Even the most gluttonous gulps of victory won’t satiate John Tortorella enough to cease his yelling, but deep down, he must be delighted with how the New York Rangers are playing right now.
The Rangers topped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 thanks to hard work and opportunism, building themselves a decent lead atop the overall NHL standings and a downright comfy one in the competitive Atlantic Division:
How many people expected the Rangers to generate a six-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 10-point margin of error ahead of the Penguins in early January?
Speaking of the Penguins, their misery wasn’t limited to Marc-Andre Fleury’s brain fart during the Rangers’ final goal.
Jordan Staal needed help off the ice after taking a knee-to-knee hit from former Penguins teammate Mike Rupp. It’s too early to know the severity of the injury, but it certainly didn’t look good. Tortorella disagreed with the minor penalty Rupp received, which seems like a risky endeavor considering the fine he received earlier this week, but the damage could be huge for Pittsburgh.
Whether the doom and gloom rumors regarding Sidney Crosby’s health are dubious or not, those rumblings and the Rangers’ surge make this as tough a time as ever to lose Staal. (About the only good news is that Evgeni Malkin is healthy and on top of his game, which obviously is very good news, but still …)
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the Penguins’ resilience amid star shortages approximately a million times before, but one cannot help but wonder if they’re going to wear down. One thing’s for sure: the Rangers, Flyers and rest of the NHL won’t take it easy on them.
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?