The Toronto Maple Leafs could be in for a rough ride tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the two face off at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The Leafs head into tonight’s game feeling banged up after their physical loss to Boston last night and, oh yeah, the Penguins will be jacked up after they unveil Mario Lemieux’s statue outside the arena before tonight’s game.
Toronto comes in having seen Joffrey Lupul, Matt Lombardi, and Colby Armstrong all find different ways to get hurt in last night’s game. One face we won’t see called up from the NHL is former Leafs first round pick Nazem Kadri. Instead, it sounds like newly acquired prospect Carter Ashton is on his way into town to give the Leafs a new, warm body.
Possibly going without Lupul means that the Leafs lose one of their top two scorers meaning Phil Kessel will need to do the heavy lifting tonight against Pittsburgh. It’s an unenviable task for the goal scoring leader on a team that’s desperate to stay relevant to the playoff race.
On the flip side, Pittsburgh has a lot of great news on its horizon. Yesterday saw that Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact in practice and the clock begins as to when we’ll see him back on the ice in a game. Figuring that he’ll be back in time for the start of the playoffs should make everyone in the East nervous. Adding him to a lineup that sees Evgeni Malkin lining up to be one of the Hart Trophy finalists as well as seeing Marc-Andre Fleury having a huge season of his own and you have a Penguins team that’s relishing in positive news.
While the Pens still have an issue with Kris Letang being out with concussion-like symptoms, the way they’re constructed right now makes them a very dangerous team and one that the playoff-hopeful Leafs would rather not be dealing with at the moment. Even more so on a night where they’re honoring the Hall of Fame owner.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.
(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)
You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …
… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.
Update: Did Hamilton picture all the negative headlines and harness that energy for a greater good? He scored the game-tying goal as Calgary upset Dallas 4-3 via a shootout.
It remains to be seen if the Ottawa Senators can avoid losing against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, but either way, it’s been a costly night.
The Senators saw two forwards leave the game with injuries, as Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad were banged up on Tuesday.
Michalek may have gotten hurt blocking a shot while a Radko Gudas hit on Zibanejad left the Senators forward with an upper-body injury.
Gudas may get a call from the league for his infractions.
Update: Michalek’s issue could be significant.
The Flyers ended up beating the Senators 4-2, so a tough night for Ottawa.