Just about any team that comes reasonably close to a playoff spot probably ponders a few “What if?” questions, but one could understand how the New Jersey Devils feel about their 0-13 shootout record from last season.
If you believe that the “skills competition” is a lot like a coin toss, the Devils probably wonder how different things might have been had they merely won six or seven extra points. After all, no 2013-14 playoff team won fewer than three shootouts and none lost more than nine.
(In fact, Puck Daddy points out that the Devils became the first team to lay a goose egg in the shootout over a full season.)
For some, that would be a matter of concern, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told the Bergen Record that he’s more concerned about what happens before a shootout takes place.
“I look at how we play during the 60 minutes because that’s what you have control of,” Lamoriello said. “The shootout is an individual thing and if you look at the history of the players who were on our roster last year and the sort of history of their success you would say, ‘How did this come about?’ But in saying that, it’s not a focus.”
Instead, the long-standing executive emphasized adding offense during the summer; he seems excited about acquiring Mike Cammalleri and intrigued about what Martin Havlat might accomplish if he’s healthy. Lamoriello also seems to think that the team can benefit from better luck with players who were already on the roster, whether it be improving young players or healthier campaigns for the likes of Ryane Clowe.
Then again, shootout time might present Cory Schneider with added opportunities to prove that he’s worth that big contract extension, though.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.