Jonathan Quick, Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell

Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, November 20th

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A busy night and if you’re a fan of the shootout, tonight was basically made for you. Doesn’t that make you feel special? You’re welcome. Anyhow, on with the recaps!

Los Angeles 4 – Boston 3 (F/SO)

The Kings blew a 3-0 lead but won thanks to Michal Handzus’ shootout winner and Jon Quick stopping 38 shots on the way to the win. Handzus’ goal was the only one in the six-round shootout. Handzus also had a regulation goal to get one that counts on the stat sheets. Tim Thomas may have stopped only 23 shots but many of them were dazzling saves. Don’t be too surprised if you see him show up in our “save of the night.” The win snaps the Kings’ mini-funk of three straight losses.

Tampa Bay 2 – Buffalo 1

It wasn’t pretty by any means and it wasn’t all that fun to watch, but the Lightning got one over on the Sabres with a little (a lot?) of help by Patrick Lalime. Lalime’s goaltending boner allowing Adam Hall to score the eventual game-winning goal was the lowlight of the game. As for good goaltending, Mike Smith stopped 29 shots for Tampa Bay. Thomas Vanek and Teddy Purcell also had goals in this one.

Montreal 2 – Toronto 0

Carey Price’s hot season continues as he stopped 30 shots en route to his fourth shutout of the season. Jeff Halpern and Mike Cammalleri had the goals for the Habs while they kept Jonas Gustavsson busy all night long throwing 39 shots on goal at him. Gustavsson did what he could to keep the Leafs in the game saving 37 shots. Highlight of the night came when the Habs paid tribute to former coach Pat Burns before the game with a beautiful tribute.

Florida 4 – NY Islanders 1

There’s only one real way we can sum things up for the Islanders after losing their 12th straight game.  Take it away Sesame Street.

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Mike Santorelli had two goals for the Panthers while Tomas Vokoun saved 39 shots. Good luck getting that song out of your heads though.

Philadelphia 5 – Washington 4 (F/SO)

A wild, back and forth game between these rivals was decided, sadly, in the shootout. Daniel Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout to give Philly the win. Meanwhile, Brian Boucher held strong in getting a rare start of late stopping 33 shots. Mike Richards stayed hot for Philly with a goal and an assist while Jason Chimera led the way for Washington with a goal and an assist himself.

Nashville 2 – Carolina 1 (F/SO)

Jared Smithson and Joni Pitkanen scored for their respective teams in regulation while Martin Erat had the winning goal in the shootout for Nashville. Cam Ward made 26 saves for Carolina while Pekka Rinne had a quiet night stopping just 21. The win makes four wins in the last five games for Nashville.

St. Louis 3 – New Jersey 2

The Blues took advantage of some good luck and good bounces tonight spoiling the NHL debut of Devils goalie Mike McKenna. The former St. Lawrence Universty standout and one-time Twitter superstar played strong despite the loss. Matt D’Agostini may not have scored a goal for St. Louis, but the team’s leading goal-scorer added two assists in the win. Lost in the game is the fact that Jaroslav Halak played outstanding in the win saving 35 shots in the victory to help the Blues snap out of their defensive funk.

NY Rangers 5 – Minnesota 2

The homecoming for Marian Gaborik ended with plenty of boos as was predicted and Gaborik netting just one assist and fellow former Wild favorite Derek Boogaard managed to help set up a goal with a crushing hit in the first period. An unusually sloppy game from Minnesota helped get Dan Girardi the first star of the night with two assists. Meanwhile Martin Biron stopped 26 shots in the win. Brandon Dubinsky scored his team-leading 12th goal, meanwhile Martin Havlat and Matt Cullen had a goal each for Minnesota.

Colorado 4 – Dallas 3 (F/SO)

Milan Hejduk’s two goals and Kevin Porter’s shootout winner helped pace the Avalanche past the Stars. Dallas overcame a 3-0 deficit early on to storm back and tie things up to get the loser point going to overtime, but Kari Lehtonen wasn’t able to pull out all the stops in the shootout to get the win. Brenden Morrow and James Neal each scored their eighth goal of the season in tying things up. Peter Budaj made 26 saves in getting the surprise start over Craig Anderson.

Chicago 7 – Vancouver 1

Remember when I said during the goalie preview that Roberto Luongo would have to get over his Chicago problem sometime? Yeah… That wasn’t tonight. The Hawks ran Luongo out of the game after getting up 4-0 and Cory Schneider didn’t provide much in relief. Fernando Pisani was the secret star of the game scoring two goals. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists while Marian Hossa quietly added three assists. Corey Crawford had his shutout bid spoiled in the third when Mikael Samuelsson scored on the power play. After the game, the Canucks were upset that the Blackhawks were putting out their top power play unit while up 6-0 and on a 5-on-3 power play. Our advice to Vancouver: Suck it up and learn how to finally beat the Blackhawks. After all, we didn’t read about any complaining from Chicago after they were thumped 7-2 the night before in Calgary.

Columbus 3 – San Jose 0

Not a bad night for the Blue Jackets. Mathieu Garon stops 35 shots in earning his third shutout of the year and team captain and superstar Rick Nash scores a hat trick. This feels like a thesis paper kind of game wherein we finally get a shutout and a hat trick in the same game. Now I know how Pigman in the movie “PCU” felt when doing his thesis on the Michael Caine-Gene Hackman theory. The Blue Jackets might want to play the rest of their games on the road as they’ve now got a 6-1-0 record there this year and have beaten the Sharks twice.

Avalanche’s new head coach Bednar is at least saying the right things

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Look, there are exceptions, but new head coach press conferences feature the same basic terms and buzzwords.

