Waiver madness has struck and we see two moves you could call “expected” go through.
Montreal claimed Blair Betts from the Philadelphia Flyers. For Montreal it was a no-brainer move as they were in need of a fourth line center to win face-offs and play strong defensive hockey. They’ll get that with Betts as he won just over 50% of his draws last season. Betts also gives Montreal a little bit of size at forward being 6’3″. In case you hadn’t heard, the Habs have a few small-sized forwards.
Philadelphia losing Betts makes for an interesting turn of events there as it likely means that Maxime Talbot will now slot in as the fourth line center. Given that Talbot is making $1.75 million against the cap for the next five years, they’d better hope he becomes a superstar shutdown guy up the middle. It also means that Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn (once he’s recalled from the AHL) will do battle on the third line for bragging rights there. Expect Schenn to win that battle.
The least surprising non-move of the day concerns Sean Avery. Avery cleared waivers and the Rangers are now free to send him to the AHL if need be. It’s also possible that Avery could be brought through on re-entry waivers to see if a team will take him at a discounted price.
With Avery being paid by both the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, if he were to be claimed on re-entry waivers that team would be getting him at a double discount only having to pay 25% of his contract. The Stars still pay half of what Avery is owed while the Rangers would pay half of what he was owed. Having to pay Avery only 25% of what he’s worth might make him attractive to another team.
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style