For much of the last month or more, the Boston Bruins’ biggest worry was losing their division lead to the Ottawa Senators. Now there might be concern that the Northeast Division title might not equal the second seed.
That’s because the current third-ranked Florida Panthers absolutely handed it to the Bruins tonight, beating them 6-2. That loss narrows the gap between the two teams to just two points, as Boston has 83 standings points and Florida has 81.
(Sure, the Bruins hold tiebreaker advantages that mean that the Panthers will almost certainly need to finish with one more point to take the second seed, but that doesn’t seem unrealistic right now.)
Of course, the bigger threat is losing the Northeast altogether. Boston has just one point and one game on hand on the Ottawa Senators, with the only good news being that the Sens have struggled a bit recently too (a pedestrian 5-3-2 in their last 10 games).
It might be too easy to point to Tim Thomas’ White House snub as the turning point, but either way, the unorthodox goalie has been struggling – which is especially troubling since Tuukka Rask is far from returning.
Thomas carried an atrocious set of March stats into tonight’s game (.852 save percentage and 3.74 GAA) and allowed six goals on 30 shots against the Panthers.
It’s not fair to lay it all on Thomas’ feet – surely Boston’s offense and defense carry plenty of blame – but the bottom line is that the Bruins need to figure things out fast or their mid-season domination will be nothing but a distant memory.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.
Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.
It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.
His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:
These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”
Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.
Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.
Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.
It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.
Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.