Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators

Sens’ Anderson enters season as a wild card

NHL teams might hand out huge goalie contracts like breath mints, but the dirty secret is that the position remains arguably the most unpredictable in the sport. Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson might just be the poster child for such a thought.

Just look at the peaks and valleys of his career since escaping backup duty in Florida for starter and platoon with the Colorado Avalanche and Senators:

2009-10 with Colorado: 38-25-7 record, .917 save percentage in 71 games played
2010-11 with Colorado: 13-15-3, .897 save percentage in 33 GP; 11-5-1 with a .939 save percentage in 18 games with the Sens
2011-12 (all remaining games with Ottawa): 33-22-6 with a .914 save percentage in 63 GP
2012-13: 12-9-2 with a .941 save percentage in 24 GP
2013-14: 25-16-8 with a .911 save percentage in 53 GP

Excluding his shaky early years with Chicago, Anderson puts up solid numbers … yet looking at how much things vacillate (and considering that even in his best seasons, weird things happen like chicken-cutting-related-injuries), how much would you really trust the 33-year-old?

The wisdom in waiting

The Senators extended Robin Lehner, which might imply to some that the answer is “Not much.” Still, the organization has at least opened up the conversation about a deal for Anderson … yet maybe they should pump the brakes there.

For one thing, it’s pretty difficult to argue authoritatively regarding whether the Senators should expect to be cellar dwellers, contenders or a team fighting for wild card scraps.

With that in mind, would it really be wise to lock up two goalies coming off shaky (at best) seasons?

Besides, contract year motivation isn’t usually the worst thing for a netminder. The easiest example to point out is that all four netminders in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final were fighting for new deals. Cap Geek is basically littered with examples of goalies who’ve seen curious drops in production once they signed beefy long-term contracts. Why lock yourself into a situation one way or another, then?

It’s tough to forecast what kind of season Anderson will produce in 2014-15, so the Senators might be best served opening themselves up to all of the possibilities.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

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.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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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:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?