Sundays in the NHL are like taking a stroll through the park. It’s easy going, there isn’t too much to keep you busy, and you’re generally done by dinner time. Usually anyhow. This weekend is where things are a bit different. Today’s slate of games sees one major team looking to get off the shnide in a big way. All times are Eastern as usual.
Washington @ NY Rangers
The Capitals are looking to snap a five game losing streak and facing off against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers might not be the antidote they need. The Caps were stymied by Craig Anderson last night after he stopped 40 shots in a 3-2 Avs win. The Rangers were stuffed by Columbus last night because they couldn’t keep Rick Nash under control, allowing the Jackets star to score twice. In this one, Marian Gaborik and Alex Ovechkin could stand to show up in a big way for their respective teams. The Caps could use a win to help put their wild fans at ease.
Vancouver @ Edmonton
After getting their Markus Naslund number retirement party crashed by the Lightning last night, the Canucks head to Edmonton to get things figured out. Roberto Luongo will get back to action in goal for the Canucks, meanwhile Edmonton is riding high after their shootout win over Tampa Bay the other night. We said it before that game and we’re saying it again: As long as Linus Omark is in the NHL, the Oilers secretly make us hope for shootouts because guys like Omark and Jordan Eberle are creative enough to make the gimmick skills competition interesting for once.
Minnesota @ Anaheim
The Wild were gifted a win to them by the Kings last night but scoffing at a gift is never a good idea. Facing off against the always ornery Ducks should be enough of a dose of reality for the Wild to try to focus on improvements. The Ducks, meanwhile, would like to stop getting involved in handing out bonus points in the standings. Their previous three games all went to the shootout and fortunately for them they went 2-0-1 in those games. Anaheim would like to end this home stand on a high note as they’ll be out on a seven game road trip after tonight’s game, five of which come out east.
Brandon Dubinsky has been suspended one game for his cross-check to the back of Sidney Crosby‘s neck.
The incident took place during the second period of Friday’s game.
Crosby did head to the locker room after the play, but he was able to return.
When deciding on the number of games to give Dubinsky, here’s what the NHL took into account:
- Dubinsky delivered a clear cross-check.
- Dubinsky has been fined before, but never suspended.
- Crosby wasn’t seriously injured on the play.
“In this case, while Dubinsky’s cross-check isn’t overly violent or forceful, it is an intentional strike to an opponent’s head using his stick,” the NHL said in their explanation of the play. “This is not a case where the head contact was caused by a sudden movement by Crosby or by a stick riding up a player’s back or shoulders and making subsequent contact with the head.”
Click on the video at the top of the page to watch the NHL’s full explanation.
The Blue Jackets take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight.
The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.
Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.
Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:
Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.
The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.
James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.
Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.
The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.
Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.
He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.
Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.
Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.
The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.
In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.
Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.
The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.
The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.
After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.
On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.
“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.