Broadly speaking, the Phoenix Coyotes share at least a few traits in common with the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes’ scrappy cousins thwarted them on Thursday to the tune of a 2-0 loss, greatly damaging Phoenix’s chances of making the playoffs in the process.
Before this post gets a little more specific, here’s the “outside help” the Coyotes need in plain terms:
To lay the specifics out more precisely, here is where the two teams stand:
Dallas: 89 standings points; two games left (vs. St. Louis on Friday; at Phoenix on Sunday); Dallas has an insurmountable tiebreaker advantage, so Phoenix must finish with at least one more standings point.
Phoenix: 87 standings points; two games left (vs. San Jose on Saturday; vs. Dallas on Sunday).
However you spin this situation, the Coyotes failed down the stretch. They’ve lost six games in a row, although they manage to scavenge three standings points from OT (one loss) and shootout (two losses) defeats.
It’s been a strange stretch of outside help for both teams. The Stars beat the Predators in a shootout but lost in regulation to Columbus while the Coyotes dropped tonight’s regulation contest against Nashville after beating Columbus.
Some might say it would be fairest if Sunday’s season finale in Phoenix decides it all, but the Coyotes have to do something uncomfortable – root for the Blues, for one – to make that happen.
The Calgary Flames had the league’s worst power play at just four per cent coming into Monday’s game against Chicago.
The Blackhawks had the league’s worst penalty kill at just 42.9 per cent, which is also awful, although their issues go deeper than that aspect.
So, of course special teams played an important role in this game. Despite their previous struggles with the advantage, the Flames scored twice on the power play, on goals from Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, taking their turn capitalizing on Chicago’s early-season difficulties short handed.
The Flames finished two-for-five on the power play, giving them three power play goals in 30 opportunities so far. They jumped all the way to 27th in the league in that category (!!) at 10 per cent. The Blackhawks have given up 14 power play goals against on 26 chances.
This is not the company you’d expect the Blackhawks to be keeping.
The Blackhawks did come back to force overtime, but they ultimately lost 3-2 in the shootout.
Former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the deciding breakaway contest, giving Calgary the win.
While the Flames power play came alive for this game, the play of goalie Brian Elliott was significant.
He, too, had struggled mightily with three losses in three starts, and a .839 save percentage, prompting his former teammate Jake Allen to say Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Elliott despite his dreadful start.
Against Chicago, Elliott made 31 saves on 33 shots and then made five saves in the seven-round shootout.
The Montreal Canadiens took a chance on Alexander Radulov.
The cost? One year at $5.75 million, which is a significant investment for a 30-year-old player with plenty of talent but past off-ice discipline issues. So far, Radulov has been a welcomed addition to a Habs lineup that needed a skilled forward capable of putting up good numbers and taking a top-six role.
The success — or lack of — for the Habs will always focus around the play and health of goalie Carey Price.
But Radulov is off to a nice start to the season, which should provide some optimism for Canadiens fans after a disappointing 2015-16 season and the tumultuous summer that followed.
He entered Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with two points in five games, but had solid puck possession numbers. Against the Flyers, he was once again a central figure for the Habs on the attack.
And the production followed.
He had a three-point night, setting up Shea Weber‘s goal in the second period — Weber’s slap shot busted the stick of Brayden Schenn and still had enough to get by goalie Steve Mason — and Brendan Gallagher for the eventual winner late in the third period.
Radulov then secured the win with an empty-net goal, giving him five points in six games. The Habs, following their 3-1 win over the Flyers, remain the only team in the league without a regulation loss.
Radulov entered the season as a potential X-factor for the Habs.
General manager Marc Bergevin received plenty of criticism for trading P.K. Subban. But so far, the returns from signing Radulov have been promising for the Habs.
In case you didn’t know by now, here is more evidence that Shea Weber possesses a devastating slap shot.
The Montreal Canadiens defenseman on Monday scored his second goal of the season, once again deploying his shot from the blue line. This time, he ripped a shot that busted the stick of Brayden Schenn, who was trying to get into the shooting lane, and still had enough behind it to beat Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason.
That gave the Habs the lead.
The Flyers responded later on in the second period on Jakub Voracek‘s third goal of the season.
Christian Ehrhoff is finally under contract for this season, but not in the NHL.
Ehrhoff, 34, signed with Kolner Haie in Germany, the team announced via Twitter on Monday.
Most recently, Ehrhoff was with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout (PTO) prior to the beginning of the season, but he opted not to sign with that club, instead deciding to return home to Germany.
Ehrhoff also suited up for Team Europe at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.
In 789 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman scored 74 goals and 339 points. His most productive seasons came with the Vancouver Canucks, as he helped that team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.