St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals

Hunter rips Vokoun: “He wasn’t as sharp as he should have been…we need good goaltending”

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For the second straight game — this time, in a 5-2 loss to Ottawa — Washington head coach Dale Hunter yanked his starting goalie, Tomas Vokoun, before the second period had let out.

But this time Hunter took things a step further, ripping his goalie’s play in the postgame presser.

“Tomas would like a few of them back,” Hunter said of Vokoun, who allowed four goals on 11 shots. “He wasn’t as sharp as he should have been, and it’s in the back of our net.”

“We need some big stops early that’s part of the game and tonight we played a good, solid road game and we lose. Goaltending is a big part of the game and we need good goaltending.”

While the 35-year-old netminder has struggled over his last two starts, it’s not entirely indicative of his play this year. Heck, it’s not even indicative of his play in February.

In eight games this month Vokoun is 3-4-1, but has posted two shutouts and boasts a .927 save percentage. Outside of the two latest debacles against Carolina and Tampa Bay you could argue he’s been one of Washington’s better performers this month — he hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a single contest (save the Sens game) and posted 30-save and 42-save shutouts in Montreal and Florida.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Vokoun is represented by player agent Alan Walsh.

And just in case you’re wondering some more — yes, Walsh responded to Hunter’s criticisms.

“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh said in a text to the Washington Post. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss.

“Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”

Good times in Washington, hey?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.