For all that’s been said about how NHL teams have lost out on sending players to the Olympics, people usually don’t give much thought to teams turning their fortunes around following a change of scenery. One game doesn’t tell the whole story, yet it’s possible that the Los Angeles Kings might carry momentum over from some strong Sochi performances.
After falling behind 4-2 with less than five minutes left in the second period, the Kings really turned things around against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, scoring four unanswered goals for a 6-4 win.
Those six goals equal the Kings’ output from their last seven games heading into the Olympic break.
Anze Kopitar starred for the otherwise star-less Slovenians in Sochi, and he carried his success over tonight, scoring two of those four late Los Angeles goals, including the power-play game-winner in the third period. He also had an assist in the contest.
Here’s video of Kopitar’s game-winner:
The Kings now have two straight wins after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in OT heading into the Olympic break. They had only won two of their last 11 games heading into Wednesday, so the clear hope is that the strong runs by Kopitar, Drew Doughty & Co. will end up being signs of better things to come.
(Jonathan Quick received the night off, as Martin Jones notched the win.)
The Avalanche find themselves in a minor funk – at least if you carry over results from before the break – as they’ve now lost three of four games. They play six of their next eight contests in Colorado, so there’s a lot of incentive to avoid a lull following the break.
We should find out next week if Mike Fisher is going to retire or keep playing for the Predators.
Fisher, Nashville’s 37-year-old captain, is an unrestricted free agent. He confirmed last month that he was considering retirement. But first, he needed some time to think.
Yesterday, Preds GM David Poile said he expected an answer soon.
“I’m hoping to talk to him later this week to see where he’s at,” Poile said, per The Tennessean. “I’d say by next week, we should have an update.”
Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 games last season, but then had just four assists in 20 playoff games as the Preds reached their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.
If Fisher re-signs, he’ll likely be in the bottom six next season, with Ryan Johansen and newly signed Nick Bonino expected to center the top two lines. Fisher could even be the fourth-line center or a winger, allowing the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau to take on bigger roles.
But for Fisher, hockey isn’t everything, and after more than 1,000 games in the NHL, he may simply opt to hang up the skates.
“Everyone wants to win in this game, no one probably more than me,” Fisher said. “But there’s other things. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not everything.”
Related: Predators take Stanley Cup loss with grace and optimism
The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.
This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.
Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.
What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.
That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.
Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.
The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.
Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.
In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.
“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”
The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.
The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.
Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.
The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.
With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.
But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.
Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season