Around the Rink – Monday, November 29th

Thanksgiving made last week’s schedule kind of wacky, but it looks like the NHL will get back to normal … at least until (whatever politically correct term we’re supposed to use for the winter holidays) comes along. Here are previews for tonight’s five games, with all start times being Eastern (ET) as usual.

7:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers

Despite the fact that the Penguins are on a six game winning streak, they’re only three standings points and one win ahead of the up-and-down Rangers (who won two in a row). Both teams are on a roll, with starting goalies – Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist – who seem like they’ve gotten their games together. Should be a fun one to watch.

7:30 pm

Dallas @ Carolina

The Pacific Division might be the strangest in hockey right now; it seems like there is a new leader every few days. Right now the Stars carry that slippery torch, but only because of the tie-breaker for wins. Dallas and Phoenix have 27 points while Los Angeles and San Jose has 26 points with all of them having played 22 games. To say that the margin of error is small is probably an understatement.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are tied for ninth place in the East and are coming off a shootout loss against their division superiors the Washington Capitals. This should be a pretty wide open contest in Carolina.

Edmonton @ Ottawa

Could this be a strange homecoming for former Senators goalie Martin Gerber? It could be, as he won two games ago while Devan Dubnyk lost the Oilers’ last game. Both teams’ typical efforts range from middling to flat-out bad most of the time, but they can put on a good show from time to time too.

9:00 pm

Minnesota @ Calgary

Speaking of being mediocre but showing flashes of brilliance, you have the Flames and Wild (including their talented but overly burdened Finnish goalies). The Wild and Flames are pretty similar teams on the road, too, but Minnesota has one advantage: being pretty strong at home (7-4-0). That won’t matter tonight, though, obviously.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Anaheim

This is a match between two Pacific Division teams that are on serious down streaks. The Ducks are 1-4-1 in their last six while the Kings are 1-6 in their last seven, having only won that game via a shootout. Oddly enough, they were both on similar hot streaks before these slumps; each squad won six in a row before they hit some serious seed bumps. The Ducks have that advantage on at least a superficial level, as their record at the Pond (7-4-1) bodes well for them while the Kings are weak on the road (5-7-0). Will one of these teams generate a little momentum with a win tonight?

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?