Call it the Thursday tire pump.
In advance of tonight’s big tilt with the Sharks, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma offered some high praise to the visitors from San Jose.
“With all due respect to Chicago, [San Jose] is the best team in the league right now,” Bylsma said on Thursday, as per Pens Inside Scoop. “They way they come at you, the way they play — I think [they’re] the best team in the league.”
San Jose currently sits second in the NHL in points (43), one back of first place Chicago but with two games in hand. In an ironic twist, it was a deflating loss to the ‘Hawks that kickstarted the Sharks’ recent hot streak — following a 5-1 loss at the United Center on Nov. 17, San Jose has ripped off six straight victories, including Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Toronto.
The victory over the Leafs started off the Sharks’ road trip well. They’ll continue on through Pittsburgh (tonight), Carolina (Friday) and Minnesota (Sunday) before returning home for a pair — then it’s back onto the road through Nashville (Dec. 14), St. Louis (Dec. 17) and Los Angeles (Dec, 19, though it really isn’t much of a road game.)
The Sharks have been getting contributions from all over lately, but the captain is really leading the charge. Joe Thornton has goals in three of his last four and now has 30 points through 27 games, leading the team while putting him in a tie for eighth in NHL scoring.
Thornton is on pace for 91 points this season, which would be his highest total since scoring 96 with the Sharks in 2007-08.
Related: Malkin (lower body) to miss tonight’s game versus Sharks
Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.
You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.
Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:
Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.
Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.
For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.
Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.
Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.
Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?
Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.
Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.
Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.
This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.