Logan Couture

Riding the Zamboni – March 26; Predators, Sharks, and Flames keep winning

San Jose 4 – Phoenix 1

In a battle between the top two teams in the Pacific, San Jose showed why they’re on top. Logan Couture scored two goals and added an assist while Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots to get the win. Ryan Clowe had the Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, two assists, and a fight and Joe Pavelski also added a goal. The win evens the Sharks with Detroit for points in the West while Detroit came out on top against Toronto and holds the temporary tiebreaker on San Jose. For Phoenix it’s a lost opportunity to get closer with San Jose in the Pacific. They’ll have two more games against the Sharks this year, however.

Nashville 4 – Dallas 2

Dallas continues to fail to keep up with the playoff teams in the West as the Predators continue to roll onward and upward in the conference. David Legwand and Mike Fisher each scored two goals while Pekka Rinne stopped 28 shots to get the win. Nashville was able to keep pace with L.A. in the West and draw to within one point of Phoenix for fourth place in the conference. The Western Conference is fun like this eh? Dallas is now two points behind Chicago for eighth place in the West. While each loss seems devastating it can all be turned around in a moments notice. Don’t get too emo yet Dallas fans. Meanwhile, Nashville is sitting quite well for the time being especially with L.A. being in huge trouble with Anze Kopitar out for the next six weeks with a broken ankle.

Calgary 5 – Edmonton 4 (F/SO)

It’s barely a glimmer of hope, but it’s a glimmer nonetheless. Calgary headed into the third period against Edmonton down 3-1 and were down 4-1 early in the third thanks to Ryan Jones’ goal but somehow, someway came away winners in the shootout over rival Edmonton. Jarome Iginla, Curtis Glencross, and Steve Staios each scored third period goals to tie things up while Alex Tanguay won it in the shootout for the Flames. Giving up a loser point to Edmonton doesn’t mean much, but Calgary very desperately needed two points tonight to keep hope alive of making the playoffs. They’ll now sweat things out until Wednesday while others in the west play it out as the Flames get some time off. How those teams do will determine whether or not they’ve still got something to fight for.

Anaheim 2 – Chicago 1

Tampa Bay 4 – Carolina 2

Both teams needed a win badly in this one and Tampa Bay found a way to get revenge on the Hurricanes for last night’s defeat and deal Carolina a crushing blow for their playoff hopes. Simon Gagne had a pair of goals while Mike Smith (remember him?) stopped 33 shots to earn the win. Martin St. Louis scored his 27th goal of the year for Tampa Bay while Eric Staal scored his 31st of the year for Carolina. The Hurricanes are now five points behind Buffalo for eighth in the Eastern Conference and hurting more for it as Buffalo is playing well. Tampa Bay was able to fend off Montreal, the Rangers and Buffalo from closing in on them a bit more with the season dwindling down and hold a four point lead on Montreal and New York for fifth in the East.

Buffalo 2 – New Jersey 0

Say “good night” New Jersey. Ryan Miller’s fifth shutout of the year teamed up with goals from Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek helped essentially put the Devils playoffs away for good. The win moved eighth place Buffalo ahead of New Jersey by 12 points with just seven games left to play. There’s a slight flicker of hope left for the Devils, but the ride is essentially over now. For Buffalo, the win helped strengthen their lead over Carolina for the final spot in the East while helping them stay in striking distance of both New York and Montreal. They might be in eighth for now, but they might end up higher than that before it’s all said and done.

Los Angeles 4 – Colorado 1

Washington 2 – Montreal 0

A key win for the Caps to keep pace with Philly for the top spot in the East and for Montreal, it marks the third straight game they’ve been shutout in, stretching their scoreless streak to 185:55. Not good. For Washington, it was Braden Holtby’s second shutout of the year while Marco Sturm scored his first goal as a Capital and  Alex Semin added another.

Philadelphia 4 – NY Islanders 1

James van Riemsdyk notched a hat trick and kept the Flyers rolling along in the East while dealing the Islanders yet another loss. Sergei Bobrovsky earned his 27th win of the year stopping 36 shots. The Flyers stay two points ahead of Washington for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Detroit 4 – Toronto 2

St. Louis 6 – Minnesota 2

David Backes had a goal and an assist while six different Blues player scored to put away the hapless Wild as they close out their season without any fire at all. Ty Conklin stopped all of 13 shots to earn the win while Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom was hung out to dry stopping 41 shots in the loss. Alex Pietrangelo also had a goal and an assist for St. Louis while Antti Miettinen scored twice for the Wild.

NY Rangers 1 – Boston 0

Blues re-sign goalie Binnington

Getty
Leave a comment

Jordan Binnington, the netminder taken 88th overall by the Blues in 2011, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced on Friday.

Binnington, 24, has played almost exclusively with St. Louis’ AHL affiliate since turning pro four years ago, though he did spend some time in the ECHL.

Last year he worked alongside Ville Husso and Pheonix Copley in the Wolves’ goal, and will likely do so again with Husso moving forward (Copley was traded to Washington as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk deal.)

Binnington’s NHL body of work is brief — one 13-minute relief appearance during the ’15-16 campaign. Right now he’s jockeying with Husso to be the organization’s No. 3 netminder, a potential call-up should either Jake Allen or Carter Hutton get hurt.

Chris Neil wants a one-way deal, and says he’s received offers

Getty
1 Comment

Here’s what we know about veteran tough guy Chris Neil.

