Thursday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild was a story of two teams on diverging paths.
In Vancouver, there’s plenty of drama surrounding their goaltending situation, but on the ice they can seem to do no wrong lately.
Starting Roberto Luongo — who is supposedly on his way out — in four straight games raised eyebrows, but it worked. Luongo allowed just five goals over that stretch and the Canucks went 3-0-1.
On Thursday, Cory Schneider got his first chance to start in a week and a half and proceeded to turn aside 22 of 23 shots in
Vancouver’s 4-1 victory.
The Minnesota Wild made changes before this contest too. The only difference is that they were the result of poor play and didn’t pay off.
Secondary scoring has been an ongoing issue for Minnesota this season, but lately even its stars haven’t been particularly effective.
Wild coach Mike Yeo tried to
split up the team’s top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. He also made rookie Mikael Granlund a healthy scratch and Devin Setoguchi was sent down to the fourth line.
All the same, the Wild were limited to a single goal for their third straight contest.
“This is a group that I have full confidence in that will pull out of this,” Yeo said, according to the Star Tribune’s
Vancouver now has a 6-2-2 record this season while Minnesota has dropped to 4-5-1.
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after
Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.
Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.
For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime.
Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:
Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible
David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:
Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.
Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.
Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.
Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.
* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”
From the Blues’ side:
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about
Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.
In particular, high-scoring defenseman
Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.
Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:
Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.
Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.
It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.
You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.
It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by
Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.
As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by
Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.
At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.
Martinook was not penalized.
CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.
The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.