Remember when it looked like the Phoenix Coyotes were primed to plummet back to mediocrity after their Cinderella 2009-10 season?
Much like fellow out of left field hot team the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Coyotes’ early season troubles are starting to seem like a distant memory at this point. After befuddling the struggling Edmonton Oilers tonight, Dave Tippett’s team is now on a seven game winning streak and are 7-0-2 in their last nine games.
This win also gave them a brief lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division, although the Kings have a game in hand.
Phoenix 5, Edmonton 0
While the Blue Jackets are reaping the benefits of strong play from two goalies (Steve Mason and outstanding backup Mathieu Garon), the Coyotes are leaning heavily on their talented Russian starter Ilya Bryzgalov. He earned a 23-save shutout tonight, bringing his record in that 7-0-2 stretch to 6-0-2 (Jason LaBarbera only received one start, which began the team’s winning streak.)
The Coyotes are scoring goals by committee during this stretch, although tonight’s win featured some pretty dominating performances from a few Coyotes forwards. Lee Stempniak scored two goals and one assist, big Martin Hanzal scored two goals of his own and Eric Belanger earned the primary helpers on each of Stempniak’s tallies. Wojtek Wolski also had a nice night, scoring one goal and adding an assist.
It’s unclear if this is a blessing (for rest) or a curse (if they lose momentum), but the Coyotes won’t play again until Saturday’s game at home against their division rivals the Anaheim Ducks. The Pacific Division is still pretty brutal, but the Coyotes seem like they regained that scrappy form that propelled them to an impressive fourth seed finish last season; five of their seven consecutive wins came by one goal.
Meanwhile, the Oilers are showing faint signs of life with their big goalie Devan Dubnyk in net (1-1-1 in his three games since Nikolai Khabibulin went on the injured reserve). Still, the team must find a way to play better defense in front of him, as they allowed 42, 40 and 34 shots against in those three contests.
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.