If the 2010-11 season experienced by both the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals teaches us anything, it’s that a typical NHL campaign features some brilliant peaks and some bleak valleys.
The Capitals experienced two wildly different streaks this season, as they lost eight consecutive games in time for the taping of HBO’s 24/7 series but now find themselves on a seven-game winning streak thanks in part to Alex Ovechkin’s resurgence. Many people were rolling out their “Told ya so” columns when things looked dark for the defending champion Blackhawks, but those people are noticeably quiet after Jonathan Toews helped them produce a 9-2-1 run in their last 12 games.
Yet as Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago points out, neither team can smell the roses during their recent parades of success. Sure, Chicago is currently holding a playoff spot in the West, but only one point separates the Blackhawks from ninth-place Nashville. While Washington’s playoff status is fairly safe, its Southeast Division lead is tenuous at best, being the Capitals are only three points ahead of Tampa Bay.
Myers asked Toews about his expectations for Sunday’s contest.
“We had a tough game against Tampa the other night and we expect the same thing against Washington,” Jonathan Toews said. “As tight as the West is it’s tight in the East, too. Every team’s trying to secure their playoff spots. Regardless of standings, teams want to play their best hockey right now. So you look at the top guns and they are starting to play better.”
So while the Hawks reminisce about their 2009-10 success with the most powerful man in the world, they cannot look at their visit to D.C. as a glorified photo op. A simple glance at the standings shows that both teams need every point they can get.
(Those points will be that much tougher to come by for Chicago with Dave Bolland banged up, as the underrated center is day-to-day after taking that Pavel Kubina elbow.)
The L.A. Kings have reportedly acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That is according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie and TSN on Sunday.
The news comes one day after Jonathan Quick returned to the Kings crease after a 59-game absence due to a groin injury and was solid in a winning effort versus the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings are three points out of the final wild card spot in the West.
More to come.
Connor McDavid once again had that blazing speed of his on display. The latest victims? The Nashville Predators on Sunday.
The sophomore star scored his 21st goal of the season and league-leading 70th point thanks to a beautiful individual effort, putting his Oilers back into a tie game at the time.
McDavid picked up the puck just outside his blue line, accelerated to beat Roman Josi in the neutral zone, beat Ryan Ellis with a move and immediately snapped his shot home for the goal.
There was good news and bad news for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, as the club deals with an outbreak of the mumps.
First, the bad news: Head coach Willie Desjardins confirmed that forward Anton Rodin, defenseman Ben Hutton and trainer Brian Hamilton are now experiencing symptoms of the mumps.
Initially, five players — Troy Stecher, Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — had been affected.
The good news? Stecher, who had the first confirmed case of the mumps, was back on the ice Sunday for an optional practice, per the Canucks.
The Canucks, nine points out of a playoff spot in the West, host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
The following day is the trade deadline, and the Canucks could be busy, with at least three players — Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Miller — all mentioned as possible targets for other teams.
Speaking to TSN 1040 radio on Friday, GM Jim Benning didn’t believe the mumps outbreak would impact his plans leading up to the deadline.
Huge game in the Atlantic Division on Sunday night when the Florida Panthers host the Ottawa Senators in a classic four-point game.
The Senators enter the night tied with Boston for second place in the division with 70 points and four points ahead of the Panthers. Florida will be turning back to James Reimer for the start as he gets the call for the third time in the past four games as Roberto Luongo takes a back seat for the moment.
On Sunday, Luongo told George Richards of the Miami Herald that is the way it should be at the moment.
“Right now I don’t deserve to be playing,” Luongo told Richards. “That’s the bottom line. For me, everything is about the team and us winning games. James Reimer gives us a better chance to win every night than I am. Until I figure my [game] out this is the way it should go I think.”
Luongo has surrendered at least three goals in eight of his past 10 appearances, while Reimer is carrying a .927 save percentage in the month of February.
The Senators will go with Craig Anderson on Sunday night.
Elsewhere on Sunday…
— In the early games it was Tuukka Rask vs. Kari Lehtonen in the Boston Bruins-Dallas Stars, while Brian Elliott went against Eddie Lack in the Calgary Flames vs. Carolina Hurricanes game.
— Cam Talbot makes his league-leading 56th start of the season for the Edmonton Oilers when they take on the Nashville Predators. No word yet from the Predators on their starter.
— Big game in the Metropolitan Division when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the New York Rangers. Sergei Bobrovsky goes against Henrik Lundqvist in one heck of a goaltending matchup.
— With Corey Crawford under the weather Scott Darling will start for the Chicago Blackhawks when they host the St. Louis Blues on NBCSN. Jake Allen will go start the Blues.
— Louis Domingue will start for the Arizona Coyotes when they host the Buffalo Sabres. No word yet from the Sabres on their starting goalie, but the team did call up Linus Ullmark from the AHL before the game.