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.
Panthers lament slow start versus Sens, as debate over controversial Gallant firing continues
Don Cherry weighed in on it Saturday. As you might expect, he wasn’t in favor of the decision. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that completely swung in favor of the hosts in the span of just 19 seconds.
Erik Karlsson and Derick Brassard scored early in the first period, giving Ottawa a two-goal lead and that was the only scoring of the evening.
On taking over from Gallant, interim coach Tom Rowe said, per the Sun Sentinel: “This isn’t a knock on Gerard, because he did a great job.
“I just thought some guys weren’t bringing it the way they’re capable of bringing it every single night. A little too much inconsistency. They’d come out one period and play great. Another period they just sit back a little bit too tentative.”
That second paragraph is interesting.
Against the Senators, the Panthers had a slow start, illustrated by their 19-second lapse leading to the Ottawa goals. The Panthers found their game in the second period but tested Mike Condon with only 24 shots on goal by the end of the night.
They also couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the second period.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle, per the Miami Herald. “They had a good start, and sometimes you have to weather the storm throughout courses of games, and they did a good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes. If you look at the second period we were better.”
There were anxious moments for the Panthers, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad took a puck to the face in the second period. He missed about two minutes of game time, but did require stitches, according to Rowe.
Avs’ D-man Johnson suffers broken fibula, out six to eight weeks
It’s obviously devastating news for Colorado, which recently had its effort ripped by coach Jared Bednar. Issues with consistency and work ethic have been around since Patrick Roy was in charge.
The Avalanche have struggled since the beginning of the season after a late-summer coaching change, but they now occupy last place in the Western Conference with five straight losses.
Johnson has 11 points, which ties him with Tyson Barrie for the team lead among defenseman in that category.
In addition to playing 22 minutes a night, which is a substantial loss because he plays on both the penalty kill and power play, he’s also one of only two blue liners with the Avalanche to have even-strength puck possession numbers greater than 50 per cent.
The difficult times for the Avalanche continue.
Video: Caggiula (finally) scores his first NHL goal
Drake Caggiula had to wait to make his NHL debut because of a hip injury suffered in pre-season. He had to wait even longer for his first NHL goal.
On Saturday, the wait for the latter ended.
Playing in just his eighth career NHL game, the North Dakota product and NCAA Frozen Four MOP — pursued by at least half a dozen teams as a college free agent — ripped home a wrist shot from the slot on the power play for career goal No. 1 in the big league.
That goal gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
Trotz wasn’t happy with Capitals top line for penalty trouble versus Lightning
Naturally, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz would prefer his top line, which includes star Alex Ovechkin, score goals instead of glide to the penalty box.
On Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ovechkin took two minor penalties, while Nicklas Backstrom had another.
Tampa Bay’s power play struck once in three opportunities, as the Lightning prevailed 2-1 in the shootout.
The Capitals did manage to score — a power play goal from Backstrom — to end their recent goal drought. But the issue of penalties — Ovechkin has a team-leading 10 minor penalties — is something Trotz plans to address.
“I wasn’t happy with that. Our top line took three of the penalties today. They needed to score a power play for us,” he told reporters. “They’ve got to stay out of the box. I need them on the ice. So yeah, we’ll talk about it for sure.”
The Capitals have now lost three in a row.
They sit in the first Wild Card spot in the East, alongside the Lightning, while the Philadelphia Flyers are right there, too.
“From my standpoint, we’ll take a good point on the road. Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t get two. But the effort and the mindset was correct,” said Trotz.
“When you’re not winning, it doesn’t do anything for your confidence.”