Ride on the Zamboni – Thursday, November 4th

Philadelphia 4 – NY Rangers 1

No matter how many times the brawlers for each team managed to fight each other, none of that could inspire the Rangers to actually try to score goals in this one. The Flyers, on the other hand, took full advantage of the Rangers uninspired play and took advantage of the Rangers inability to stick up for themselves. Mike Richards, Blair Betts, and Nikolay Zherdev scored three straight second period goals after Brandon Dubinsky lead off the scoring in the game for New York to give the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t give up. Chris Pronger scored an salt-in-the-wound goal in the third to provide the final decision. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 20 shots in the win on an easy night for him.

What’s got the Rangers upset after the game is the lack of a penalty on Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo who caught Ruslan Fedotenko with a head shot. Both Fedotenko and head coach John Tortorella were livid after the game that no call was made on the play. Expect the NHL to take a look at what happened and perhaps hand down punishment anyhow.

Columbus 3 – Atlanta 0

Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason might have to get comfortable with the bench. Mathieu Garon stopped all 25 shots he faced in earning his second shutout of the year and extending his shutout streak to 133:54. Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger each scored their fifth goals of the year, meanwhile Jakub Voracek got his first of the season as the Jackets pounded Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 41 shots on goal. What helped the Blue Jackets feel more like they were at home? Just 8,461 in attendance in Atlanta tonight for the game. OK so maybe Atlanta has a bit of a problem there too.

Ottawa 4 – NY Islanders 1

After getting iffy goaltending and a tough start to the season from both goalie Brian Elliott and center Jason Spezza, they both showed up in a big way for the Senators in a 4-1. Elliott stopped 28 shots, including two stellar shorthanded breakaway stops while Spezza factored into all four Sens goals, getting  a goal and three assists in the win. Matt Moulson prevented Elliott from getting a shutout, scoring a power play goal. Dwayne Roloson, who had been playing well for the Isles, looked bad tonight stopping 23 shots in the loss. The loss marked the sixth straight for the Islanders who are quickly running into problems with a defense that just can’t keep up with teams.

St. Louis 2 – San Jose 0

Jaroslav Halak’s great season continues as Halak stopped 25 shots in earning his third shutout of the season, tying him with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for the league lead. Fellow former Canadien Matt D’Agostini as well as David Perron scored for St. Louis and for Perron it made for sweet revenge after being the victim of a blindside hit by Sharks captain Joe Thornton. Thornton was kicked out of the game for an illegal check to the head in the second period. Later on in the second, Perron would score on a backhanded rebound past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Niemi stopped 27 shots in the loss. Meanwhile, the Sharks have been shutout in two straight games. The Wild shut them out on Tuesday night in Minnesota.

If you’re interested in such things, with wins by both St. Louis and Columbus tonight, those two teams now sit atop the Central Division

Vancouver 3 – Colorado 1

The Canucks big guns came out to play tonight as Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin scored goals while Raffi Torres added his seventh goal of the year in giving the Canucks a win against their divisional rivals. Cory Schneider got the start over Roberto Luongo tonight and played solid stopping 33 shots in the win. David Van Der Gulik scored his first NHL goal to spoil the shutout for Schneider who has been lights out when getting spot starts for Luongo. If nothing else, that’s exactly what the Canucks want to get out of their backup goalie and Schneider has been stellar in his role.

Los Angeles 1 – Tampa Bay 0

For two teams that rarely play each other, the Lightning and Kings sure do have some great dislike for each other. In what proved to be an overly physical and occasionally dirty game, the Kings came away with a Jon Quick 24-save shutout and a Justin Williams goal to secure the win. As for the dirty stuff, the game saw Tampa’s Mattias Ohlund take a five-minute major for boarding Kings captain Dustin Brown.

Later in the game, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went out of his way to hit Tampa’s Steve Downie from behind in open ice. Doughty got a two-minute minor for the hit, but Downie would try to get him back shortly after that attempting to make a leaping hit on Doughty in the corner but missing. Downie then went after Doughty to try and fight him, but Willie Mitchell intercepted him and did the deed. Downie was given a ten-minute misconduct after blowing a gasket after the fight yelling at anyone in stripes he could find. And he wonders why it’s tough to warm up to him.

Sadly, Capitals aren’t selling this collection of Christmas songs

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Let’s be honest, virtually any time a team gets its players to embrace a holiday theme, it’s in the name of goofiness. And bless NHL teams for this.

When it comes to Movember, you get the fantastic combination of mustaches and charitable contributions.

The holidays are rapidly approaching (hey, I see that Amazon tab open), so we’ll start to see various New Year’s/Christmas/Festivus/etc.-themed fun. Even with that in mind, the Washington Capitals will be tough to top with their collection of Christmas tunes.

Sadly, there’s no Volume 1:

Question: which performance stood out to you the most? While Braden Holtby was fantastic (with a Tomas Plekanec-level turtleneck game), the simple entertainment of watching Alex Ovechkin sing is tough to top.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

 

Video: Michael Grabner totally meant to do this for Rangers

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Depending upon how things go for each team, the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins may very well grapple for a wild-card spot in the East.

