It’s been a rough summer for goalies, no doubt about it. Evgeni Nabokov had to take his steady stream of 35 to 40 win seasons to Russia to earn a big pay day. Marty Turco sweated out nearly all summer long until he settled for a shorter version (from $2 million per year for three seasons to one) of the deal the Flyers originally offered. Dan Ellis, Chris Mason and Antti Niemi signed bargain deals to catch on with new teams.
None of them, however, can hold a candle to the horrible summer (and really, 2010) Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin experienced. Of course, while those goalies and their agents misread the free agent market, Khabibulin’s wounds are far more self-inflicted.
While Khabibulin hopes to get comfortable in the net after just 18 games last year, his court case in Arizona continues to hang over his head after he appealed his extreme drunk-driving conviction and 30-day jail sentence in late August. There is no time frame for the appeal to be heard, which leaves his second Oilers season up in the air.
If Khabibulin is concerned about how his appeal will weigh on his employer, it doesn’t appear to be on the goalie’s radar screen after completing fitness and medical testing Friday. He is more interested in trying to work through the embarrassment of it.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on it this summer … it’s not something I wish I had to go through, but I’m taking it very seriously. It is what it is. It’s an ongoing process right now. It’s hard on everybody, my wife, my daughter,” said Khabibulin, who immediately filed an appeal after he was convicted. He could play the year out, or he could leave in mid-season for his appeal.
“I wish, collectively, we all didn’t have to deal with this.”
Let’s face it, Khabibulin is lucky that no one ended up getting hurt while he was driving so dangerously above the legal limit. As bad as things were, he can piece his life (and NHL career) back together and turn the page at 37 years old. With a young team that hopes to rebuild in a hurry, you never know, he might just be able to infuse this sad tale with a happy ending.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”