Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth still has ambitions of being a number one goaltender in the NHL, but he’s arguably Washington’s third-string netminder due to the rise of 22-year-old rookie Philipp Grubauer.
Neuvirth expressed his frustrations a little over a week ago and hinted at his desire to be traded. Now his agent, Patrik Stefan, is being more direct. He wants his client dealt so that he can get a fresh start, according to ESPN and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
It will be interesting to see how Washington responds. For one thing, they might be hesitant to move Neuvirth before Grubauer has had more time to prove himself. After all, Grubauer’s 2-1 shootout loss to Buffalo last night was just his 11th career NHL contest.
There’s also the question of whether not the Capitals can ship Neuvirth even if they wanted to. He’s still just 25 years old and his $2.5 million annual cap hit through 2014-15 isn’t excessive, but it’s more than most teams want to pay a backup goaltender and he still hasn’t firmly established that he can carry a squad as a starter. On top of that, teams tend to be reluctant to acquire a goaltender midseason on the trade market unless they are in dire need.
At the same time, this request puts the Capitals in an awkward situation. They now have two players that want out, including Martin Erat. Finding a way to put these situations behind them might be in the Capitals’ best interests.
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.