Less than 24 hours after being named the Toronto Maple Leafs new head coach, Randy Carlyle has helped his squad snap a six-game losing streak. Toronto, who slipped all the way down to 12th place in the Eastern Conference prior to Saturday’s game, earned a 3-1 victory over the rival Montreal Canadiens.
Although goaltending was a big issue for Toronto last month, that certainly wasn’t the case for them on Saturday. Jonas Gustavsson was given the first chance to make a good impression on the new bench boss and rose to the occasion. He kicked out 21 of 22 shots to earn his first victory since Jan. 21.
Toronto outshot the Canadiens in every period, but things got far more lopsided in the final 20 minutes with the Leafs getting 17 shots to Montreal’s five. Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and ended his 14-game goal scoring drought in the process. Grabovski also got the lone assist on Matt Frattin’s sixth goal of the season.
On the Canadiens side of thing, Carey Price saved 39 shots, but he still ended up with his fifth loss in his last six starts. Meanwhile, David Desharnais registered an assist to extend his point streak to four games.
Toronto has to get hot if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs and that’s a tall order given their upcoming opponents. Toronto will play against Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington next week. Anything less than three wins in those four games will likely be seen as a setback that the Leafs can ill afford at this point in the season.
For Montreal, their chances of making the playoffs have come and gone. Although they are not mathematically out of the race, they have no realistic shot of going from last to eighth place in the Eastern Conference in the final month of the season.
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.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF 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.
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.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)