Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, right, of Russia, slams Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) into the boards during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010. The Capitals defeated the Thrashers 6-4. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
The Colorado Avalanche are one of those teams that’s hard to figure out.
They have plenty of offensive talent on their roster, and going from Patrick Roy to Jared Bednar was supposed to help get the most out of their star players.
But through 23 games, that hasn’t been the case.
Going into Sunday’s action, they find themselves in the basement of the Western Conference with a 9-13-1 record.
“Injuries are no excuse, but it helps to have some of those guys in the lineup,” Bednar said, per the Denver Post. “You’re missing a pair on ‘D.’ I still can’t help but feel we have more to give. .. You still have to stick with it and work through it. That’s the only way you get out of it is to work out of it.”
Colorado had an opportunity to get things on track, but they finished their latest homestand with an 0-4-1 record. Yikes!
One of the biggest problems with this team is that they can’t seem to find the back of the net with any regularity.
No team has scored less times than the Avalanche, who are tied for last with a league-worst 49 goals for. They’ve also been shut out five times already in 2016-17.
“We were awful. I totally get why he did what he did,” forward Matt Duchene said after Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Dallas. “It’s frustrating. We’re just not executing right now. I think we’re overthinking things because we haven’t been winning.
“We’re not playing good hockey right now.”
With Crawford unavailable yesterday, Chicago was forced to look for an emergency backup in the Philly area. Ultimately, they settled on former temple goalie Eric Semborski.
On Sunday, they got their goaltending situation in order, as they recalled Lars Johansson from the AHL.
Johansson, 29, is in his first season in North America. He played the previous 10 years over in Sweden with Mora IK, Vasteras IK and Frolunda HC.
In the AHL, he’s posted a 6-7-1 record with a 2.63 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in 2016-17.
His numbers in the minors might not look good, but Johansson had the best goals-against-average (1.74) in the top league in Sweden last year.
The Blackhawks also sent forward Nick Schmaltz to the minors.
Schmaltz, who was Chicago’s first-round pick in 2014, made the team out of training camp, but has played limited minutes.
The 20-year-old has just one goal and three assists, while averaging 11:46 of ice time in 2016-17.
Playing a larger role with AHL Rockford should be good for his confidence.
After an incredible start to the season, the Canadiens have cooled off a little bit, but they still own an impressive 16-6-2 record.
One of the reasons they’ve hit a rough patch, is because some of their top forwards can’t seem to find the back of the net.
Pacioretty hasn’t looked comfortable all season, and although he tends to be one of the streakier players in the league, he hasn’t put together many great performances in 2016-17 and it seems to be causing some friction in the room.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos is reporting that there’s some tension between Pacioretty and head coach Michel Therrien.
“There’s no indication that Pacioretty wants out of Montreal,” Kypreos said on Saturday. “But it’s clear from a few other teams that they want to watch this situation closely.
“Pacioretty is not being used like a four-time 30-goal scorer by the Montreal Canadiens. There seems to be some friction between Pacioretty and Therrien.”
In the past, Plekanec had been regarded as one of the best two-way players in the game. That’s no longer the case. His slump doesn’t just date back to the start of this year, it can be traced all the way back to 2015-16 (he has two goals in his last 31 games).
But getting back to Pacioretty, it’s interesting that the friction is caused by his utilization because he’s been getting plenty of ice time.
If you look at Montreal’s last 13 games, he’s played at least 18:22 in 10 of those contests. In two of his last four games, he’s played over 20 minutes.
Looking at the way the situation has unfolded from the start of the year, there’s a good chance he’s unhappy about being bounced around from center to center.
As I mentioned before, he’s played with Galchenyuk, Plekanec and he also had a stint with Phillip Danault.
Adding a second line center and another defenseman will be a priority for GM Marc Bergevin, but don’t expect him to sacrifice his captain to get a deal done.
Pacioretty still has two years left on a team-friendly contract that pays him $4.5 million per season.
But hey, the Canadiens have shocked us before.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Phil Kessel scored twice, including one of Pittsburgh’s four goals in the third, and the Penguins rallied to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 on Saturday night.
Nick Bonino, Justin Schultz and Matt Cullen also scored in the third, helping Pittsburgh win back-to-back games for the first time in a month. Marc-Andre Fleury had 28 saves in his second straight start.
Detroit had recorded at least a point in five straight games. Henrik Zetterberg scored his 314th career goal, matching Pavel Datsyuk for seventh in team history, and Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen got the other goals for the Red Wings.
Detroit goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 32 shots in his NHL debut. Coreau was poised early, making a sprawling save on Sidney Crosby in the first five minutes and later denying Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway, but he struggled in the third period.
Bonino’s goal was his second in as many games, and Schultz has two goals and four points in his last three. Malkin had two assists, extending his point streak to a season-high five straight games.
Bonino started the comeback with his third goal at 2:05 of the third. Schultz tied it at 3 at 6:28, beating Coreau with a shot from the point. Kessel then put Pittsburgh ahead to stay when he got a pass from Carl Hagelin and Coreau from the top of the crease.
Cullen was awarded his fifth goal when he was hauled down on his way to an empty net with 41 seconds remaining.
Forward Justin Abdelkader was placed on injured reserve Saturday morning after suffering a knee injury Thursday against Florida. He had four points in six games prior to his injury.
Pittsburgh is the healthiest it has been the entire season. The Penguins activated forward Chris Kunitz from injured reserve Saturday morning after he missed six games with a lower-body injury.
NOTES: Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall played in his 750th game. … Pittsburgh scratched Tom Kuhnhackl to make room for Kunitz in the lineup. Rookie Jake Guentzel also sat for a second straight game. … The Penguins honored the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cup-winning teams, as nearly 40 former players, coaches and team executives attended the morning skate and were recognized during an on-ice ceremony before the game.
Red Wings: Continue a three-game road trip Sunday at the New York Islanders.
Penguins: Complete a three-game homestand Monday against Ottawa.