Patric Hornqvis

Get your game notes: Predators at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Nashville Predators starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Predators (6-0-3) are one of only two NHL teams that have not lost in regulation by one goal this season (Phoenix, 7-0-5). However, their average margin of defeat in 14 regulation losses (3.071) is the worst in the league. (Elias Sports Bureau)

— The Central Division has a 24-11-3 record in head-to-head matchups vs. the Metropolitan Division this season. Over half of the regulation losses have come from the Predators, who are 2-6-1 vs. Metro teams. (The other six teams are a combined 22-5-2.)

— The Predators and Rangers come into tonight’s game both averaging 2.23 goals per game (T-4th fewest in the NHL). No team has been shut out this season as many times as Nashville (six), but the Rangers and three other teams (Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Buffalo) are right on the Preds’ heels, having each been held without a goal in five games.

— The Rangers are in game three of a franchise-record nine-game, 17-day home stand through Dec. 23. The “Blueshirts” are 1-5-1 in their last seven games at Madison Square Garden. The last time they took three or fewer points over a seven-game stretch on home ice was Nov. 21-Dec. 16, 2009 (also 1-5-1).

— Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has allowed four goals in each of the last two games (0-1-1 record). Only twice in his career, regular season or playoffs, has Lundqvist allowed four or more goals in three consecutive appearances, most recently Dec. 23-29, 2008. He has never done so and lost all three games.

— Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec has started 13 consecutive games, the longest streak by a rookie netminder since Corey Crawford started 27 straight for Chicago during the 2010-11 season. The franchise record for a single season is 25, set by Pekka Rinne in 2012-13. Tomas Vokoun holds the franchise mark for consecutive starts over multiple seasons (42, in 2002-03 and 2003-04).

— The Predators (0-13-0) are one of two teams (Buffalo, 0-19-0) that have not earned a point when trailing after two periods. Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, they are 1-31-2. Their lone win came in a 5-4 overtime win vs. Dallas on Feb. 25, 2013.

— Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, the Predators’ Shea Weber leads all defensemen, with 115 goals in 555 games. Combined, the seven blueliners on the Rangers roster have 125 career goals in 2,002 games (Dan Girardi – 32, Marc Staal and Michael del Zotto – 26, Ryan McDonagh – 18, Anton Stralman – 17, John Moore – 5, Justin Falk – 1).

— Predators defenseman Seth Jones leads all NHL rookies in average ice-time this season (23:34). In three of the past four seasons, and five of the past 10, U.S.-born d-men have led the league in that category.

2002-03 Jordan Leopold Calgary Flames 20:35
2005-06 Ryan Whitney Pittsburgh Penguins 23:49
2009-10 Tyler Myers Buffalo Sabres 23:44
2010-11 John Carlson Washington Capitals 22:38
2011-12 Justin Faulk Carolina Hurricanes 22:50

Shocking: Tortorella emphasizes ‘mental toughness’

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 15:  Team USA head coach John Tortorella answers questions during Media day at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Without any clues, if you had to pick one word to describe what John Tortorella might be looking for, what would it be?

There’s a strong chance many would pick “toughness” (or, OK, maybe a variation such as “grit”) and you’d be right.

After a World Cup of Hockey in which Team USA’s pursuit of toughness bordered, at times, on the comical, Tortorella kept the same themes going with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I think that’s the fine line of winning and losing,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch. “How do you handle yourself in those little situations where it’s, ‘Man, what do (I) give? Or, do (I) give in?’

“I’ve said it from day one, our mental toughness needs to be changed and this is part of the process.”

Specifically, Tortorella was talking about the Blue Jackets going through what the Columbus Dispatch describes as an especially “grueling” practice early on in training camp. But, honestly, it feels like it can be Torts’ request for just about anything hockey-related.

(It would be a refreshing bit of trolling if Tortorella decided to talk about finesse for an entire press conference.)

To some extent, talk of toughness can probably be chalked up to “coach-speak.”

Still, it’s tough not to wonder if the 2016-17 season might serve as a litmus test for Torts’ way of thinking and how it may influence the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Even when it’s not Torts making the decisions or at least dishing out the soundbytes, the Blue Jackets seem fixated on intangibles. Consider how GM Jarmo Kekalainen spoke about character while elaborating on the divisive decision to select Pierre-Luc Dubois over, say, Jesse Puljujärvi.

For all the blue collar talk, the Blue Jackets aren’t exactly a cheap team, with the 2016-17 version coming in at a cap hit of about $69 million.

