San Jose Sharks v Colorado Avalanche

Cause for concern in Colorado?


The Colorado Avalanche started the season on fire, racing out to a 14-2-0 record under new coach Patrick Roy, while ostensibly blaming former coach Joe Sacco for much of their past problems.

But while the Avs still boast a respectable record of 26-12-4, good enough for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, a 12-10-4 mark in their last 26 games has to be cause for concern.

On Monday, Colorado dropped a 4-3 decision to one of the NHL’s worst teams, the Calgary Flames. For that, Roy chose to blame his goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

“We may not have had the jump that we should have, but Giggy should have been better,” Roy said. “He hasn’t played well in the past four or five games and he should stand up and say, `I’m not playing up to what I should.’ He needs to be better and we need to have him playing better. Period.”

One of the greatest ever at the position, Roy obviously understands the importance of goaltending, which overall has been excellent in Colorado this season. In fact, the tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Giguere has combined for a team save percentage of .921, the fourth highest in the NHL.

How important has goaltending been for Colorado? Well, it’s helped the Avs win 15 games in which they’ve been outshot. In that category, only Toronto (17) has more.

Of course, we’ve seen how unsustainable the Leafs’ previous winning ways have turned out to be. Along those lines, per Extra Skater, here’s how the Avs’ puck-possession stats have been trending:


That’s not good, unless you’re one of the teams trying to catch the Avs in the standings.

Colorado hosts streaking Ottawa tonight.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?