Chicago Blackhawks v New York Rangers

Rangers’ slump continues, Blackhawks stay hot with win


Perhaps the lesson of the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers’ diverging paths is that just about every good team faces its fair share of slumps and hot streaks, so it’s wrong to get too bent out of a shape if they’re still contending.

If you stopped paying attention, it would seem like the Rangers would be the ones who were carrying momentum into tonight’s clash in Chicago, but that wasn’t the case – and the pattern continued with the Hawks’ 4-3 win.

Streaky city

Chicago’s been remarkably streaky this season, but that’s been especially true since the New Year rolled around:

Jan. 2-8: 0-3-1
Jan. 10-20: 5-0-1
Jan. 21 – Feb. 14: 0-8-1
Feb. 16-21: 4-0-0
Feb. 23-26: 0-3-0
Feb. 29 – March 8: 4-1-0

Yup, it doesn’t get much more hot-and-cold as that. On the bright side, the Blackhawks are fairly comfortably placed as the sixth seed, which might honestly be the best draw they’re capable of. (See this article for a further explanation.)

Rotten apples

New York hasn’t been anywhere near as inconsistent, but things have been declining to the point that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a serious threat to steal the Atlantic Division crown from them.

The Rangers first showed signs of slowdown by losing three out of four (1-2-1) after an impressive 8-1-1 streak, but they seemingly righted the ship with a three-game wining streak to start March on the right foot. That might not be the case after all, though, because New York is now 1-3-1 in a five game run versus playoff-level teams. (Only Tampa Bay is out of the playoff picture in that group.)

Here are highlights from the game:


Again, Chicago should probably be quite happy with where they are right now. Considering how far behind they’ll likely end up being the Blues and Red Wings, the Blackhawks’ ceiling is probably a fourth seed. With that in mind, would they be better off facing Nashville, St. Louis or Detroit in a battle of No. 4 and No. 5 or against whichever flawed team wins the Pacific?

Right now, the Blackhawks can look at the playoffs with plenty of positivity – which might just be in shorter supply in New York.

(Even Henrik Lundqvist is Tweeting sadly about things.)

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer