Spezza, Martinek

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.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

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Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

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The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.