Chris Kelly, Braden Holtby

Could Braden Holtby give Capitals a Halak-like edge?


Two years ago, the Washington Capitals massively out-shot the Montreal Canadiens but ultimately lost a close series in seven games. By the end, Caps fans must have been cursing the name “Jaroslav Halak,” but after Game 1 against the Boston Bruins, the team might have their closest answer to him in Braden Holtby.

Sure, it’s not a perfect analogy. Halak was fighting with Carey Price for 1a/1b status in Montreal while Holtby’s only played sparingly at the NHL level.

Still, there’s enough for it to make for an interesting potential narrative. Holtby stopped 29 out of 30 shots, which is impressive enough. But much like Halak, Holtby radiated an unmistakable swagger. Tim Thomas collected another shutout in Boston’s 1-0 OT win, but Holtby often stole the show.

Maybe he didn’t seem impenetrable, but there was an eerie, implacable confidence to the way the young netminder was operating. It wasn’t enough to win, obviously, but much like with Halak, the Capitals seemed content to “turtle” in their own zone and hope for the occasional counter-punching opportunity because the Bruins couldn’t solve Holtby.

Honestly, I’m not convinced that is the right strategy for the Capitals to go with, even if they’re playing the role of underdogs. (If you ask me, nine out of 10 hockey underdogs score upset based on less-than-thrilling methods.)

That being said, if Holtby’s Game 1 is a sign of things to come rather than just an intriguing mirage of goaltending, the Bruins might be in for a frustrating series and Washington could have some sincere upset potential.

Here’s a look at what Holtby and Thomas did in Game 1:

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Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?