Riding the Zamboni – Monday, November 22nd

Tampa Bay 3 – Boston 1

One of these days we’ll have to start one of these posts about the Lightning and not talk about Steve Stamkos. This won’t be one of them. Stamkos scored his league-leading 20th goal of the year in helping lead the Lightning over Boston. Dana Tyrell and Teddy Purcell also had goals while Michael Ryder had Boston’s lone goal. Mike Smith stopped 26 shots in the win while Tuukka Rask had a busy night saving 33 shots in the loss

Toronto 4 – Dallas 1

Nikolai Kulemin’s two goals helped lead the Leafs past a woeful Dallas tonight. If Stars forward Brad Richards was auditioning for the Leafs the way some folks would like to believe, he was the lone Star to show up on the score sheet scoring for Dallas. Jonas Gustavsson continued to play great tonight saving 21 shots in the win. Kari Lehtonen played well for Dallas but not enough to keep the Leafs completely off the board stopping 22 of 25 shots.

NY Rangers 2 – Calgary 1

A feisty game that will be talked about mainly for Marc Staal’s incredibly destructive open-ice hit on Matt Stajan saw the Rangers come out on top thanks to goals from Dan Girardi and Brian Boyle. Martin Biron played solid once again saving 31 shots in the win. Jarome Iginla stayed hot for Calgary scoring his sixth goal in three games but it wouldn’t be enough. Miikka Kiprusoff saved 22 shots in the loss.

New Jersey 5 – Washington 0

The chances that anyone predicted this outcome tonight are virtually nil. That’s why they play the games. Youngster Braden Holtby got the start for Washington and was blitzed for five goals against as the struggling Devils may have gotten the breakout game they’ve been hoping for. Jason Arnott had two goals while Mattias Tedenby scored on a penalty shot. Dainius Zubrus and Patrick Elias also scored while Johan Hedberg stopped 30 shots in earning the shutout. If you’re curious, and we know you are, Ilya Kovalchuk finished the game with no points and just one shot on goal.

Philadelphia 3 – Montreal 2

The feisty game we thought we might see from Mike Richards and P.K. Subban before the night started never materialized but in its place we got another play0ff-like game between these two teams. Montreal got out to a 2-0 lead thanks to two Maxim Lapierre goals but the Flyers stormed back with three in a row to take the game. Ville Leino, James van Riemsdyk, and Claude Giroux all had goals for Philly while Brian Boucher stopped 29 shots to get the win. For Montreal, Carey Price was outstanding in a losing effort saving 42 shots. All we know is that we’d like to see these teams keep playing each other like this the rest of the way.

Columbus 2 – Nashville 0

Ho hum, another win for Columbus and another shutout, this time from Steve Mason. Mason stopped 27 shots on the way to the shutout, his first of the year. His teammate Mathieu Garon has three. Meanwhile, Mike Commodore and Rick Nash had the Columbus goals. For Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped 28 shots in the loss. The win is Columbus’ fourth in a row.

Pittsburgh 3 – Florida 2

OK so who had Chris Conner in their game-winning goal pool? No one? We figured as much but it was Conner at 12:56 of the third that put the Pens ahead to stay after dealing with the feisty and game Panthers. Sidney Crosby got another goal, his 15th of the year as he tries to keep pace with Steve Stamkos. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots to pace the Penguins in the win. Cory Stillman and Bryan  McCabe had Florida’s goals.

Ottawa 3 – Los Angeles  2

A bit of controversy hovers over the final decision in this one as what appeared to be a game-tying goal with three seconds left by Ryan Smyth was disallowed because the official ruled he hit it in with a high stick. The play went to instant replay and the war room in Toronto but the call on the ice was upheld. An earlier apparent Kings goal was disallowed because the net came off the moorings before the puck crossed the line. On replay, it appeared that Sens defenseman Matt Carkner pulled the goal out of place after sliding into it, but it would not be counted regardless.

As for what was counted, it was all the game’s stars that got involved. Alex Kovalev earned his 1,000th career point with a power play goal in the first while Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza added tallies in the win. Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth each had goals for L.A. Brian Elliott made 28 saves to pace the Sens while Jon Quick made just 16 saves in the loss.

Sweeney shares offseason plans for Bruins

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The Boston Bruins had a relatively successful season, getting back to the playoffs after narrowly missing them the past two years.

But another interesting summer awaits GM Don Sweeney, who has a number of areas he’d like to improve.

From CSN New England:

Sweeney listed the “middle of the [forward] lineup, transition-minded defensemen and the backup goaltender position” as places he had in mind for offseason upgrades. Those were glaring areas of need throughout the regular season and postseason. 

