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Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 22

Nashville 3, Edmonton 1

The most impressive part of this game was the Predators did what they were supposed to do: win. Coming off an impressive win against the rival-Red Wings, a game against the NHL’s worst had the potential to be a letdown game. Points are at a premium this time of year and Nashville made sure they didn’t waste the opportunity to pick up the valuable two points. The Preds current four-game winning streak has vaulted the team into a tie for 5th place in the Western Conference with six of their last eight games at Bridgestone Arena. If Pekka Rinne and David Legwand can play like they did against the Oilers, they’ll be able to beat anybody.

Toronto 3, Minnesota 0

The Minnesota Wild are now 0-6-1 in their last 7 and at no point during the game against the Maple Leafs did they look like a team that was going to break through with a win. Michael Russo breaks down exactly how bad it’s been for the Wild as of late:

“Over this 7-game winless streak overall, the Wild’s been outscored 12-2 in the first period, has been outscored 32-9, has trailed by at least three goals in five games, has led for an embarrassing 12:39 of 424:26 and has given up the first goal in every game.”

On the other side of the spectrum, James Reimer continues to capture the imagination of Leafs Nation with his third shutout of the season. The 10th place Leafs are now 14-6-5 since the All-Star break and playing some of their best hockey in two years. They may be a long shot to make the playoffs this year, but the team is starting to show signs they may be competitive next season.

Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)

Who cares if both teams are out of the playoff hunt? Whenever a team scores to take the lead with 3 minutes left and the opponent ties it up on the power play with 3.3 seconds left in the game, it’s an entertaining game. When the contest is settled in a shootout, then yes, the fans that showed up definitely got their money’s worth. Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals in the 3rd period for the home team, but it was Daniel Winnik’s goal with time running out that was the show stopper.

The Blue Jackets did their part to make the game entertaining as well. RJ Umberger and Derek MacKenzie both scored short-handed goals to give Columbus the lead. After blowing the lead in regulation, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Avs goaltender Brian Elliott, but were unable to put any pucks past him. In the shootout, it was only more of the same.

Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

In a game where just about every Western Conference fan was rooting for the St. Louis Blues, the Coyotes came from behind to win their 40th game of the season. The Coyotes started off slowly and were even booed by the home crowd in Glendale, but Ilya Bryzgalov was able to keep them in the game. The win pulled Phoenix to within a single point of the division lead (although the Sharks have two games in hand) and further solidified a playoff spot. They’ve ridden their recent 7-2-1 streak to 91 points for the year, which is currently good enough for 4th place in the tight Western Conference. The Coyotes didn’t play a great game, but the only thing that matters at this time of year is the win. They escaped with two points.

Video: Bergeron questionable versus Wild; could that be the result of his latest fight?

Boston Bruins v Winnipeg Jets
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The Boston Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

He’s currently listed as questionable, according to the Bruins. The details are sketchy right now, however Bergeron was involved in a fight with former teammate Blake Wheeler during Thursday’s game against the Jets, and didn’t play much in the third period — only four shifts and 3:15 of ice time.

(Granted, he did score in the third period, giving him 21 goals on the season.)

Why Bergeron was fighting is also worth debating.

Replays show Bergeron and Wheeler caught each other with a healthy slash in the neutral zone during the second period. A few minutes later, they squared up at center ice, with Wheeler landing a few heavy punches and a hard takedown.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division.

But with such a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, Boston needs Bergeron — considered one of the best two-way centers in the world — on the ice and in the lineup rather than dropping the gloves, which is something he doesn’t do often.

Bergeron has four career fights.

A potential loss for the Bruins could be a potential gain for the Wild.

Minnesota’s free fall continues. The Wild has won once in its last 10 games, and currently sits two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West.

 

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.