Brock Nelson, Cory Schneider

Get your game notes: Caps at Devils


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New Jersey Devils hosting the Washington Capitals starting at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

—- Washington has lost four straight (0-2-2) for the fourth time this season; New Jersey has earned a point in five straight games (2-0-3 record) but has lost three of its last four (all shootout losses). The Devils are in danger of missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they went five straight without an appearance (1982-87). The Capitals’ consecutive playoff streak is also in jeopardy, having last missed the playoffs in 2006-07 (6 straight seasons).

—- The Devils have six games remaining and a chance at a 7-0-1 finish if they can run the table. Twenty-six years ago, the 1987-88 Devils – led by goalie Sean Burke – mounted a 7-0-1 season-ending charge to grab the final Patrick Division playoff spot on the season’s final day, the team’s first playoff berth in New Jersey. The Devils went on to win two playoff rounds, falling one victory short of the Stanley Cup Final.

—- Jaromir Jagr leads the Devils in points (64) this season followed by Patrik Elias (51 pts.) – the two are the only Devils with 50+ points this season (Travis Zajac & Adam Henrique – 43 pts. each are next). Washington is even more top-heavy – Nicklas Backstrom leads in points (73) with Alex Ovechkin right behind him in scoring (72 pts.). Joel Ward is next on the team with 43 points.

—- Three of New Jersey’s last four games have ended in shootout losses (vs. PHX, at NYI, at BUF – with a win over FLA between the Islanders & Sabres game), dropping the Devils to 0-11 in shootouts this season, and to a league-record 15 straight SO losses dating to last March 15. New Jersey’s skaters are a combined 3-for-39 on shootout attempts. Since the NHL instituted shootouts in 2005-06, only three teams have completed a season without winning one, none with more than five losses.

—- If games ended in ties – shootouts removed from the standings equation – New Jersey currently would be tied with Columbus, at 80 points, for the East’s second Wild Card, 1 pt. behind Detroit.

—- Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the last tie game in the NHL (April 4, 2004) – Carolina tied at Florida, 6-6. The Flyers and the Islanders also tied 3-3 earlier in the day.

—- Ovechkin (48 goals) and teammate Troy Brouwer (23 goals) lead the league in goal differential among a team’s first- and second-highest goal-scorer, +25, a difference of 10 more compared to the next-largest margin – Montreal’s Max Pacioretty (35) & Tomas Plekanec (20), +15.

—- Ovechkin’s -36 rating is the worst in the league; Alexander Edler (VAN) & Nail Yakupov (EDM) have the second-worst at -33. Ovechkin can become the first player ever to lead the league in goals and come in last in plus-minus.

—- New Jersey is 14-9-4 vs. the Metropolitan Div. this season while Washington is 10-14-3 in the division.

—- The Capitals rank first in the league in power-play percentage (23.7%), while the Devils rank first in penalty-kill percentage (86.9%). New Jersey has killed off 12 of 13 power plays in its last four games; Washington is 2/12 on the power play in its last three games including going 0/5 in its last game.

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.