Ilya Kovalchuk, Jhonas Enroth

Riding the Zamboni – Wednesday, November 10th

With so many goalies locking down shutouts this season, you may have been worried that goal scoring was on a severe decline. Don’t worry fans, the Blue Jackets and Bruins singlehandedly attempted to restore your faith that offense is alive and well in the NHL.

Buffalo 5 – New Jersey 4 (F/SO)

Two backup goalies do battle in a game between teams that have had issues scoring and, hey look, scoring! Oddly enough, in this battle between teams that have yet to win at home, the home team managed to still lose which was good news for the equally struggling Sabres. Of course, for the Devils, it wasn’t just that they lost but it also that Ilya Kovalchuk lost the puck on his shootout attempt that could’ve kept the Devils alive. Tyler Myers had a goal and two assists for Buffalo while Jhonas Enroth picked up his second straight shootout win. Johan Hedberg was the hard luck loser after stopping 38 shots on the night.

Boston 7 – Pittsburgh 4

Looking at the final score, you wouldn’t know that the Penguins had this game under control at all at any point in the night. The Bruins came back from being down 4-2 to rattle off five unanswered goals in the third period to kick the Penguins around in Pittsburgh. Shawn Thornton scored the backbreaker in the third dekeing and ripping a shot over Brent Johnson’s shoulder to put the Bruins up for good. Mark Recchi had a goal and two assists to lead the way for Boston. Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists while Evgeni Malkin had two assists to do their part for Pittsburgh.

Columbus 8 – St. Louis 1

The Blues and Jaroslav Halak were due to have an off night eventually and boy did the Blue Jackets give them one. Chris Clark and Jakub Voracek each had two goals while Halak saw all of 23:15 of the game before allowing four goals and being chased from the game. Things didn’t go any better for Ty Conklin in relief as he too allowed four goals. As if losing by seven to Columbus wasn’t bad enough, the Blues lost T.J. Oshie to a broken ankle suffered in a late-game frustration scrum. Oshie was the Blues leading scorer. The eight goals were a franchise record for the Blue Jackets.

Florida 4 – Toronto 1

You know your team is struggling when you can look at a 4-1 loss and say, “Well at least they scored a goal.” Times are bad with the Leafs and the Panthers were more than happy to pile on. Four different Panthers, including Michal Frolik, scored goals while Tomas Vokoun stopped 32 shots in the win. Mikhail Grabovsky got Toronto’s lone goal while Jonas Gustavsson stopped 24 shots in the loss. This makes seven straight losses for the offensively-challenged Leafs and without any consistent goal scoring showing up, things look worse as the days go by.

Phoenix 2 – Chicago 1

Speaking of teams that are struggling, hey it’s the Blackhawks. The Hawks got on the board first thanks to Bryan Bickell and could get things going any easier through the game. Once the second period rolled around, goals by Kyle Turris and Eric Belanger just 35 seconds apart would provide the difference for the Coyotes. Phoenix backup goalie Jason LaBarbera was outstanding in goal stopping 35 shots in the win. Marty Turco had a quiet night in goal in a losing effort stopping just 20 shots. Chicago’s frustration is starting to show through as captain Jonathan Toews said tonight’s game, “felt like a cheap loss.”

Anaheim 1 – NY Islanders 0

The Ducks got off just 14 shots on goal and managed to steal a win over the hapless Islanders. Saku Koivu’s third period goal stood up as the only marker in a game that saw the Islanders get off 27 shots only to see backup goalie Curtis McElhinney stop all of them en route to his first career NHL shutout. The loss marks the Islanders’ eighth straight loss and they’ve done so poorly that even the Devils have finally caught up to them in the standings.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.