Yes, Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the Edmonton Oilers tonight, and that will certainly be something to watch. But you know what else deserves a mention? That would be the Oilers’ opponent, the Nashville Predators, who’ve won five of their last six while beating some pretty good teams along the way.
How have they done it?
Well, after a shaky start to his NHL career, Preds goalie Marek Mazanec has settled down and managed to up his save percentage to an impressive .935. The 22-year-old earned his second shutout of the season Wednesday versus the Blue Jackets and is giving Nashville the goaltending it needs in Pekka Rinne’s absence.
The Preds are also scoring some goals, with David Legwand, Craig Smith, and Matt Cullen leading the way up front and captain Shea Weber providing offense from the back end.
“I thought guys were pretty committed,” coach Barry Trotz said after the Columbus game, per The Tennessean. “We know we have some ground to make up here.”
Indeed they do. Despite the 10 points they’ve picked up in their last six games, the Preds are still six points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, with four winnable home games coming up — versus Edmonton, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Carolina — they could make up even more ground over the next week.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.