After 351 AHL games, 56 in the ECHL and two in the KHL, Drew MacIntyre will finally start his first National Hockey League contest tonight, as he gets the nod for Toronto when the Leafs take on the Panthers in Florida.
While it’ll be his first-ever start, this isn’t MacIntyre’s first foray into an NHL contest. The journeyman netminder has appeared in five games over the course of his career, all relief appearances, including one this year for Toronto — a 3-2 loss to New Jersey in which he replaced James Reimer and fared well, stopping all 14 shots faced.
The goaltender who gives MacIntyre inspiration is Tim Thomas, who didn’t make his first career NHL start until the age of 28 and didn’t get a real chance until after a sojourn to Europe showed what kind of performer he could become.
Family members and friends always bring up Thomas, now a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup-winner, to give MacIntyre hope. And he buys into that belief.
“He did it. I don’t see why I couldn’t do it,” MacIntyre said. “I’m not saying I’m going to be Tim Thomas if I get a chance, but I like to think I can compete well up here.”
If nothing else, MacIntyre should be given credit for the amount of travel he’s done over the last eight years. The list of cities he’s played in over that time? Manitoba (Winnipeg), Vancouver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Hamilton, Rochester, Buffalo, Prague, Reading and Toronto.
It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.
To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:
The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)
That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:
They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.
Cheap shot on a superstar, a little uncalled goalie interference and presto – Blue Jackets win!
The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.
That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:
Coach Bylsma: Feel like after Jack's goal, the game changed for us. #gamechanger