We wrote yesterday about the concerns Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has with his team, which despite an impressive 6-1-0 record has struggled to gain consistent puck possession this season.
This post isn’t so much about the Leafs as their latest victim, the Wild. But it’s all related.
In case you missed it, Toronto beat Minnesota, 4-1, on Tuesday while getting outshot by a huge margin, 37-14.
For the Wild, it was a tough result to take; however, their overall good performance didn’t go unnoticed by the head coach of tonight’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Said Jon Cooper, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “I look at the score – the 4-1 loss to Toronto – and I’m sitting there thinking in my head, ‘Toronto’s rolling and Minnesota must have ran into a buzz saw.’ And then I watched the game and I can’t believe the score wasn’t reversed at worst. … They’re extremely structured, they battled hard all through their lines and I think they have some guy on defense there that plays 75 minutes in a 60-minute game (Ryan Suter). He’s just a horse back there. It’s pretty impressive to watch. Pretty impressed with their team. There’s a lot of structure and they play really hard, so this is going to be a tough one for us tonight.”
If you believe what the so-called advanced stats (which really aren’t too advanced if you take the time to learn about them) say, the Wild have been one of the better teams in the NHL this season. In fact, the advanced stats say Minnesota is right up there with San Jose, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
At any rate, Josh Harding will get the start in goal for Minnesota (3-2-2) tonight. The Wild’s goaltending hasn’t been great overall (team save percentage of .889), which may help explain why they’ve lost some games they could have won. Harding has been very good though, with a save percentage of .952 in five appearances.
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: