Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Six

Another big question answered: Lightning hand Dwayne Roloson one-year deal worth $3M

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To some extent, it seemed like Dwayne Roloson couldn’t ever really get a fair shake in the NHL. Roloson fought his way into the NHL after going undrafted, bouncing from the Calgary Flames to the Buffalo Sabres before finding a little stability in Minnesota. That being said, he dealt with an unstable goalie rotation alongside Manny Fernandez with the Wild as Jacques Lemaire pulled the two goalies at the drop of a hat during the team’s only deep playoff run in 2003.

It seemed like Roloson found a real home in Edmonton starting in the 2005-06 season, though. Even so, that stay was tinged with some disappointment too. Roloson was the second most valuable Oilers player behind Chris Pronger during their magical run to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, but he never returned after suffering an injury during Game 1 of that championship series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Roloson played pretty well on some bad Oilers and New York Islanders teams after that brief taste of success, but it seemed like he would finish his career with more “What if?” questions than great memories.

Finding a home in Tampa Bay

That seemed to be the case until the Tampa Bay Lightning’s goalie issues forced them to trade for Roloson midway through the 2010-11 season. He wasn’t a superstar for the Bolts in his 34 regular season games, but he provided them with much-needed stability and occasionally brilliant work leading up to the playoffs.

Of course, you probably know what happened in the postseason. Roloson brought the Lightning to within one win of their second-ever run to the Stanley Cup finals and was brilliant for most of the playoffs, winning 10 games and sporting an outstanding .924 save percentage.

Still, at 41-years-old, there were some questions as to whether the Lightning would stick with their aging netminder. Those questions can be put to rest now that Yzerman and Roloson agreed to an everyone-wins one-year deal worth $3 million. That constitutes a $500K yearly raise from his previous two-year, $5 million contract but the Lightning benefit from the reduced risk of a single season contract.

Roloson still needs a backup

To be honest, the Lightning might not be crazy to re-sign Mike Smith to be his backup, either … if he’s willing to take a substantial pay cut from his previous $2.2 million cap hit. Smith’s puck-moving skills were a nice fit for head coach Guy Boucher’s defensive system, so he might be a decent option for a Bolts team that might not be ready to push Cedrick Desjardins to a backup role next season. Of course, the Lightning could always find another backup, but Smith holds the advantage of being familiar with the franchise and coaching staff.

Either way, the Lightning would be wise to find a goalie who can spell Roloson. At his advanced age, he probably should be limited to 60 starts next season. (It’s not like limiting starts only works for older guys either; Vezina Trophy candidate Roberto Luongo only played 60 games in the 2010-11 regular season and that worked out pretty well for the Vancouver Canucks.)

Yzerman still has a lot of work to do

As we’d discussed a few times already, the Lightning have a lot of questions going into July 1, but they’re starting to knock down questions like a high stakes game of “Guess Who?”. With Roloson, Eric Brewer, Adam Hall and Marc-Andre Bergeron locked up, the Bolts can focus on the mammoth Steven Stamkos re-signing, figuring out what to do with Ted Purcell/Sean Bergenheim and whether or not they want to bring Simon Gagne back.

That’s still a tough set of decisions, but at least Yzerman answered what might have been the second most important question of a challenging off-season by bringing back Roloson.

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

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For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.