Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals

Tomas Vokoun talks about his ‘worst game in five years’

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No doubt about it, Tomas Vokoun’s ugly debut will steal much of the spotlight from the Washington Capitals’ 6-5 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Capitals fans were quick to get on him – even handing out a “Bronx cheer” following a routine save in the third period – but Vokoun might be his biggest critic. He didn’t mince words while discussing a night in which he allowed five goals on 28 shots.

“It was probably my worst game in five years,” Vokoun said. “It just shows how strong this team is. They literally won tonight without goaltending.”

It was certainly up there, although he did make some big saves in overtime and during the shootout. Vokoun allowed five goals (again on 28 shots) in an October loss to the Ottawa Senators last season and had some bloopers in 2009-10.

The thing is, it’s doubtful that Vokoun was lit up on a larger stage with the Florida Panthers and it’s unlikely that even those performances made him look so bad. Combine those less-than-stellar optics with his far-from-firm grip on the Capitals’ starting job and it’s obvious that Vokoun needs to bounce back soon.

At least he’s not playing the role of an oblivious struggling goalie, though. Vokoun will likely face his fair share of tough nights in the playoffs, so this is a good dress rehearsal for that big-time pressure.

Give Vokoun credit for being frank about his struggles, but what really matters is how he responds to this first speed bump. Bruce Boudreau faces the tough choice of when, exactly, he gets to attempt that first rebound, though.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?