There’s no doubt that things have been dire for the Dallas Stars, but the team won two straight games against quality Central Division opponents to keep their playoff hopes alive. It naturally begs the question that must be asked, even if it might wear down some Stars fans: could this two-game streak help the team keep Brad Richards?
Obviously, the stakes are huge in this situation. Sure, the team earned victories in these two games without their top center and scorer, but he’s the straw that stirs the drink. In two days, Joe Nieuwendyk will have to decide to either move Richards to avoid losing him for nothing or press his luck by trying to re-sign the talented passer.
Personally, I cannot help but lean toward the riskier second option because Richards is such an outstanding catalyst (especially since the team could have new owners in place by July), but it’s a complicated situation that will depend on Richards’ health and the offers that come rolling in.
In the mean time, let’s get back to this afternoon’s game.
Alex Goligoski is making a great early impression, as he tied the game up with a third period goal and also had an assist on Loui Eriksson’s game-winner on the power play. Goalie Kari Lehtonen proved why he is the Stars’ other crucial cog, making 25 saves to earn his 25th win of the season. Colin Wilson had a nice effort in a losing cause, scoring a goal and and assist for struggling Nashville.
The Stars leapfrogged the Calgary Flames in the West, moving into a virtual three-way tie with the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild for fifth place in the conference with 72 points. The loss hurts the Predators dearly, as they’re now tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for ninth with 70 points.
Dallas won’t play another game before the trade deadline expires on Monday, but at least they showed they might have the moxie to make it to the playoffs. We’ll wait and see if that statement was profound enough to keep Richards, even if it’s obviously a lot more complicated than that.
Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season
Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.
But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.
On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.
Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.
Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.
Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching
“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”
“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”
More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:
Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.
Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”
“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”
The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.
Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)
You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.