VForVendetta

Around the rink – Friday, November 5th

Remember, remember the fifth of November. It’s Guy Fawkes Day so fire up your copy of “V For Vendetta” and then head out to your local rink tonight wearing your Guy Fawkes mask to watch some hockey. After all, if Guy Fawkes were around today, he’d be a hockey fan – it’s the anti-establishment thing to do you know.

Here’s tonight’s schedule of action and all times listed are Eastern, because that’s the closest time zone we have to Greenwich Mean Time.

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ New Jersey

The Rangers looked rather shiftless last night losing to Philadelphia, meanwhile the Devils will be looking to build off of their win over Chicago the other night. As always, it’s worth watching to see what Rangers agitator Sean Avery does to try and get in the Devils heads, especially Ilya Kovalchuk. Think he’s got a little bit of material to work with now that the team and Kovalchuk are struggling?

Boston @ Washington

Thanks to the wonders of the NHL schedule, this is already the third meeting between these two teams with Boston winning the previous two battles 3-1 and 4-1. Tim Thomas will face off with Michal Neuvirth once again and for Washington, they’ll be looking to find a way to crack through Thomas. Working in their benefit, Thomas finally allowed more than one goal in a game in his last outing against Buffalo. Downside? He only gave up two goals in a 5-2 win. The Caps could use a breakout by the offense but looking for it to happen against Boston might be asking a lot.

7:30 pm

Montreal @ Buffalo

Buffalo is struggling. Badly. Facing a stingy Montreal team might not be the medicine they need to get things right. While Montreal might be giving up goals, they’re not giving up a ton of shots and for a struggling Sabres offense. The Sabres have to get things turned around here and cracking through Montreal would make for a good start there, otherwise the clamoring for someone to get fired in Buffalo, be it Lindy Ruff or Darcy Regier or both, will continue to get louder.

Carolina @ Florida

Two teams in search of some kind of consistency get to face off with each other in the front end of a home-and-home set. Carolina is coming off a 7-2 curb stomping of the Islanders the other night, meanwhile Florida is coming off a frustrating 4-3 loss to Atlanta where Thrashers goalie Chris Mason stopped 52 shots. For Florida, many of their losses have been in a similarly frustrating manner. Carolina, meanwhile, is hoping that their stomping of the Isles will be the spark they needed to go on a run. Rookie Jeff Skinner continues to be the pace-setter for Carolina as he leads the team in scoring.

8:00 pm

Calgary @ Minnesota

While the two are tied in the standings, the Flames are coming into the game struggling losers of three in a row. Over those three games, the Flames have allowed 15 goals against. That’s not going to win you many games averaging five goals against each night. Minnesota, meanwhile, is inconsistent but playing tough. They don’t give up many goals (they’re sixth in goals allowed in the league) but finding the net more often could help them rise up. The goaltending from Nik Backstrom has been solid and consistent, but as the offense goes, so go the Wild.

8:30 pm

Phoenix @ Dallas

The Stars are playing some good hockey so far this year and they can thank Brad Richards for a lot of that. Richards leads the team with 15 points and he’s the key setup man for them. Meanwhile, the Coyotes are hoping that the return of Martin Hanzal is what they needed. He looked good the other night in helping key the Coyotes to victory. Wojtek Wolski’s effort after being benched for a game was also much better. They’ll need them both to keep bringing it to win.

9:00 pm

Detroit @ Edmonton

If the Wings were struggling we could’ve labeled this game as “old and busted vs. new hotness.” Instead, the Wings are playing just fine and the Oilers are dealing with growing pains with such a young team. So much for predetermined story lines. Johan Franzen should be good to go after missing practice yesterday, meanwhile Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal. Edmonton will hope that their youth crew can give the old guys on Detroit a run for their money with their speed. Jordan Eberle continues to be fantastic for Edmonton.

10:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Anaheim

An interesting battle to say the least as Pittsburgh is coming off a bad loss to Dallas and the Ducks got a shot of success against Tampa Bay the other night beating them in overtime. Recent call-up Kyle Palmieri scored in his first game with the Ducks meanwhile Teemu Selanne played a bit of “turn back the clock” playing a brilliant offensive game. The Ducks will need all that and more to handle what’s likely to be an ornery Penguins team that resorted to having Sidney Crosby dropping the gloves to stick up for his teammates.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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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.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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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.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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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.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.