Let’s take a look at today’s six game slate. All games are Eastern (ET).
St. Louis @ Columbus
With an outstanding 9-1-2 record, the Blues are considered by many to be the surprise team (in a good way, at least) in the NHL. This month will be a real test for them, though, beginning with a tough match in Columbus. The Blue Jackets won seven of their last 10 games, so it won’t be an easy Central Division confrontation.
Boston @ Pittsburgh
Both teams have the same amount of points … only the Penguins played (and lost) four more games. Each team also has a goalie who is pushing the established No. 1, as Tim Thomas and Brent Johnson are in the process of usurping Tuukka Rask and Marc-Andre Fleury. This should be an interesting game to watch regardless of which two goalies appear between the pipes.
Buffalo @ New Jersey
The team tied for second worst in the NHL (the Sabres) play against the league’s worst (the Devils). It seems quite likely that it will be a battle of backups, too, as Jhonas Enroth and Johan Hedberg are probably going to play in this one. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff will hit the 1,000 mark for games coached with this one.
Toronto @ Florida
The Maple Leafs are on a six-game losing streak, but they might solve it by beating the last team they have a win against: the Panthers. Florida’s low stance in the East (tied for second-to-last with 10 points) is a little misleading since they’ve played in only 12 games, tied with St. Louis for the least in the NHL.
Phoenix @ Chicago
One three-game losing streak will come to an end tonight: either the Coyotes’ overall skid or the Blackhawks’ three game skid at home. Chicago seems like they might be losing their edge at the United Center, going 4-6 overall after earning 29 wins in 41 regular season games there in 2009-10.
NY Islanders @ Anaheim
These two teams are on wildly different paths right now. After starting the season on a hot streak, the Islanders are on a troubling seven-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Ducks began the season as one of the league’s worst teams, but look like they’re working things out with a four-game winning streak. Jonas Hiller faced 41 shots against the San Jose Sharks last night, so it will be interesting to see if Anaheim will give him another start or allow him to catch his breath tonight.
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)
The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)
For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)
Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)
Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Vegas favorites to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, but the odds lean toward a San Jose Sharks player capturing the Conn Smythe.
Bovada released a variety of odds on Sunday after others surfaced on Friday.
Joe Pavelski is pegged as a +400 favorite as a winner, edging some other top candidates such as Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray.
Here’s the full list:
Logan Couture +500
Martin Jones +600
Brent Burns +700
Joe Thornton +900
Evgeni Malkin +900
Kris Letang +1400
Bovada also released prop bets, including how long the series might last. Check that out here.