When the Flyers and Capitals tangle in Washington (7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) we’ll see one team looking to keep winning and another to stop the bleeding.
Philadelphia saw their west coast road trip end with the team going 2-2-0 and then get back to winning at home after spanking the Islanders. Things aren’t all joy for the Flyers, however, as they’re without James van Riemsdyk for the next 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Flyers though as Ilya Bryzgalov has looked better of late and they’re still able to get goals from Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell, and Matt Read to keep the offense rolling.
The Flyers are just trying to keep pace in the Atlantic Division as the Rangers and Penguins have pulled ahead of them a bit with the Rangers ahead by 12 points and the Pens by just two. Getting a chance to kick the Capitals while they’re down is the type of situation a team that’s serious about going deep salivates for.
The Capitals thought they were doing things right. They’d won three in a row, they jumped back into the East’s top eight and appeared to have things going the right way. Then they get dumped by the Devils on home ice 5-0 and all the talk from the guys in the room is about how much they stink. You might say the Caps have some confidence problems.
Alex Ovechkin isn’t scoring so much and neither is Alex Semin. Meanwhile, Tomas Vokoun left practice early on Saturday with a nagging injury (he’s day-to-day), the team’s power play is malfunctioning, and the team’s veteran players like Mike Knuble and Roman Hamrlik are in coach Dale Hunter’s dog house. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Sad as it is, the Caps are an extended winning streak away from taking control of the Southeast Division, but with all the issues they’re having it seems like that possibility is forever away. Perhaps a win over Philadelphia can be the thing to finally light a spark under them.
Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.
The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.
He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)
But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.
“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.
“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”
Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)
The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).
Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.
Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.
As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.
Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.
Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”
At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.
The Rangers host Carolina tonight.
Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’
Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.
That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.
On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.
Related: The latest on Price’s injury