Only one NHL game today on this holiday Monday, an afternoon affair in Boston between the Bruins and the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.
First place in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning (12-4-0) head into today’s contest on a four-game winning streak, with seven wins in their last eight.
Pretty good, right? Well, their overall record doesn’t even tell the whole impressive story. Of Tampa Bay’s 12 victories, six have come against the Western Conference, including two over the defending champion Blackhawks and others over winning clubs in St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. In fact, the Lightning are a perfect 6-0-0 against the West, which is especially noteworthy given that conference’s dominance over the East this season.
Perhaps the biggest key to the Lightning’s success? Goalie Ben Bishop, who boasts an 11-2-0 record with a .927 save percentage. Hockey’s most important position had been a weakness for the Lightning in recent seasons; it’s a strength now.
Others making positive impacts for Tampa Bay include free-agent addition Valtteri Filppula and 24-year-old Alex Killorn (who? read about him here). And, of course, there’s Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who’ve combined for 42 points in 16 games.
The Lightning have, however, had trouble with the Bruins this season. Boston took the first meeting on Oct. 3, 3-1, and the next, 5-0, on Oct. 19.
It was a scary sight.
Carlo Colaiacovo fell to his hands and knees after taking a cross-check to the throat from Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson (above).
Arvidsson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, while Colaiacovo suffered a dented trachea on the play.
After the game, both Dan Bylsma and Peter Laviolette agreed that there was no malicious intent on Arvidsson’s part.
“I don’t think there was intent there to maliciously cross-check,” Bylsma said. “They kind of lose the puck, turn and his stick is right at that level and delivers a blow. When you look at it, it’s a pretty stiff cross-check to Carlo’s neck.”
“It was tough for Arvidsson,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think he had any bad intentions. He just ran into somebody and the stick got caught a little bit high, but just a tough turn of events.”
The Sabres defenseman left the game and was treated at a nearby hospital, but there is some good news to report.
According to the Buffalo News, Colaiacovo was released from hospital and he was able to travel to Detroit with his teammates.
It’s unclear how long he’ll be out.
There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.
This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.
Carr has no prior NHL experience.
The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.
In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.
This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.
Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.