Thankfully, it won’t come down to Michael Grabner‘s deeply weird, memorable, and fun goal against Tuukka Rask, a “bank” goal that Grabner totally meant to do. Right?

(Watch that goal in the video above this post’s headline.)

That was Grabner’s 16th goal of 2017-18, which isn’t half-bad for a guy carrying a $1.65 million cap hit this season. Prediction: the speedy winger will cost quite a bit more than that in 2018-19.

As you can see in this video, Alain Vigneault points to Grabner gathering steam in his second season with the Rangers as part of the reason this team is turning things around:

J.T. Miller added a beauty of a goal to make it 2-0, but the Bruins dug deep to tie it 2-2, so we’ll see how the rest of that game goes.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH NHL 100 CLASSIC LIVE: Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators

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PROJECTED LINES

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards

Pacioretty – Danault – Byron

Galchenyuk – Drouin – Shaw

Hudon – Plekanec – Gallagher

Deslauriers – Froese/de la Rose – Carr

Defense

Alzner – Petry

Benn – Weber

Schlemko – Jerabek/Morrow

Starting Goalie: Carey Price

[NHL On NBCSN: Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators Meet In NHL 100 Classic]

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Ryan – Duchene – Stone

Dzingel – Brassard – Hoffman

Smith – Pageau – Pyatt

Burrows – Thompson – Dumont

Defense

Oduya – Karlsson

Phaneuf – Ceci

Claesson – Chabot

Starting goalie: Craig Anderson

 

 

Eugene Melnyk’s Senators are kind of a mess right now

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As the Ottawa Senators prepare to head into their outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night it is really difficult to imagine this is the same organization that was one game away from winning the entire Eastern Conference just seven months ago.

It’s taken a less than a year for all of the goodwill that improbable playoff run created among the team’s fan base to be almost completely wiped away.

And it’s not just because the product on the ice has badly regressed.

Actually, that is probably the least of their concerns at this point.

On a day that is supposed to be a celebration and a highlight of the team’s season — a home outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens!– the fan base is instead staging a social media rebellion against team owner Eugene Melnyk with the #melnykout hashtag on Twitter.

[NHL On NBCSN: Senators, Canadiens Meet In NHL 100 Classic]

Pretty much every reply to every Tweet from the Senators’ social media team is being bombarded with that hashtag as fans voice their displeasure. On Saturday afternoon #melynkout was one of the top trending topics in all of Canada.

Just a quick recap of everything that has gone wrong in recent weeks to help get things to this boiling point.

  • Erik Karlsson, the team’s best player, a generational talent, and a superstar that has played the past few seasons on a below market contract made some comments that indicated he would not be willing to take another hometown discount when his contract expires after next season. Given the team’s financials it is pretty clear that he already has one foot out the door.
  • The team, struggling on the ice and apparently desperate to make a move, is reportedly fielding calls on every player on the roster, including Karlsson.
  • Kyle Turris, traded as part of the Matt Duchene trade, suggested the team’s front office wanted to re-sign him but ownership did not. Turris and his new team, the Nashville Predators, have been unstoppable since the trade while Duchene and the Senators have been stuck in neutral.
  • General manager Pierre Dorion denied that claim and said all hockey moves go through him, not the owner. That press conference from Dorion included the anecdote that Dorion’s own son said the team’s “level of suckage is high.”
  • Then, on Friday night, on the night before the team’s outdoor game, Melnyk poured a bucket of gasoline on the tire fire that is his team and made some ominous comments about the team’s financial situation and future in Ottawa.

Melnyk is no stranger to bringing some less than desirable attention to his team. The whole forensic investigation surrounding the Matt Cooke and Erik Karlsson incident; the way he lost his mind in the wake of the Sidney Crosby/Marc Methot incident. But to make comments like the ones he made on Friday, on the eve of a major NHL and team event, and given everything else surrounding the team and his ownership at the moment, is astonishing even for him.

Oh, and the team itself is still seven points out of a playoff spot and sitting in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

Given all of that it is really difficult to imagine a bleaker long-term outlook for any fan base in the NHL. Which situation can possibly be worse?

The only one that really comes close at this point from is probably the Detroit Red Wings, and that is strictly from a hockey standpoint. The Red Wings are a sub-par team saddled with a ton of long-term contracts, little in the way of young, impact talent and are in dire need of a rebuild but seem reluctant to actually go through with it. It might be a long time before the Red Wings are a factor in the Eastern Conference again, but at least they are not in danger of moving (or at least having that threat thrown out there). They don’t have an owner that fans are openly revolting against.

Even the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes have some reason to be hopeful from a hockey standpoint (Jack Eichel in Buffalo; Arizona is struggling, but they have a ton of young talent).

But the Senators? What is the reason for optimism here?

They have a generational superstar that might be one of the finest players to ever play his position and it is only a matter of when, and not if, he is playing for another team.

The owner, seemingly unwilling to sell the team, doesn’t seem to respect his own fan base and doesn’t seem to have the funds to consistently put a competitive product on the ice.

If you are Senators fan, what can you possibly have to look forward to right now, whether it be for the rest of this season or beyond?

It is a grim situation to be sure.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.