At this point in the season, the Washington Capitals will almost certainly face a daily battle for playoff positioning, so their duty is to win … and in regulation if at all possible.
They accomplished that task on Sunday, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in a game that displayed a little bit of the dysfunction – and fun – that both teams have produced in the 2013-14 season.
The shot totals might highlight the two teams’ scatterbrained ways most simply. Washington dominated the first period, outscoring Toronto 3-1 while generating a 14-2 shot advantage. The Maple Leafs nearly reversed that in the second period, firing 20 shots to the Capitals’ 6. Washington moved the seesaw in the other direction one more time, eventually winning the shots battle 33-29 and the game 4-2.
For better or worse, it appears that Washington will indeed lean on Jaroslav Halak pretty heavily going forward; this was their newly acquired goalie’s fifth consecutive start.
The Capitals face a tough road ahead, with a three-game road trip against California’s three formidable teams followed by a second game against Los Angeles at home. Eight of their last 13 games are on the road, so grabbing these past four points in two games against teams about as playoff-desperate as them (Vancouver on Friday, Toronto today) could come in awfully handy.
The Maple Leafs remain four points ahead of the Capitals with 80 points to Washington’s 76, with both having played 69 games so far this season. Toronto won’t get a rest against teams fighting to remain relevant in the playoff bubble, either, as their next game comes versus the Red Wings in Detroit on Tuesday.
Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”
“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”
Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.
Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.
In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.
So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?
Your call, Marc Bergevin.
Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL
Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.
The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),
But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.
In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.
Two injury updates in one post.
First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.
According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.
“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.
Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.
As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:
1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.
“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”
Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.
The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.