PROVIDENCE, RI — Nino Niederreiter’s season in the AHL has been a great one. He’s top-three in the league in goals with 19 and 12th in the league in points. That sort of production made it a surprise when the Islanders didn’t invite him to training camp and made it almost no surprise he asked to be traded.
At the AHL All-Star Game in Providence, Niederreiter, 20, talked about his awkward situation with the Islanders. When I asked if not getting an invite to training camp after putting up such big numbers in the AHL was what frustrated him most, he opened up about it.
“It was really frustrating,” Niederreiter said. “I had a really tough season last year. I wasn’t playing much, I played low minutes and obviously it wasn’t the game I wanted to play. I still learned a lot, I was really happy to have that chance to play a full season in the NHL already.
“This summer I was working hard and I was trying to prepare myself for the next chance and it was frustrating I didn’t get the chance but that’s out of my control.”
Last season, Niederreiter played in 55 games with the Isles and scored just one goal and no assists while putting up an incredible -29 plus-minus while averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game. Comparing that with what he’s done in the AHL so far would seem to indicate major improvement and a leading reason why the Isles don’t want to deal him.
When it comes to things being out of his control, you can put “what his agent says to Swiss newspapers” in that category as well. After an interview surfaced with his agent telling a Swiss outlet that the trade request was his idea, Niederreiter made it clear he’s controlling what he can do himself.
“I’m trying to focus on what I can control and what I can control is on the ice. The rest I leave for my agent. Whatever he think is best for me he should just do that.”
With injuries and poor play from others being likely through the rest of the NHL season, it’s possible Niederreiter will get his chance to show how much he’s improved. From the way he spoke about the situation, he’s eager to prove what he’s all about on the biggest stage.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.