If the Toronto Maple Leafs came into tonight as a “wounded bear,” then some might feel that the Detroit Red Wings put them out of their misery on Saturday with a 4-2 decision.
Darren Helm generated his first hat trick tonight:
… While Jimmy Howard made some big saves, including this one:
It’s probably unfair to rule out the Maple Leafs altogether, although it’s quite possible that they’ve buried themselves with this eight-game losing streak. Joffrey Lupul went from optimistic to glum after this one.
There are a lot of salt-in-the-wounds notes from this one, even beyond the fact that the Maple Leafs are facing a Red Wings team that is banged up (so Jonathan Bernier not being 100 percent excuses probably fall on deaf ears). For one thing, this collapse has been downright historic:
If that isn’t enough, it appears that Phil Kessel might have gotten injured during the game, possibly when a one-timer pass seemed to hit him in the foot. (He was seen grimacing on the bench but played on while receiving significant criticism.)
And it gets worse
Sorry to pile on, Maple Leafs fans, but just about every other East bubble team (other than Washington) made the situation even bleaker on Saturday.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets won in overtime.
- The New Jersey Devils managed a “charity point” before losing yet another shootout.
- Things obviously improved for Detroit, too.
Here is an East outlook via NBC Sports:
Things look pretty grim from both a standings and games in hand standpoint for the Maple Leafs, opening up the possibility that this will be viewed as the night that the Leafs’ playoff hopes died.
Condolences to all Maple Leafs fans, especially the hardest-hitting ones.
The Nashville Predators have been on a roll lately, keeping Peter Laviolette around keeps that momentum going.
The team announced a two-year contract extension for Laviolette during Saturday’s State of the Union event.
During his first two seasons behind the bench in Nashville, the Predators have managed two playoff berths, beating the Anaheim Ducks in the first round during this last postseason trip. The Predators have managed to stay competitive in the Central Division, which is no small task.
With P.K. Subban added to the mix, it makes great sense to retain Laviolette’s surfaces. You never know how a situation will work until it plays out, yet on paper, his system seems like a seamless fit for the star defender.
Nashville’s shown some promise already under Laviolette’s watch, particularly in quietly putting up some promising possession stats. At this moment in time, the future looks even brighter.
It can’t hurt that the guy has a Stanley Cup on his resume, either.
As difficult as it is to believe, it’s October already. You know what that means*; hockey season is rapidly approaching.
Along with stories about guys who might still be a little injured claiming they’re “100 percent” and teams carrying in optimism that will eventually look foolish, we also get fun stuff like new goalie masks.
We’d already seen Petr Mrazek pay tribute to Joe Louis Arena a month ago, but with the preseason in high gear, we’re seeing more masks.
While there will likely be some other fun entries before the games start to count in 2016-17, PHT is kindly saving your delicate fingers a few extra clicks by collecting a few choice masks in one post.
To start things off, Michal Neuvirth paid tribute to late Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider:
This Miami Herald video shares Roberto Luongo‘s very-cool concept: the old Panthers cat on one side, the new one on the other. Here’s a shot from George Richards:
(Anyone else get a little John Vanbiesbrouck nostalgia from that lid?)
Thankfully, no birds were harmed in the making of Louis Domingue‘s mask, which features Arizona sports figures from Randy Johnson to more obvious Coyotes choices:
Nitpick: Steve Nash’s hair could have been floppier. Just saying.
Finally, hockey and Seinfeld once again mix better than a black-and-white cookie in Scott Wedgewood’s mask, which features a Puddy reference:
If you want more goalie masks, DaveArt.com’s list should keep you entertained for some time.
* – Barring all-too-frequent lockouts.
Evgeni Malkin is back in Penguins training camp after a stint with Team Russia at the World Cup.
Malkin and his team reached the tournament’s semifinal before being knocked out by the eventual champions, Team Canada.
The Pens forward collected three points in four games, but he wasn’t satisfied by his overall performance.
“I need to start now,” Malkin said on Saturday, per the Tribune. “I’m not playing great. I’m not happy with my game at the World Cup. I will play better here and now.”
When he’s at his best, Malkin is fully capable of taking over games. That’s easier said than done in a best-on-best tournament, but those are the standards he’s set for himself.
So, what does he have to do to get back to that elite level?
“Play more with the puck. That’s my game always, if I have the puck and I spend more time with the puck. The last four, five games in the World Cup, I tried to use my partners, but my confidence when I play with the puck.”
The 30-year-old dealt with some injuries last year, but still managed to produce 58 points in 57 games during the regular season and 18 points in 23 games during Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup playoff run.
KHL hockey is still relatively new in China and it showed prior to Kunlun Red Star’s game against Lada Togliatti earlier this week.
Prior to the game, the team organized a ceremonial puck drop, which ended up being a little awkward to say the least.
You can watch the entire thing by clicking the video at the top of the page.
That’s pretty funny!
The awkward look the two captains gave each other was priceless too.