In a multitude of ways, Columbus is paying a premium for intangibles and toughness, with Torts carrying that focus to an extreme. It should be fascinating to see how this all shakes out … even if Sergei Bobrovsky‘s play could ultimately be the real make-or-break factor for the Blue Jackets.

Predators give Laviolette a two-year extension

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 09:  Head coach Peter Laviolette speaks to referee Kelly Sutherland #11 during the third period of Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 9, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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The Nashville Predators have been on a roll lately, and keeping Peter Laviolette around seems like it keeps things going in a positive direction.

The team announced a two-year contract extension for Laviolette during Saturday’s State of the Union event.

During his first two seasons behind the bench in Nashville, the Predators have managed two playoff berths, beating the Anaheim Ducks in the first round during this last postseason trip. The Predators have managed to stay competitive in the Central Division, which is no small task.

With P.K. Subban added to the mix, it makes great sense to retain Laviolette’s services. You never know how a situation will work until it plays out, yet on paper, his system seems like a seamless fit for the star defender.

Nashville’s shown some promise already under Laviolette’s watch, particularly in quietly putting up some promising possession stats. At this moment in time, the future looks even brighter.

It can’t hurt that the guy has a Stanley Cup on his resume, either.

Goalie mask tour: Seinfeld references, tributes and more

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  Actor Patrick Warburton attends The Apartment VIP Party on June 23, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Hulu)
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As difficult as it is to believe, it’s October already. You know what that means*; hockey season is rapidly approaching.

Along with stories about guys who might still be a little injured claiming they’re “100 percent” and teams carrying in optimism that will eventually look foolish, we also get fun stuff like new goalie masks.

We’d already seen Petr Mrazek pay tribute to Joe Louis Arena a month ago, but with the preseason in high gear, we’re seeing more masks.

While there will likely be some other fun entries before the games start to count in 2016-17, PHT is kindly saving your delicate fingers a few extra clicks by collecting a few choice masks in one post.

To start things off, Michal Neuvirth paid tribute to late Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider:

Michal Neuvirth knew what he wanted on his new Philadelphia Flyers mask. He wanted it transformed into an epic tribute to the one and only, Mr Flyers himself, Ed Snider🙏🏻. Michal and I we brainstormed together and a plan emerged how to create the painting. I just love to create Storyteller masks📕. I wanted this to be truly special❤️. Put a lot of thoughts into every detail. We wanted it to be subtle and clean design that live and breath Flyers in the core. It was an honor to create this piece. On the side is also the wonderful logo of Ed Snider created by fellow artist David E. Wilkinson. In the design you will also just as always find a painting of the castle from Michal's hometown. Thank you Michal, we have worked together for so many years and it always a joy to create your mask paintings😊🎨 Thank you! #neuvirth @philadelphiaflyers #nhl #DaveArt @nhl #DaveArtCreativity #aflyerforever

A photo posted by David Gunnarsson (@davidofdaveart) on

This Miami Herald video shares Roberto Luongo‘s very-cool concept: the old Panthers cat on one side, the new one on the other. Here’s a shot from George Richards:

(Anyone else get a little John Vanbiesbrouck nostalgia from that lid?)

Thankfully, no birds were harmed in the making of Louis Domingue‘s mask, which features Arizona sports figures from Randy Johnson to more obvious Coyotes choices:

Nitpick: Steve Nash’s hair could have been floppier. Just saying.

Finally, hockey and Seinfeld once again mix better than a black-and-white cookie in Scott Wedgewood’s mask, which features a Puddy reference:

If you want more goalie masks, DaveArt.com’s list should keep you entertained for some time.

* – Barring all-too-frequent lockouts.

Malkin is ‘not happy’ with the way he’s been playing lately

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 7: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 7, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Evgeni Malkin is back in Penguins training camp after a stint with Team Russia at the World Cup.

Malkin and his team reached the tournament’s semifinal before being knocked out by the eventual champions, Team Canada.

The Pens forward collected three points in four games, but he wasn’t satisfied by his overall performance.

“I need to start now,” Malkin said on Saturday, per the Tribune. “I’m not playing great. I’m not happy with my game at the World Cup. I will play better here and now.”

When he’s at his best, Malkin is fully capable of taking over games. That’s easier said than done in a best-on-best tournament, but those are the standards he’s set for himself.

So, what does he have to do to get back to that elite level?

“Play more with the puck. That’s my game always, if I have the puck and I spend more time with the puck. The last four, five games in the World Cup, I tried to use my partners, but my confidence when I play with the puck.”

The 30-year-old dealt with some injuries last year, but still managed to produce 58 points in 57 games during the regular season and 18 points in 23 games during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup playoff run.