Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, February 3rd

Want a recap of the busy start and 6-3 win for Boston against Dallas? Click here. We’ll have a summary of the Wild-Avs game later on. In the mean time, chew on these other four games.

Toronto 3, Carolina 0

Ron Wilson said that the best revenge for Tim Gleason’s knockout of Nikolai Kulemin would be taking two points from the Hurricanes. If that wasn’t just PR-speak, then the Leafs got what they wanted. Gleason did fight Jay Rosehill in the first period, so at least some retribution took place.

James Reimer earned the first shutout of his career in this one, making 27 saves. Clarke MacArthur, Darryl Boyce and Kris Versteeg scored Toronto’s three goals. Cam Ward stopped 38 out of 41 shots.

Tim Brent earned the second star of the game, despite going without a point. He did so by blocking three shots on a 5 on 3 power play. That’s the kind of thing that makes you a short-term folk hero in a hockey mad (and optimism-poor) market like Toronto.

Calgary 4, Atlanta 2

Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. The Flames have now won six games in a row and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games while the Thrashers are 2-6-3 in their last 11 contests.

Mark Giordano scored one goal and one assist to help the Flames beat the team that plays in their original host city for the first time in Atlanta. That’s some long-term context, ladies and gentlemen.

New Jersey 3, NY Rangers 2

Well, look at that: the Devils are no longer the worst team in the NHL. They’re now tied with the Islanders for second to last with 39 points as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games.

They built a 3-0 lead against their regional rivals and almost gave it up, but Martin Brodeur earned his 16th win of the season. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots, giving way to Martin Biron, who stopped all the six shots he saw.

Philadelphia 3, Nashville 2

The Eastern Conference-leading Flyers opened their four game homestand with a win over the Predators, a team that helped spark the franchise’s resurgence years ago. Philly traded with Nashville for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, two still-valuable players who helped key their resurgence.

Another savvy trade piece (though not from Nashville) factored into Philadelphia’s win, as former Red Wing Ville Leino scored the team’s last two goals to earn the win. Jeff Carter also came up big, scoring a goal and assisting on both of Leino’s goals. Joel Ward and Marcel Goc scored for the Predators, who are on a troubling four game skid.

Jaromir Jagr leaves game with lower body injury

Getty
Leave a comment

Calgary Flames forward Jaromir Jagr played just four shifts on Saturday night before exiting their game against the Minnesota Wild in the first period.

The Flames later announced that Jagr would not return with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

They had no other update.

After going through the entire summer unsigned as a free agent, Jagr finally landed a one-year deal with the Flames just before the start of the season. So far he has appeared in five games for the team recording a pair of assists.

He recorded 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) while playing in all 82 games for the Florida Panthers a year ago.

Even though he appeared in every game a year ago he still showed some signs of finally starting to slow down, and you have to assume that there is going to be some sort of an injury concern for a player that is turning 46 years old in February.

Senators top Maple Leafs but lose Bobby Ryan for a month

Getty
Leave a comment

The Ottawa Senators’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night came with a price.

After the game coach Guy Boucher confirmed that veteran forward Bobby Ryan broke his right index finger during the game and is expected to miss at least the next month.

Ryan has yet to score a goal for the Senators in eight games this season but has recorded five assists.

He fought through an injury plagued season in 2016-17 that ended with one of the worst individual stat lines of his career. He was able to salvage the season however with a tremendous postseason performance that saw him finish with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 19 games as the Senators went all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals where they would lose in double overtime.

The Senators are off to a great start this season earning at least a point in seven of their first eight games (4-1-3).

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Penguins seem to have a backup goalie problem

AP
7 Comments

The Penguins worked to address one area of concern on Saturday when they acquired forward Riley Sheahan from the Detroit Red Wings.

Now they need to start working on another major area of concern — their backup goalie.

The Penguins had to know Antti Niemi was never going to step into Pittsburgh and replace what Marc-Andre Fleury gave them on the ice, but they had to be expecting a little more than what they have received thus far.

After giving up seven goals in the Penguins’ 7-1 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night, Niemi has now given up 16 goals in 128 minutes of hockey this season. His save percentage is a brutal .797.

In games Niemi starts the Penguins are 0-3 and have been outscored 22-6, losing games by margins of 10-1 and 7-1.

In the games he hasn’t started they are 5-0-1 and have outscored their opponents 24-17.

It would be unfair to put all of the blame on Niemi, because even with regular starter Matt Murray in net they have also had stretches where they have struggled defensively and not quite played at the level they showed the past two seasons.

Niemi has also made all of his starts in the second half of back-to-back situations against teams that were not only rested the night before, but also teams that should be among the best in the league this season (the Chicago Blackhawks, two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning).

But none of that can excuse the way Niemi himself has played thus far, either. At some point you  need your goalie to make a save no matter who your team is playing or what is happening around him. His rebound control has been shaky, he looks uncomfortable when he is making saves and it is not like he is coming off of a great performance a year ago. In 42 appearances with the Dallas Stars he finished with an .892 save percentage, one of the worst marks in the league, and was at .905 the year before. He is 34 years old and has not performed at a better than league average level (or even at a league average level) in several years.

It has to be an area of concern for the Penguins because if Murray has a flaw early in his young career it is that he has missed some time due to injury. In the past they have had Fleury there to step in. They do not have that luxury now.

Niemi is only signed for one year at $700,000 so it is not like they have a huge investment in him.

If they decide to go in another direction already (they will probably give Niemi a little bit of a longer leash, I am sure) they have Tristan Jarry in the American Hockey League, or perhaps explore a trade if they are uncomfortable with such a young duo and inexperienced backup behind Murray.

Either way, it is really difficult to see them sticking around with this sort of performance from their backup for much longer.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals

Getty
Leave a comment

The Washington Capitals, fresh off of a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s NHL record 20th overtime goal, return home on Saturday night to host the Florida Panthers.

After winning their first two games of the season the Capitals have stumbled a little bit over the past couple of weeks winning just two of their past six games. They are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since those back-to-back wins to open the season.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night that cost them goaltender Roberto Luongo who was placed on injured reserve on Saturday afternoon.

You can catch all of the action on NBCSN. Game time is 7:30 p.m. ET.

Click here to watch live.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.