The new-look Sabres wasted no time recovering from their first defeat of the season as they traveled to Pittsburgh and beat the Penguins 3-2. Saturday’s game was the second game of a back-to-back situation that started with a 4-3 loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes. Against the Penguins, the Sabres wasted no time as they jumped out to 2-0 lead by the end of the 1st period. The teams traded a pair of goals before Jordan Staal shaved the lead to a single goal with about five minutes left. The Penguins threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Sabres goal in the final minute, but Buffalo narrowly escaped with the regulation win.
The win improves the Sabres’ record to 3-1 on the young season—all three wins coming away from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. This game was big for a few different reasons for the Sabres though. They wanted to get back to their winning ways, wanted to beat a team that should be battling with them at the end of the season for playoff positioning, as well as taking advantage of a shorthanded opponent. Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff shared after the game:
“We wanted to win this game bad. You get an opportunity to play a team without a couple of their star players, you’ve got to start taking advantage of it.”
Not a bad result for a team playing their back-up netminder.
On the other side of the rink, the loss dropped the Penguins to 3-1-2 on the young season. The first regulation loss certainly had its positives though. James Neal’s second period goal was his 5th of the season putting him in a tie for the league’s lead. The lucky bounce off of defenseman Robyn Regehr’s stick is just the latest in a charmed week for the former Stars forward. This is the goal scoring power forward GM Ray Shero thought he was getting when he acquired Neal from Dallas for promising defenseman Alex Goligoski. What will he be able to do when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are back in the lineup?
The game was the final contest of an underwhelming 3-game homestand. Next, the Pens head back to Canada for their fourth game above the border in the early part of October. At least they’ll be able to rack-up those frequent flier miles and pack away the passports early in the season.
The San Jose Sharks 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night was not only the end of their 2016-17 season, it could have also been the end of an era.
With veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, their future with the team remains uncertain, and neither one seemed prepared to talk about it in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s defeat.
Sharks forward Logan Couture was asked if he wants to see the two players return next season and made it pretty clear that he does.
“You’re asking a guy who’s played with those guys for eight years,” said Couture, via Paul Gackle of the Mecrury News. “I love those guys. They play hard. If you guys only knew what they play through. The respect level that I have for those two guys is just through the roof.”
There are a number of variables that are going to play a role in whether or not the two leading scorers in franchise history will be back.
Along with their willingness to return is the fact that both players will be entering their age 38 seasons and already showed some signs of slowing down this season. How much cap space are the Sharks going to be willing to invest in the duo when they already have $55.7 million in salary cap space committed to 16 players for next season, especially given their ages.
If this does turn out to be the end for Thornton and/or Marleau in San Jose their time will be remembered more for not winning a Stanley Cup and probably not for how much success they have actually had on the ice, both individually and as a team. Not only have Thornton and Marleau been two of the NHL’s best and most productive players over the past decade, but the Sharks have been one of the NHL’s best teams. Since the 2005-06 season, when Thornton first arrived in San Jose, the Sharks have won a league best 547 regular season games (11 more than the team with the second-most wins, the Pittsburgh Penguins) while their 64 playoff wins are tied for the fourth most (Anaheim Ducks) behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit Red Wings.
It is a win or go home situation for the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, as both teams enter their respective Game 6s facing elimination in their first-round playoff series’.
The Bruins need to beat the Ottawa Senators to force a Game 7 on Tuesday night, while the Toronto Maple Leafs need a win to extend their series against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals to a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.
Both games will be shown on the NBC Networks and streamed online.
Here is all of the information you need for Sunday’s games.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)
The Boston Bruins will once again be without forward David Krejci on Sunday afternoon when they face the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series, coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed.
It will be the third game that Krejci has missed in the series due to a lower-body injury.
Matt Beleskey, who has only played in two of the first five games of the series, will draw into the lineup in his place.
Krejci’s absence still leaves the Bruins shorthanded as they are still without defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. Cassidy said on Sunday that Krug has resumed skating but is still not ready to return to the lineup.
The Senators have a couple of lineup questions of their own. Forward Viktor Stalberg is a game-time decision, while Guy Boucher is making one change on defense with Chris Wideman coming out of the lineup for Fredrik Claesson.
The Los Angeles Kings moved fairly quickly when it comes to replacing Darryl Sutter, and they did not have to go very far to do it.
The Kings announced on Sunday that John Stevens will take over as the team’s next head coach. The team will have a press conference on Monday.
Stevens has been an assistant coach with the Kings since the start of the 2010-11 season and spent four games as an interim head coach with the team during the 2011-12 season after Terry Murray was fired, and before Sutter was hired. Following the arrival of Sutter, Stevens went back to his role as an assistant, remaining in that position until now.
“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,” general manager Rob Blake said in a statement released by the team.
“I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”
Prior to his time with the Kings, Stevens served as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers between 2006-07 and 2009-10, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007-08 season.
He has a 122-111-34 record as an NHL head coach.
The fact the Kings are promoting from within (something they already did with the general manager role) is a pretty clear sign that even though they are seeking a different direction, they are maybe not quite prepared to go through a complete teardown of the organization.
They have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons, and have not won a postseason series since 2014.