There’s no shortage of reasons why Brandon Dubinsky wants to forget the 2011-12 regular season.
The Rangers forward started the campaign with a 14-game goalless drought, dropping from the second to fourth line in the process. In November, he drew headlines for calling Philadelphia’s Jody Shelley a “terrible hockey player.” At February’s trade deadline, he was rumored to be part of a package deal for Columbus’ Rick Nash and after the deal didn’t go through, he found himself in John Tortorella’s doghouse after taking a series of bad penalties.
He finished the year with just 10 goals and 34 points, way off last year’s career highs of 24 and 54.
No surprise, then, that Dubinsky wants to start anew when the Rangers take on the Senators in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“In all reality it’s been a nightmare of a year for me,” Dubinsky told the New York Times. “You have expectations for yourself and when you don’t meet those expectations, it weighs and it kind of builds — it continues to build and build and build. It’s tough. But this is a great opportunity for me, and it’s a clean slate.
“The guys around me have picked me up and have played well enough to put us in a great position to have home-ice advantage. That gives me a little extra motivation to come out and make an impact.”
Though his postseason experience is somewhat limited, Dubinsky’s been a great playoff performer for the Rangers. He has 15 points in 22 career games and the New York Post’s Larry Brooks said he was the team’s best forward in a five-game loss to the Capitals.
While Tortorella has been hard on the 26-year-old this season, he knows he’ll need Dubinsky to step up this postseason.
“This is an important time for him, because Dubie cares,” Tortorella said. “I think he really wants to try to help the team. He’s a type of player in the playoffs that can get us to the next level.”
The Calgary Flames had the league’s worst power play at just four per cent coming into Monday’s game against Chicago.
The Blackhawks had the league’s worst penalty kill at just 42.9 per cent, which is also awful, although their issues go deeper than that aspect.
So, of course special teams played an important role in this game. Despite their previous struggles with the advantage, the Flames scored twice on the power play, on goals from Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, taking their turn capitalizing on Chicago’s early-season difficulties short handed.
The Flames finished two-for-five on the power play, giving them three power play goals in 30 opportunities so far. They jumped all the way to 27th in the league in that category (!!) at 10 per cent. The Blackhawks have given up 14 power play goals against on 26 chances.
This is not the company you’d expect the Blackhawks to be keeping.
The Blackhawks did come back to force overtime, but they ultimately lost 3-2 in the shootout.
Former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the deciding breakaway contest, giving Calgary the win.
While the Flames power play came alive for this game, the play of goalie Brian Elliott was significant.
He, too, had struggled mightily with three losses in three starts, and a .839 save percentage, prompting his former teammate Jake Allen to say Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Elliott despite his dreadful start.
Against Chicago, Elliott made 31 saves on 33 shots and then made five saves in the seven-round shootout.
The Montreal Canadiens took a chance on Alexander Radulov.
The cost? One year at $5.75 million, which is a significant investment for a 30-year-old player with plenty of talent but past off-ice discipline issues. So far, Radulov has been a welcomed addition to a Habs lineup that needed a skilled forward capable of putting up good numbers and taking a top-six role.
The success — or lack of — for the Habs will always focus around the play and health of goalie Carey Price.
But Radulov is off to a nice start to the season, which should provide some optimism for Canadiens fans after a disappointing 2015-16 season and the tumultuous summer that followed.
He entered Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with two points in five games, but had solid puck possession numbers. Against the Flyers, he was once again a central figure for the Habs on the attack.
And the production followed.
He had a three-point night, setting up Shea Weber‘s goal in the second period — Weber’s slap shot busted the stick of Brayden Schenn and still had enough to get by goalie Steve Mason — and Brendan Gallagher for the eventual winner late in the third period.
Radulov then secured the win with an empty-net goal, giving him five points in six games. The Habs, following their 3-1 win over the Flyers, remain the only team in the league without a regulation loss.
Radulov entered the season as a potential X-factor for the Habs.
General manager Marc Bergevin received plenty of criticism for trading P.K. Subban. But so far, the returns from signing Radulov have been promising for the Habs.
In case you didn’t know by now, here is more evidence that Shea Weber possesses a devastating slap shot.
The Montreal Canadiens defenseman on Monday scored his second goal of the season, once again deploying his shot from the blue line. This time, he ripped a shot that busted the stick of Brayden Schenn, who was trying to get into the shooting lane, and still had enough behind it to beat Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason.
That gave the Habs the lead.
The Flyers responded later on in the second period on Jakub Voracek‘s third goal of the season.
Christian Ehrhoff is finally under contract for this season, but not in the NHL.
Ehrhoff, 34, signed with Kolner Haie in Germany, the team announced via Twitter on Monday.
Most recently, Ehrhoff was with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout (PTO) prior to the beginning of the season, but he opted not to sign with that club, instead deciding to return home to Germany.
Ehrhoff also suited up for Team Europe at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.
In 789 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman scored 74 goals and 339 points. His most productive seasons came with the Vancouver Canucks, as he helped that team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.