After witnessing the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins skate opponents ragged on their way to the 2016 Stanley Cup, any reasonable coach would throw “speed” into their phrasing.

Still, the Colorado Avalanche have been so deeply buried by even the most basic of modern measurements that you had to wonder: would they learn from Patrick Roy’s struggles? Can someone come in and at least attempt to keep up with the pack?

We won’t know for sure anytime soon, but hey, at least Jared Bednar seems to be saying the right things as he transitions from the AHL to the Avalanche’s head coaching gig.

When discussing his hire with NHL Network, Bednar seemed confident that his style in the AHL – “Up-tempo, aggressive style in all three zones of the rink” – will translate well in Colorado.

That interview hits the beats you’d expect from job interviews beyond hockey. There’s even a “detail-oriented” bit.

(If you space out, you might just assume there’s a mention of thinking outside the box, like every corporate interview in human history.)

Still, it’s OK to settle for baby steps, especially considering the tough situation Patrick Roy created in abruptly skipping town. For many, it might just be comforting to note that Bednar doesn’t outright dismissive “analytics” or “fancy stats.”

Mile High Hockey brings up a great point: if nothing else, the spotlight will shift from the Avalanche’s flamboyant head coach to the talented core of young players.

So, not only is Colorado bringing in a coach who is as savvy with spreadsheets as he is with the wipe-off board, but he’s going to allow the players to crawl out from under Roy and finally earn their own accomplishments. This is every bit as important as fixing the breakout play or eliminating the Collapse-O-Rama™ defensive system.

(Collapse-O-Rama, huh? Can we stash that term for future use regarding another coach or two?)

Bednar isn’t a retread, so we only know so much about what to expect.

There are positive early signs. Roll your eyes all you want, we have seen more than a few successful transitions from AHL glory (Bednar just won the Calder Cup) to the NHL.

He’s not necessarily anti-information and seems at least interested in implementing modern, attacking systems. Attacking systems that, theoretically, would best suit the talents of a gifted-but-flawed group.

It all feels a little vague, but then again, it’s not even September yet. So far, so good.

One way or another, Al Montoya will be important to Canadiens

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02:  Goalie Al Montoya #35 of the Florida Panthers looks on in the second period against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on February 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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This is part of Canadiens day at PHT …

Here’s an unsolicited opinion: a good backup goalie is often underrated.

Yes, getting a quality Plan B is easier said than done – goalies are an unpredictable lot – but it’s simple to see when it pays off.

(There are plenty of examples, but Matt Murray winning a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the shiniest one.)

Even if injuries aren’t a big issue, a No. 2 goalie is a pretty safe bet to play 20 games for a given team. In that regard, Al Montoya could be a significant upgrade over Mike Condon, and that could be important.

Waning workhorses

In 2015-16, no goalie played 70 regular season games. Jonathan Quick was the workhorse of the NHL with 68, while only 10 played at least 60. So, more than two-thirds of last season’s teams needed at least 24 games from their lesser-paid goalies.

Even in Carey Price‘s dominant 2014-15 campaign, he played 66 games while Dustin Tokarski was in net for 17.

Let’s ponder the outlook for a variety of scenarios as Price hopes to rebound from injury:

If Price resumes Vezina-caliber form

As PHT notes, Price seems confident that he’s at 100 percent.

That’s great … but what else is he going to say? Knee injuries can beguile just about any athlete.

He does admit that he’s getting up there in age a bit – relative to the sport, mind you – at 29. Earlier this summer, the Hockey News went over Montreal’s plan to scale Price’s workload a bit, injured or not.

So, even in a dream scenario, Montoya and/or Condon will still see plenty of reps.

If Price falters

The Canadiens are expected to live or die by Price. Let’s not kid ourselves.

The leash might not be very long for Michel Therrien if Price really falls on his face, however. A Condon-led Habs team stumbled terribly, but what might we see from Montoya being thrust into the spotlight for performance reasons?

  • With a .909 career save percentage, Montoya’s experienced his stumbles in the NHL. Montreal has to hope he follows more of the path from strong showings in 2013-14 (13-8-3, .920 save percentage with Winnipeg) and 2015-16 (12-7-3, .919 save percentage with Florida).

Long story short, there were flashes of the brilliance you’d expect from a guy who went sixth overall in 2004.

  • The good news is that he’s accustomed to a fairly heavy backup duty. He set a career-high with 31 games played and 26 starts with the Islanders in 2011-12. Including that season, he’s enjoyed 20+ appearances in five of his last six seasons.
  • The bad news is that he hasn’t ever even carried half of a season’s workload so …

Yes, a Price re-injury would be disastrous

Montoya hasn’t been “the guy” before, certainly not in a pressure-cooker like Montreal. Condon’s opportunity didn’t go especially well.

One can understand ownership giving Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin something of a “Price pass” after 2015-16, but would there be the same level of acceptance if they couldn’t thrive without their star goalie again? You’d have to ask about lessons learned.

***

Long story short, Montoya matters to Montreal. The Canadiens just have to hope that he doesn’t matter too much.

 

Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.

With Lehner injured, Enroth will be in Sweden’s goalie mix at World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jhonas Enroth #1 of the Buffalo Sabres and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators warm up to play at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Sweden has selected Jhonas Enroth to replace injured goaltender Robin Lehner on its World Cup of Hockey roster.

Lehner was bothered by an ankle injury last season while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said Lehner had not recovered 100 percent.

Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden’s roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game.

Enroth started for Sweden at the 2015 world hockey championship.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.