The Washington Capitals are in quite the fight to make the playoffs and the Chicago Blackhawks would like nothing more than to add to their misery when the two face off at United Center (7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The Hawks have some motivation of their own as they’re just four points back of the Predators for fifth in the West and five back of fourth.
The Caps were cruising along on a hot streak that saw them win four in a row until they ran into the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. The Caps are just two points up on the Jets and Sabres for eighth and getting back on track with a win would be huge. Leading the way of late for the Caps are Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson. Laich has four goals in the last six games and Johansson has three assists in the last two games.
What about Alex Ovechkin though? In the Caps’ last five games, Ovechkin has three goals and an assist with two of those tallies coming against the Islanders. It’s decent production, but if the Caps are going to make the postseason they’ll need more out of Ovechkin than just his ability to pick stunning upsets in the NCAA tournament.
One guy the Caps will be going without today is Tomas Vokoun as he’s got a nagging injury. Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby will hold things down in the meantime.
Chicago, on the other hand, has started to figure themselves out even without Jonathan Toews in the lineup. While Toews is still battling a concussion, guys like Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp have all elevated their games. The Hawks have been getting solid goaltending as well with Corey Crawford doing his job and it has paid off as Chicago has won six of their last eight games.
There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.
This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.
Carr has no prior NHL experience.
The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.
In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.
This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.
Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.