Reality check? Coyotes end Oilers’ winning streak

The red-hot Edmonton Oilers dropped a 4-2 loss to the almost-as-hot Phoenix Coyotes tonight. So is this a reality check for the upstart Oil? Let’s take a look at some reasons why it might or might not be the case.

Their goaltending was human: Devan Dubnyk allowed three goals on 29 shots while registering a .897 save percentage on Saturday.

It was the wrong human: Sure, Dubnyk was the frontrunner to be the starter going into the 2011-12 season, but Nikolai Khabibulin has been the star so far (and certainly has more skins on the wall). One could argue that the Oilers shouldn’t worry until “The Bulin Wall” starts to show some cracks.

Offensive struggles come into focus: OK, it’s hard to beat up on a team for its limited offense when they haven’t been forced to fill up the net. Still, the Oilers need to improve on their average of 26 shots per game as their magic begins to wear off.

The kids are still more than alright: On the bright side, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to be a favorite for the Calder Trophy. He scored his sixth goal of the season with assists from fellow youngster Jordan Eberle and relative old man Ryan Smyth.

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So what’s the takeaway from that quick exercise? My feeling is that the Oilers cannot expect their goaltending to maintain its unreal start, even if Khabibulin’s return to the NHL’s elite isn’t a mirage. That means Edmonton will need more offense from depth spots, especially if Nugent-Hopkins and other inexperienced players hit a wall.

The fact that their defense is seemingly competent – maybe even very good – is mind blowing, but the simplest numbers hint that their transformation has a chance to continue. If that holds true all season long, then Tom Renney deserves to be at least a finalist for the Jack Adams.

Long story short, it’s not time for Oilers fans to be too concerned, but they might want to put any over-the-top braggadocio on “pause” too.

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

Now, check it out in full motion:

It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.

Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

(Rask it is.)

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Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

“Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”

If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.