Both the Los Angeles Kings and the Tampa Bay Lightning come into tonight’s game (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) on streaks of a different kind.
The Lightning are winners of six out of their last seven games and that run has them thinking about the playoffs once again. While they’re 11th in the Eastern Conference, they’re 10 points behind eighth place Ottawa. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the teams they need to jump over to catch up to Ottawa are all in their division as they’re three behind Winnipeg and seven back of Washington.
Leading the charge for the Lightning are the usual suspects. Martin St. Louis netted a hat trick in the Lightning’s last win while Vincent Lecavalier is a 20-goal scorer once again and Steve Stamkos continues to be the NHL leader in goals.
Offense has never been Tampa’s issue, however, but they’ve gotten steadier goaltending of late from Mathieu Garon and with a host of their injured defensemen and other forwards returning, the Lightning are in a good spot right now.
The Kings’ streak is a bit different of late as they too have gotten points in the standings, but many of those thanks to overtime or shootout losses. L.A. is hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak tonight and they’re desperate to see their offense return. Over their last 10 games (4-3-3) they’ve scored just 21 goals and been shutout only once in that span. That’s not getting it done for anyone.
While goalie Jonathan Quick has been brilliant at times, the Kings need more offensively from Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown. With Simon Gagne out of action with a concussion the Kings’ defense has tried to step up with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. With all those issues, you’d never know that Los Angeles was seventh in the Western Conference. Should the Kings ever start scoring goals, they’ll be a bear to deal with in the postseason.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.