Tomas Vokoun, Chris Kunitz

Sunday on NBC: Streaking Penguins look to keep the Capitals down

3 Comments

This isn’t quite the Penguins-Capitals game we were expecting when the year began — when the two teams square off at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC), it won’t be a battle between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Instead, it’s about Evgeni Malkin carrying the Penguins on his shoulders against a Caps team looking to stay on top of the Southeast — and a rivalry that’s still heated, no matter what.

The Pens roll into this game on a five game winning streak, and a lot of that is thanks to Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin’s play this season without Crosby and Jordan Staal around is nothing short of amazing. Malkin has always been a superstar, but the work he’s putting in — jumping to the top of the NHL points leaderboard, making sure the Pens don’t lose their way while they’re swamped with injuries — is incredible.

Malkin having 24-goal-scorer James Neal riding shotgun with him on his line gives the Pens a nice one-two punch. With Kris Letang back in action after being out with a concussion, the Penguins have a bit more balance on defense and with Marc-Andre Fleury in goal, they’re never easy to beat. Coach Dan Bylsma has kept everything together in the face of injury disaster and, with guys slowing getting back to action, Pittsburgh’s shaping up to be a threat in the East.

For Washington, Ovechkin’s season hasn’t been nearly as mind-blowing. With how he compares to Malkin, you could argue that Ovechkin isn’t even the best Russian player in this game. Without Nicklas Backstrom to help set him up, Ovechkin will have to hope that his newest right wing, Troy Brouwer, can provide more of the snarl the Caps have lacked in the past to help them grind through games.

Getting improved play from their defense and goaltending would go a long way to helping the Caps. When Tomas Vokoun has been sharp, he’s looked outstanding. (Then there are other times when they’re losing to the Islanders and Hurricanes 3-0.) Without Mike Green (sports hernia) the Caps defense lacks both a real defensive stopper and an offensive weapon.

After going 4-4-0 in their last eight games, the Caps are still looking for consistency. The Pens would love nothing more than to continue their own streak and keep the Caps and coach Dale Hunter doubtful about how the team’s season will play out.

PHT Morning Skate: It’s not like they robbed a bank

2 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”

Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)

Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)

What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)

What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)

Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)

On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

1 Comment

The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

25 Comments

The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

22 Comments

The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.