It’s a quiet Friday night in the league with just four games to fill your hockey needs. Perhaps some inter-Canadian brawling will be your thing today. Either that or you can get psyched up to see if Steve Stamkos has another monster game, this time against their cross-state rivals from South Beach. Failing all that, there’s always the Stars to see if they can keep their eight-game road win streak alive. All times are Eastern.
Tampa Bay @ Florida
You could say that Steve Stamkos is on a bit of a roll lately. In his last four games he’s got six goals and two assists and has back-to-back two-goal games. After cooling off for a bit from his blazing hot start to the year, Stamkos is heating up once again and is back in front of the goal scoring race. While 50 goals in 50 games won’t happen this year (unless something truly obscene happens the next two games) seeing Stamkos go cruising into the All-Star break with 40 or more goals would be remarkable. The Lightning are keeping everything close of late with two straight shootout wins. The Panthers will be looking to snap a two-game skid of their own with those losses coming in overtime and in the shootout.
NY Islanders @ Buffalo
The Sabres are hot and they’re just six points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference now after ten-game stretch that saw them earn points in eight of those games, winning seven. Not bad at all and they’ve got Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to thank for it. In that stretch, Vanek has five goals and nine assists to pace the Sabres offense. The Islanders are losers of five of their last six games and in danger of falling behind the Devils again in the East. On the upside, they got Kyle Okposo and Frans Neilsen back in the lineup last night helping turn a thin lineup into something a bit more robust.
Montreal @ Ottawa
How do the Habs get to warm up for Saku Koivu’s return to Quebec tomorrow night? By playing a Senators team that got thumped and beat up by the Flyers last night. Ottawa is mired in a miserable struggle and floundering in frustrating fashion for their fans. Montreal will be looking to make due without Mike Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty in the lineup. How the Habs offense does without them will prove interesting because Montreal isn’t exactly a consistent offensive juggernaut. That said, Montreal has won five of their last seven games while Ottawa stumbles in losers of 10 of their last 11 and on a current four-game losing streak. Yikes.
Dallas @ Calgary
From the “you may not know” department: The Stars are on an eight-game road win streak. For how good the Stars have been this year, their tenacity on foreign ice is impressive and for the Flames that doesn’t bode well. Calgary has lost six of their last eight games and is on a two-game skid going into this one including their last game which was a 6-0 thumping at the hands of the Wild. Confidence isn’t exactly running high there.
Team Canada’s veteran lineup was too much for the young Americans to handle today in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where the Canadians rolled to a convincing 5-1 victory as the preliminary round of the World Championship got underway.
The United States actually opened the scoring, on a first-period, power-play goal by Patrick Maroon. But Taylor Hall quickly tied it, and soon after that, Brendan Gallagher gave the Canadians the lead. Matt Duchene, Boone Jenner, and Brad Marchand added the insurance goals for Canada.
Keith Kinkaid was in goal for the Americans, Cam Talbot for the Canadians.
Auston Matthews logged 16:56 in ice time and registered three shots for Team USA, who play Belarus tomorrow.
The Canadians are off until Sunday, when they’ll take on Hungary.
The New York Rangers announced this morning that forward Oscar Lindberg has undergone a “successful simultaneous bilateral hip labral repair.”
That’s a long way of saying he had hip surgery.
The Rangers say the expected recovery time for Lindberg is six months, meaning the 24-year-old is likely to get a late start to next season.
In 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, Lindberg had 13 goals and 15 assists in 68 games. However, he was a regular healthy scratch down the stretch.
“I thought Oscar was playing well,” head coach Alain Vigneault said in March. “But when Rick Nash came back, we had 13 healthy forwards. It’s just the way it slotted out.”
In the playoffs, Lindberg dressed for just two of the Rangers’ five contests (Games 4 and 5 versus Pittsburgh).
Related: Rangers sign Lindberg
Of all the available coaching gigs, Minnesota’s seems to be the most muddled right now — there’s still no word on the status of interim bench boss John Torchetti, and GM Chuck Fletcher has reached out to both Randy Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau.
Now, the Star-Tribune is reporting Fletcher has also contacted another pair of veteran coaches: Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher.
Crawford, fresh off a four-year stint in the Swiss League — where he coached coveted draft prospect Auston Matthews in Zurich — is gunning for an NHL return, and would even accept an assistant coaching position to get his foot back in the door.
Related: Marc Crawford coaching in Detroit? Hey, could happen…
Boucher, also coming off a stint in the Swiss League, wants back in the NHL as well. He was in the running for a pair of gigs last offseason — Toronto, which ultimately went to Mike Babcock, and New Jersey, which ultimately went to John Hynes.
An interesting wrinkle with the Wild’s coaching search? Per the Star-Tribune, it sounds like coaches might be asking as many questions of Fletcher as Fletcher is of the coaches. The longtime GM has come under fire recently for the club’s current roster makeup, which forced owner Craig Leipold to give Fletcher a public vote of confidence during the playoffs.
College free agent Drake Caggiula is expected to pick a team shortly, possibly even today.
The University of North Dakota winger had originally shortlisted six teams, according to a report. Those teams were Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie said this morning on Edmonton radio that the Canucks are “maybe” the front-runners to land the 21-year-old. Vancouver signed Caggiula’s teammate, defenseman Troy Stecher, a couple of weeks ago, and Caggiula’s linemate, Brock Boeser, was drafted by the Canucks in the first round last year.
Recently, Boeser told Postmedia that he was trying to convince Caggiula to sign with Vancouver, where there will be plenty of opportunities for young forwards in the next couple of years.
If it’s not the Canucks, McKenzie said he’s heard the Oilers have a “puncher’s chance” of getting Caggiula.