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Total penalty minutes in tonight’s Buffalo-Boston game (Over/under 69.5)
The Sabres have to make a physical statement. Failing to respond is not an option. The bare minimum would be for one of them to challenge Milan Lucic to a fight. However, I have a hard time believing that will be it. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff racked up over 1,200 PIM in his NHL career. He must’ve been absolutely mortified by his team’s indifference 11 days ago. The coach will expect a response tonight. The fans will expect a response tonight. Forget all this talk about the Sabres being a soft team. They’re still hockey players. I’m predicting multiple fights and misconducts. Take the over.
Odds Sidney Crosby wins the Hart Trophy (+800)
Earlier this week, an online sports book was offering these odds for real. They’ve since been pulled from the board. Probably because everyone hammered them. Crosby could easily win the Hart. First of all, he’s really good and there’s three quarters of a season left. Secondly, who else is going to win it? Phil Kessel? You’ll be excused for doubting he can stay Hart-worthy all season. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Hart Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. With all the attention concussions have been receiving in the media, if Crosby can come back and dominate like he’s done in the past, well, that’s a tempting sentimental vote right there. Will Crosby win the Hart? Probably not. Is 8/1 enough to make the risk worthwhile? Absolutely.
Goals for Alex Ovechkin in 2011-12 (Over/under 32.5)
He scored 32 last season, thus the line. At the moment he’s on pace for 30. I’ll take the over though. The reason being, if Ovechkin continues to struggle, a coaching change becomes even more likely. And if a coaching change occurs, the new guy won’t be playing Ovechkin 18 minutes a game. Chances are he’ll let No. 8 off his leash and let him do his thing. Obviously there’s a chance Bruce Boudreau will survive and Ovechkin will keep playing the way he’s playing. It’s just hard to bet Ovi can’t score 26 goals in his next 63 games.
WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.
Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.
Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.
Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.
A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.
Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.
“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”
The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.
Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.
Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.
“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.
Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.
The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.
The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.
In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.
Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.
In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.
Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.
Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.
The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.
Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.
Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.
Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games and were unable to secure a playoff spot Thursday.