Martin St. Louis

Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition


OK, so now that the trade deadline is behind us, we’re going to start doing these “playoff bubble watch” posts. At the moment, the bubble is a big one, and it includes a lot of teams who would cause quite the ruckus by missing the postseason.

Take the Rangers, who just traded their captain, Ryan Callahan, for Tampa Bay’s 38-year-old captain, Martin St. Louis. For general manager Glen Sather, this is another win-now move, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks explains:

The Rangers didn’t have a first-round draft choice in 2013 — that pick sent to Columbus in the deal for Rick Nash. They won’t have one in 2015 — that gone with Callahan to Tampa Bay. If they reach the conference finals this year, they won’t have a No. 1 this June, either — the 2014 second-rounder becoming a No. 1.

Now imagine the Rangers miss the playoffs. Because it’s possible, you know. Per Sports Club Stats, their odds of qualifying are 66.7 percent. That’s a two-in-three chance. Better than 50 percent, but plenty of room for failure.

source:  New York has 19 games left to get into the postseason. And of those 19, just seven are at home. Could that be a factor?

True, the Rangers have actually been better on the road (18-11-0) than at MSG (15-15-4), but there’s no definitive reason to believe that trend will continue. Generally speaking, you want to play at home, where you have fan support, the last change and you don’t have travel fatigue.

“Every point is important right now. It’s annoying the way it ends,” Henrik Lundqvist said after last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto. “We played really well and worked ourselves back into this game. It’s a big frustration right now to not come out of it with two points.”

The Rangers play in Carolina Friday, then come home for a huge game Sunday versus a desperate Detroit side (on NBC). After that, it’s a three-games-in-four-nights trip to Carolina, Minnesota, and Winnipeg.

Look, chances are, the Rangers will make it. They had a tough start to the season while they got adjusted to a new coach and new system and, perhaps most importantly, Lundqvist struggled.

But there’s no denying they’ve got work to do, and the pressure’s on.

Marner’s brilliant passing powers uplifting night for Leafs

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15:  Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates scoring his 1st NHL goal against the Boston Bruins during an NHL game on October 15, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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For a while, the story of the Florida Panthers – Toronto Maple Leafs game would be the remarkable march of Jonathan Marchessault.

As great as his story remains (he gave Florida 1-0 and 2-1 leads), those pesky young Maple Leafs keep stealing the headlines.

In tonight’s case, it was Mitch Marner who was raising eyebrows as he assisted on all three of Toronto’s goals in a 3-2 victory.

His third assist was just sublime:

After the game, Tyler Bozak pondered the two goals Marner helped him score and deemed the youngster “an elite player,” according to the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

Considering the growing discomfort regarding Frederik Andersen‘s play, this tweet should help to make Maple Leafs fans smile:

Ehhhhh, Marner might deserve that first star, but the gesture means almost as much as the win.

Devan Dubnyk pushes shutout streak to two games

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Winnipeg Jets during the game on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.

For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.

It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.

Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:

More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.

Video: Another way Patrik Laine evokes Alex Ovechkin

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There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.

Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.

Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.

This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.

Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.

Video: Want another booming hip check? Sean Couturier obliges

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.

While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.

Rate this as you will:

Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not: