violation of the rules and he did come at Guentzel with very little control, making head contact. This was a very dangerous play. Had Ristolainen not gotten Guentzel's head (the rookie is currently out of action with a concussion), the NHL surely would have been more lenient. But the main lesson here is that players need to police their hits, avoid the head and they need to play with enough control to avoid clobbering a player whether or not he actually recieves the pass and becomes eligible to hit.

Had Ristolainen been under control, he would have been able to see that Guentzel never got the puck and tailor his reaction accordingly. Because he came in at full speed, flying and skating backwards, he was not able to do so, hence the significant suspension.

Polak Suspended Two Games for Boarding Bjorkstrand

Toronto defenseman Roman Polak was handed a two-game suspension for his hit on Blue Jackets rookie Oliver Bjorkstrand during Toronto's 5-2 win over the Columbus at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

Polak, who has never been suspended or fined before, was given a five-minute major and ejected from the game on Tuesday.

The NHL took issue with the fact that Polak was behind Bjorkstrand during his pursuit, and did not see the fact that Bjorkstrand turned into the check at the last moment as a mitigating factor.

After the game Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella did not give an update on his rookie, but it appears that he will not play tonight when the Blue Jackets visit the Capitals in a key Eastern Conference matchup.

That said, tortorella was miffed last night after the play occurred. Bjorkstrand was cut and lay on the ice for several moments before getting to his knees.

Bjorkstrand has been a key callup for Columbus. The 21-year-old Dane has scored six goals and added four assists in 17 games since being called up from Cleveland.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bruins Suffer Third Straight Loss, Drift Back to Pack

The Boston Bruins got a highlight reel goal from defenseman Torey Krug, but it wasn't enough to stop the team from dropping its third straight decision in regulation, 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Bruins have lost to the team directly behind them and in front of them in the standings on consecutive nights and now hold a slim one-point lead over the 4th place Leafs, but Toronto has two games in hand.

Boston wasn't the only team that failed to capitalize on an opportunity to pick up precious points in the standings on Tuesday. The Tampa Bay Lightning fell to the Arizona Coyotes and remain four points out of the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with ten games to play.

The Bruins and Lightning will meet in a key Eastern Conference matchup at TD Garden on Thursday.

The Flyers fell to Winnipeg at MTS Centre and remain seven points out of the Wild Card.

Meanwhile the Carolina Panthers bucked the trend and continued their climb up the standings with a 4-3 win over the Panthers. Carolina has now gone 6-1-3 in their last ten games and closed to within six points of the Leafs for the final Wild Card. The Canes got a pair of goals from Jeff Skinner and have now gone 5-0-3 during their eight game point streak.

Skinner now has seven goals in his last six game. He has three multi-goal games in that span. "We're getting contributions from everyone," Skinner said. "When you go on a run, you're going to have to win different ways and have to have guys step up on different nights and get key plays at key times in games."

Carolina goes to Montreal on Thursday and New Jersey on Saturday before heading home for a four-game homestand that begins with a rare two-game set against the Red Wings. It may be too much, too little, too late for the Canes, but it will be fun to see what this young, talented team does with its last ten games.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Miles Wood Starts Line Brawl after Getting Run into Stanchion by Nick Holden

Run a guy into the stanchion and consider yourself a target. Rangers' defenseman Nick Holden learned that lesson the hard way after he tried to decapitate Miles Wood during the Devils 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers.

Wood, clearly offended by the unjust way he was treated him along the boards, chases Holden down and immediately starts pummelling him. Inspired by the old-time hockey, Brendan Smith pairs off with Nick Lappin while Jimmy Vesey tangles with Blake Coleman.

Nothing like a little passion to help renew a cross-state rivalry that has fizzled of late thanks to the ineptitude of the Devils.

Joseph Blandisi scored in overtime to give the Devils the win which was just their second in 14 games (2-10-2).

Ristolainen Gets Misconduct for Brutal Hit on Guentzel

Rasmus Ristolainen was given a game misconduct for this jarring hit on Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during the Penguins 3-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, and the Sabres' defenseman could be looking at a suspension for the hit that caused the Penguins rookie to miss the remainder of the game with a concussion.

Ristolainen had the hit lined up and never let up even after Sidney Crosby's pass up the ice was intercepted by Zemgus Girgensons. He plowed into the 22-year-old, who was slow to get up and woozy when he did.

It's a big loss for the Penguins. Guentzel was featured on a line with Crosby and Conor Sheary and the trio had been tearing it up for Pittsburgh of late. Guentzel has 25 points in 35 games for the Pens.

"It hurts," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "He's a good player, he's been part of that line which has been very good for us as of late. Hopefully it won't be too long... at least at this point we're hopeful that it won't be an extended period of time but we'll have to wait and see."

"It doesn't matter what I think of the hit," Sullivan said of the hit. "That to me is a moot point. He's diagnosed with a concussion."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Red-Hot Bobrovsky Posts Third Shutout in a Row for Blue Jackets

Sergei Bobrovsky is leading the Columbus Blue Jackets' playoff push. The 28-year-old Russian notched his third consecutive shutout on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena, blanking the Devils 2-0.

Bobrovsky has gone 179 minutes, 29 seconds without allowing a goal. It's the second-longest streak of its kind behind Devan Dubnyk, who earlier this season went 183:16 without allowing a goal.

"He made two or three really good saves," said Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. "The thing with Bob that's impressive... He's made key saves at key times. The timing of his saves has been very important for us here."

Bobrovsky is now tied for the NHL lead in wins with 35, and is second in Save Percentage in third in GAA:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Radulov out of Lineup for Montreal against Rangers

The Montreal Canadiens will be without No.2 scorer Alexander Radulov for Saturday night's tilt at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

The 30-year-old forward has chipped in 15 goals and 31 assists for the Habs this year, including 16 points on the power play. His injury is not considered serious.

Stepping into the lineup for the first place Canadiens are Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen, two players the Habs acquired at the NHL trade deadline this week.

Montreal has won four games in a row after starting at 1-2-0 under head coach Claude Julien.

Goalie Carey Price has also been running hot again of late. He has gone 3-0 in his last three games with a .965 Save Percentage and a 0.98 GAA. The Canadiens credit some defensive adjustments that have been made since Julien took over for the better team defense.

Tonight's test against the Rangers, the third-highest scoring team in the NHL with 209 goals, could be a preview of the first round of the NHL Playoffs. The Rangers currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan, two points behind the Penguins. If they finish in that slot and the Canadiens win the Atlantic, the two teams will meet in the playoffs for the first time since the Conference Finals of 2014.