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

Goalie nods: Reimer returns to Toronto, but he won’t start and the Leafs (reportedly) won’t recognize him

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer reacts during a break in the first period of Toronto's NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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James Reimer was drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2006, made his NHL debut four years later and, all told, spent six seasons wearing the blue-and-white, playing in over 200 games.

And tonight, he might get the spotlight on him for a couple seconds.

Reimer will back up Roberto Luongo when the Panthers visit Toronto, and it sounds like he’ll do so with minimal fanfare.

Per the Sun, the Leafs are “unlikely to officially recognize Remier” during the game, opting instead to “put the in-house camera on him for a few moments.”

(Now feels like a good time to mention Edmonton had a video tribute for Nail Yakupov.)

Reimer — dealt to San Jose at the deadline before joining the Panthers this offseason — has only played twice this year, making 25 saves in a shootout loss to Tampa in his debut, then allowing three goals on 22 shots in a loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

And while he’s likely to receive little attention this evening, Reimer did play to a large media contingent on Wednesday, and had a pretty good quip about Auston Matthews taking his old No. 34 (“that’s brutal… I can’t believe he did that.”)

His former teammates, meanwhile, recalled a guy that battled hard and provided some good memories — specifically, backstopping the Leafs to the playoffs in 2013.

That, of course, led to a not-so-good memory:

For the Leafs, Frederik Andersen starts in goal.


Devan Dubnyk starts again as the Wild visit Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Anders Nilsson, who continues to play with Robin Lehner (illness) sidelined.

Louis Domingue, who was called out by his head coach recently, goes back in goal for the Coyotes after Justin Peters started last game. He’ll go up against Steve Mason, who starts for Philly.

Jaroslav Halak returns to the Isles net after Thomas Greiss started the last two games. Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to go for the Pens.

— Tantalizing matchup in Montreal as Ben Bishop at the Bolts take on Carey Price and the Canadiens.

Petr Mrazek and the red-hot Red Wings — winners of five straight — look for No. 6 in St. Louis. Jake Allen is the likely starter for the Blues.

— It’s Antti Niemi versus Connor Hellebuyck as the Stars and Jets play in the second of a home-and-home series.

— Nashville used both Pekka Rinne and Marek Mazanec in last night’s 6-1 blowout loss to San Jose, so no word yet on who goes tonight in Los Angeles. The Kings will continue to ride Peter Budaj.

Sergei Bobrovsky, he of the .929 save percentage, gets the start for Columbus. He’ll be up against Martin Jones in the Sharks goal.

Vigneault explains decision to put McIlrath on waivers

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault runs a practice at NHL hockey training camp Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Greenburgh N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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The New York Rangers took a gamble today, placing defenseman Dylan McIlrath on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to the AHL.

While it wouldn’t be a surprise if McIlrath gets claimed, for GM Jeff Gorton and head coach Alain Vigneault, it was a decision that couldn’t be put off any longer.

“Gorts and I and our staff had a long talk last night after the game, and we just felt that at this time, Dylan needed to play,” Vigneault said this morning. “We all appreciate him as a person, he’s done everything that has been expected of him, and more. But on our team right now, he’s our eighth defenseman, and keeping him here and not having him play and the money going against the cap…”

Vigneault added that Gorton “looked around” in search of a trade, but obviously no deal was made.

“Selfishly, I hope he clears waivers and goes to Hartford and plays,” said Vigneault. “But if somebody would pick him up and give him an opportunity, I’d be very happy for him.”

McIlrath, meanwhile, held himself accountable for the situation. The big blue-liner has appeared in just one game this season, and he only logged 9:14 in it.

“I’m never going to blame this on the coaches,” he said, per Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post. “This was all about my play and not earning a spot in the lineup.”

Little (lower body) out another month, and that’s a big hole in the Jets lineup

WINNIPEG, MB - JANUARY 18: Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets skates down the ice in third period action in an NHL game against the Colorado Avalanche at the MTS Centre on January 18, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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Bryan Little hasn’t suited up for Winnipeg since the first game of the year, when he suffered a lower-body injury in a collision with Carolina forward Bryan Bickell.

Unfortunately for the Jets, he’s not expected back anytime soon.

“We’re two weeks out today, and we’re shooting for the end of November,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said on Thursday, while updating his team’s health situation.

To give an idea of how big a loss this is for the Jets, consider what Maurice had to say about Little’s absence, compared to missing unsigned d-man Jacob Trouba.

“[Trouba’s] not in the room, that has a big factor in terms of the distraction. It’s no different — well, it is different than Bryan. We’ve got a number of solid defensemen in our lineup.

“The Bryan Little injury is probably a bigger frustration than anything else, because that really changes the look.”

Little, 28, opened the year as Winnipeg’s No. 2 center, on a line with Drew Stafford and Shawn Matthias. As mentioned above, he was hurt in the first game of the season and — prior to the Bickell collision — set up the club’s first goal of the year, registering an assist on Matthias’ first-period marker.

When healthy, Little’s a productive contributor for the Jets.

He posted a career-high 64 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and a career-high 24 goals the season following. He’s also one of the club’s top faceoff men.

With Little out of the lineup, the Jets have rolled with Mark Scheifele, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry and Alex Burmistrov at center.

It’s fair to suggest Little’s absence has played a big role in Winnipeg’s slow start to the year. It has just two wins from six games, but will look to get things back on track tonight when it welcomes Dallas to the MTS Centre.

It’s still early, but Preds looking nothing like Cup contenders

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 26:  P.K. Subban #76 of the Nashville Predators looks on after being defeated by the Anaheim Ducks 6-1 in a game at Honda Center on October 26, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The acquisition of P.K. Subban, after last season’s addition of Ryan Johansen, made the Nashville Predators a trendy preseason pick to win the Stanley Cup.

Six games into their schedule, however, and the outlook doesn’t seem so rosy. Last night’s 6-1 loss in Anaheim left the Preds with a 2-4-0 record, and one frustrated head coach.

“We have to be tougher to play against, just generally speaking,” said Peter Laviolette, per NHL.com. “[Even-strength] play wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Specialty teams just swung the pendulum tonight in the wrong direction, the shorthanded goals and the power-play goals were too much for any team. We have to do a better job just being harder to play against, defending our goaltender and defending our end better. We gave up too many chances.”

The Ducks scored three times on the power play and twice while shorthanded. Obviously, special teams was the big factor last night.

But like Laviolette noted, the Preds weren’t great five-on-five either, and they haven’t been great in that situation all season. In fact, per Hockey Analysis, they’ve been outscored 12 to 6 in five-on-five action. It’s their power play, which has converted 10 times already, that’s kept their start from being a serious disaster.

It’s only been six games, so there’s no need to panic quite yet. But the Preds play tonight in Los Angeles and Saturday in San Jose, so it’s not going to get easier any time soon.