Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers

Around the Rink – Tuesday, February 1st

The Avalanche-Blues game was postponed, but don’t worry: there are still 12 other games on the docket tonight. Here are previews of those contests, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET) as always.

7:00 pm

NY Islanders @ Atlanta

If the Thrashers want to maintain their tenuous grasp on a playoff spot, they need to win games like these. They had plenty of rest and host a weak team in the Islanders.

Florida @ Toronto

Two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs in ages – and don’t seem likely to get there again this year – meet in this one.

Chicago @ Columbus

The Blackhawks had plenty of representatives during the All-Star Game, yet they must face the disturbing possibility that they might miss the playoffs this season. They’d be in if the playoffs began today, but they need to improve their chances by winning games like these.

Boston @ Carolina

The Hurricanes knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs in 2009, so perhaps Boston can look back at that and try to get revenge by hurting Carolina’s chances to sneak in this season.

Ottawa @ New Jersey

A game between two teams that have seen much, much better days. One can argue that both would benefit from losing more often than not at this point.

7:30 pm

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

The Lightning continue their 12-game homestand against the Flyers in a game between the two top seeds in the East. These two teams combined for a pretty wild game already this season, so this should be an entertaining contest.

Montreal @ Washington

The Capitals need to start winning against playoff caliber teams, as Alex Ovechkin isn’t producing against quality opponents this season. Washington could really benefit from a strong ending to this season, even if they aren’t able to catch up to Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division title.

Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers

Two banged-up but hard working teams square off in this one, as the Penguins cope without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby while the Rangers are starting to get healthy again.

8:00 pm

Calgary @ Nashville

The Predators stumbled a bit last week after going on quite the hot streak, but a home game against the Flames gives them the opportunity to get back on track. Calgary has been scrappier lately, though, with four wins in a row.

Los Angeles @ Minnesota

Both teams are locked up in the Western Conference bubble at 55 points, with the Kings holding more wins while the Wild got to that point in one less game. This could be a pretty significant game for both teams.

8:30 pm

Vancouver @ Dallas

The Canucks have absolutely dominated the Stars in their first two games, winning each one while outscoring Dallas 11-2. They should feel pretty much at home in Dallas, too, considering the snowy weather in Texas (and most of the U.S. really).

10:00 pm

Phoenix @ San Jose

The Sharks have an identical record (25-19-6 for 56 points) as the Avalanche right now for the eight spot in the West, so perhaps San Jose can win while Colorado is idle? Phoenix has a solid little cushion for a spot themselves, but they need to maintain it by holding off their Pacific Division rivals.

Kassian has ‘no hard feelings’ towards Canadiens

Edmonton Oilers v Tampa Bay Lightning
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Zack Kassian never played a regular season game for the Montreal Canadiens. But unless he is held out of Edmonton’s lineup on Saturday, he’ll face his old team as a member of the Oilers.

The Habs acquired Kassian from the Canucks in the summer, after the 25-year-old forward essentially wore out his welcome in Vancouver under the team’s new management. However, an October car accident that Kassian was involved in set forward a number of events that appears to have ultimately changed Kassian’s life for the better.

He told reporters that car accident might’ve been the best thing to happen to his career.

After the accident, he was placed in Stage 2 of the Substance Abuse program and suspended without pay. He was reinstated in December and immediately waived by the Canadiens. A couple of weeks later, he was traded to Edmonton.

And, after opening up about his struggles with alcoholism, he’s since been recalled to the NHL, appearing in eight games for the Oilers, scoring twice and adding four points.

“I’m not looking for any redemption,” said Kassian, as per Sportsnet.

“Me, I got an opportunity to play for the Edmonton Oilers and I’m very thankful for that. I’m not mad at Montreal by any means. If anything I’m mad at myself for screwing up that opportunity. I’m just looking to move forward. Obviously it will feel nice if I get a goal [Saturday] or even better if we get a win but there’s definitely no hard feelings.”

Video: It took only 4:33 of the first period for Hurricanes to build 3-0 lead on Jets

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The Carolina Hurricanes got off to a spectacular start on Friday. Conversely, their opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, got off to a horrendous start.

Before Friday’s game was even five minutes old, the Hurricanes had built a three-goal lead. Phillip Di Giuseppe opened the scoring at 1:43 of the first period. By the 4:33 mark, when Jordan Staal scored, Carolina was up three, forcing a goalie change for the Jets.

Connor Hellebuyck was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots.

Update: It’s 4-0 Hurricanes . . . 10:04 into the game. Yup. Could be a long one tonight in Winnipeg.

Scrivens and slumping Habs face daunting task against McDavid and suddenly high-flying Oilers

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Connor McDavid is kind of good.

In the two games since his return to the Edmonton Oilers, he’s kind of — just kind of — had an impact. Five points in two games — that counts as an impact, right? Oh, and did you see this goal in his return earlier this week?

Since McDavid’s highly anticipated return Tuesday against Columbus, the Oilers have outscored the opposition 12-3 in two games. Small sample size? Yes. Against teams currently not in playoff positions? Yes.

But that’s still very impressive and with him in the lineup, there appears to be a sense of optimism in Edmonton.

Enter the free-falling Montreal Canadiens. Enter goalie Ben Scrivens, who only made his debut for the Habs at the end of December and will face his old team, the Oilers, on Saturday.

In four games with the Habs, Scrivens has been scored on 15 times.

The Habs, without Carey Price, have been in a tumble down the Eastern Conference standings for a long time now. And, really, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

Now, the Habs and Scrivens are tasked with facing McDavid and the suddenly high-flying Oilers.

And Canadiens fans probably aren’t the cheeriest right now, as their team has gone from on the verge of NHL history in October to becoming an afterthought in the playoff picture in February.

In each of their last seven games, the Habs have failed to score more than two goals in regulation. So it would seem that if Montreal is to get a win, Scrivens will need to be as close to perfect as possible.

No pressure.

“Unfortunately, it seems like my whole career has been playing behind teams that don’t have that confidence, except for my time in L.A.,” Scrivens told reporters.

“It’s a challenge as a goalie but all you can do is worry about your job. I can’t go out there and start trying to break pucks out and do anything I’m not supposed to be doing. My job is to try and stop pucks and try and stop as many as I can.”

With the way McDavid and the Oilers have been scoring since the break and his return, it appears that will be a monumental task for Scrivens.

And with the Habs in a 1-8-1 slide in the past 10 games, the timing probably couldn’t get any worse.

 

Stars put Spezza on injured reserve, recall Faksa from AHL Texas

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Sitting three points out of top spot in the Central Division and on the eve of an important divisional clash on home ice with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars have placed center Jason Spezza on injured reserve retroactive to Thursday, the club announced on Friday.

Spezza, 32, was injured during Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars can move back to within a point of Chicago for the division lead with a regulation win on Saturday.

In 52 games this season, Spezza has 18 goals and 40 points, which ties him with Patrick Sharp for fourth on the team in total points.

With Spezza out, the Stars recalled 22-year-old forward Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars in the AHL.

Faksa has 15 goals and 26 points in 28 games this season with Texas. In 18 games with the NHL Stars, he has one goal and three points.