If you had to pick a low point to the Rangers’ season, it probably came Dec. 20 at MSG with a 5-3 loss to the Islanders.
“This was definitely a frustrating game,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose record fell to 2-4-2 since signing his big contract extension. “There’s no question we beat ourselves.”
But ever since that frustration, the Rangers have found some life. On Saturday, they devastated the Leafs in Toronto, winning 7-1 and improving their record to 5-2-0 since the Isles loss.
“I’m not quite sure if you can put one thing specific on it,” coach Alain Vigneault said about his team’s 50-shot barrage versus the embarrassed Leafs, per The Record. “We moved the puck well, we got some good opportunities and we were able to finish on a couple.”
Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets pay a visit to MSG, a rink that will be hosting a lot of hockey over the next little while. The Rangers will play eight of their next 10 at home, a prime opportunity to move into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
PS — one of the Rangers’ two road games in their next 10 will be Wednesday in Chicago, on NBCSN, against the Stanley Cup champs.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.