If you can only watch one hockey game tonight, you probably wouldn’t go wrong picking the St. Louis Blues (14-3-3) at the Boston Bruins (14-6-1).
Both teams come into the matchup on a hot stretch. Boston’s won five of its last six; St. Louis’ entire season has been a hot stretch, really.
We’re hesitant to call this a possible Stanley Cup Final preview, given so many East-West matchups could qualify as that in today’s NHL, but it wouldn’t be untrue. And what a Final that could be — two big, tough teams that don’t mind getting their noses dirty, but also boast their share of talent.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Blues’ team from previous editions, it’s the ability to put the puck in the net at a high rate. St. Louis has the No. 2-ranked offense in the NHL, averaging 3.40 goals per game, and led by Alexander Steen’s 17 tallies. Last season, the Blues averaged 2.38 goals per game.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Bruins’ team from previous editions, it may be rookie defenseman Torey Krug, a dynamic offensive threat on the back end who has 12 points in 21 games. The 22-year-old has his issues defensively, but his offense makes up for those, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“I think you just let him play,” Julien told NHL.com. “His game offensively is almost a natural part of it, so you let him do that stuff. I don’t think there’s too many times where he makes bad decisions up front. If he does, it’s going to happen once in a while. There’s always a risk and reward; you want to minimize that risk. That’s what you want to do. But right now I think he’s doing well offensively, so I’m certainly not going to take that part of his game away from him.”
Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.
All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.
“It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.
“Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”
L.A. maintain an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.
The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.
P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.
Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.
Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.
The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.
Shane Doan on Friday scored his 20th goal of the season, and tied a historical mark for the initial Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise in the process.
Doan scored in the first period against the Calgary Flames, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history with 929.
Now 39 years old, Doan has spent his entire career with that organization, playing one season in Winnipeg before the organization moved to Phoenix.
He also joined another impressive list, too.
Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.
But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.
The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.
He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.
He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.
The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.
Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.
Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.