flyersandbruinsaroundtherink

Around the Rink – Saturday, December 11th

All but four of the NHL’s teams are playing tonight, so we’ll make these summaries short and sweet. As usual, the start times are based on Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Columbus

Do the Blue Jackets really hold the advantage in this one? They’re only .500 at home (7-7-1) while the Rangers are outstanding on the road (11-4-0).

Colorado @ Washington

The Avalanche have had a tough time playing a handful of games against the Southeast Division, but the Capitals pose the biggest challenge yet. Washington should come into this one angry, as they’re on a four game losing streak.

Atlanta @ NY Islanders

I wouldn’t have been shocked if these two teams were in similar spots this season, yet the Thrashers have plenty to look forward in the near and long-term future while it seems like the Islanders just face a grim reality.

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo

The Penguins go for their 12th win a row, while the Sabres seek more humble goals of going above .500 at home and winning two consecutive games.

Detroit @ New Jersey

When schedule makers drew this one up, they probably expected this match to be a “possible Stanley Cup preview.” The Red Wings are holding up their end of the bargain, but the Devils are just downright dreadful.

Philadelphia @ Boston

It just shows how consistent and impressive the Flyers have been this season that they only trail the Penguins by one point in the Atlantic despite Pittsburgh’s 11-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bruins continue to attempt to creep up on the Habs in the Northeast.

Montreal @ Toronto

Both teams are coming off of humbling losses, as the Canadiens were defeated by the Red Wings last night while the Maple Leafs were frustrated by Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday.

8:00 pm

Florida @ Nashville

Could this be a somewhat emotional reunion for Tomas Vokoun and his former team in Nashville? Stay tuned for starting goalies later today to find out.

Dallas @ Phoenix

I wouldn’t be surprised if reigning save of the night winner Andrew Raycroft played in back-to-back games with this one against their Pacific Division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Carolina @ St. Louis

This is a great opportunity for the Blues to earn their third win in a row, as the Hurricanes are coming off a long, tough game against the Stars last night.

10:30 pm

Chicago @ San Jose

The Blackhawks and Sharks are starting to get things together, but it hasn’t always been pretty this season. If nothing else, they’re both entertaining though.

Minnesota @ Los Angeles

The Wild square off against a Kings team that is stout at home (11-2-0) in this one. Could Los Angeles add Marco Sturm to the mix next week?

Tampa Bay @ Vancouver

The Lightning are starting to face a bit of a swoon while the Canucks’ lead in the Northwest is growing a bit more comfortable. It’s a rare opportunity for Vancouver fans to get a glimpse of scoring stud Steven Stamkos.

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

***

For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.