Riding the Zamboni – Monday, November 15th

Let us take a look at five of the first six games tonight. We’ll clue you in to what happened during the late Battle of California between Los Angeles and San Jose tomorrow.

NY Rangers 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)

The Rangers won largely thanks to the reasons they’ve been winning so far in 2010-11: great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and scrappy play overall. Lundqvist made 37 saves and kept the Penguins off the board for all but 40 seconds of the game, as Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke scored rapidly late in the second period. Erik Christensen, Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers.

New York is on a three-game winning streak while the Penguins continue to struggle at the Consol Energy Center, dropping to 3-5-1 at home this season.

Philadelphia 5, Ottawa 1

At this point, it seems pretty clear that the two best teams in the East are the Flyers and Capitals. Philadelphia continues their red-hot play (9-0-1 in their last 10 games) by throttling Brian Elliott even though the Senators goalie has been on the top of his game lately.

It’s hard to blame Elliott too much, though, as the Flyers are just downright dominant right now. They showered him with shots in this one, scoring five goals on 46 shots.

Buffalo 4, Vancouver 3 (OT)

Is it too early to say that the Sabres righted the ship? Maybe, but they’re playing much better hockey right now. They’ve made it into overtime or later in five straight games – a Buffalo franchise record – and are 4-0-1 in those contests. They won this one in OT after Tyler Myers took advantage of a bad Canucks turnover. Ryan Miller is 2-0 since his return from injury.

Boston 3, New Jersey 0

After faltering a bit lately, the Bruins took advantage of the hapless Devils to help Tim Thomas earn his fourth shutout of this young season. He made 28 saves to earn his ninth win of 2010-11, beating Martin Brodeur, who made 21 out of 24 saves in this game.

Colorado 6, St. Louis 3

John-Michael Liles was the star of this one with two goals and one assist (read more about his red-hot start to the season here). The Avalanche bludgeoned the Blues in this one, scoring six goals against Jaroslav Halak despite only putting 23 shots on goal while Peter Budaj scrapped his way to a solid victory.

The Blues are stumbling quite a bit now as they’re currently on a four game losing streak. The bad news is that November is going to be a rough month; the good news is that they’ll have a pretty cushy schedule in October. The question is: how big of a hole will they find themselves in by then?

San Jose 6 – Los Angeles 3

The Kings saw their six-game win streak broken by a Sharks team that effectively pounced on the Kings when they were foolish enough to commit a penalty or turn the puck over. If the Kings weren’t doing one, they were doing the other in an uncharacteristically bad game. Patrick Marleau lead the way with a goal and two assists while Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley each had a goal and an assist. Antero Niittymaki was strong in goal making 32 saves in the win. Jonathan Bernier had a shaky night stopping 28 out of 34.

Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

Mike Modano
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There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

The full rosters:

North Stars/Wild

Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

David Moss
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Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

Zdeno Chara
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The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

“We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

John Tortorella

Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

“You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with NHL.com, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

“I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

“It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

It’s hard to say.

Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.