He won’t be back in Ottawa, the city where he’s spent his entire 15-year career. But he does want to keep playing. What’s more, he’s not ready to accept a two-way deal or training camp PTO, because offers for a one-way deal have already come in.

“The offers I’ve had so far haven’t been [two way or PTO]. They’ve been a one-way deal,” the 37-year-old forward said, per the Ottawa Sun. “For me, that’s what I’d be looking for.

“It’s up in the air right now. There’s some interest. There’s some teams you’d prefer over others.”

Neil was informed by the Sens last month that he wouldn’t be brought back next season, which marked the end of an era. Ottawa took Neil in the sixth round of the 1998 draft, and he made his NHL debut three years later. He went on to become one of the club’s most recognizable players, in large part to his pugilistic ways — during the 2003-04 campaign, he fought a remarkable 24 times.

That trademark toughness could be something teams are interested in bringing aboard. There were rumblings St. Louis was eyeing him after trading Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh, with Fox Sports Midwest reporting that Neil had three offers on the table.

If there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that Neil believes he can still play. After learning that he wouldn’t be brought back to the Canadian capital, he had some choice words for Sens head coach Guy Boucher and the perceived lack of opportunity Boucher afforded him.

“I have a lot of respect for Randy [Lee, Sens assistant GM] and Pierre [Dorion, GM] … I think, if it was up to them, I’d be back,” Neil explained, per the Citizen. “But they kind of put it in the coach’s hands and that had a lot to do with it. For whatever reason, Guy [Boucher] never really gave me the chance to show I can play.

“Even before I got hurt, I was a healthy scratch for a couple of games and I saw the writing on the wall.”

After tough year in Florida, Smith ready to reunite with ‘players-first’ Gallant

Getty
Leave a comment

For Reilly Smith, the anticipation of playing for Las Vegas next season goes beyond playing for the league’s newest team.

It’s also about playing for his old coach, Gerard Gallant.

“I think he kind of embodies the motto that it’s a players-first league and everything kind of revolves around that,” Smith said, per the Golden Knights website. “I know particularly last year in the Florida Panthers organization, there was a lot of change and things going on and I know one of the main messages that he always put forth was that whatever goes on outside, make sure you guys are a tight-knit group inside and play for each other.

“That was one thing that he definitely tried to convey to the team and try to get us to rally behind.”

Smith’s time in Florida was a two-part tale.

After coming over from Boston as part of the Jimmy Hayes swap — Marc Savard’s contract was also shipped to Florida — Smith had a terrific ’15-16 campaign under Gallant, posting career highs in goals (25) while helping the Panthers qualify for the playoffs.

In the postseason, he was a consistent scoring threat, finishing the series with four goals and eight points in six games.

Year two wasn’t nearly as successful.

Gallant was fired early on — controversially so — and Smith’s production dropped off. He ended with just 15 goals and 37 points, disappointing figures that were exacerbated by the big five-year, $25 million extension he signed in the offseason.

Reading between the lines, fair to suggest Smith struggled with the coaching change from Gallant to Tom Rowe. Things came to a head in early March, when Rowe called out Smith following a loss to Dallas.

On the Stars’ first goal, Smith seemed to lose his man in front of the net. Rowe was asked about it, and responded.

“We went over that exact play in team meeting and we haven’t learned our lesson yet,” he said. “That is the problem.”

Rowe wasn’t done there. Later, he was asked about Dallas’ winning goal, which may have been deflected in off a skate. The criticism went back to Smith.

“I don’t know,” said Rowe. “All I know is Reilly Smith was blowing the zone doing exactly what he is not supposed to be doing.”

Smith will certainly be a guy to watch this season. He’s still only 26 years old, looking for a bounce back, and noted that Gallant gave him the opportunity to play a larger role than he had with the Bruins (and, prior to that, the Stars).

One wonders if that’ll happen again, this time in Vegas.

Subban ‘can’t really envision’ Habs without Markov

Getty
2 Comments

The Montreal Canadiens’ defense looks a lot different than it did two years ago.

For the second offseason in a row, the Canadiens have walked away from a seemingly important puck-moving defenseman. Last summer, they traded P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber, and yesterday they announced that they were parting ways with Andrei Markov.

Markov and Subban played a lot of minutes together during their time time in Montreal. The two even became good friends (Subban attended Markov’s wedding earlier this month).

Needless to say, when Subban found out that Markov wasn’t going to be returning to the Canadiens, he was pretty surprised.

“I can’t really envision the Montreal Canadiens without Andrei Markov on the blue line. That’s No. 1. Even before I played for the team, I watched him play for the team and be their best defenseman,” The Preds defenseman told NHL.com’s Arpon Basu. “Even while I was there, I still thought he was our best defenseman, even though a lot of people thought because of what I got paid it was me. You can’t really put a price tag on how he plays because he’s so smart, the way he sees the ice.”

With those two players no longer on the team, it’ll be interesting to see who moves the puck for the Habs. Shea Weber is still playing at a high level, but carrying the puck up the ice isn’t his strongest attribute.

GM Marc Bergevin added Mark Streit, Karl Alzner and David Schlemko this offseason, but none of those guys can do the things Markov is capable of doing when it comes to moving the puck efficiently.

Is there another move on the horizon?

Well, Montreal has a huge hole on the left side of their defense and they have over $8 million in cap space. Maybe there is something brewing.

Related:

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

Habs president pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

Habs sign Streit–is he Markov’s replacement?