More specifically on Sweeney’s to-do list: a left wing to be paired with David Krejci, a revamping of a third line that underachieved far too often and another top-four defenseman capable of moving the puck to go along with a more dependable backup goaltender situation than the Jekyll and Hyde performance from Anton Khudobin last season.

Boston’s pending unrestricted free agents include Drew Stafford, Dominic Moore, and John-Michael Liles, the latter of whom turns 37 in November.

At some point, the Bruins will need to find a replacement for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara. But the NHL’s oldest defenseman still has one year left on his contract, and he says he’d like to play beyond that.

To start next season, the Bruins could go with a top four of Chara, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Charlie McAvoy, two lefties and two righties. Assuming they don’t re-sign Liles, adding another left shot for the bottom pairing seems an attainable goal for Sweeney. Adding another top-four d-man could be tough, though.

Another situation to watch is the one with Ryan Spooner, the 25-year-old forward who found his way into Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse in the playoffs. Spooner is a pending RFA and arbitration eligible. He can be good offensively, but without the puck he’s still tough to trust.

Sweeney did not share his plan for Spooner with reporters, but it’s safe to say the player’s future with the Bruins is uncertain.

Panthers looking for ‘modern day guy’ as next head coach

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There are just two coaching vacancies left — in Buffalo and Florida, respectively — and on Thursday, Panthers GM Dale Tallon outlined what the club is looking for in its next bench boss.

“We’re looking for a modern day guy, a good communicator and a good teacher,” Tallon said, per WQAM radio. “Someone who is firm, but fair and can think outside the box a little bit, because creativity is important too as far as how you differentiate yourself from other teams playing a similar system.”

To that end, the Panthers have already interviewed one candidate — University of Denver’s Jim Montgomery. Sportsnet reported Florida spoke with him on Monday.

Montgomery, 47, has spent the last three years at Denver, building one of college hockey’s most elite programs. This year’s squad was anchored by Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher, U.S. junior shootout hero Troy Terry and, perhaps most interestingly, freshman scoring sensation Henrik Borgstrom — Florida’s first-round pick at last year’s draft.

Montgomery aside, Tallon and the Panthers sound like they’re casting a wide net to find Tom Rowe’s replacement.

The club reportedly reached out to Vancouver with interest in former bench boss Willie Desjardins. The Miami Herald floated the possibility of bringing in ex-Habs coach Michel Therrien, who resides in South Florida. Montreal radio station 91.9 Sports also connected Therrien to the gig.

Put it all together, and the coaching decision doesn’t appear to be a rush job. Tallon all but cemented that last month, when he said there “are some candidates that are in the playoffs that we can’t talk to,” adding he might wait “until at least mid-June” to make a hire.

Stars re-sign Janmark, who they ‘missed as much as anyone last season’

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Mattias Janmark, the Stars forward that missed all of this season with a major knee injury, has been given a one-year, $700,000 extension, the club announced on Thursday.

“Mattias is a played that we missed as much as anyone last season with the unfortunate injury he suffered,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said in a release. “We look forward to him returning to our group and getting him back for training camp.”

Losing Janmark’s services this year was, as mentioned, a fairly big blow. After surprising onlookers by making the Stars out of camp in ’15-16 — a “great story,” according to Nill — Janmark had a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

Today’s news all but alleviates concerns the 24-year-old’s knee problems might extend into next season, something former head coach Lindy Ruff alluded to last month.

“I think there’s a question mark (about next season), but we don’t know to what degree yet,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “He’s progressing nicely. He still has a ways to go, but I think the fact he is practicing now and has gone this far always gives a guy like that a better chance for next year.”

Janmark’s original injury occurred during the preseason, when he knee locked up in a game against Colorado.

“He had a small segment, approximately 21 millimeters by 11 millimeters, that became displaced and is locked in his knee,” Nill said at the time. “It’s the bone and the cartilage, they both came off together.”

Janmark underwent surgery to correct the issue, but his recovery was plagued by a preexisting congenital condition called osteochondritis dissecans. Nill said the likelihood of a full recovery was 80 percent.

Leafs to sign Grundstrom, whose ‘competitive level is through the roof’

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Another talented, young forward is on his way to Toronto.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Maple Leafs are soon expected to sign winger Carl Grundstrom to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Grundstrom, 19, was the 57th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He impressed at the 2017 World Juniors, scoring three goals and four assists in seven games for Sweden.

“He works hard and his competitive level is through the roof,” Sweden head coach Tomas Monten said, via Postmedia. “I think the Maple Leafs have a guy who in the future will work hard for them. He likes to score goals and go to the net, but he can score off power and skill. I think they have a pretty good prospect.”

Related: Are the Leafs getting into ‘go for it’ territory?