Every now and then, a night develops an unmistakable theme. Tuesday, Dec. 27 might be remembered as an evening to forget for three No. 1 goalies. Let’s take a look at the low moments for that trio:
Ottawa Senators should-be franchise goalie Craig Anderson made the Montreal Canadiens offense look like an uncontrollable locomotive, allowing four goals on just seven shots. He only lasted 22:03 minutes before the Senators pulled him in favor of Alex Auld, who turned aside 19 out of 21 in that 6-2 loss.
Toronto Maple Leafs starter James Reimer lasted a little longer than Anderson. Reimer got the hook at the 24:13 mark after giving up three goals on eight shots. Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson was beaten twice himself (16 for 18) as the Florida Panthers topped Toronto 5-3.
The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t yank Ilya Bryzgalov from their net even though he’s likely to blame for a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Breezy was allowed to salvage his numbers a bit – relatively speaking – as he earned 11 saves on five goals allowed. (At one point, Tampa Bay had four goals on just 10 shots.) The Flyers fired twice as many shots on Tampa Bay’s net, but Mathieu Garon was game to the task; Philly could only beat him once on 32 shots.
Update: tonight bothered Bryzgalov to the point that he dropped an f-bomb during a live press conference. Sam Carchidi censored his reaction:
All three teams expect much more from their respective goalies. Reimer has been struggling since he returned from (what just about everyone thought was) a concussion. Many of Anderson’s wins have been the result of great goal support rather than stellar goaltending. We all love Bryzgalov’s one-liners, but no amount of strange comments about tigers and huskies can camouflage the fact that he hasn’t justified the hype.
On the bright side, it can’t really get much worse than it was tonight.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.