Howard

Alfredsson praises ‘outstanding’ Howard after shutting out B’s

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Jimmy Howard’s 25-save shutout in Game 1 of the Detroit-Boston series earned plenty of praise, perhaps none higher than the stuff Daniel Alfredsson heaped on.

“Our goaltender was outstanding,” Alfredsson said, per MLive.com. “Theirs was really good. It was one individual effort that made the difference today.”

Howard’s shutout, the third of his playoff career, came in a game where goals and scoring chances were at a premium. Afterward, players from both sides remarked on how tight-checking and suffocating the style of play was at times — following an opening period in which the two teams combined for 20 shots, both the Wings and Bruins tightened up over the final 40 minutes and combined for a mere 29 shots on goal in the second and third periods.

“There weren’t any secrets in tonight’s game,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “Both teams played tight — don’t think there was any surprise out there today. Everybody’s got to find a way to create more, and that’s going to be the challenge in this series.”

Another challenge, at least following Game 1, is figuring out how to beat Howard.

While a 25-save shutout behind a tight-checking unit isn’t the stuff of legend, Howard’s play is still a positive development for Detroit. One, the team will be pleased to see him playing well after a so-so regular season in which his GAA ballooned to 2.66 — this after going 2.13 and 2.12 in each of the last two seasons — while his save percentage dipped to .910 (after a career-best .923 in 2013).

Two, it could be a return to the playoff form.

Howard was a major catalyst for Detroit’s run to the Western Conference semis, pushing eventual Cup champs Chicago to overtime of Game 7. He actually bettered his regular-season save percentage in the playoffs (.924) and, despite facing an average of 33 shots per game against the ‘Hawks, only allowed 15 goals over the seven games and finished with a .937 save percentage.

Wings head coach Mike Babcock alluded to Howard’s history of postseason success in the post-game presser.

“He’s done it for us in the past in playoff time,” Babcock said. “We just expect it.”

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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via Iowa Wild
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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)