The Columbus Blue Jackets remain red-hot and Sergei Bobrovsky remains the main reason why.
The 24-year-old Russian netminder continued his torrid March on Saturday, stopping all 39 Phoenix Coyotes shots – and both shootout attempts – to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 shootout win. (Mike Smith experienced the bittersweet shutout loss, making all 23 saves.)
Columbus is now 6-0-4 in its last 10 games, with “Bob” going 6-0-3 in that span. (Steve Mason dropped a 4-3 OT loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on March 1.)
Bobrovsky now has two shutouts, allowed one goal four times (somehow losing twice after regulation) and allowed two goals once in his hot run. Overall, he has a 9-6-5 record with an outstanding .932 save percentage and 2.00 GAA.
While many believe that this implies a bright future for the Blue Jackets, the present is a surprising consideration, too.
As of this writing, their 28 standings points leaves them just two points behind seventh-ranked Los Angeles (30) and eighth place San Jose (also 30), although both California rivals hold three games in hand. Beating Phoenix was significant in that it keeps the ninth-ranked Coyotes within their grasp at 30 points, as well.
Clearly, Columbus still has a way to go to truly contend for a playoff spot, but teams must take them – and possibly their goalie of the future – seriously for the first time in a long time.
It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.
Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.
At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.
After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.
He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)
The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)
For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)
Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)
Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Vegas favorites to win the 2016 Stanley Cup, but the odds lean toward a San Jose Sharks player capturing the Conn Smythe.
Bovada released a variety of odds on Sunday after others surfaced on Friday.
Joe Pavelski is pegged as a +400 favorite as a winner, edging some other top candidates such as Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Matt Murray.
Here’s the full list:
Logan Couture +500
Martin Jones +600
Brent Burns +700
Joe Thornton +900
Evgeni Malkin +900
Kris Letang +1400
Bovada also released prop bets, including how long the series might last. Check that out here.