Here’s the quick recap of tonight’s preseason action. If you’re a Minnesota Wild fan, you may want to look away. Again.
Buffalo 5 – Montreal 3
Plus: Prospect Luke Adam had two goals for Buffalo in looking good for the Sabres there. He likely won’t make the team, but he’s at least giving them something to keep in mind when they eventually send him back. Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly scored as well, something the Sabres hope carries into the regular season.
Minus: A pretty lethargic overall effort from Montreal. Yeah, it’s the preseason but don’t some guys have jobs to play for? Montreal’s defense hung Alex Auld out to dry in dealing with 37 shots on goal, stopping 32.
St. Louis 4 – Chicago 1
Plus: Another nice game from the Blues with Alex Steen getting a goal and an assist to keep his preseason scoring run hot. Jaroslav Halak had 30 saves in the win. Ben Smith had the only goal for Chicago.
Minus: Give it up for Hawks prospect Kyle Beach. Yes, he had a fight and that’s one of his jobs, but he ate a -4 on the game. Woof.
Columbus 4 – Minnesota 2
Plus: Solid, all-around team effort from the Blue Jackets getting scoring from four different players. Steve Mason did well stopping 24 shots. Minnesota’s power play did the work for themselves tonight, scoring twice on the man advantage.
Minus: Another loss for the Wild who have yet to win a game in the preseason. Coming off of a bad year, at least winning some meaningless games could give the fans a reason to have some hope. Defensive defenseman Greg Zanon was a -2. When it rains, it pours.
Dallas 2 – Colorado 1
Plus: A comeback win for the Stars who trailed 1-0 with 12 minutes to play until Mike Ribeiro and Brendan Morrow scored to win. Morrow’s game-winner came with just a minute to play.
Minus: Holy cow look at the penalties. Ten penalties a piece for each team and only four of them were coincidental minors. That’s just a brutal way to go through a preseason game.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.