Florida @ NY Islanders
Who’s that lurking just seven points behind Carolina in the Eastern Conference? It’s the Florida Panthers. They’re in the curious spot of just being on the fringe of discussion of being a threat for the postseason (along with Toronto) and while you can’t quite take them serious, all it takes is one run of hot play to vault yourself into the discussion. After a shootout win against Tampa Bay on Saturday, perhaps it’s time for a run of their own. Getting to play an Islanders team that’s had their own problems this year would seem like the kind of thing that could help out in that area but the Isles have been playing tough hockey of their own lately. The Isles are winners of five of their last six games and they’re doing it by filling the net with goals in a big way. Over that six game stretch the Isles have averaged 4.3 goals per game. If you’re stunned by that, don’t be as the Isles have three players with 20+ goals this year. If the good Tomas Vokoun shows up this afternoon, however, goals are going to be at a premium.
Chicago @ St. Louis
After a shootout win over Pittsburgh yesterday, the Blackhawks are hoping it fires up a run for them to get into the mix for the playoffs. They’re lurking just on the outside of the massive pack of teams vying for the postseason. A win today would throw them into a five-way tie for seventh place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Blues are just three points behind Chicago and after their massive trade early on Saturday morning, the culture in the locker room has been altered just enough to possibly reinvigorate the team even with Jaroslav Halak out of the lineup. The Blues are winners of three in a row while the Blackhawks have won two of their last three. Someone’s going to have to go home disappointed today and for both of these teams a win today is virtually mandatory.
Washington @ Pittsburgh
Yes, yes these two get together once again to renew their hate for each other and after yesterday’s results they’re both figuring to be in a feisty mood again. Providing the side show in this game is a name we’ve gotten used to sharing as payback could be on the minds of the Capitals after Matt Cooke hit Alexander Ovechkin with a dirty knee-on-knee hit late in their last meeting a couple weeks ago. Ovechkin wasn’t hurt on the play but the intent was there and we know that everyone’s got a long memory for these sorts of things. Shenanigans aside, the Capitals will be looking to build off of a tough win against Buffalo in their hopes of getting back to the top of the division. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh just wants to get back to stringing together wins as they’ve dropped three of their last four and five of their last seven.
The crowd in St. Louis was sent to stunned silence at the scary sight of Nashville Predators rookie Kevin Fiala crashing feet-first into boards during the first period of Game 1.
Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he awkwardly hit the boards following a hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. An arena announcement indicated that Fiala will be taken to a nearby hospital.
It’s a cruel twist for the 20-year-old forward, whose high-end speed stands out most when you first see him. A bit longer than a week ago, he scored the biggest goal of his career as he ended Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks with the overtime-clincher. Now one has to wonder about his health.
Video will be added soon. Until then, here’s a GIF of that frightening moment:
Members of the Blues and Predators both escorted Fiala off the ice during a stunning moment for all involved.
When you put together a list of “clutch” players, do you put Colin Wilson on it?
Before you laugh that question off – which, really, that’s kind of mean – consider how productive the under-the-radar Nashville Predators forward is during the postseason.
In 33 career playoff games, Wilson had 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. He’s now at 12 goals and 21 points in 34 games after the first period of Game 1, and there is time to add to those totals.
That’s already pretty solid, but consider his regular season: 12 goals and 35 points in 70 games. He’s only scored 20 goals once in his career.
Yet … for whatever reason, when the games get bigger, the 27-year-old has developed a knack for scoring at a much higher clip. In the case of Game 1 against the Blues – his first game of this postseason thanks to injuries – he deflected P.K. Subban‘s booming shot for the 1-0 goal. Watch it above.
And wonder: is it hasty to consider him clutch?
Jeremy Roenick is so impressed by Erik Karlsson, he almost likes him as much as Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion does.
As a reminder, Dorion … didn’t exactly go the humble route in his praise of the all-world defenseman. When speaking of Karlsson’s play through ridiculous injuries, he provided quite the quote, as the Ottawa Citizen reports.
“Was I surprised? A bit,” Dorion said. “What do you say? I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this but, you believe in whatever you believe in, and they always say God rested on the seventh day, I think on the eighth day he created Erik Karlsson.”
Surely Karlsson’s critics will love this.
Anyway, Roenick and Keith Jones had some fun with such comments, as you can see in the video above.
For more genius Swedish fun, enjoy the Henrik Lundqvist video above. That’s a bonus, folks.
The NHL Broadcasters’ Association named the three finalists for the 2017 Jack Adams Award on Wednesday: Mike Babcock, John Tortorella and Todd McLellan.
The Jack Adams is given to the head coach who “contributed the most to his team’s success.”
It might tickle some to realize that Babcock and McLellan once coached together on the Detroit Red Wings’ staff. All three coaches share the distinction of bringing teams to the playoffs who failed to make the postseason in (at least) the previous season.
The Maple Leafs missed from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Columbus failed in its previous two seasons. And, of course, the Oilers hadn’t seen the playoffs since falling in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
One could make an argument for each coach in a number of ways.
Babcock molded a Maple Leafs team topped by young players, showing a refreshing willingness to take the good with the bad (especially for a guy who’s known for his scowl). McLellan broke that Oilers slump, gradually finding a lineup that could be “more than just Connor McDavid.” The Blue Jackets were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL to the point that they’d get Torts fired; instead, they boasted a power play that baffled opponents for much of the season and Tortorella enacted some (gasp) progressive ideas to help Columbus compete.
Now, you could critique all three in different ways – barely making the playoffs, riding hot goaltending, deploying Connor McDavid – but that’s part of the fun, right? There are certainly some cases to be made for snubs (Bruce Boudreau, perhaps even Joel Quenneville?), yet this trio of finalists is strong nonetheless.
The NHL has a more traditional rundown of each coach’s credentials, by the way.