If you predicted that a Panthers/Blues game would pair two of the hottest teams in the league at any point this season, you could have won some serious money in Las Vegas. But coming into Thursday night’s game, the Florida Panthers were riding a four game winning streak, while the Blues were unbeaten in four straight games since Ken Hitchcock took over ten days ago. The new-look Panthers proved they were no match for the new-look Blues as St. Louis dominated en route to a 4-1 victory.
The Blues are now 4-0-1 under their new head coach. The only blemish since Hitchcock took over was a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs a week ago after giving up a pair of first period goals. In an amazing stat, the Blues haven’t given up any 2nd or 3rd period goals since Hitchcock took over five games ago. St. Louis goaltenders have pitched two shutouts and have only give up four total goals in five games. Any team that can keep the puck out of the net that well is going to be successful.
And people said the NHL game had passed Hitchcock by.
The loss for the Panthers snaps their impressive four game winning streak. The game in St. Louis was their fifth game in five cities and it showed. Despite bombing the Stars earlier in the week 6-0, the Panthers looked like a team that was ready to head home. ““We didn’t have a lot of energy tonight,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “We looked sloppy and we looked slow when we’re not engaged in the game.”
Part of the effort can be attributed to a tough patch of the schedule, but the Blues came out and earned the victory. Now the Panthers can look forward to their four-game homestand that starts this weekend against the Penguins. They’ll hope to rediscover their winning ways against a team that was dominated tonight in Tampa Bay.
It’s unbelievable what Hitchcock has done with the team in such a short time. Their defense makes them look like an elite team and their power play (which was the worst in the league), looks like its improved from “embarrassing” to “adequate.” Hitch’s boys will look to continue their hot start against another surprising team: the Minnesota Wild.
Can they win their fourth straight?
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal:
The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.
It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).
He’s considered day-to-day at this point.
Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.
“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.
“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”
After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.
According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.
Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.
At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.
Can they top that? Time will tell.
Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.
Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.
Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.
The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.