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

Flyers edge Red Wings, stay hot in 2018

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At this rate, Travis Konecny might earn the nickname “OT.”

For the second straight game, the young forward scored the OT-winner for the Philadelphia Flyers. In this case, it salvaged a 3-2 overtime win against the Red Wings in Detroit, pushing Philly’s winning streak to four games.

Red Wings fan left the building booing, as Konency just barely avoided being offside on the decisive goal. Such a finish will probably sting a little extra for Tyler Bertuzzi, who was all over the place in the third period but couldn’t seal the Red Wings’ rally.

Three of the Flyers’ four straight wins have come in overtime, so they’re gutting out some close wins lately.

It’s a sweet deal for the Flyers, as they’ll end the night in the Metropolitan Division’s third spot, even if the New York Rangers win their game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Such a rise isn’t just about this four-game winning streak.

After ending 2017 on a down note (losing three of their last four games of the year), the Flyers are now 8-2-0 in 2018. Tuesday was promising for Philly even beyond its own work, as the Carolina Hurricanes (loss to Pittsburgh) and New Jersey Devils (fell to Bruins) both fell in regulation.

Quite the turnaround for a team that once dropped 10 straight games and saw fans calling for head coach Dave Hakstol’s head, huh?

A strong second period played a big role in Philly’s win. Detroit carried a 1-0 lead into the middle frame, but the Flyers scored twice to take a lead that would ultimately get them into overtime. They generated an 18-7 shots on goal advantage in the second period and a 31-21 edge overall.

The Flyers continue to do enough of everything to win games, and such versatility might just earn them a playoff berth. For all we know, that might even end up battling for a round of home-ice advantage.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Rough night for goalie injuries: Devils’ Schneider, Panthers’ Reimer

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Tuesday could end up being a tough night when it comes to goalie injuries.

  • The New Jersey Devils have already been struggling, but this high-offense/shaky-defense mix could really crumble without a healthy Cory Schneider. That’s the concern tonight, as he left the Devils’ game against the red-hot Boston Bruins with a lower-body injury.

The Devils were already dealing with Keith Kinkaid being sidelined with a groin issue, so Ken Appleby is taking over, and likely absorbing some outstanding jokes about chain restaurants and/or cheap appetizers.

  • On a similar note, the Florida Panthers were already waiting as Roberto Luongo heals up, and now James Reimer is dealing with something during tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars. While footage of Schneider laboring after moving laterally is not yet available, here’s a GIF of Reimer being shaken up:

Reimer cooled off in January, but he helped keep the Panthers’ playoff hopes at least on life support in December, going 7-3-3 with a sparkling .932 save percentage during that month.

Both the Panthers and Devils were already dealing with some struggles, so possibly being down to the third goalies on their depth charts wouldn’t help matters. Each squad has to hope that their goalies are only dealing with minor issues.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders could play quite a bit at Nassau Coliseum in future (Report)

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The New York Islanders need to wait for what sounds like a better home arena situation at Belmont Park, but in the meantime, why not make a lot of people by finding a happy medium?

Newsday’s Jim Baumbach cites anonymous sources who indicate that the Islanders could end up becoming quite a presence back at Nassau Coliseum from 2018-19 to whenever the Belmont Park arena is ready (Baumbach indicates that would be no earlier than the 2021-22 season).

It sounds like there would be some mixture of Brooklyn (Barclays Center) and Long Island (Nassau Coliseum) dates in this setup. Baumbach reports that talks point to about 12 games at Nassau Coliseum in 2018-19; if that test run goes well, the Islanders could play about half of their home games at their former longtime home on Long Island.

While Baumbach reports that there are certain details that need to be hashed out, an official announcement may come soon.

Baumbach adds this interesting detail that indicates that quite a few parties would love to see more games at Nassau, and not just a significant portion of Isles fans:

Interesting.

On paper, an NHL team in Brooklyn sounded wonderful, but Barclays Center simply wasn’t built with hockey in mind. There have been plenty of complaints about ice quality, obstructed views, and challenges for fans trying to get to games.

That said, it’s interesting that the Islanders have been pretty strong at home so far in 2017-18, going 13-7-3 as of this writing.

If you ask a lot of Islanders fans, the dream is probably to see a lot more of John Tavares, preferably at Nassau Coliseum. Time will tell what happens with their big star, but the locale part might work out for fans.

It almost makes you want to start up a “Yes!” chant, doesn’t it?

(H/T to The Score.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

How will Bruins handle loss of Charlie McAvoy?

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Monday brought rough news for the red-hot Boston Bruins: sensational rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy will miss at least two weeks after undergoing a procedure to treat an abnormal heartbeat.

As you can see in the video above, Keith Jones and Anson Carter discussed McAvoy’s absence, believing that the Bruins will be able to handle it reasonably well.

Tuesday represents the first test, as the B’s take on the New Jersey Devils in a game that’s currently in progress. It’s unclear how much it has to do with McAvoy not being in the lineup, but early on Boston is struggling on defense.

Via Left Wing Lock, it looks like Brandon Carlo slides into the top pairing with Zdeno Chara, while the other pairings look like this:

Chara — Carlo

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid

Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Now, Bruce Cassidy deserves credit for taking Claude Julien’s move to a more modern system in 2016-17 to a new level this season, and players like Krug and Carlo boast some promise.

That said, McAvoy’s beyond-his-age impact might be slipping under the radar. So far this season, only Chara (23:26 per game) is averaging more ice time than McAvoy (22:48), with Krug coming in at a distant third of 20:01. McAvoy’s possession stats have, honestly, been pretty brilliant.

While McAvoy undoubtedly benefits from the presence of Chara and what Jones (persuasively) argues is the best offensive line in hockey in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, other blueliners haven’t been this brilliant even while receiving such a plum gig. Via this handy tool from CJ Turtoro using Corey Sznajder’s data, you can see that McAvoy has been a beast in transition and in denying opponents entry into his zone:

In other words, McAvoy is off the charts for a 20-year-old by most measures, including a healthy 25 points in 45 games this season. If the Calder Trophy was friendlier to defensemen, he’d probably be getting more hype as one of the best rookies in the NHL.

You don’t have to use “for a rookie” or “for a 20-year-old” qualifiers with McAvoy, though. He’s an important piece by any measure.

Even if McAvoy’s numbers are quite inflated – again, plausible with Chara still being really good – the Bruins could feel the sting from a depth standpoint. Guys who maybe should be in street clothes instead get foisted into the lineup. Someone better suited for a mid-level role might be asked to do too much.

McAvoy is expected, at least initially, to only miss two weeks, which would mean missing somewhere between 5-7 games the way Boston’s schedule falls. Of course, this is a heart-related procedure we’re talking about, so the Bruins need to proceed with caution if the young skater experiences setbacks.

If it’s only two weeks, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal; it might just give the Bruins a chance to realize just how pivotal he’s been in their rise from a team fighting for its playoff life to something more.

Update: The Bruins extended their point streak to 17 games, winning 3-2. Tuukka Rask was forced to make 37 saves, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.